The 13th Doctor has made her entrance and after just two episodes, Jodie Whittaker has already impressed fans.
We first saw Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor in the Christmas special episode, as she hurtled out of the burning Tardis. Since then, there has been a lot of discussion and speculation over how having a female Doctor might work. Would the character work as a woman when all the previous Doctors have been men? What would she wear? Who would the companions be? Would people still watch the show?
Well, after the much-anticipated first episode of series 11 aired earlier this month and the second followed last Sunday, it seems any doubts concerning Jodie Whittaker’s ability to play the Doctor have been extinguished. The first episode alone brought in approximately 10.9 million viewers, which made it the biggest series launch since the 2005 reboot. The second episode’s (‘The Ghost Monument’) viewing numbers dropped to just over 7 million, but this is still higher than the average ratings for the last two series of the show and the fact people are coming back for more means that Whittaker is doing something right.
This is partly down to the fact that there are definitely elements of the series 11 Doctor that Jodie Whittaker has adopted from previous versions of the character. The quirkiness, ingenuity and charisma that fans know and love are still there in Whittaker’s portrayal of the Doctor but she has also brought new, likeable characteristics. Our series 11 Doctor is level-headed, warm, energetic, inclusive and highly moral. The fact that Whittaker has managed to put her own spin on the character while still keeping some of the previous Doctors’ personality traits, means the audience can be excited about the new Doctor while still being able to relate.
Although Jodie Whittaker’s portrayal of the Doctor has received a lot of praise, she is not the only reason for series 11’s early success. The series comes with a brand new set of companions. In episode one we saw the Doctor battle an orb of electricity and a human hunting alien in Sheffield when she meets Ryan (Tosin Cole), a young man with dyslexia, Yasmin (Mandip Gill), a police woman, and Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan’s step-grandfather. Gone are the days when the Doctor has a young, female companion while the two have an agonising will they, won’t they relationship. This new group of companions are diverse, fun, up for the adventure and we will surely learn more about them as the series progresses.
There is also an exciting new set of storylines for fans to look forward to in series 11. Chris Chibnall, best known for creating and writing ‘Broadchurch’ and being a head writer for ‘Torchwood’, is the head writer and executive producer for the show and so far, things are looking promising. In episode two, we saw our characters end up on a deadly planet with three suns after being rescued from space by two aliens, both taking part in a competition which involves a race across the stars. The final element of the competition is to find the ‘Ghost Monument’, which turns out to be the Doctor’s lost Tardis (which now produces custard creams, what could be better than that?).
Luckily, it looks like there will be more exciting storylines to look forward to in the coming weeks. On Sunday, we will see the Doctor and the gang travel back to 1955 Alabama and meet civil rights activist, Rosa Parks (played by Vinette Robinson, ‘Sherlock’, ‘Black Mirror’). The episode was co-written by Malorie Blackman who is well known for her ‘Noughts & Crosses’ novel series. Viewers can also expect to see appearances from stars including Alan Cumming, Mark Addy, Lee Mack and Julie Hesmondhalgh in future episodes.
So, thanks to a great new set of characters and new, fresh storylines, Doctor Who series 11 is off to a good start. But it is important to recognise the significance of the arrival of our first female Doctor. The show has been a hit with viewers for over 50 years and has provided us with a charismatic, intelligent character who people, especially young people, can look up to. Growing up, I was a massive Doctor Who fan and I idolised the Doctor, but as a girl, I never thought someone like me could be in that position. The Doctor was a man’s role and women could only be companions. But now, everything has changed. Jodie Whittaker’s portrayal of the Doctor represents everything that young girls (and young people in general) should aspire to be. She is strong, confident, kind, moral, inclusive and isn’t afraid to take on a challenge.
Doctor Who has never had a lack of strong female characters. Since the reboot in 2005, we have seen Rose (Billie Piper), Martha (Freema Agyeman), Donna (Catherine Tate) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), just to name a few, who were all adventurous, intelligent, likeable female characters in the show. But until now, we haven’t had the opportunity to see a woman in the spotlight and take on one of the country’s most cherished fictional characters. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures she takes us on.
By Olivia Hill