It may have taken more than 50 years to get the first female Doctor Who but Jodie Whittaker is sure her first foray in the Tardis should see the floodgates opening – and quickly.
In fact, she seems hopeful a superspy could soon be following in her Time Lord footsteps. She says the casting should throw open the door for more women in lead roles and suggests a female 007 could well be on the cards after Daniel Craig hangs up his bow tie.
“I bloody well hope so!” she laughs. “If it’s part of the story, then absolutely.
“If this isn’t the start of something becoming more normal – to see women leading shows – it’s really depressing.”
While acknowledging a female Time Lord is a big change for fans to accept, Jodie also tries to play it down.
“It’s 2018 – of course women are not a genre, we’re just the other half of the population,” she explains. “To see us doing these things shouldn’t be so much of a surprise – but I know it is.
“It is a moment and I am part of it and I’m proud of it, but I can’t wait for it to not be a moment as well.”
At a time when BBC bosses are working hard to close the gender pay gap, it would be a clanger if she’d been handed the role as part of a cost-cutting exercise. Jodie, 36, has been given cast-iron guarantees that this isn’t the case.
“I absolutely know that I am not being paid less than any other Doctor,” she says carefully. “It is not the show to set that standard and then have that revelation be the sidebar. It isn’t. Thank God.”
When her casting was revealed during the Wimbledon final, the reaction was positive, although it was claimed that boys were somehow losing a role model.
Show boss Chris Chibnall says that’s nonsense. “I find that idea really difficult – that boys and men can’t look up to women. You’ve got your mum, your sister, your aunt.
“I work with brilliant women. It’s just absurd.”
Jodie, 36, is equally sure there is plenty for boys to like about her version of the Gallifreyan time-traveller.
“Now is the time to show children, boys and girls, that role models and heroes on the screen don’t all look the same.
“I keep getting asked if I’m playing the Doctor as a woman, I find that such a funny question.”
Chris chose to cast Jodie ahead of revelations about Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo and #Time’sUp movements after the previous Doctor, Peter Capaldi, decided to go. The show chief said: “Once we knew that Peter was going to leave, we thought the show and the audience was ready.
“The shortlist was extraordinary and then we got the best person on that shortlist. It felt a straightforward decision. It’s not really controversial.”
Chris’s hope for the new series, which starts on BBC1 next month, is to provide audiences with “the most enjoyable hour of your life”.
Each of the 10 episodes is a stand-alone story and there won’t be a Dalek or Cyberman in sight as all the monsters are brand new.
Chris says: “The aim is to be massively entertaining, really fun, scary, emotional, full of action and adventure and monsters.” When she landed the role, Jodie wept. It was perhaps the shock of being told just as she prepared to give her final audition.
“I was ready to get in there and do my last pitch, really selling it.
“I sat down and they went ‘we wanted you to be here so we could tell you we want you to be the next Doctor’. I just cried. I was really overwhelmed.”
The enormity of the decision was not lost on her. “It’s a job for life – you’re in a family that never kick you out and it doesn’t matter how many Doctors are going to be regenerated, I’ll always be a Doctor and I’ll always be a certain thing to a certain fan at a certain time. And that’s really emotional. I never, ever thought that conversation was going to happen to me.
“Certainly, if you’re an actress, you’re never thinking that was going to happen.”
Jodie was thrilled to help choose her costume, having found a photograph she believed was just right. “It was of a woman walking with purpose, thinking, and she has boots, short trousers, braces, a T-shirt and kind of unkempt hair.”
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The gender-neutral outfit was embraced by show bosses, with plenty of subtle additions. “There is a reason for every single little thing,” she teases.
“The colour of every part of the outfit, every stripe, every bit of lining. Everything is a choice and at some point you may know why. It’s not a lazy costume.”