back to top

Here's Everything That We Know About The New Season Of "Doctor Who"

More writing diversity, hints of more LGBT characters, and some pretty surprising casting stories.

Posted on

Next month, Jodie Whittaker will make her debut as the Doctor — the 13th actor and first woman to do so. Ahead of the new series, BuzzFeed News was invited down to the set of Doctor Who to chat to the cast about the new series.

Whittaker talked about how she thinks women can be role models for young boys, hinted at the inclusion of LGBT characters in the upcoming series, and spoke about the worst questions she has been asked since getting the role. We also learned that Bradley Walsh — who will play Graham in the new series — had no idea that Whittaker had been cast as the Doctor until the news was revealed to the nation.
Chris Chibnall / BBC

Whittaker talked about how she thinks women can be role models for young boys, hinted at the inclusion of LGBT characters in the upcoming series, and spoke about the worst questions she has been asked since getting the role. We also learned that Bradley Walsh — who will play Graham in the new series — had no idea that Whittaker had been cast as the Doctor until the news was revealed to the nation.

1. Jodie Whittaker is getting tired of being asked about how her gender will influence her portrayal of the Doctor.

Whittaker said: "I'm asked if I'm playing the Doctor as a woman, and I find it such a funny question. I didn't come into playing Beth Latimer [in Broadchurch] going 'I'm playing Beth, as a woman.'"Just so you know, anyone saying to Jon Hamm, 'Did you play him in Mad Men as a man?' It's a weird question!"
Giles Kyte / BBC / BBC Studios

Whittaker said: "I'm asked if I'm playing the Doctor as a woman, and I find it such a funny question. I didn't come into playing Beth Latimer [in Broadchurch] going 'I'm playing Beth, as a woman.'

"Just so you know, anyone saying to Jon Hamm, 'Did you play him in Mad Men as a man?' It's a weird question!"

2. But she hopes that her casting will improve diversity on other shows.

She said: "If this isn't the start of something becoming more normal to see women leading shows, then that's really depressing."Whittaker also emphasised the importance of having stories told from different perspectives. She said: “It's more about what stories, [so] we don't always have to regurgitate the same form from the same POV. I think POV shifting is really important. How successful was Gravity? Nearly two hours of one woman. You can't surely sell it as 'well, only women will go see this.' I think now is the time to show children, boys and girls, that your role models and your heroes on the screen all don't look the same."Bradley Walsh, who joins the show as Graham, went further: "This will trailblaze for a lot of other shows where people are frightened to change. You know sometimes you wear a show like a comfy coat? That’s not going to happen now after this."
BBC

She said: "If this isn't the start of something becoming more normal to see women leading shows, then that's really depressing."

Whittaker also emphasised the importance of having stories told from different perspectives. She said: “It's more about what stories, [so] we don't always have to regurgitate the same form from the same POV. I think POV shifting is really important. How successful was Gravity? Nearly two hours of one woman. You can't surely sell it as 'well, only women will go see this.' I think now is the time to show children, boys and girls, that your role models and your heroes on the screen all don't look the same."

Bradley Walsh, who joins the show as Graham, went further: "This will trailblaze for a lot of other shows where people are frightened to change. You know sometimes you wear a show like a comfy coat? That’s not going to happen now after this."

3. The part of the next Doctor was always going to be offered to a woman. It was a condition that Chris Chibnall pushed for when he accepted the job of Doctor Who showrunner.

Executive producer Matt Strevens said: "Once Peter [Capaldi] decided he was leaving, the next Doctor was always going to be a female doctor. That was what Chris wanted, that was part of his conditions of doing the job."
BBC / Via youtube.com

Executive producer Matt Strevens said: "Once Peter [Capaldi] decided he was leaving, the next Doctor was always going to be a female doctor. That was what Chris wanted, that was part of his conditions of doing the job."

4. Chibnall and Strevens don’t regard casting a woman in the role of the Doctor as a controversial decision.

"It just felt like a very straightforward decision," said Chibnall. "It's not really controversial. It's very hard to think of many examples in a 55-year history that the Doctor takes a decision based on gender — very, very difficult."The BBC backs them: In a board meeting shortly after the announcement was made, the broadcaster's own statistics suggested that more than 80% of the reactions on social media were positive.
BBC / Doctor Who

"It just felt like a very straightforward decision," said Chibnall. "It's not really controversial. It's very hard to think of many examples in a 55-year history that the Doctor takes a decision based on gender — very, very difficult."

The BBC backs them: In a board meeting shortly after the announcement was made, the broadcaster's own statistics suggested that more than 80% of the reactions on social media were positive.

5. Whittaker assumed that she was going for a final audition on the day that she landed the role, and was in a state of shock after she was told she had got the part.

“I thought I was going to my final audition. It was cloaked in lots of secrecy. I was ready to get in there and do my last pitch, and actually I just sat down and they were like: ‘Oh, just so you know, we wanted you to be here so we could tell you we want you to be the next Doctor.’ So I just cried. “Up until a few months previous, I never ever thought that conversation was going to happen to me. There would have been a lot of guys who thought that, but certainly if you're an actress you're never thinking that was going to happen and it is overwhelming because you know the responsibility.”
N / BBC

“I thought I was going to my final audition. It was cloaked in lots of secrecy. I was ready to get in there and do my last pitch, and actually I just sat down and they were like: ‘Oh, just so you know, we wanted you to be here so we could tell you we want you to be the next Doctor.’ So I just cried.

“Up until a few months previous, I never ever thought that conversation was going to happen to me. There would have been a lot of guys who thought that, but certainly if you're an actress you're never thinking that was going to happen and it is overwhelming because you know the responsibility.”

6. It was hinted that the upcoming season of Doctor Who will feature LGBT characters (the last season featured the show's first openly gay companion, Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie).

Strevens said: “Since the show came back in 2005, it’s been amazing at blurring the edges of sexuality and [having] genderfluid characters. That continues in this new series. But it’s not made an issue of, and I’m not going to say whether any of our characters are or aren’t [LGBT] at this point.”When Chibnall was asked whether there were any LGBT characters in the upcoming season and he responded with a similar answer to Strevens’, Whittaker looked slightly frustrated. Not able to clearly answer the question because it would be too much of a plot spoiler, she said: “It is really frustrating when you are not allowed to say anything.”
Jeff Spicer / Getty Images

Strevens said: “Since the show came back in 2005, it’s been amazing at blurring the edges of sexuality and [having] genderfluid characters. That continues in this new series. But it’s not made an issue of, and I’m not going to say whether any of our characters are or aren’t [LGBT] at this point.”

When Chibnall was asked whether there were any LGBT characters in the upcoming season and he responded with a similar answer to Strevens’, Whittaker looked slightly frustrated. Not able to clearly answer the question because it would be too much of a plot spoiler, she said: “It is really frustrating when you are not allowed to say anything.”

7. Doctor Who is also trying to be one of television's most inclusive shows, with more women writers and directors and a new production scheme to improve diversity.

There's also a transition behind the camera. At San Diego Comic-Con it was announced that Doctor Who will feature women writers, women directors, and the first people of colour contributing to scripts. Strevens explained that they have introduced schemes to improve diversity throughout production: “It’s with our editors, it’s with our directors, as much as we can with our writers, with our costume people, with our camera team.“The big thing is you can’t just change it overnight and hope and go, ‘Right, we want to make it a lot more diverse,’ because there are a lot of communities and a lot of people who don’t feel TV is for them.”
Chris Chibnall / BBC

There's also a transition behind the camera. At San Diego Comic-Con it was announced that Doctor Who will feature women writers, women directors, and the first people of colour contributing to scripts. Strevens explained that they have introduced schemes to improve diversity throughout production: “It’s with our editors, it’s with our directors, as much as we can with our writers, with our costume people, with our camera team.

“The big thing is you can’t just change it overnight and hope and go, ‘Right, we want to make it a lot more diverse,’ because there are a lot of communities and a lot of people who don’t feel TV is for them.”

8. Mandip Gill, who joins the cast as Yasmin, said that she's been turned away from other roles because her accent is considered to be “too northern.”

“The best thing for me is that I don't have to change my voice, because there are so many auditions we go to in London and they are like, ‘Oh, you're too northern,’” said Gill. “I've had work where they go, ‘You're too northern.’ There is such a thing apparently about being too northern!”Chibnall said it's important to ensure that the show includes voices and accents that haven't been depicted on Doctor Who for a while. The first episode of the new season, "The Woman Who Fell To Earth", will be also set in Sheffield.
BBC

“The best thing for me is that I don't have to change my voice, because there are so many auditions we go to in London and they are like, ‘Oh, you're too northern,’” said Gill. “I've had work where they go, ‘You're too northern.’ There is such a thing apparently about being too northern!”

Chibnall said it's important to ensure that the show includes voices and accents that haven't been depicted on Doctor Who for a while. The first episode of the new season, "The Woman Who Fell To Earth", will be also set in Sheffield.

9. Tosin Cole, who joins the show as Ryan, has seen only two episodes of the show before.

Cole said: "I’ve only watched two episodes. I remember watching the Weeping Angel episode, being scared out of my pants."
Henrik Knudsen / BBC/Henrik Knudsen

Cole said: "I’ve only watched two episodes. I remember watching the Weeping Angel episode, being scared out of my pants."

10. Bradley Walsh was offered the role of Graham without an audition and accepted even before he was told what the show was.

He was approached to “shake things up a bit”, at a time when he was best known for his comedy shtick as host of the game show The Chase. However, Walsh was clear that he wouldn't be a comedy sidekick in Doctor Who. He explained: “I didn’t really want to be a clown. I’ve done that for so many years and you like to do other things.”
Henrik Knudsen / BBC/Henrik Knudsen

He was approached to “shake things up a bit”, at a time when he was best known for his comedy shtick as host of the game show The Chase. However, Walsh was clear that he wouldn't be a comedy sidekick in Doctor Who.

He explained: “I didn’t really want to be a clown. I’ve done that for so many years and you like to do other things.”

11. He also didn’t even know that a woman had been cast as the Doctor until the day Whittaker was unveiled.

“I had no idea — no one told us!” Walsh said. However, he’s since called the decision “a stroke of genius”.
BBC

“I had no idea — no one told us!” Walsh said. However, he’s since called the decision “a stroke of genius”.

Doctor Who debuts on BBC One and BBC America on Sunday, Oct. 7.