Jodie Whittaker on her Doctor Who farewell: ‘Celebrating the outsider and the insider, that’s what makes it unique’
The Power Of The Doctor is the farewell that audiences always knew was coming.
And yet, despite a year passing since the crew called a wrap on filming, it’s a goodbye the Skelmanthorpe-born actor is still finding difficult to come to terms with.
“I’m not even slightly embarrassed about crying,” chokes Whittaker through tears, surrounded by her co-stars. “It’s been the most special time and I got to do it side-by-side with friends – and friends for life.”
Acknowledging she was a “relatively new Whovian” in comparison to many of the past Doctors, Whittaker puts it simply when she says: “My introduction into the universe has been getting the job.
“To have these kinds of experiences – I know people would kill to be in this position.
"And so, I knew every second of it, you’ve just got to treasure.”
Coinciding with the BBC’s centenary celebrations, The Power Of The Doctor is a 90-minute episode packed full of Easter eggs.
With the trailer for the feature-length episode hinting at the return of some familiar faces, it’s the delightfully dark smirk of actor Sacha Dhawan as the Spy Master that had viewers rubbing their hands in anticipation.
“Hello Doctor, welcome to the end of your existence,” chimed Dhawan from behind a curtain of dark hair.
An actor who came into his own during Doctor Who’s Spyfall episode, the 38-year-old Iron Fist star cuts a sinister figure, complete with a wildly outgrown beard and long, greasy locks.
The Master has once again returned to take down the Doctor.
“With Sacha, it was a long-term plan that we had spoken about when he was last on the show,” says Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall.
“At the end of season 12 I had the conversation with him, knowing that we would be doing Jodie’s final episode at the end of the following season.
“The big conversation was about coming back for her finale, because it had always felt like his Master and Jodie’s Doctor instantly had that chemistry, and that it would be a really fitting last battle.”
Described by Dhawan as a character “you love to hate”, the Master’s showdown with the 13th Doctor is set to be explosive.
It’s an experience Dhawan recalls with emotion, turning to co-star Whittaker, eyes wide.
“I’ve said it in interviews, but never said it to Jodie herself. She is THE best actress I’ve ever worked with – and that’s not just because of her acting ability. It’s the fact that she is one hell of a company leader,” admits Dhawan.
“She welcomes every actor, no matter how big or small their part is, with open arms.
“I’ve worked with Jodie on an ITV show years ago, we got to know each other a bit, but on this, I got to see this amazing human being who is just absolutely brilliant. And people should know that.”
Compliments echoed by each of Whittaker’s co-stars in succession, it’s not long before the outgoing Doctor’s eyes well with tears.
The first female Doctor, it’s clear Whittaker’s mark, made over the course of three seasons, will be an enduring one.
“I suppose the wonderful thing is you can’t spoiler the end, because we knew I was regenerating,” laughs Whittaker with a shrug.
Describing Doctor Who as a show that “celebrates change”, Whittaker, who first rose to prominence starring in Venus alongside Peter O’Toole, is set to be succeeded by rising star Ncuti Gatwa.
“Ncuti will be extraordinary – and he will bring an audience that we haven’t reached [before],” says Whittaker, 40.
“His performance will be so magical — and we get to sit back and enjoy it as the fans that we can be now.”
The breakout star of hit Netflix series Sex Education, the Rwandan-Scottish actor is already set to star alongside Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie as part of 2023’s highly anticipated Barbie movie.
And with Doctor Who yet another addition to his ever-expanding resume, it’s safe to say the 29-year-old is destined for great things.
It comes as former Doctor Who star David Tennant noted during a recent BBC interview that he was “a little bit jealous” of the incoming Doctor.
The Bad Omens actor, who played the Doctor between 2005 and 2010, is set to make his return next year as part of the 60th birthday celebrations.
Set against a backdrop of chaos, the highly anticipated new episode will open with a dozen of the world’s leading seismologists missing and 15 of the world’s most valuable paintings having seemingly vanished from 21st Century Earth. Meddling is clearly afoot.
“It’s for children. It’s for adults. It’s for everyone,” smiles Whittaker, her Yorkshire accent bouncing warmly around the room.
“And I think that celebrating the outsider and the insider, that’s what makes it unique.
“It doesn’t have the limitations that most shows have. You aren’t restricted to where these characters can go, who these characters are and the social norms that often happen in TV.
“And I think because of that, it always feels incredibly current as well as it feeling completely ‘other’.”
The Power Of The Doctor airs on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Sunday, October 23.