How Jodie Whittaker Saved Doctor Who

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Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

Over eight-million viewers tuned in to watch Jodie Whittaker’s debut as the new Doctor Who on Sunday 7th October 2018, and I was one of them. Read on, as there’s no spoiler alert.

Ever since it was announced, a lot of anticipation has surrounded how Jodie Whittaker would perform as the thirteenth Doctor. There have been mindless and senseless debates as to whether or not it was right that Doctor Who should be a woman, giving me the feeling that many were hoping she would fail in portraying a character that has typically always been seen as male in a man’s world.

My heart sunk during the first two minutes of the opening episode (The Woman Who Fell To Earth). There was little happening apart from Tosin Cole, one of the Doctor’s new friends (not assistants anymore), trying to ride a bike. The views and scenery above the city of Sheffield, on an autumnal day, may have been the attraction in the opening scene, but I knew deep down that it wouldn’t be long before something shocking would happen and that it would take us into the opening credits.

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Ten minutes in, there were still no opening credits, but by now I was well hooked onto what was going on. The story unfolded at a nice pace, although when Jodie came crashing through the roof of the steel-plated train and immediately got up seemingly unscathed, I did wonder if her entrance was a little far-fetched, given that she must have come through the roof with some force to have broken through. Not even a hair on her head was out of place, but then I remembered how the last series had ended when the Doctor had fallen out of the TARDIS as a woman.

The comedy element of Jodie’s opening lines in the scenes that took place on the train, that was being attacked by an alien that reminded me of a similar creature that once featured in an episode of the classic 1970s science-fiction TV show Space 1999, was an instant hit for me. Jodie had already won me over, not just because she was a woman in a supposed man’s world, but because her portrayal of the Doctor was already completely unique to anything I’d seen before. The character of Doctor Who was not in the least like any of those who had played the part before.

I loved Jodie’s accent, I loved her sense of humour, I loved the way she ran about the set talking to herself while waving her arms as if to attract the attention of something viewers could not see. I loved the cheeky and direct way she addressed the ‘tooth-faced’ alien when she first encountered it, and I loved the choice of outfit the creators gave her. I could tell simply by the way she was engrossed in the part, that she was enjoying every second and was putting everything she had in to playing the Doctor, without going over the top with it all.

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There were a couple of scenes in the episode that was, in my opinion, a little longwinded and silly, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to stay with it to see what was going to happen next. Maybe, just maybe, I could put this down to me witnessing a piece of television history, because this was the first woman Doctor Who, but the whole episode also had a completely different feel to it compared to previous seasons of the show. In fact, it almost felt like a completely new science-fiction show was being born.

If there was anything I didn’t particularly like about the new series, it was that there were no opening credits. I’ve always loved the thrill of that first few minutes of an episode that always led to the hairs on my arms standing on end as the cliffhanger is revealed, the theme music starts, and we get to find out the title of the episode. In last night’s episode, we got none of that until the beginning of the closing credits. I know the new Doctor Who team want to give the show a different feel, but I do feel that they have taken away a piece of the heart of the show by not having an opening scene that leads to a cliffhanger which leads onto opening credits and the show’s musical introduction.

I’ve never seen any problem with Doctor Who being a woman. However, the BBC have certainly struck gold by awarding the part to Jodie Whittaker. Already, now I’ve seen her in the role, I can never imagine there being another Doctor Who. The way Jodie threw herself into the role of Doctor Who has not only saved a classic, cult, show, that had flagged badly in its previous season, but has saved the BBC from destroying a show that many have thought was on a collision course with the vaults of ‘no repeats or return’ deep beneath the BBC.

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73 comments

  1. We ‘ve just seen episode 2 as well and still agree with you – loving Jodie in the role and also liking the Sunday eve slot before Strictly. Like you, I like that Jodie is using her own accent – apparently for the first time in har TV career! Shared this on Monday Magic- Inspiring Blogs (on PainPalsBlog) Claire x #SeniorSalon

  2. Hello Hugh – I enjoyed reading your recap. Coincidentally, I wrote a post on Auvers-sur-Oise where an episode of Doctor Who was filmed at the Church #seniorsalon

  3. Oh I so agree with everything you’ve written Hugh! It was a great first episode and I think Jodie is going to be a brilliant, quirky Doctor! I can’t wait for more 😊 thanks for writing this review, I thoroughly enjoyed your recap.

  4. I totally agree with you about the credits. I was waiting and waiting but then with the finishing credits I was excited as it was a new theme tune and a hard back to the the old themes. I think I’m all in with the new Doctor but I always like to wait until after their intro episode to fully decide. It’s certainly more comedic so far which is a good thing. Excited to see how it unfolds.

    1. I’m going to have to get used to the theme tune. To be honest, I much prefer the theme tune to the Christopher Eccleston season of the show. I really missed the cliffhanger that goes straight into the theme tune. It always gave me goosebumps and made me want to write an episode. It’s on the bucket list. 😀

      1. Oh I’d like to read that. I reckon the credits will be back to normal in episode two. I think they just wanted to keep it focused for the first one. Could be wrong.

  5. Hugh, this is a terrific post and you’ve convinced me to watch the new series! As a child I loved / was terrified by Dr Who and the daleks, when my son was young I caught up with the series with Matt Smith and this time the Weeping Angels had me hiding behind a cushion. The trailers looks great, full of energy … catch-up it is!

    1. Thank you so much, Annika. I’m glad my review has convinced you to give the new series of Doctor Who a go. As a huge fan of time travel, Doctor who has always been one of my favourite TV shows. I was delighted with the way Jodie took the role of the Doctor and made it her own. It’s really given the show a refreshing feel.
      I like the Weeping Angels, too. When I first saw them, it put me off walking pass graveyards for a long time.

      I hope you enjoy the first episode if you decide to watch it. It would be good to hear what you thought about it.

  6. Not having a television connection and living in Spain for all that time, we lost touch with programmes like Dr. Who…but I liked Jodie Whittaker in Broadchurch and have seen her interviewed. In the excerpt they showed she looked and sounded great. I think it is just what the series needed… I hope it is a huge success with her in the role. It will inspire a new generation of fans of all ages and gender. lovely post Hugh… hugs

    1. I’ve a feeling that this new look Doctor Who is going to be a huge success, Sally. She’s already pulled in more viewers than the last two Doctors did on their debut. Fingers crossed that the storylines and plots don’t let her down. I enjoyed the first episode and am looking forward to seeing the rest of the series. Jodie has certainly added great value to the programme and I hope she stays on in the role for many years.
      Hugs to you.

  7. I think the last couple of series have suffered not from a poor Doctor – Peter Capaldi was an excellent choice in my view, and an ideal contrast to Matt Smith – but from poor storylines. Sadly, from this first episode, I can’t say much has changed. As for Jodie Whittaker, I think she did a brilliant job in spite of the scripts, and I’d defy anyone to criticise her interpretation of the Doctor.
    So I will give it a few weeks to see if the stories improve, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they will.

    1. Looking at the previews for episode 2, it doesn’t appeal very much to me, Graeme. However, as a (diehard) fan of Doctor Who, I’ll certainly be watching. Fingers crossed that the previews don’t do it justice.

    1. We get the whole last 9 seasons of Doctor Who on Netflix here in the UK, Terri. It’s not to everyone’s liking, but I love it because of its time travel element.
      Jodie Whittaker is a fantastic actor. Well known for playing a part in the British Crime drama ‘Broadchurch.’

  8. Yes, I love her as Dr. Who, I was nervous as hell watching the first few minutes but then bam…Dr. Who appeared. I’ve always thought of Dr. Who as genderless, same as the Master and this has proved my point. From a toddler demanding to watch the Dr. to an adult woman, The Dr. has been such an integral part of me. Well done, Jodie Whittaker. Well done Dr. “I’m the Dr. I help people, its what I do.”

    1. A wonderful comment and way to look at it. Like you, Doctor Who has been a big part of my life. I’ve always said I’d like to write a storyline for the show. Maybe that is something I should put into practice?

  9. Hi Hugh, having watched Dr who from the get go , though I have to say not every episode of every series I have always enjoyed the program. Well I was busy Sunday so missed the new series start. I read your review and went right in and watched this morning! I was not disappointed, I loved it. Jodie was believable as the Dr and the whole serues is off to great start! I was delighted with all the Characters and especially loved Bradley Walsh Its a shame the one character was removed so soon I rather liked them. Thanks Hugh I might of missed the series. 💜💜

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Willow. I think Jodie did a tremendous job in the role of Dictor Who. Who would have thought 30 years ago that Doctor Who would be a woman?

      Yes, they killed off Grace far too quickly for my liking. I liked her character and I think she would have bought a lot to the show. But, who knows? Maybe she will come back? Knowing Doctor Who, the strangest of strange can happen.

      1. I think this could be the start of a whole new breath of life for the series. So many brilliant actors have been the Dr and thanks to Jodie I think it’s say to say here’s to the next 30years 😁😁. I am hoping that Grace might come back if only to see Graham’s face 😁😁😁💜💜💜

  10. Hi Hugh. I hadn’t watched Dr Who for a very long while so I was keen to see how this latest manifestation worked out. Like you I was pleased with the result. It reminded me of the very first Dr. (before your time!), with David Troughton in the role. As you say, Jodie captured the surreal element of the character and the plot perfectly. A superbly tongue in cheek performance.

    1. Hello Frank. I’ve seen some of the early episodes of Doctor Who and loved them. Just as much tension and cliffhangers as what we got on Sunday evening when the new series with Jodie started. Jon Pertwee was the Doctor I grew up with. To date, he’s still my favourite Doctor Who, but Jodie could be giving him a run for his money.

      I’m glad you enjoyed Jodie’s performance as the Doctor, as much as I did.

  11. I stopped watching Dr Who during the last series and didn’t like the idea of a woman doctor but Jodie was great, as quirky as Jon Pertwee but with a cute accent. We go out every Sunday but will probably catch up with it if it is going to be this good.

  12. Thanks for sharing this, Hugh. It looks very different from the black and white Dr Who I used to watch in conflict with the Daleks in the 70s. Rather more entertaining, I think.

  13. I think she’ll make a good Dr, it felt fresh. I enjoyed it, and I haven’t really enjoyed Dr Who since Matt Smith regenerated (except for the odd Missy episode).

  14. I missed the opening credits. I missed them all the way through and I think it was a mistake not to have them. The aim might have been to show that the programme is under new management, but I was disappointed, and distracted, for the first half an hour. I’ll watch next week, but I don’t know if I’m going to stick with it.

    The way the death of the security guard was treated was a low point for me. His death seemed not to matter because they could still save Karl. Any previous Doctor would have grieved for his loss as well.

    1. I’m so glad you missed not having the opening credits, too, April. I really do think they’ve played around with an important piece of the heart of the show by not having them.

      You have a very good point about the death of the security guard. No reaction whatsoever, apart from maybe some of the characters being a bit openmouthed about it.

      1. Whenever I watch the DVD of the very first story from 1963, I’m struck by the opening credits. I don’t think anything since has matched them, despite advances in technology.

        1. Yes, I agree, although I did also like the opening credits of ‘Thunderbirds’ and the 1970s cult sci-fi show ‘Space 1999.’ Both followed a similar pattern to that of the opening credits for Doctor Who.

  15. Hi, Hugh – I am embarrassed to say that I’ve never once watched an episode of Dr. Who (in my defense, I seldom watch television). I did watch the Trailer that you posted and agree that Jodie, her accent and her clothing worked well. Three cheers for Dr. Who finally being portrayed by a woman!!

    1. Oh, no worries, Donna. I know other people who don’t watch much TV. Also, science fiction and time travel aren’t to everyone’s liking.

      It was wonderful to watch Jodie take the part of Doctor Who. It’s something nobody would have dared mention 30 years ago. A woman Doctor Who? Get out of here. 😀

  16. I was waiting for the opening credits, planning to zoom back into the kitchen and carry on with dinner once I’d seen that bit! To date Christopher Eccleston has been my favourite Doctor Who, though I have to confess not watching the two previous doctors. But I do want opening credits back, I just have to hear the words Radiophonic Workshop to get a shiver down my spine!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who missed the opening credits. I miss those shivers going down my spine as the theme music kicks in and we get to find out the name of the episode.
      I liked Christopher Eccleston, too. Shame he only stayed for the one series, but it was one of the best seasons as far as I’m concerned. Fingers crossed that this new season will be just as good.

  17. I hadn’t watched Doctor Who since David Tennant’s manifestation, and I hadn’t read all the hype. I haven’t seen Jody Whittaker in anything else either, so I watched last night’s episode with no preconceived ideas. I really enjoyed it. If I have one criticism, it’s that they killed off Grace. Presumably an intelligent, black, middle-aged slightly plump woman was just too unbelievable a character as opposed to Bradley Walsh’s fumbling, bumbling step-granddad, Graham.

    1. I wasn’t quite sure when I heard that Bradley Walsh was going to be in the new series, that he’d fit in. I kept thinking about ‘The Chaser’, the TV quiz show he does. However, I thought his character came over quite well. I agree that it was a shame they killed off Grace but was more amazed by how there was little grief about it. Nobody seemed to scream or cry about it at the time it happened, and nobody said they should call the police or an ambulance, although there was rather a long blank screen after it happened with just the sound of her Grandson’s voice.

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