Jodie Whittaker attends BBC America’s ‘Doctor Who’ at Comic-Con International 2018 at San Diego Convention Center on July 19, 2018, in San Diego, California. — AFP
SAN DIEGO: British actress Jodie Whittaker was unveiled Thursday as the first woman to play “Doctor Who,” telling fans of the cult BBC series she felt the weight of history — but that gender should be irrelevant.
The 36-year-old, who rose to fame in award-winning British drama “Broadchurch“, takes over from Scottish actor Peter Capaldi as the 13th incarnation of the Time Lord.
“I knew, obviously, being the first female it was going to have some extra responsibility thrown in,” she told 6,500 fans at the annual Comic-Con convention in San Diego, which hosted the cast’s first news conference together.
“It’s incredibly inclusive and it also feels, knowing that the fans are all over the world like there’s this huge Whovian family that you want to be a part of because it’s so supportive and inclusive, and fun.”
Fans were treated last year to a brief glimpse of Whittaker, walking towards the Tardis in a forest, in a clip shown after the Wimbledon tennis final on BBC television.
At Comic-Con, which attracts 130,000 movie, TV and comics fans from around the world, BBC America dropped the first full trailer which opened with Whittaker’s startled expression.
“All of this is new to me,” she says, presumably after just regenerating. “New faces, new worlds. New times. So if I asked really, really nicely, would you be my new best friends?”
There were glimpses of the Doctor with her new sonic screwdriver, some impressive-looking shots of alien worlds and the first look at her three new companions.
‘She just nailed it’
The adventures of the Doctor — a time travelling, humanoid alien who traverses the universe — have maintained a fervent following since they were first aired in 1963.
The new season gets a 10-episode run and although there is no announced release date, fans are expecting it to return in October.
Whittaker will work alongside “Broadchurch” creator Chris Chibnall, who takes over from Steven Moffat as the new showrunner.
“She just walked in the room she was the Doctor. It was one of those things where you don’t know what you’re looking for until you see it, and the energy she bought was just the Doctor — but it was new, it was fresh,” said Chibnall.
“It was very funny, very emotional. It’s really exciting as a showrunner when you see them audition and you want to write instantly, and it suggests scenes. That’s what happened really — she just nailed it.”
The show is aired around the world and marked its 50th anniversary four years ago with a special episode screened simultaneously in nearly 100 countries.
“The thing about this role, which is why it’s so amazing for any actor to play, is that essentially gender is irrelevant and that’s completely liberating,” Whittaker told the audience.
“As a woman who isn’t a genre, is just a woman, I have never approached a role thinking, ‘Oh, how do women do this?’ I’ve just done it from my perspective.”
Best so far
It was a big day for iconic television shows, with AMC‘s “Better Call Saul” making its debut at Comic-Con and generating buzz with a new character from sleazy attorney Saul Goodman’s “Breaking Bad” days.
“BCS” is a prequel show to the iconic series which introduced fans to Saul (Bob Odenkirk) in its second season, in 2009.
When Saul thinks he’s about to be bumped off by Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul), he demands to know if it was someone called Lalo that sent them.
While many fans may never have contemplated the line again, the spectre of Lalo returned to San Diego as the cast hit the stage.
Co-creator Peter Gould screened that original Lalo mention from “Breaking Bad” to jog everyone’s memory, along with the first image of actor Tony Dalton (“Sens8“) as the character.
Co-creator Vince Gilligan declared the fourth season, out on August 6, as the best so far, adding that the overlaps between “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” were getting bigger.
A trailer teased a more cynical Jimmy, on the verge of going off the rails and becoming Saul following the death of his brother Chuck (Michael McKean) in the season three finale.
“You know why God made snakes before he made lawyers? He needed the practice,” says Jimmy. — AFP