On Sunday, BBC surprised fans of Doctor Who by announcing Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor. While there's bound to be some push back from certain segments of the audience, this bold move marks the beginning of an exciting new era for the sci-fi franchise. In fact, Whittaker's Doctor could reinvigorate Doctor Who and the 2,000-year-old Time Lord.
At the end of Season 10, the Doctor is exhausted. In the finale, Peter Capaldi's 12 is physically fighting off regeneration because he doesn't want to change again. The character's long life, with its numerous losses, has finally become too much. The Doctor seems to have lost hope —the one quality the Time Lord simply cannot live without. Which is why having 12 meet the original Doctor at Christmas is the perfect setup to launch the series in a new direction.
It's time for a fresh start, not just for the series, but for the Doctor. This is a character who has traveled throughout time and space for more than two centuries now. The Doctor seems to be at a point where new experiences are becoming harder and harder to find. That's where Whittaker comes in. So far, this character has only navigated the world as a man. An alien man, but still a man. For 13, the world is going to look and feel different, because the Doctor won't just have a new face, the character will have a new gender as well. It may not change the way the Doctor perceives themself, but it will change how the world reacts to them. And for the Doctor, that's going to be exhilarating, confusing, and, likely, eye-opening.
That's exactly the kind of change that the series needs. Recent seasons have dealt with a certain degree of creative stagnation. As brilliant as both Matt Smith and Capaldi were in the role, the character kept hitting the same emotional beats — as did the show. With new headwriter Chris Chibnall and Whittaker on board, Doctor Who can shake off the creeping sense of despair that has slowly taken hold of the Doctor by giving the character what every incarnation craves the most — a new way to discover time and space.
"I'm beyond excited to begin this epic journey — with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It's more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can't wait."
It seems safe to say, Whittaker understands what the Doctor means to the fans. She's ready to embody everything the character is, while also exploring everything the character can be. What more could the fans possibly ask for as they await the arrival of the show's next chapter?
As always, the core of the Doctor and the many lives the character has led will remain the same. However, outwardly, 13 will have a fresh start and outlook on life. The expanse of time will look exciting again, not just for the Doctor, but for the fans. As a result, Doctor Who itself will be changed for the better, because there's nothing more exhilarating than the thrill of the unknown.