Who­vians embrace Doc­tor

Doc­tor Who pulls in a stag­ger­ing 8.2M view­ers on it’s first night — the high­est in a decade

The Expositor (Brantford) - - ENTERTAINMENT - DAVID FRIEND THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

TORONTO — Jodie Whit­taker says she’s breath­ing a sigh of re­lief now that view­ers have warmly wel­comed her as the lat­est Doc­tor Who.

The Bri­tish ac­tress waited for the pre­miere episode’s rat­ings to roll in ear­lier this month be­fore she cel­e­brated. At first, she wasn’t sure what to make of them.

“It isn’t un­til ev­ery­one tells you, ‘Oh this is re­ally good,’ that you’re like, ‘I can chill out now,’ ” Whit­taker said. “There was a very big beam on a lot of peo­ple’s faces.”

Per­haps it shouldn’t have been a sur­prise that many Doc­tor Who fans — af­fec­tion­ately known as Who­vians — would be stoked to see an ac­tress step into the shoes of the il­lus­tri­ous char­ac­ter. But in the U.K. the fig­ures sug­gested far more than typ­i­cal fans were on board.

The show pulled in a stag­ger­ing 8.2 mil­lion view­ers on its first night — num­bers it hasn’t seen in a decade for the de­but of a new Doc­tor.

Doc­tor Who, which airs Sun­days in Canada on Space, saw its ini­tial rat­ings rise 53 per cent over the pre­vi­ous sea­son on Sun­day. A to­tal of 658,000 watched the show across var­i­ous plat­forms, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures sup­plied by Bell Me­dia.

“It isn’t just the won­der­ful fan­dom that have got be­hind it,” Whit­taker said, “but it sug­gests from the fig­ures that there’s po­ten­tially new fans, which is the thing of dreams.”

When you were an­nounced as the first ac­tress to play Doc­tor Who it led to heated de­bates in some cir­cles over whether it was right to change the char­ac­ter’s gen­der. How did you feel about what was be­ing said?

It’s just not an ar­gu­ment to me. To sug­gest the thing that makes me un­qual­i­fied to play an alien with two hearts is the fact that I’m a woman, I don’t re­ally see the re­sponse. It’s just a bit daft. I un­der­stand the mo­ment of gen­der, and I un­der­stand the mo­ment of cast­ing a woman is some­thing to be talked about, some­thing to be cel­e­brated, but to sug­gest it ru­ins Doc­tor Who to me is a mis­un­der­stand­ing of what the show rep­re­sents.

Now that you’re en­coun­ter­ing Doc­tor Who fans in pub­lic, have you had any mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ences?

There was re­cently a guy who spoke at New York Comic Con dur­ing the fan ques­tions ... he didn’t want to ask a ques­tion, he just wanted to share that, as a father, he felt it was a very im­por­tant time that his kids had dif­fer­ent peo­ple to look up to. That makes my eyes fill up and gets me very over­whelmed.

Did you know much about the world of Doc­tor Who be­fore tak­ing on the role? You played op­po­site David Ten­nant, a former Doc­tor him­self, on the se­ries Broad­church.

Ob­vi­ously be­ing Bri­tish, even my­self who didn’t grow up in a house where it was on, you’re aware of it and the ter­mi­nol­ogy. Com­ing into contact with it hap­pened later when I be­came an ac­tress — and cer­tainly when I was work­ing with David Ten­nant on Broad­church. He’d not been the Doc­tor for a few years then, but still wher­ever we went there were so many fans ab­so­lutely be­side them­selves see­ing him. To know that once you’re a part of this fam­ily you’re never kicked out, that’s an ab­so­lute joy.

Did you spend a lot of time div­ing into the Who­vian lore?

I did a lot of read­ing rather than watch­ing. I ob­vi­ously had seen it. I’d never watched an en­tire sea­son, so I just ap­proached it in the sense (of) would I, if I were about to play Lady Mac­beth, go watch the most re­cent pro­duc­tion of Mac­beth? I don’t think I would.

From Chris Chib­nall (the lead writer of the se­ries) I was read­ing a heck of a lot of con­sol­i­dated in­for­ma­tion. In a way, what he sent me was an en­cy­clo­pe­dic dic­tio­nary of ev­ery­thing that is the folk­lore of it, the mythol­ogy of it.

What I felt was im­por­tant was to bring my per­spec­tive be­cause the bril­liant thing about Doc­tor Who is the cel­e­bra­tion of change, of re­gen­er­a­tion.

Is there some­thing in par­tic­u­lar you want to achieve be­fore you ul­ti­mately hand the reins over to the next Doc­tor in a few years?

It’s a big ques­tion. I think what I want to achieve is the ex­plo­ration of this ex­tra­or­di­nary char­ac­ter in its fullest and its rich­est. What I don’t want to end with is a sense of cau­tion and re­gret that I didn’t try some­thing or didn’t throw my­self whole­heart­edly into it. I’ll know that I’m hand­ing that ba­ton on to some­one else who’s go­ing to have the time of their life.

MICHAEL WRIGHT/WENN.COM

The newest Doc­tor Who, Jodie Whit­taker, signs au­to­graphs in Lon­don, Eng­land. Whit­taker says she breathed a sigh of re­lief as fans of the show have wel­comed her in the role. She is the first woman to por­tray the iconic char­ac­ter.

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