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Take a sneak peek at what’s in store when Jodie Whit­taker falls out of the TARDIS in Oc­to­ber.


Doctor Who’s al­ways thrived on its abil­ity to rein­vent it­self, so it’s no sur­prise that the cre­ative forces be­hind se­ries 11 see Jodie Whit­taker’s ar­rival as an en­try point for new­com­ers. “The first episode of a new Doctor is al­ways a great place to start, and this year I think even more so,” new showrun­ner Chris Chib­nall tells SFX at San Diego Comic-Con. “I hope it’s as in­clu­sive, ac­ces­si­ble, main­stream and en­ter­tain­ing a ver­sion of Doctor Who as we could pos­si­bly make. I feel like our job is to con­vince peo­ple who’ve never seen it that it is the great­est idea that tele­vi­sion has ever had.”


Chib­nall reck­ons that the Doctor re­gen­er­at­ing into a woman for the first time was “pos­si­bly over­due”. “The world was ready, the show was ready, the au­di­ence was ready, I think the fans were ready,” he says. “Ac­tu­ally, Rus­sell T Davies texted me the other day go­ing, ‘I think there’s a men­tion in “The Hand Of Fear” about the re­gen­er­a­tion of some­body turn­ing male to fe­male,’ so it was canon in 1976 or when­ever.”


While the press is mak­ing a huge deal of the fact that the new Doctor is a woman, the actor play­ing her is not. “I have never ap­proached a role think­ing, ‘How would a woman play this role?’ be­cause I am one,” Whit­taker says. “And I don’t know if a guy has ever gone, ‘How would a guy do this scene?’ You just are, and it’s your POV. I sup­pose my ap­proach for this is com­ing from a very in­stinc­tive place, which feels gen­der­less to me, be­cause it’s never been nec­es­sar­ily in­grained in me that there’s a spe­cific way a woman be­haves and a man be­haves. The best thing about the Doctor is that I’m not play­ing ei­ther. I’m an alien, so there’s re­ally no rules.”


When it comes to writ­ing the char­ac­ter, the Doctor be­ing fe­male doesn’t change much for Chib­nall ei­ther. “The Doctor’s still the Doctor,” he says. “There are gen­der is­sues, I think par­tic­u­larly when we go into his­tory, that might come up, but I think gen­er­ally, in con­tem­po­rary or alien worlds, the Doctor’s still the Doctor.”


Up un­til now, they’ve mostly been re­ferred to as com­pan­ions, or some­times as as­sis­tants, but this year the Doctor’s side­kicks are in­stead be­ing re­ferred to as “friends”. “It’s not an edict or rule,” ex­plains Chib­nall. “It just feels a bit more nat­u­ral to me and to us. It prob­a­bly speaks a lit­tle bit to the idea that the Thir­teenth Doctor is egal­i­tar­ian and she’s got a gang of mates. It just feels a bit more emo­tion­ally con­nected to con­tem­po­rary lan­guage.”


If you’re wait­ing for old faves like Daleks, Cy­ber­men and the Mas­ter, it’s prob­a­bly best not to get your hopes up. “It’s pretty much all-new sto­ries, all-new mon­sters, all-new vil­lains,” says Chib­nall. “I think we’re two weeks from the end of filming and we haven’t come across any old vil­lains yet.”


The TARDIS might not be in it ei­ther. “The TARDIS ex­ploded, so who knows if we’ll see it again?” Chib­nall teases.


As for the se­ries struc­ture… “We’ve got 10 stand­alone episodes that have huge char­ac­ter arcs for all of us guys,” ex­plains Whit­taker.


Se­ries 11 has the most di­verse writ­ing team in the show’s his­tory. “We have the first writ­ers of colour to write for Doctor Who,” says Chib­nall. “We have two fe­male writ­ers and three male writ­ers in the guest writer slots. And we have two fe­male direc­tors and two male direc­tors across the se­ries.”


Jodie Whit­taker made sure she was in­volved in cre­at­ing the Thir­teenth’s Doctor’s al­ready-iconic look: “I’ve never had cre­ative in­put to that level to any char­ac­ter. We, with Ray Hol­man, the cos­tume de­signer, didn’t want some­thing that felt too neat and tai­lored.”


The look was, at least par­tially, in­spired by a photo. “I found a picture while I was stalk­ing Chris Chib­nall to give me the job,” re­veals Whit­taker, “of a woman work­ing with pur­pose, deep in thought, and she had short trousers, boots, braces and a t-shirt. It was a won­der­ful ex­pres­sion of time­less­ness, pur­pose and in­clu­sive­ness. It didn’t feel like you needed to be a cer­tain shape or age to wear it – or gen­der.”


Af­ter many months of spec­u­la­tion, Chib­nall has more or less con­firmed the tra­di­tion of a Christ­mas spe­cial is con­tin­u­ing into the new era: “Well, we seem to be filming 11 episodes, but it’s only a se­ries of 10. I would def­i­nitely think there’s another episode af­ter the se­ries.” We think that’s a yes.


The cone of si­lence that has sur­rounded se­ries 11 wasn’t just erected to tease view­ers. “The only rea­son for se­crecy – or you hope, as the peo­ple mak­ing the show – is that ev­ery­body comes to it at the same time,” says Chib­nall. “It’s not be­ing se­cret for the sake of se­crecy. It’s in ser­vice of [the idea that] when it’s ready, we’ll show it to you.”

Read loads more about the new se­ries of Doctor Who in the next SFX, on sale 12 Septem­ber.

The new gang of four per­fect their over-theshoul­der looks.

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