Jodie Whittaker has confirmed she is leaving Doctor Who alongside showrunner Chris Chibnall, with the BBC revealing on Thursday that Jodie’s departure will take place across a three-part special.
It was first announced that the actress, 39, would take up the mantle as the thirteenth iteration of the iconic time traveller in 2017, and in a new statement Jodie described her time manning the Tardis as being ‘the best job I ever had’, leaving fans devastated.
Jodie was first reported to have made the decision to leave in January, with reports released in the wake of the rumours stating that although viewership has been in decline for five years, Jodie and Chris’ pairing attracted just half the audience that the Russell T Davies-led, David Tennant-fronted version of the show did.
Horizons new: Jodie Whittaker, 39, has confirmed she is leaving Doctor Who alongside showrunner Chris Chibnall, both of whom have worked on the show since 2017
The Telegraph reported at the beginning of the year that episodes were drawing in fewer than 5 million viewers.
The paper adds that such numbers are ‘not dissimilar to when the show was axed in 1989’.
More than 10million viewers watched David Tennant’s Doctor Who finale in 2010, according to The Guardian.
However, October’s Can You Hear Me? episode saw just 3.81 million viewers tuning in, which – according to website Cosmic Book News – was a 22% decrease since the first episode of Season 12, which aired ten months earlier.
Thursday’s news left Doctor Who fans devastated, with many rushing to Twitter to share their sadness.
One explained: ‘JODIE WHITTAKER IS LEAVING DOCTOR WHO I WANT TO CRY,’ while another added: ‘Jodie Whittaker is leaving Doctor Who and I am going to be sad about this all year.’
Statement: In a statement released on Thursday, Jodie described her time manning the Tardis as being ‘the best job I ever had’
Jodie will first appear in the thirteenth season of Doctor Who – set to air later this year – and then in the first special, tipped to hit screens on New Year’s Day 2022.
A second special will air in spring 2022, with Jodie’s final, feature-length appearance as the Doctor – in which she will regenerate – arriving in autumn 2022 as part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.
Of her time on the show, Jodie said: ‘In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them.
‘My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life. And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories.’
Devastated: Thursday’s news left Doctor Who fans devastated, with many rushing to Twitter to share their sadness
She added: ‘We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.’
Jodie concluded: ‘I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.’
Showrunner Chris, 51, added: ‘Jodie and I made a ”three series and out” pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the Tardis keys.
Co-stars: Aside from Jodie, Chris also welcomed the likes of Tosin Cole (Ryan), Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Bradley Walsh (Graham) to the beloved show
‘Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations. She’s been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour.
‘She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production. I can’t imagine working with a more inspiring Doctor – so I’m not going to!
‘For me, leading this exceptional team has been unrivalled creative fun, and one of the great joys of my career. I’m so proud of the people we’ve worked with and the stories we’ve told.’
He went on: ‘To finish our time on the show with an additional Special, after the pandemic changed and challenged our production plans, is a lovely bonus.
‘It’s great that the climax of the Thirteenth Doctor’s story will be at the heart(s) of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.’
Moving on: Writer Chris Chibnall, 51, is also leaving the show and said in a statement: ‘Now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the Tardis keys’
The British writer concluded: ‘I wish our successors – whoever the BBC and BBC Studios choose – as much fun as we’ve had. They’re in for a treat!’
Aside from Jodie, Chris also welcomed the likes of Tosin Cole (Ryan), Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Bradley Walsh (Graham) to the beloved show.
The BBC added that plans for the new generation of Doctor Who will be announced ‘in due course’.
As the first woman to play the iconic role, Jodie has thrilled audiences with her portrayal of the Time Lord, winning the hearts of Doctor Who fans across the globe.
In 2020, Jodie was voted 2nd Most Popular Doctor of all time, coming within a whisker of her friend David Tennant, in a poll of more than 50,000 fans for Radio Times.
Jodie was first reported to have made the decision to leave the show in January, however this is the first time she has confirmed she will be moving on.
Confirmation: Jodie was first reported to have made the decision to leave the show in January, however this is the first time she has confirmed she will be moving on
At the time, fans called for Jo Martin’s iteration of the character to become the 14th Time Lord, with the Holby City star previously appearing in two episodes of the show’s twelfth season alongside Jodie.
At the time, Jo played an unknown Doctor, and viewers claimed this meant she would be an ‘obvious’ successor for the part. J
Jo’s Doctor revealed her identity in Fugitive Of The Judoon after previously going by the name Ruth Clayton, and she appeared to be a former unknown iteration of the character; she also appeared in The Timeless Children.
Chris shared his support for Jo’s version of the Doctor when she first appeared onscreen in April last year, as he said: ‘The important thing to say is – she is definitively the Doctor, there’s not a sort of parallel universe going on, there are no tricks.
Could it be? Doctor Who fans previously claimed Jo Martin’s iteration of the character should return as the 14th Time Lord as she is an ‘obvious’ successor to Jodie
‘Jo Martin is the Doctor, that’s why we gave her the credit at the end which all new Doctors have the first time you see them.’
Chris went on to claim that Jo’s inclusion in the twelfth series was ‘very deliberate’, and added: ‘But as ever with Doctor Who, answers often reveal new questions.’
Fans also took to Twitter to call for Jo to take on the mantle from Jodie as they felt she was an ‘obvious’ choice.
One viewer wrote: ‘Jo Martin to take over as the next Doctor or we riot.’
While another claimed: ‘I will only accept Jo Martin as the 14th Doctor! If it’s anyone else I’ll be kind of bitter!’
And one fan gushed: ‘Look, IF there is to be a new Doctor Who, the choice is obvious and already has the blessing of the fandom. JO MARTIN. The Dr. End of.’
Backing: Fans took to Twitter at the Time to call for Jo to take on the mantle from Jodie as they felt she would be a great choice for the part
Who is odds-on to replace Jodie as Doctor Who?
According to Ladbrokes.co.uk, these are the favourites to succeed Jodie into the Tardis…
MICHAELA COEL – 5/1
Michaela, 33, won acclaim for her BAFTA-winning role in Chewing Gum and BBC/HBO drama, I May Destroy You – making her the hot favourite.
KRIS MARSHALL – 6/1
Kris, 47, was widely rumoured to be the 13th Doctor back in 2017 – could 2021 be the year he finally steps into the Tardis?
JODIE COMER – 10/1
The Killing Eve star, 27, who has picked up an Emmy and a BAFTA thus far, is also one of the top names.
REECE SHEARSMITH – 12/1
The League of Gentleman actor, 51, is currently an outside bet for the role.
RICHARD AYOADE – 6/1
The IT Crowd star, 43, is not far behind Michaela as he looks to add to his impressive CV.
PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE – 8/1
The much-decorated Fleabag and Killing Eve is among the favourites for the role.
JOHN BOYEGA – 10/1
The Star Wars actor, 28, has previously starred alongside current Time Lord Jodie in Attack the Block and branded her performance ‘brilliant.’
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: ‘It really is a case of Doctor ‘Who?’ at the moment following Jodie Whittaker’s announcement, and while Michaela Coel leads the betting, Richard Ayoade is close behind as a popular second-favourite.’
Other names in the frame include Line of Duty star Vicky McClure, Game Of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer, Maxine Peake, James Norton and Tom Rosenthal.
Doctor Who? All the actors who have played the Time Lord
The BBC’s hit Sci-fi show Doctor Who was first launched by the BBC in 1963. It chronicles the journey of a Time Lord called ‘The Doctor’.
He is first introduced after fleeing his home planet, Gallifrey.
The Doctor travels through time and space in his spaceship, called a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), which resembles a police box.
During his travels, The Doctor meets people and invites them to voyage with him. They are known as his companions.
He also encounters several evil beings, such as Daleks and Cyberman, and is forced to defeat them sing minimal resources, such as his Sonic Screwdriver, as they try to destroy or take over other planets, including Earth.
As a Time Lord, The Doctor has the capacity to regenerate when he is wounded or dying. After regenerating, he takes on a new appearance and personality.
The concept of regenerating was added into the series after the First Doctor, William Hartnell, became ill and stepped down from his role.
The first run of Doctor Who ended in 1989 before being revived in 2005 with Christopher Ecclestone as the Ninth Doctor.
Below is the full list of the actors who have been cast as the Doctor from 1963 to 2017 – when Jodie Whittaker took over the coveted role.
Starting the legacy: The First Doctor William Hartnell (1963-1966)
Second and Third: Patrick Troughton (1966–1969) and Jon Pertwee (1970–1974)
Fourth and Fifth: Tom Baker (1974–1981) and Peter Davison (1981–1984)
Sixth and Seventh: Colin Baker (1984–1986) and Sylvester McCoy (1987–1989, 1996)
Eighth and Ninth: Paul McGann (1996) and Christopher Eccleston (2005)
Tenth and Eleventh: David Tennant (2005-2010) and Matt Smith (2010-2013)
Twelfth: Peter Capaldi (2013 – 2017)