After many months of speculation, where nearly every name from British TV was wheeled out by those ever-eager bookies, Jodie Whittaker was on Sunday revealed as the 13th incarnation of Doctor Who in the BBC’s long-running sci-fi, stepping into the time-travellng brogues of Peter Capaldi, who is bowing out of the Tardis in the holiday special.
Much debate has focused on the fact that Whittaker – known to most people as grieving mother Beth Latimer in the acclaimed U.K. series Broadchurch (created by incomingDoctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall) – is female.
But away from that shock revelation, which appeared to shake some people to the very core, here are five other facts about Whittaker.
She starred in John Boyega’s breakout film…
Whittaker may expect to be battling the odd alien or two on her upcoming Tardis travels, but she’s already got a decent amount of experience under her belt. In Joe Cornish’ s acclaimed 2011 debut, the low-budget sci-fi thriller Attack the Block, she played a nurse mugged by a group of teens who then join forces to fight off a horde of jet black, dog-like creatures that emerge from a meteorite in inner-city London. And the lead star – in his film debut – was also someone testing out their intergalactic muscle for future use: Star Wars’ own John Boyega.
We are all, by now, aware that the next Time Lord is not a man. Here are some more interesting facts about the celebrated British actress.
The first ever episode of Charlie Brooker’s dark anthology series Black Mirror may have seen the U.K. prime minister forced to have sex with a pig, but it was the third and final outing in the first season that arguably attracted the most acclaimed. In 2011’s The Entire History of You, set in a near-future where people have implants enabling them to record and replay everything they see and do, Whittaker starred as woman in a relationship that is torn apart by abilities offered by the technology. So popular was the episode that, following a bidding war, the story – or rather the concept behind it – was optioned by Robert Downey Jr. to make into a film.
She stepped in for Carey Mulligan with just two hours notice
Having originally auditioned for the Carey Mulligan’s role on stage in The Seagull, Whittaker stepped up at the last minute when the Drive star was hit with appendicitis mid-way through the run in 2007. “I got a phone call at 5 p.m. Can you do this,” she told The Independent. “I’ve never been so scared in my life, it’s like your worst nightmare, walking on stage and not knowing your lines.”
Her code word for Doctor Who was “The Clooney”
Given the level of secrecy around the new Time Lord (even those working closely with theDoctor Who team at the BBC had no idea who it was going to be), Whittaker adopted a code word with her husband, U.S. actor Christian Contreras (who she starred with in last year’s indie comedy Adult Life Skills). “In my home, and with my agent, it was The Clooney,” she told the Blogtor Who fan site. “Because to me and my husband, George is an iconic guy. And we thought: what’s a really famous iconic name? It was just fitting.”
Her announcement as the next Doctor Who was immediately followed by predictable behavior in the U.K. press
Following Sunday’s revelation that Whittaker was going to be the 13th Doctor Who, British tabloid The Sun and The Daily Mail’s online edition chose to celebrate the news by digging up nude pictures of her from previous acting credits. Both were accused of being “reductive and irresponsible” by the Equal Representation for Actresses campaign group. One journalist on Twitter responded by saying: “I’m not sure things have shifted on their axis all that much, after all.”