Only a few performers in the world understand what it’s like to carry the heritage of portraying Doctor Who’s adored lead character – and Jodie Whittaker is one of them.
From 2017 until 2022, she played the Thirteenth Doctor, wandering the cosmos with her clever sonic screwdriver and became the first female Time Lord.
While the 41-year-old liked the role and stated she would return if given the chance, she has also won praise for her tragic parts in Broadchurch, Time with Bella Ramsey, and One Night.
One Night, which will be released in the UK on November 24 on Paramount Plus, follows a trio of women who are forced to confront sad and horrific memories they’ve been harbouring for 20 years after one of them survives a sexual attack.
Jodie chatted to us about what drew her to the distressing project, celebrating with Girls Aloud on St Trinian’s Day, her enthusiasm for Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary, and what it was like transferring the baton onto Ncuti Gatwa – which entailed an actual ‘handover’.
The BBC sci-fi series returns this week for its 50th anniversary, with David Tennant, 52, reprising his role as the Time Lord (although as the Fourteenth Doctor, not his previous version, the Tenth Doctor).
Jodie, 41, said that she didn’t know anything about Doctor Who before entering the Tardis for the first time… But now that she’s a true fan – a ‘Whovian’ – she can’t wait to see what the new episodes have in store for her.
‘It’s the first time now for me that I am a full-on fan with no stress attached. Because obviously when we’ve shot it, I’ve sat and watched it as it’s come out and panicked about saying something in an interview that I wasn’t meant to,’ she shared.
‘Now I can talk about it, I can’t ruin it! I can just be the front row of it now and just super excited and just immensely jealous.’
While Jodie found it’so sad’ to say goodbye to the Doctor, especially after her fantastic adventure with Mandip Gill as her companion Yaz, she admitted that it was so ‘heartbreaking’ since it was such a ‘ace’ time.
If requested to return, the actress stated that there would be “no debate” because the programme gives her “absolute happiness,” adding that being reunited with her Doctor’s former team would be a “dream.”
Nonetheless, she is excited to see what ‘phenomenal’ Sex Education actor Ncuti, 31, would offer to the part – so, has she met him yet?
Explaining what happens when a new actor is cast as the Doctor, she outlined: ‘There’s like a little handover thing that’s like being able to contact them, which is so exciting.
‘But obviously because he’s the busiest actor in the land, I think just before he was being announced and we found out, he was on some amazing set somewhere. So there was a lot me and David like leaving messages and chatting through all that but I’m yet to meet him so be prepared. I will be very overexcited.’
Jodie may have only been out of her coat and braces for a year, but she’s been quite active since then.
The Broadchurch actress wowed audiences in the second season of Time, appearing alongside Game of Thrones’ Bella Ramsey in the highly praised prison drama.
Off-screen, Jodie was picking Bella’s brain about The Last of Us, considering that her co-star plays Ellie in the post-apocalyptic sensation.
‘What was so funny with Bella was I was halfway through The Last of Us while we were shooting,’ she recalled.
‘At one point I was crying and stressed because something really dramatic was happening. I was like, “You need to get out, I can’t talk to you right now, I’m at a really crucial point!” And then I was just like, “I need to ask you a million questions.”’
Fortunately, Bella didn’t appear to mind being quizzed, as Jodie continued: ‘They were incredibly patient with me and very generous with their time because I quizzed them within an inch of their life.’
Jodie’s most recent job, as Tess in One Night, is one she is really proud of.
Reflecting on what drew her to the production, the actress stated that the Australian drama conveyed a narrative about sexual assault in a ‘totally new’ way to her.
‘What made this completely unique to me and completely engrossing was the change of POV [point of view],’ she said.
‘Very often it’s told from outside in – there’s an investigation, there’s detectives, there’s people working things out. This is about the decimation something like that can have.
‘It’s also about how the event – whether it happened a minute ago or 20 years ago – is defining for a group of women that it affects, particularly this friendship group.
‘But also what it’s about is how we all survive something like that and who owns memory, who has the right to tell stories, and especially if that story is true.’
In Jodie’s One Night, her heroine Tess doesn’t recall the attack that happened two decades ago, thus reading impact statements helped her comprehend what real-life survivors who had comparable terrible situations had gone through.
The actress praised the series’ writers, Emily Ballou and Catharine Miller, as well as the series’ first block director, Catharine Miller, for their thorough research.
Jodie, who is from Yorkshire, confessed that she was ‘arrogant’ about adopting the accent at first… However, she immediately recognised after her first dialect lesson that she had a lot of work ahead of her.
‘When we got into the meat of it in a very short window, I was terrified because it was harder than I thought because I’m an idiot,’ she stated.
‘I never stopped speaking to the dialect coach. She wasn’t on set with me, but every Sunday I went through all my weeks, lines and scenes with her.
‘Because of how great a teacher she was, those fundamentals were put in place so that I then felt comfortable that the director could completely change how I’d interpreted the scene.’
While it’s been incredible to witness Jodie transform into numerous personalities with a chameleon-like quality throughout her career, one of her most memorable parts dates back to 2007, when she made her debut as Beverly, the receptionist in St Trinian’s.
The actress recalled how great it felt to be a part of the rebellious movie when she returned for the sequel St Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold two years later.
‘The thing is with St Trinian’s, it was such a short window, but I think Beverly has some kind of response to that was just really fun,’ she said.
‘To me, what came out of that is I’ve got friends from that, that I met on that job for maybe three or four days and I’m still really good mates with, and that was just a lovely thing.
‘And also, at that time, it was very rare you were on set and the women outnumbered the men. So that was a unique scenario then.’
Her final highlight, naturally, is a particular girlband that may be on the verge of a reunion.
‘Probably the highlight was the very last scene of the first one. We were in a scene with Girls Aloud dancing on the table, pulling out all my best 90s dance moves,’ she remembered excitedly.
‘I suppose when you are looking back, it’s probably the least bleak thing I’ve been in.’
One Night premieres in the UK on Paramount Plus from Friday November 24.