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At the end of the one-hour special broadcast on Christmas Day, Scottish actor Capaldi “regenerated” into English actress Whittaker, who made history as the first woman to ever play the iconic time-traveling character. Running since 1963, Doctor Who is the longest running sci-fi series in the world and airs to dozens of territories globally.
Whittaker was chosen to play the Thirteenth Doctor by new showrunner Chris Chibnall, who took over the series after the departure of Steven Moffat. Chibnall has already penned a number of episodes for Doctor Who, including stories for the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor, played by David Tennant (Jessica Jones) and Matt Smith (The Crown), respectively. The writer has performed showrunner duties on the show’s spin-off Torchwood, Arthurian legend series Camelot for Starz, and the U.K. version of Law & Order.
But Chibnall is perhaps best known for creating Broadchurch, which was remade in the U.S. as Gracepoint (and also starred Tennant) and in France as Malaterra. The show, which ran for three seasons in the U.K. (regularly reaching over 10 million viewers) also featured Whittaker in a major role.
The actress made her Doctor Who debut at the end of an emotionally charged episode where the Time Lord teamed up with a previous incarnation of himself, culminating in a scene during the famed Christmas armistice between opposing forces during WWI.
In a spectacular final 80 seconds, Whittaker’s new Doctor said just two words: “Oh, brilliant!” This came after a moment of quiet in the TARDIS after Capaldi’s explosive regeneration, which saw his trademark ring fall to the ground after the change. Whittaker’s first move in the time machine caused it to spit her out above Earth, where she was left falling as the TARDIS flew off, its interior on fire. Her opener managed to surprise, suggesting the Doctor will be without her trusty ship for some time.
Sadly, for those eager to see more of the new Doctor right away, there’s a wait. The next season is currently scheduled for fall 2018, and all eyes will therefore look to San Diego Comic-Con, where the team, fronted by Whittaker and Chibnall, will undoubtedly present the first trailer.
In a further shake-up, the regular format of twelve 45-minute episodes per season has been tweaked to a lesser count of ten, though each installment will now run 50 minutes. The BBC has promised that the season opener will be an hour-long special that will also introduce the new co-stars joining Whittaker on the show.
U.K. game show host/singer Bradley Walsh and actors Tosin Cole (who played a Resistance pilot in Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Mandip Gill (known for starring in the long-running Brit teen soap Hollyoaks) and Sharon D Clarke (who debuted in the 1988 BBC miniseries The Singing Detective) complete the lineup for the new Doctor Who in 2018.
Doctor Who is a BBC Studios production for BBC One and a BBC American co-production. BBC Worldwide is the international distributor.
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