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One of the most widely expected announcements from the sci-fi world has finally been made: Jodie Whittaker is to step down as Doctor Who.
Whittaker — who joined the series in 2017, becoming the 13th Doctor and the first woman to play the BBC’s iconic Time Lord — is leaving the cult show alongside showrunner Chris Chibnall after three seasons.
The duo are set to exit the TARDIS in a trio of Doctor Who specials, which will culminate in what the BBC is describing as an “epic blockbuster special” that will air in Autumn 2022 as part of the broadcaster’s centenary celebrations.
“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,” said Whittaker, who was widely praised for her multilayered, warm, funny and inspiring depiction of the Doctor.
“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. 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.”
Whittaker had been widely rumoured to be leaving the show, with her predecessors — including David Tennant and Matt Smith — having also completed three seasons each.
It was Chibnall who cast Whittaker, whom he had previously worked with on Broadchurch, when he took over from Steven Moffat as showrunner. He also brought in co-stars Tosin Cole (Ryan), Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Bradley Walsh (Graham) and cast the acclaimed Sacha Dhawan as the latest incarnation of The Master, plus Jo Martin as the mysterious Fugitive Doctor.
“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,” said Chibnall, who is exiting alongside executive producer Matt Strevens.
“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!”
Added BBC Drama director Piers Wenger: “Over the last four years Chris and Jodie have made Doctor Who history and their time on the show is indelibly marked on our memories. From Rosa Parks to Ascension of the Cybermen, Chris and Jodie have given Doctor Who some of its most life-affirming and tear-jerking moments to date and we are beyond excited to see what they have in store for us in the new series this Autumn. Jodie’s final adventure to mark the BBC’s Centenary in 2022 is set to be a Doctor Who Special to remember. I’d like to thank them both for their incredible work on the show.”
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