TORONTO — Jodie Whittaker says she’s breathing a sigh of relief now that viewers have warmly welcomed her as the latest Doctor Who.
The British actress waited for premiere episode’s ratings to roll in earlier this month before she celebrated. At first, she wasn’t sure what to make of them.
“It isn’t until everyone tells you, ‘Oh this is really good,’ that you’re like, ‘I can chill out now,”‘ Whittaker said in an interview.
“There was a very big beam on a lot of people’s faces.”
Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise that many Doctor Who fans — affectionately known as Whovians — would be stoked to see an actress step into the shoes of the illustrious character. But in the U.K. the figures suggested far more than typical fans were on board.
The show pulled in a staggering 8.2 million viewers on its first night — numbers it hasn’t seen in a decade for the debut of a new Doctor.
“Doctor Who,” which airs in Canada on Space, saw its initial ratings rise 53 per cent over the previous season on Sunday. A total of 658,000 watched the show across various platforms, according to figures supplied by Bell Media.
“It isn’t just the wonderful fandom that have got behind it,” Whittaker said, “but it suggests from the figures that there’s potentially new fans, which is the thing of dreams.”
Whittaker spoke to The Canadian Press about the pressure of playing the iconic role and the thrill of joining a pop culture conversation about gender.
CP: When you were announced as the first actress to play Doctor Who it led to heated debates in some circles over whether it was right to change the character’s gender. How did you feel about what was being said?
Whittaker: It’s just not an argument to me. To suggest the thing that makes me unqualified to play an alien with two hearts is the fact that I’m a woman, I don’t really see the response. It’s just a bit daft. I understand the moment of gender, and I understand the moment of casting a woman is something to be talked about, something to be celebrated, but to suggest it ruins “Doctor Who” to me is a misunderstanding of what the show represents.
CP: Now that you’re encountering “Doctor Who” fans in public, have you had any memorable experiences?
Whittaker: There was recently a guy who spoke at New York Comic Con during the fan questions… …read more