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Doctor Who: Jodie Whittaker Will Play the First Female Doctor

Peter Capaldi's replacement has been named

Kaitlin Thomas

The wait is finally over! After months and months of speculation, the BBC announced Sunday that Jodie Whittaker has been named the thirteenth Doctor on the long-running science fiction series Doctor Who.

She will take over for Peter Capaldi, who announced earlier this year that he would depart the role after four years and three seasons in the TARDIS. Her first appearance will be in this year's Christmas special, when Capaldi's Doctor will finally regenerate after receiving fatal wounds while battling the Cybermen in the reflective Season 10 finale. Capaldi will be joined by showrunner Steven Moffat, who is departing after six seasons at the helm. Moffat will be replaced by Broadchurch's Chris Chibnall.

"I'm beyond excited to begin this epic journey, with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet," Whittaker said in a statement. "It's more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can't wait."

"After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we're excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor," added Chibnall. "I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we're thrilled to have secured our number one choice. Her audition for The Doctor simply blew us all away. Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The Thirteenth Doctor is on her way."

​Jodie Whittaker, Doctor Who

"Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker's work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm," said Capaldi. "She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She's going to be a fantastic Doctor."

Whittaker joins a lengthly list of actors who have portrayed the heroic Time Lord over the years, including Matt Smith, David Tennant, Christopher Eccleston, Tom Baker, and Patrick Troughton among others.

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Her casting is a major milestone for the series. She is the first female to portray the Doctor in the show's 50-plus year history. However, she is not the first person to take over a role from a male actor within the series. In Season 8, the Master, a friend-turned-enemy of the Doctor, regenerated into a woman played by Michelle Gomez. In Season 9, another Time Lord was shown to also regenerate into a woman. Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Agent Carter's Hayley Atwell, and Broadchurch leading lady Olivia Colman were all considered fan favorites to succeed Capaldi in the lead-up to his exit.

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As for how Whittaker feels being the first female Doctor, the actress told the BBC that she's thrilled to be taking on the historic role. "It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you're told you can and can't be. It feels incredible," she told the BBC.

"I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender. Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that's exciting about change," she added. "The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.

Whittaker is best known for her starring role in Broadchurch, opposite former Doctor David Tennant and Doctor Who alum Arthur Darvill. Her credits also include Attack the Block, One Day and St. Trinian's, along with a handful of British mini-series, including The Assets, The Smoke, Marchlands and Cranford.

Doctor Who will return at Christmas.