It must seem like an impossible job auditioning for a role as iconic as the one Jodie Whittaker found herself reading for. But here she is: the new Doctor Who, ready and raring to go. So, how did that come about? Showrunner Chris Chibnall spoke to our sister publication SFX magazine about the moment he knew Whittaker was going to be the thirteenth Doctor – and how he made the audition extra difficult for the ex-Broadchurch star.
“I think you don’t know what it is until you see it,” Chibnall says of the unenviable process of finding the new Doctor Who. But, with Whittaker, things seemed to click immediately, “Then you go, ‘Oh my god, there’s the Doctor!’ and that’s what happened with Jodie.”
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But what do you have to do in a Doctor Who audition – let alone be the one to stand out? “I wrote three audition scenes for everyone who auditioned,” Chibnall reveals, “[Jodie] came in and just blew us away. She was incredibly Doctory and at the same time was incredibly fresh and new and funny and alive, and lovable.”
It didn’t end there. To avoid accusations of bias (Chibnall was previously showrunner on Broadchurch, in which Whittaker starred), the showrunner upped the ante beyond what the likes of Matt Smith, David Tennant, and Peter Capaldi had to go through: “We gave her another two scenes after that so I think she’s read more than any Doctor Who auditionee has ever had to. She was brilliant.”
There you have it. Countless actors, five scenes, and one instant impact. After all that: Jodie Whittaker has the entire universe at her feet.
You can find out more about the new Doctor Who season and much, much more in the new issue of SFX, out Wednesday, September 12.