Though change is built into the basic premise of the long-running BBC show Doctor Who, the series might be getting one of its most substantial overhauls to date.
In a Thursday press conference and subsequent panel at San Diego Comic-Con International, fans got a glimpse of a Doctor for the modern day — a Doctor for everyone. The panel included the show's new Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and companions (Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole), as well as showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens.
It would be easy to pin the show's facelift entirely on the fact that for the first time in its 55-year history, the Doctor is a woman. Jodie Whittaker gets the Tardis keys and the topic of gender is, granted, hard to dodge.
The first thing out of Whittaker's mouth at the press conference preceding the Hall H panel was that it's actually somewhat liberating being the first woman Doctor.
There's room for learning all around, though. A little girl dressed as Whittaker's Doctor who blogs about the show asked whether the actor would bring a woman's touch to the Tardis, and Whittaker kindly and deftly explained she doesn't typically approach a role thinking about the fact she's a woman.
"You just are [a woman] and it's a [point of view]," she said.
That's not to say Whittaker doesn't know what she stands to mean to fans.
"As a girl back in the '80s, the Doctor didn't look like me," she said.
Baking in inclusivity
But Chibnall discussed how trying to open up Doctor Who to everyone isn't just about casting a woman.
He said the upcoming season features writers of color for the first time, plus female guest writers, female directors and an editing team that's all female except one person.
"People need to know the business is for them as well," Strevens said.
Even the Doctor's costume was designed with inclusivity in mind. Whittaker said she wanted something anyone could wear regardless of body shape or gender. And you best believe guys are already cosplaying Whittaker's costume at Comic-Con this year.
What's to come
The internet's had a year to get used to the idea of Whittaker as the Doctor.
Judging by the sheer noise in Hall H, fans are ready. When asked about her Comic-Con experience this far, Whittaker gleefully noted, "loud."
When the rest of the panel was asked to the describe the new Doctor in three words, the resulting word pile included "bubbly," "energetic," "witty," "effervescent" and "kickass."
The crowd got a look at not only the new trailer, but the Doctor's new Sonic Screwdriver.
When asked what she thought The Doctor's core tenets are, Whittaker said to be a pillar of hope, striving for brightness and inclusion.
The crowd was right there with her.
The new season kicks off in the fall with a feature-length episode. Chibnall said to expect new monsters and new villains, adding that with two weeks left of filming, they've yet to run into any old villains.
And yet, he said, "The Doctor is still The Doctor."
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