Doctor Who SDCC panel

Mandip Gill, Jodie Whittaker and Toisin Cole. Photo: Nerdist.

“It’s 2018. Women shouldn’t be a genre.”

Jodie Whittaker was absolutely nailing the inspirational quotes in her first public appearance as the Doctor, reducing some of the fans at the panel to tears. Thirteen means business.

Ever since Jodie Whittaker was revealed as the thirteenth Doctor, there has been a huge buzz around the stalwart sci-fi show. Unsurprisingly, with the announcement that the show will be getting its first female Doctor, the biggest fervour has been amongst the show’s female fans, who have been desperate for more details about the new Time Lord.

The new Doctor took to Hall H at San Diego Comic Con, along with her new co-stars Toisin Cole, who plays new companion Ryan, and Mandip Gill, who will play Yasmin. There will be a third companion in the shape of veteran UK star Bradley Walsh, who is playing a character called Graham. Also on the panel were showrunner Chris Chibnall and the executive producer Matt Strevens.

The announcement of a female Doctor didn’t go down well with all Whovians, and there was a backlash from certain corners of the internet – we all remember the “Nobody wants a TARDIS full of bras” tweet. This negativity wasn’t really address in the panel, with the actors choosing to take a more positive angle, but they were all talking about inclusion and change right from the outset.

“The Doctor is a pillar of hope, striving for brightness and inclusion,” said Whittaker, when asked to introduce the Thirteenth Doctor, who was also described as energetic, full of childish wonder, playful and fidgety – so possibly this Doctor will be a bit more Matt Smith than Peter Capaldi. But comparisons are not really fair – Whittaker has more of an opportunity than any of the actors before her to make this role her own, and create a whole new Doctor.

Doctor Who SDCC panel

Jodie Whittaker arrives at Hall H. Photo: BBC America

“I knew obviously being the first female it was going to have some extra responsibility thrown in,” said Whittaker, of her casting. But it seems to be a responsibility that she’s relishing, especially when she saw the reactions of the show’s female fans to her Doctor. There are already people cosplaying the Thirteenth Doctor at SDCC this year, and this clearly means a lot to Jodie Whittaker. Representation matters, and there’s a whole generation of little girls who are about to get an energetic, kick-ass time-travelling woman to look up to.

“When I was growing up, I looked up to people in films and shows that were doing the things I wanted to do. I didn’t want to stand at the side giggling and clapping, I wanted to run about and jump about and do all those things – and those people didn’t really look like me,” said Whittaker. Well, now they do.

And asked what she would say to male fans of the series, Whittaker simply replied, “It’s OK to look up to women.”

Aside from all the soundbites, what was actually revealed at the panel? The answer is not that much, with Chris Chibnall very keen to keep things as spoiler-free as possible. There was the reveal of Thirteen’s new sonic screwdriver, which apparently has an interesting back story, and was wielded aloft by Whittaker at the panel, to the audience’s delight.

Doctor Who SDCC panel

The thirteenth Doctor at the Her Universe fashion show. Photo: @megsponchoboys

There was talk about the structure of the series – apparently all the episodes will be stand-alone stories, with no two-parters. It’s unclear whether there will be a big story arc throughout the series, but you’d have to assume that there will be, in order to show some character progression with the new cast.

Before the latest trailer was released, all we’d seen of Thirteen was the casting announcement clip, a very short teaser which aired during the BBC’s World Cup coverage, and the regeneration scenes at the end of last season, so they are really keeping their cards close to their chest with this series. There isn’t even a definitive air date yet, although some sources are reporting the new Doctor’s debut as being in December, presumably for the Christmas special, with the rest of the series following in 2019.

The secrecy doesn’t seem to have stopped the fans from working themselves up into a frenzy of excitement though, which was evident at Jodie Whittaker’s surprise appearance at the Her Universe fashion show.

It’s been a long wait, but hopefully we will finally get to see the Thirteenth Doctor in action at Christmas.

The universe is calling…