The BBC refused to confirm or deny rumors that the upcoming 13th season of Doctor Who would be Whittaker’s last playing the titular role.
The BBC released a statement on Jodie Whittaker’s future on Doctor Who, which neither confirms nor denies her rumored exit. The actress took over the role from Peter Capaldi in 2017, becoming the first female Doctor in the show’s more than 50-year history. She’s since embodied the beloved Time Lord through more radical changes behind the scenes (with the promotion of showrunner Chris Chibnall) and on-screen (with the “Timeless Child” canon shakeup of unlimited regenerations in the most recent season). Whittaker has two seasons as the Doctor under her belt, with a third currently in production.
After airing the 2021 New Year’s special “Revolution of the Daleks,” speculation began that the upcoming 13th season would be Whittaker’s last. An insider alleged to the UK tabloid The Mirror that the series is “gearing up for a regeneration,” Whovian speak for handing over the reins to a new actor.
The show’s network, the BBC, initially declined to comment on the rumor but have now addressed the speculation… sort of. In a statement, the network said, “We won’t be commenting on any speculation around Jodie’s future on the show.”
Whittaker herself was similarly evasive about the subject ahead of the New Year’s special. Asked if she would continue in season 14, she shared that she was focused on filming the current season, and “to think something beyond that, I can’t put my head there, and I don’t want to.” Compare that to her conversation with the same outlet nearly a year previous, when she confirmed her part in season 13 and said she was “clinging on tight” to the role.
As sad as it would be to see Whittaker go — especially when it seems that actor and showrunner alike are just beginning to hit their stride in the series — it makes a certain kind of sense to wrap up her story in season 13. For one thing, most of her predecessors also stayed on for only three seasons. For another, there’s a nice symmetry to the 13th Doctor bowing out in season 13 and the 14th Doctor debuting in season 14. This numerology may even have been hinted at in Revolution of the Daleks: the episode’s tag teased new companion Dan (John Bishop), whose horoscope read “Your lucky number’s 13.”
Plus, now that Whittaker has finally broken through the half-century-long tradition of cisgender white men leading Doctor Who, the door is open for so many more diverse faces to pilot the Tardis. It would be a welcome change to see a person of color inhabit the role — and there may even be evidence to suggest Jo Martin’s Doctor, who was introduced last season, could be a future incarnation. Before Whittaker passes on the mantle, though, there are plenty of loose ends for the 13th Doctor to tie up.