Last week, Doctor Who Season 11, which was rebooted in 2005 after the popular British science-fiction series had been off the air for decades, premiered.
It was a big moment for fans of the show and the sci-fi genre at large for many reasons. For starters, it was the first new Doctor Who episode since the previous actor to play the role, Peter Capaldi, signed off last Christmas. More important, however, was the fact that Sunday’s Doctor Who Season 11 premiere debuted Jodie Whittaker’s new take as the Doctor’s 13th incarnation. Why? Because in program’s nearly 55-year history, the “Broadchurch” actress is the first woman to ever play the titular character. And as she explained at the 2018 New York Comic Con, keeping this fact a secret was one of the hardest parts of the job.
Jodie Whittaker talks Doctor Who Season 11
“In this day and age, and with people’s ability to find things out, the secrecy was the hardest part,” she says. “It’s really hard. You work so hard on something and it’s not just us. We rock up last to set and get to leave the first, just so we can avoid spoilers.”
Of course, Whittaker is quick to note that her playing the Doctor and keeping it a secret before the official reveal was only the hardest part for her.
“Everyone else who’s building the sets, creating the monsters and doing all the work in post-production, like writing the incredible new score — they’re doing the hard work,” she says. “Though yes, all of us have to keep that hard work a secret, too. Because it’s really such a wonderful adventure if you don’t already know the ending, and it’s hard in this day and age to keep it that way.”
Whittaker here specifically talks about spoilers, which television and film studios will often go to extreme measures to prevent from ever happening.
“It was all so much easier before technology,” she notes, “but because of technology, this wonderful series will also be reaching however many corners of the earth they can get it to. That’s really wonderful if you think about it. But even then, it’s difficult because when we’re not able to tell anyone anything, we have to ask them to trust us.”
The inherent difficulties of keeping an incredibly popular show’s secrets from being spoiled notwithstanding, Whittaker isn’t wrong about technology’s benefits in this case. The day of the Doctor Who Season 11 premiere, BBC, BBC America and several other BBC affiliates broadcast “The Woman Who Fell To Earth” as part of an unprecedented global simulcast. As a result, the episode reached 2.6 million viewers in the United States alone.
New episodes of Doctor Who Season 11 air Sundays at 8 p.m. on BBC America.