Actress Jodie Whittaker tells us about settling in to Doctor Who, getting to grips (or not) with modern technology, and her first impressions of the new Audi A1
You first encountered aliens in 2011’s Attack The Block – did you ever think then that you’d be playing the most famous alien on British television? They were terrifying aliens and I wasn’t as equipped back then as the Doctor is – more petrified and hiding in a police van! I really thought that was my one chance at science fiction and that I’d go back to crying every week in a TV drama, so having the opportunity to play the Doctor… it’s just amazing.
So, you’re looking forward to picking up your sonic screwdriver again? Actually, we’ve been filming since the beginning of January – we’ve got a few months to go, but it’s great. It’s like being back at school – immediately we’re back to bullying Brad [Bradley Walsh, who plays Graham, one of The Doctor’s companions] for everything he does! I’m really, really lucky to have this job – we play ‘pretend’ on the most epic level and, as a kid growing up wanting to be an actor, it’s all I could’ve hoped for.
How has being cast in Doctor Who changed things for you? Doctor Who has a fan base all over the world – even in really extraordinary places. And that’s amazing for me, because all the hard work I put into it actually gets seen – I can’t tell you the amount of stuff I’ve done over the years that’s had an audience of about 10 people.
Where do you go to relax? I still get very excited when I’m getting on a plane and going somewhere warm. It’s probably because we have such inconsistent weather here in Britain, but there’s nothing better than rocking up somewhere and knowing it’s not going to rain for a while.
Do you find driving relaxing? I do, even around London. Some people hate driving around the city, but I love it. And I’m a mean parallel parker – I have to be because it’s on-street parking at my place! I also love driving in the States. I’ve done the trip from Arizona to California quite a bit and that’s just an extraordinary drive.
So, you’d rather drive than be driven? Without a shadow of a doubt: drive! My driver in Wales, Paul, will tell you what a nightmare passenger I am – I provide a running commentary every morning. I was really lucky – my mum and dad bought me a car for my 17th birthday and I’ll never forget the independence it gave me. I’m sure it’s like that for everyone, but particularly if you’re someone who grew up in the countryside in the north of England and the alternative to driving is waiting two hours for a bus to take you three miles – it’s freedom!
Is music important to you, then? Very. And I think one of the best things that’s come out of my work over the years is my collection of music. I’ve got stuff from soundtracks, or I’ve worked with someone and they’ve introduced me to a new band… I can kind of plot my life so far through music and I love that.
And what about TV? Do you like bingeing on box sets from services like Netflix? I love that with a box set you can just immerse yourself in something very quickly. I do have worries about my attention span now, though – it’s becoming rare to have to wait for anything. Obviously with Doctor Who, it’s like going back to the old days, when you had to wait for Sunday to roll around. Thankfully, viewers seem to think it’s worth the wait.
Doctor Who returns to the BBC in 2020