While this may seem a formality, the BBC has confirmed Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker will return as The Doctor in the show’s 12th season.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about the announcement, Whittaker said, “I really can’t wait to step back in and get to work again … It’s such an incredible role. It’s been an extraordinary journey so far and I’m not quite ready to hand it over yet.”
With the Season 11 finale scheduled for this Sunday, rumors surfaced that Whittaker’s Doctor might regenerate in the New Year’s Day special. A quick exit for The Doctor has precedent, with Christopher Eccleston leaving the series after one year; which he later revealed was caused by the disintegration of his working relationship of then-showrunner Russell T. Davies.
Typically, actors tend to stay in the role for three seasons — a tradition set by Second Doctor Patrick Troughton — with Fourth Doctor Tom Baker sticking around for seven years. Sixth Doctor Colin Baker was signed to a three-year contract, but his second year was spent on hiatus as the BBC leadership attempted to scrap the series. It returned the following year in a truncated format.
In the modern series, actors David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi maintained the three-season tradition; though various production schedule oddities and the creation of special episodes extended their tenures in the role despite not working by as much as much as two years.
The news also confirms that Season 12 is on the way, but the status of co-stars Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill and Bradley Walsh remains unclear. Hopefully, they will return as well. Team TARDIS is only getting started and a consistent Doctor/companion team would be a big change for the modern series.
Doctor Who airs Sundays on BBC America.
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