It is a new day and a new version of the Doctor is here to claim her rightful place. As sad as I am to see Peter Capaldi leave the role, a role he commanded with more style and grace as the character and an actor then should be humanly/time lorldly possible as well as a personal favorite of mine out of the modern Doctors (get over to Big Finish the second they let you, Peter!), I couldn’t be more excited to see what Jodie Whittaker and new show-runner Chris Chibnall have in store for the Time Lady.
If you’ve been following the site for a few years you will remember me doing a two part piece speculating what Capaldi’s take on the character would be given the history of the character and what images of the clothes and brief interviews available at the time. I would encourage you to go back and read them (you can do so here and here) as they are fascinating in retrospect and to toot my own horn for a minute, pretty spot-on. I felt that with Jodie taking the reins officially with the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special it was well past time for me to give her an in-depth look as well and see what we can suss out.
The very first vibe I get from the costume reveal is that she looks like the host of some children’s show back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. The Doctor is known for wearing slightly dated and/or out of style clothing in several of his/her incarnations, so this fits perfectly.
Her attire leaves the Doctor appearing very down to earth an approachable. The muted blue being an obvious nod to the TARDIS, but it also keeps the clothes from appearing too garish and pulling away from the overall friendly nature it exhibits. It should be noted that the Doctor’s ears are pierced, a first for the franchise. The look shows a Doctor that is in no way hiding being a woman but in turn isn’t playing up the fact either. It’s less ‘I am woman, hear me roar!’ and more ‘I am woman, so what?!’. The fact that it isn’t an overly complicated cosplay isn’t lost on me, but as that observation is more about the brilliance of the costume designers, Chibnall, and Whittaker herself (remember all Doctors have had input on their taste in clothing) as opposed to a reflection of the on-screen portrayal of the character, it bears nothing more than this brief mention.
Gone are the more form fitting clothes of her previous few male incarnations, Jodie’s Doctor apparel appears looser and more flowing. This is a Doctor that values comfort and range of motion. This along with her body language suggests a less stodgy and more carefree personality at work.
One of the more interesting bits in this whole thing is how the clothes seem less inspired by previous Doctors and more so by previous companions. In particular, two companions spring to mind.
The first is Sarah Jane Smith, played by the late Elisabeth Sladen. Sarah Jane first met the Doctor in his/her Third incarnation, but she is best known for her time with the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker. Sarah Jane started out wearing smart-looking pant suits, but over time took to wearing increasingly unique series of more casual wear that showed different sides of her personality. Fun, easygoing, and charming beyond belief, she always managed to keep the Doctor on his toes. Sarah Jane is one of if not the most beloved companion in all of Doctor Who, so the Sarah Jane feeling I’m getting is most likely entirely intentional.
Secondly, we have the second incarnation of the Time Lady, Romana, specifically her second incarnation played by Lalla Ward who also traveled with the Fourth Doctor. Romana was known for wearing a series of one-off costumes such as the schoolgirl get-up from seen in the picture. Smarter academically than the Doctor, yet she lacked experience and the seat of your pants, on the fly problem solving abilities of the Doctor. While her outfits showed a playful side to her, she was strong willed, confident, and demanded to be taken seriously.
Since the Doctor has regenerated into a female, a blonde at that, comparisons to this version of Romana were inevitable, and knowing this the sense I’m getting is most likely once again on purpose.
You’ve no doubt noted that both the companions I referenced traveled with the Fourth Doctor and from what little news we do have about the upcoming series/season will see the Doctor traveling with three companions, a trait most notably ascribed to the Fifth Doctor. I think this gives us a good clue to what the show will feel like going forward, and from that we can make an educated guess as to the type of Doctor we are going to get.
Under Steven Moffat we had Doctors that had the most traits in common with the first three Doctors, Matt Smith pulling from the Second Doctor and Capaldi blending elements of the First and Third. It would be only natural then for Chibnall to keep the ball rolling as well as give his own era a different feel to move on and pull inspiration from the next few Doctors. Given what information is available I think Jodie’s Doctor will incorporate the madcap goofball side of the Fourth Doctor, skipping his more melancholic and egotistical side and instead swap in the Fifth Doctor’s inclination to work as part of a team. A lighter, more personable Doctor that garners attention for her smarts and odd habits and who can be commanding when needed, but prefers more to guide and influence when possible. Also, and this is pure and total supposition on my part, that when this Doctor does finally lose her temper it will be more akin to the explosive and aggressive variety not seen in the Doctor not seen since the days of David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor.
Only time will tell if I’m right.
All images and video © BBC