The BBC announced Sunday British actress Jodie Whittaker will the 13th Time Lord in its long-running hit television show Doctor Who becoming the first female cast in the lead role.
Whittaker, 35, will replace Scottish actor Peter Capaldi at the end of the season. Capaldi assumed the role as the Doctor in 2013 after replacing Matt Smith.
In an interview with the BBC, the actress said it felt “incredible” to take on the role.
“It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you’re told you can and can’t be,” Whittaker said.
She also told fans “not to be scared by my gender.”
“Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change,” Whittaker told the British broadcaster. “The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.”
Capaldi welcomed the announcement that Whittaker will be the next time-travelling Doctor.
“Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker’s work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm,” Capaldi said in a statement. “She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She’s going to be a fantastic Doctor.”
Many Whovians and former cast members took to Twitter to celebrate the announcement of the 13th Doctor.
“Whoever the new Doctor is… enjoy… it’s the best,” former companion of the Doctor tweeted before the announcement. “Yes.”
Pearl Mackie, who currently stars alongside Capaldi, also tweeted her excitement.
Many fans were excited by the fact the new Doctor is a woman.
Others on social media took a sarcastic approach to the announcement.
“Oh great a female Doctor Who. What next? Female real doctors? Female pilots? Female scientists? Female sisters and mothers? Female WOMEN?!” Mark Hoppus tweeted.
“It’s a Doctor Who special on Christmas Eve, not a Doctor Who special on Christmas Steve,” Joel Watson tweeted.
Others were against casting a woman in the role.
“Imagine one of your favourite shows but with someone of the opposite gender playing your favourite character(s). Hell,” Jamie Ghis tweeted.
“I don’t know about this,” Timothy Boone chimed in.
Doctor Who ran from 1963 to 1989 and was revived to acclaim in 2005. Its longevity is partly due to its flexible premise. The central character, known only as the Doctor, can travel across space and time and can regenerate into new bodies – allowing for endless recasting of the role.
Speculation had been mounting that a woman would get the role, generating excitement from some fans and opposition from others who feel that the character has been established as male.
Here’s a look at more reaction:
-with a file from The Associated Press.