'Doctor Who' star Jodie Whittaker: 'Even thinking about leaving makes me upset!'

Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor in 'Flux' - a profile shot of the Doctor in front of an amber background with a rainbow-coloured stripe behind her rupturing as it approaches the right margin
Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor. (Image credit: BBC Studios/Zoe McConnell)

Jodie Whittaker is returning to the TARDIS for an all-new adventure as the Doctor, but six-part serial Flux will be bittersweet for the star, as it's her final full series with the show. 

Jodie is set to depart at the end of three standalone specials, which are set to air in 2022 - after which, an as-yet-unconfirmed new actor will take over the iconic role.

Flux sees the Doctor and Yaz (Mandip Gill) face the ultimate threat as an ancient evil attempts to break free across the universe, and new cast members will be joining the show including John Bishop as new companion Dan, and Jacob Anderson as Vinder.

Ahead of Doctor Who season 13, Jodie revealed how she's feeling about her impending departure...

Jodie Whittaker on the challenges of filming the new series in a pandemic

"The thing that was the most surreal for me going into it was that we started filming in November last year, and so I hadn't seen anybody, probably, in that entire time apart from my poor family! Even though the world was opening up, it felt like going into a crowded environment was a really bizarre thing. But actually what happened was that you walk on set, having not been in a space with other people for such a long time, and it's immediately familiar and full of love. There's this heightened sense of safety you want to have for everybody, so you don't cross any lines."

Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, standing with her palms pressed together and a lock of shock on her face

What perils lie ahead for The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker)? (Image credit: BBC)

"The first few weeks we were getting used to PPE, masks, antibac, and the slowness of all of that as well, but it does become weirdly normal. It becomes this treasured thing, because we were allowed to be in contact with other people, so you really wanted to protect it. But it was certainly challenging — it meant that we've not gone away [to film overseas], we've not done stuff that we would have done, but when you're in it and you love it, you forget about all the 'what if's. We're so lucky, me and Mandip, because we've had two previous seasons - poor John and Jacob!"

This is the first series since the show was revived that will be in the form of a serial, telling one continuous story. What was that like to film?

"It's just this massive arc to me! Every time we do EPK [electronic press kit], which is the kind of behind-the-scenes thing, they say 'can we chat to you about episode four?' and I'm like '...what?' — I can't for the life of me work out where it plays episodically! So watching it with its full journey, and its arc, will be incredible. I felt as if there was a lot of space in this — there's a lot of silence in it that feels necessary and weighted, but there's all the energy of everything that we always do, the fizzing of the episodes and the mania!"

Yaz (Mandip Gill), the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and Dan (John Bishop) sneaking cautiously around a corner

Yaz (Mandip Gill) and the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) are joined by new companion Dan (John Bishop) in the latest series. (Image credit: BBC)

You've worked with a lot of guest stars during your time on the show — which one is your favourite?

"There's so many people that have just been wonderful and a joy, but I suppose the one I felt quite moved about, because I'm a massive fan, was when Stephen Fry came into it [in the two-part story Spyfall]. He's got the most extraordinary brain, he's like a living legend, and I was really touched he wanted to be in it — and I got to have scenes with him!"

"I slightly redeemed myself, because we'd worked together before, and my character was very questionable in the last thing I did, in [the 2007 film] St Trinian's — my character offered him some pills or something, which is highly inappropriate!"

This is your final full series — how are you feeling about the end of your time as the Doctor?

"We haven't finished filming, so I can avoid the thought of it all. But I had to do my final EPK today, and obviously it was done in that slightly concluding way — they said, 'can you tell us how you feel about the crew?' and I just lost it. I cried my eyes out, absolutely gone! I know this is the best time I'll ever have on a job — I felt that from the start."

The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) at the helm of a damaged-looking Tardis, an expression of alarm on her face

The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) faces the biggest threat of her life (Image credit: BBC)

"If everyone comes up to you forever going, 'I'm a Doctor Who fan, that's an absolute joy because it has been such a pleasure. But letting go of it will be hard, I feel like I'll be filled with a lot of grief, really. Even thinking about it makes me upset, but this show needs new energy, and the joy of this part is that you hand on your boots. I don't know who to, but whoever that is, what a thing to be able to go, 'oh, you're going to have a right time'!"

Doctor Who: Flux will premiere on Sunday, Oct. 31 at 6:25 pm on BBC1 and BBC iPlayer. Episodes will release weekly on Sundays, with the final episode of the new season set to air on Dec. 5.

Episodes will air in the US on BBC America on the same day.

Steven Perkins
Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com

Steven Perkins is a Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com, who has been writing about TV professionally since 2008. He was previously the TV Editor for Inside Soap before taking up his current role in 2020. He loves everything from gritty dramas to docusoaps about airports and thinks about the Eurovision Song Contest all year round.