Jodie Whittaker — things you didn't know about the Doctor Who star

Jodie Whittaker
Jodie Whittaker is famous for being the first female Doctor in Doctor Who. (Image credit: Jim Dyson/Redferns)

Jodie Whittaker is one of Britain’s best-known actresses, and made TV history in 2017 as the first woman to play the full-time role of Doctor Who. After delighting audiences for five years, Jodie’s tenure as the 13th incarnation of the Time Lord has come to an end, making way for her successor, Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa.

Yorkshire-born Jodie described her experience of being the Doctor as something “you’ve just got to treasure”, adding: “You are a tiny drop in the ocean of Doctor Who. This family grows, and it’ll be bigger than us, and it’ll go on. Ncuti will be extraordinary, and his performance will be so magical. Now we get to sit back and enjoy it as the fans that we can be, knowing whatever is to come, we were once a part of that.”

With key roles in hit dramas such as Broadchurch and Marchlands already under her belt, the future is sure to be looking bright for Jodie. But what else is there to know about the actress? Let us fill in you on a few facts…

Jodie Whittaker is a proud Yorkshire lass

Jodie was born on 17 June 1982 in the picturesque village of Skelmanthorpe in West Yorkshire. She’s the daughter of Yvonne, a nurse-turned-magistrate, and businessman Adrian Whittaker and has one older brother called Kris. 

Jodie was a pupil at Scissett Middle School and Shelley High School before she went to train at the Guildhall School of Music Drama, where she graduated in 2005 with an acting gold medal. 

The residents of Jodie’s birthplace Skelmanthorpe couldn’t be prouder of their girl-done-good. So much so that when she landed the lead in Doctor Who they erected a custom-built Tardis outside the village butchers in her honor.

Doctor Who - Jodie Whittaker to leave in 2022

Jodie as the Thirteenth Doctor in Doctor Who. (Image credit: BBC)

She launched her career at Shakespeare’s Globe

Jodie made her professional acting debut at Shakespeare’s Globe, where she appeared in a production of The Storm in 2005. The iconic theatre, which is located on the bank of the River Thames in London is a reconstruction of the Elizabethan playhouse where William Shakespeare wrote his world-famous plays. 

The following year, Jodie starred in the critically acclaimed Venus, opposite the late Peter O’Toole, which earned her nominations from the British Independent Film Awards and London Critics Circle. 

In an interview with The Guardian, Jodie said: “I'll never be able to quantify how important Venus was for me or my career. I ticked a huge box." She later wowed TV fans with her role as grieving mum Beth Latimer in three series of ITV’s gripping whodunit Broadchurch.

Jodie Whittaker as Beth Latimer in Broadchurch.

Jodie Whittaker as Beth Latimer in Broadchurch. (Image credit: ITV)

She’s a self-confessed book geek

Jodie always knew she wanted to be an actress, ever since she was five-years-old and used to line her dolls up and make them ‘speak’ in different voices. 

The star confessed to The Daily Mail that the only time she’s silent is when she’s got her nose in a book. "The only time I shut up is when I'm reading, because I'm a book geek. I'm a quiet person's nightmare. I was the attention-seeking child at school who needed everyone to look at me. Luckily that got channelled into acting. I would have been a nightmare in any kind of office.”

She’s backpacked around the world

Before launching her career as an actor, 18-year-old Jodie went on a solo backpacking trip. 

Reliving the experience, which she described as her ‘best holiday’ in a chat with The Independent she revealed: “I set off alone for six months and then a friend joined me. I started in LA, did two months around the west coast of North America from Tijuana to Vancouver and back to work at a hostel in Flagstaff, Arizona. I then flew to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, for my first Christmas away from home, and on to New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia.” 

As well as being an avid adventurer, Jodie is also something of an adrenalin junkie and has completed a skydive, bungee jump and been white-water rafting.

Jodie Whittaker visiting SiriusXM in Jan. 2020.

Jodie went on a solo backpacking trip before becoming an actor. (Image credit: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

She kept her Doctor Who role a secret from her dad

When Jodie got the call to say she’d landed the role in Doctor Who she was ordered to keep the news on a strictly need-to-know basis. Because of all the secrecy surrounding her casting, she even had to use the code name “The Clooney” (inspired by actor George Clooney) when discussing her new job with her agent. 

Jodie, did however, let her husband Christian in on it. She told the BBC: "I told my husband, but that doesn't count does it? And I told my mum. My dad was FURIOUS that I'd kept it a secret. There were a lot of cloak and dagger antics that went on to keep everything totally under wraps."

Jodie Whittaker holds a sonic screwdriver up to the camera as the 13th Doctor.

Jodie kept her Doctor Who role a secret from her dad. (Image credit: BBC Studios/James Pardon/Matt Burlem)

She’s a massive Coldplay fan

Jodie first fell in love with Coldplay’s music when she was a teenager, and listened to a lot of the British band’s music during her travels across the globe. 

Their classic track “Yellow” holds a special place in Jodie’s heart and in 2019, she recorded her own rendition for BBC’s Children in Need. 

During rehearsals, Jodie received a surprise visit from Coldplay pianists Jonny Buckland and Will Champion, and went all fan-girl on the pair, admitting she felt like a teenager again. Her beautiful cover of Yellow reached a very respectable number five in the charts.

She likes to keep her private life, private

Jodie met her husband, American actor and writer Christian Contreras while they were both studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. 

The couple tied the knot in Arizona in 2008, and are proud parents to two children. Their daughter, whose name has never been publicly revealed, was born in 2015, and in 2022 Jodie and Christian welcomed their second child into the world.

Jodie closely guards her personal life, and refuses to talk about her husband in interviews. Revealing the reason behind her decision to remain silent about her other-half, Jodie explained: “I don’t divulge stuff about him (Christian), because I don’t think he’d appreciate a half-interview about him when he’s not here to speak for himself. I would prefer not to talk about him personally because I could be misquoted.”

Jodie Whittaker and her husband Christian Contreras in the Royal Box on Centre Court during day twelve of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships

Jodie and her husband Christian Contreras. (Image credit: Karwai Tang/Getty Images)

She stays away from social media

Despite her huge fan base, Jodie has never felt the desire to jump on the social media bandwagon. Speaking to TV Guide the actress revealed her decision to stay clear of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram has proved to be a ‘very healthy’ one. 

She added: “It (social media) was never a direction I wanted to go in, because it lets in things that don't necessarily need to be a part of your day. I am very proactive of making sure I know the news and what's happening. So to then kind of dilute that with opinions, whether good or bad, of people who've never met me isn't necessarily helpful for my type of personality.”

Jodie Whittaker's fact file

Frequently asked questions about the actress...

How old is Jodie Whittaker?

Jodie Whittaker is 40. She was born on June 17, 1982.

Is Jodie Whittaker married?

Jodie Whittaker has been married to her husband Christian Contreras since 2008.

Does Jodie Whittaker have any children?

Jodie and Chris are parents to a daughter, who was born in April 2015. The couple welcomed their second child in 2022.

Where was Jodie Whittaker born?

Jodie Whittaker was born in West Yorkshire, England.

How tall is Jodie Whittaker?

Jodie Whittaker is five foot four.

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.