Jodie Whittaker confirms she will be returning for Doctor Who season 12. Whittaker made her debut as the 13th and first female incarnation of the Time Lord this season, and while the season consistently delivered strong ratings it’s been controversial. Some detractors were clearly opposed to a woman taking the role at all, and rumors even swirled that Whittaker and new showrunner Chris Chibnall would be exiting after the current season.
While political and social commentary isn’t new for Doctor Who, Whittaker and Chibnall have made it an explicit priority this season. Out of the main cast, half of the TARDIS crew are women, half are people of color, and the show hasn’t been shy about examining how sexism and racism affect the characters. In “Rosa,” Ryan grapples with white supremacy in deep south of 1950s America, Yaz sees the brutal affects of the British colonialism on her ancestors in the “Demons of Punjab,” and the Doctor comments that she didn’t have to waste time defending herself when she was “still a bloke” in “The Witchfinders.” Some fans have applauded the show’s redoubled activism efforts, while others condemn it for what they perceive as pushing a liberal agenda. But despite the naysayers, Whittaker won’t be regenerating following the New Year’s episode, which will air in lieu of the traditional Christmas special.
The rumor about Whittaker’s exit lingered due to the BBC holding back on revealing development plans for Doctor Who season 12. However the actor finally spoke out to THR about her decision to continue with the show:
“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.”
There’s been no word yet on when or if Chibnall will be leaving the series. Despite the showrunner’s statement that classic series villains won’t be appearing, a rumor that the Daleks will show up in the New Year’s episode has been circulating online. Clues about the New Year’s episode will likely be revealed in a trailer following the season finale, which will air Sunday, Dec. 9 on BBC.
Part of this season’s criticism hasn’t been around the political ideology, but rather what some viewers perceive as lackluster writing. Long-time fans have always been able to count on an intently crafted season leading up to an explosive and heart-wrenching finale conflict with the “big bad” behind the scenes. This season’s finale leads the Doctor, Ryan, Yaz, and Graham to a deserted battleground, and Chibnall has promised an emotional and shocking conclusion. Whether or not the episode delivers, and how it ties together the season’s questions, such as the significance of the Stenza, or the identity of the Timeless Child, mentioned in “The Ghost Monument” will determine ongoing engagement from fans on the fence.