Dr. Piers Britton, an internationally recognized expert on Doctor Who and a professor of visual and media studies at the University of Redlands, is available to speak on the past, present and future of Doctor Who, as Whovians ready themselves for the season premiere and new female lead.
“'It’s about time' is a catchphrase often used to mark the return to our screens of the time-traveling hero of Doctor Who, but it’s taken on new force this fall with the debut of the first woman to star in the role in its 55-year history. Jodie Whittaker’s casting was the choice of incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall; between them, they embody the two aspects of a root-and-branch regime change in the Who production office and cast – and seemingly in storytelling style.
"At press junkets, Whittaker has stressed the newness of the new season – the eleventh since Doctor Who was triumphantly revived in 2005 – though she’s downplayed the gender swap as a central part of that newness. She and her costars have talked mostly about how cinematic in scope, and how emotionally real in focus, the new series is. Claims for realism should not surprise: Chris Chibnall is best known as the creator and head writer of the dour, angsty detective series Broadchurch. Chibnall himself has stressed that Doctor Who’s newly cinematic qualities reflect the urgent need for Doctor Who to keep up with American competitors.
"For committed fans of the series, Whittaker’s debut is the biggest thing to happen to Doctor Who since its revival, for better or (in the view of a noisy, vitriolic minority) worse. Casual viewers may have equally disparate reactions but along national rather than ideological lines. In the US, reader comments in wake of Whittaker’s announcement in the New York Times ranged from the bemused to the impatient, whereas even Brits who only tune in once in a while recognize that this is a watershed for a beloved national institution.
"The relevance of Whittaker’s advent as the Thirteenth Doctor in the wake of #MeToo seems clear. Whether the new Doctor Who is successful enough for her to become a role model for all viewers, and especially young women, is a question that’s harder to gauge. In its revived form, Doctor Who has outlived the average American-made series by a good four seasons now, and it remains to be seen if Whittaker can reverse audience ennui and gain anything close to the following enjoyed by Tenth Doctor and Broadchurch co-star, David Tennant, a decade ago when Who fever was at its height."
Dr. Britton holds a BA and Ph.D. from the University of Manchester. He was raised in northeast England.