In a new interview with Digital Spy, Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens elaborated on the decision to cast a woman as Peter Capaldi’s replacement in the BBC America drama — and for Chibnall, it was a non-negotiable matter.
“Once Peter had decided he was leaving, the next Doctor was always going to be a female Doctor,” Strevens revealed. “That’s what Chris wanted, that was part of his conditions of doing the job.”
Chibnall added that “it felt like a straightforward decision” and “not that controversial” to make the newest Doctor a woman, given that the Doctor’s gender has almost nothing to do with his or her storyline.
“It’s very hard to think of many examples in its 55-year history where the Doctor [makes] a decision based upon gender,” Chibnall said, echoing what he told us at San Diego Comic-Con in July, where he teased Season 11 as “much more a story of survival” for Jodie Whittaker’s protagonist than an examination of gender.
In a Sept. 17 interview with The New York Times — where Chibnall repeated that he was “really clear” about wanting a female Doctor for Season 11 — Whittaker spoke out about online criticism of her casting, much of which she has not experienced since she doesn’t have social media accounts.
“I have no issue with someone having a different opinion from me. I don’t necessarily want to have my last meal with them,” Whittaker said, adding that “I know I got the role on [my] merits. I didn’t get handed it. I don’t play a gender.”
Season 11 of Doctor Who debuts Sunday, Oct. 7, on BBC America, though its time slot has yet to be announced.