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How involved was new Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker in creating her version of the show’s iconic time-traveler, the Doctor? Very. When EW visited the set of the long-running science fiction series, the actress revealed that she started sending ideas about how she might portray the Doctor to showrunner Chris Chibnall pretty much from the moment he suggested she audition for the role.
“It took me [just] a second to go, ‘I’m throwing my hat in the ring’,” said the actress, who previously worked with Chibnall on the crime drama Broadchurch. “And from that moment, Chris Chibnall got stalked, by me, [laughs] with images, and reference photos, and all this. I enjoy the creative side of that. I don’t just kind of want to turn up and be so much of a pawn that you don’t make choices. I just think it’s the type of role that comes with a freedom of creativity.”
Whittaker’s areas of interest naturally included her Doctor’s outfit, which was unveiled in November last year and comprises blue pants, suspenders, striped shirt, a buttonless long coat, and brown walking boots. The costume was the ultimate responsibility of Doctor Who costume designer Ray Holman, but was in large part inspired by a black-and-white photograph the actress found while scanning the Internet.
“I have a relationship with Ray anyway, because he designed Broadchurch,” says Whittaker. “I kind of presented a mood board. I had an acorn and he turned it into the most beautiful tree. I could kind of say what I meant, and then he would present a look, and it elevated everything I’d suggested, and erased the bits that he knew without telling me didn’t work. But, essentially, I found a photo, and it’s just a Google image, and I have no idea what decade it is, but it’s a woman in crop trousers that are slightly big, with a T-shirt, and [suspenders], and with boots, walking and thinking. I just love the androgyny of it, without it being masculine, and I think that’s a really important line to find and quite a difficult one as well.”
Whittaker explains it was important that her Doctor’s costume allow the character to be as physically free as possible.
“The Doctor that I have kind of created, and been given, is full of energy, and fizzes, and moves,” says the actress. “That costume had to move with me, rather than dictate the movement. Costume often dictates, which is helpful a lot of the times, because, you know, the repression of a corset, things like that, are very helpful. But because this is the opposite of that, it needed to flow, and it needed to feel that things were there for a reason. So [the coat has] pockets, but there’s no buttons, because I don’t close it — so why have buttons? So, it was things like that. And I really wanted wanted color in there, but I certainly didn’t want to go too I suppose cartoonish in that sense. And there’s homages to things in there, which will be lovely little gems that I’ll tell you another time!”
The new season of Doctor Who premieres on BBC America this fall.