'Doctor Who': BBC Announces Jodie Whittaker Will Play First Female Doctor

Image: Jodie Whittaker poses on the red carpet at the U.K. premiere of her film "Hello Carter"
Jodie Whittaker at the British premiere of her film 'Hello Carter' in London in October 2013.Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images file

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/ Source: Reuters

Jodie Whittaker will be the 13th Doctor after the BBC named her the first female lead on "Doctor Who," of the most iconic sci-fi characters on TV around the world.

"Attack the Block" star Whittaker is the first female Doctor and will be seen on BBC One in Britain on BBC America in the United States, with the sci-fi series being one of the most popular shows BBC Worldwide has on its books.

"I'm beyond excited to begin this epic journey, with Chris [Chibnall, the show runner] and with every Whovian on this planet," Whittaker said. "It's more than an honor to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can't wait."

The new Doctor was revealed in an promo after the climax of the Wimbledon men's tennis finals on BBC One and the official "Doctor Who" Twitter feed.

Jodie Whittaker at the British premiere of her film 'Hello Carter' in London in October 2013.Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images file

She replaces Peter Capaldi, who became the 12th Doctor in 2013 and told BBC radio in January that it was "time to move on." He replaced Matt Smith, who went on to star in "The Crown."

Capaldi paid tribute to Whittaker, saying: "Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker's work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm. She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She's going to be a fantastic Doctor."

"Doctor Who" made its debut in 1963, but its current incarnation dates to a 2005 reboot, with Christopher Eccleston in the lead role. He was succeeded by David Tenant in 2010.

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Writers and show runners since the reboot have included Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffatt, who teamed with another "Doctor Who" writer, Mark Gatiss, on another fan favorite, "Sherlock." Moffat is leaving the show with Capaldi and has a new project and a "Dracula" series in the making with Gatiss.

The final episode of the Moffat and Capaldi era is a special scheduled for Christmas Day. Chibnall, who cast Tennant in "Broadchurch," has already been named the new "Doctor Who" show runner. His first season next year will be the 11th of the new generation of the show.

"I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we're thrilled to have secured our number one choice," Chibnall said. "Her audition for The Doctor simply blew us all away. Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The Thirteenth Doctor is on her way."

The producers had teased fans on Friday with a video on YouTube, which featured 10 Downing Street and the Statue of Liberty, before revealing a message: "Meet the 13th Doctor after the Wimbledon Men's Final."