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Doctor Who: Jodie Whittaker, the show’s first female lead, will leave TV drama next year

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Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker will leave the long-running TV show next year, the BBC has said.

The 39-year-old British actress became the first woman to take on the title role in 2017, taking over from Peter Capaldi.

She will appear in the show’s next series later this year, before making her exit in a trio of specials in 2022.

Image:
Whittaker will do one more series before leaving the show. Pic: BBC Studios/James Pardon

The first special will air on New Years’ Day 2022, another will go out in the spring, and then the regeneration episode will hit screens in autumn, as part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.

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Showrunner Chris Chibnall will also depart the programme.

Whittaker said it is the best job she has ever had, adding: “In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes.

“I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them.

“My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life.

“And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories.

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“We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together.

“So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.

“I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there.

“That’s why we keep looking. Travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you. Constantly.”

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Whittaker is the show’s latest in a modern generation of Doctors, which included Christopher Ecclestone, David Tennant, and Matt Smith.

Chibnall said: “Jodie and I made a ‘three series and out’ pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast.

“So now our shift is done, we’re handing back the Tardis keys.

“Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations.

“She’s been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour.”

Whittaker’s appointment as the Tardis-travelling time lord was revealed after the final of the 2017 men’s Wimbledon final, with her first full episode in 2018 giving the show its highest launch viewing figures in a decade.

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Piers Wenger, director of BBC drama, said: “Over the last four years Chris and Jodie have made Doctor Who history and their time on the show is indelibly marked on our memories.

“From Rosa Parks to Ascension Of The Cybermen, Chris and Jodie have given Doctor Who some of its most life-affirming and tear-jerking moments to date, and we are beyond excited to see what they have in store for us in the new series this autumn.

“Jodie’s final adventure to mark the BBC’s centenary in 2022 is set to be a Doctor Who special to remember.

“I’d like to thank them both for their incredible work on the show.”

The BBC has not revealed who will take over the lead role.

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