Inspiration

Yorkshire's Doctor

Jodie Whittaker became the first female Dr Who on Christmas Day. Here, the Skelmanthorpe-born actress talks about what it was like to get the role and how coming from Yorkshire has influenced her work

Getting the role of Dr Who feels completely overwhelming

As a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves and not be boxed in by what you’re told you can and can’t be. It still feels incredible to be doing it.

It certainly was NOT handed to me on a plate.

There was a long process, as there should be. You have to put yourself in a position where you’re going to fight for a role like this - you want someone who’s fighting for it, because it’s such an honour. You can’t just be blasé about it.

When I learned I’d got it, it was really tricky.

I didn’t know the details, but I knew there was going to be an attempt at a really brilliant ‘reveal’. I had to try and keep everything under wraps until July (2017), which was to my benefit, because I’d been lucky enough to lead quite an anonymous life until then.

I was just lying, left right and centre, to keep it a secret before it was announced.

Having been in Broadchurch and other big shows where I can’t give storylines away, I’m always in a panic about what I can and can’t say and wondering, when I’m interviewed, if I’ve said too much.

I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender

Because this is a really exciting time and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.

As a child, all I wanted to do was be an actor.

I wanted to do it because I wanted to play pretend and this is the ultimate role. As you grow up, you watch adventure films and TV shows that make it look as if anything is possible. That’s the job I wanted to do and now I’m doing it!

My upbringing in West Yorkshire was and is hugely influential.

I think everyone brings a bit of themselves to every job. Particularly when you are acting – you feed off all sorts of internal things. Things that have influenced you or which give you a different ‘take’ on something.

I was the attention-seeking child in class who needed everyone to look at meee!

Luckily that got channelled into acting, because I would have been terrible at anything else. I would have been a nightmare in any kind of office, because I wouldn’t have had any friends in any environment other than performing. I’m quite loud and quite overconfident.

A lot of actors think that they can pull off a Yorkshire accent.

But I never believe that they truly get it, it always turns out as a slightly cod “Eeee bah gum” thing that could be from anywhere north of Watford. It should be “accents”, in the plural, Bradford is different from Huddersfield, which is different from Hull, which is different from Richmond. They all have a distinctive burr.

Every time I come home to Yorkshire

I have a chicken makhani and peshwari naan from my favourite Indian restaurant in my village. Going there is a fixture of any home visit, without fail. They are lovely people and the food is superb. It’s an absolute must and I never have anything else on the menu. How unadventurous is that?

My favourite book is Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights

Which I actually read when I was in Thailand. Someone had left it there, I picked it up and I was totally hooked.

I love Jarvis Cocker.

He’s a Sheffield legend. My favourite album is Different Class by Pulp, which reminds me, every time I hear it, of when I was in my teens, hanging out at my mate Gareth’s house because we were all far too young to go to the pub. Again, a lot of very fond memories.

My roots are in Skelmanthorpe where I was born and raised.

Going back there is all about family and getting back to who I am. There is an absolutely gorgeous walk around Langsett Reservoir (on the edge of the Peak District in South Yorkshire) which I always do. There’s certainly nothing down south to match it.

This article was taken from This is Y 2018