Jodie Whittaker more than lives up to expectations as Doctor Who in Series 11 Episode 1 – The Woman Who Fell to Earth – plus Bradley Walsh may well make you cry
“Half an hour ago I was a white haired Scotsman”
“Change my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon”. From the mouth of the Sixth Doctor himself, the very nature of Doctor Who (both the programme and the Time Lord) has always been its infinite variety. So it’s about bloody time that we now have the first female in the role – the excellent Jodie Whittaker – as new show-runner Chris Chibnall makes his definitive mark on the BBC serial.
And on the evidence of this first episode (and, let’s face it, to anyone with common sense), the Doctor’s gender is of little consequence. The ability to act as if you have two hearts knows no bounds, who knew, and the hints of Whittaker’s Doctor that were allowed to peek through the regenerative funk suggest we’re in for something of a real treat with an effervescent sense of personality shining through.
Rather, The Woman Who Fell to Earth shows Chibnall’s intentions around a more elemental reboot of the show. Stripping back over-complicated storytelling, stepping away a little from the mythology of the show and opening it out to, hopefully, a new audience. To that end, a new trio of companions – Tosin Cole’s Ryan, Mandip Gill’s Yaz and Bradley Walsh’s Graham – look set to further reset the dynamic of the TARDIS.
And in this hour of TV, I couldn’t help but feel more excited about Doctor Who than I have in quite some time. Yes, the villain of the piece was possibly the least exciting thing about the episode but in introducing us to all the potential here, plus the magnificent Sharon D Clarke as a pivotal guest star, it felt like a properly successful evolutionary step forward. Plus Bradley Walsh made me cry, which I never thought would happen – consider me hooked.
I also adored that the focus of the ‘coming soon’ trailer was the actors themselves, rather than the flash bang wallop of all the best effects to come. Being the actor nerd that I am, I’m particularly stoked for Vinette Robinson, an epic-looking Susan Lynch, Julie Hesmondhalgh, and Shane Zaza, plus Alan Cumming ought to be great value for money as a certain monarch.
Main photo: Ben Blackall/BBC