Jodie Whittaker is set to take over as the first female time lord in the history of Doctor Who later this year. But how did the BBC manage to keep her casting a secret? Sure, Whittaker's name was thrown around a bit before the casting was officially announced, but nobody really knew that it was going to be her until the BBC announced it during Wimbledon. Now, visual effects artist Louise Hastings, who has been working on Doctor Who for quite some time, reveals how the secret was kept.
Louise Hastings, Visual Effects Producer at Milk VFX, the team that has been working on Doctor Who since its revival in 2005, reveals that even they weren't allowed to know who was taking over as the new Doctor. They had to storyboard the regeneration from the Doctor Who Christmas special without knowing that Jodie Whittaker was the one who had won the role. What's more is that they weren't even told that the new Doctor was for sure going to be a woman. Here's what Hastings had to say about it.
"We were kept in the dark when it came to the reveal of who the new Doctor was. We found out it would be Jodie the same time as everybody else, watching the Wimbledon final. The BBC actually had us quote her first scene before we knew it was gonna be Jodie, via storyboards. And the storyboards had been drawn with a man as the Doctor, so that was a bit of a surprise! I was looking through a list of the favourites to be the Doctor and comparing them to the pictures, but I was wrong, I couldn't figure it out. They threw us off the scent."
Now that the news of Jodie Whittaker taking over for Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who season 11 has been out for a while, it doesn't seem quite as big. But this was and is a huge deal. Make no mistake. While many fans were happy about the fact that we're going to get our first ever female Doctor this year, there were plenty who vocalized their distaste for the casting decision as well. In any case, keeping the casting a secret made some things difficult. As Louise Hastings recalls, Whittaker's regeneration as the new Doctor was actually one of the last shots finished in last year's Christmas special.
"They were one of the last shots to be finished. I think that's mainly because they really wanted them to be right, so there was a lot of back-and-forth of notes. And they were shot not with the main unit, the main unit finished, and then I think it was a couple of weeks later they revealed it was Jodie and then literally the next week they went in and shot her scenes. I think it was a day or two."
Milk VFX did a fine job with Jodie Whittaker's introduction, but that's going to be their swan song on Doctor Who. As we recently reported, Double Negative, the visual effects house behind Blade Runner 2049, is taking over for Doctor Who season 11. So the beloved sci-fi series is going to look and feel a whole lot different when it returns this fall. You can check out more with some of Milk VFX team over at Radio Times.