The 13th actor to inhabit the eponymous role of a time-traveling, face-changing alien in the BBC's long-running and beloved Doctor Who will be a woman, the network announced Sunday.
Jodie Whittaker, best known for her role in the British version of the BBC's detective series Broadchurch — which also stars the 10th Doctor, David Tennant — will succeed Peter Capaldi's 12th Doctor after his final appearance in the 2017 Christmas special.
Though it has long been established that Time Lords, the Doctor's alien species, can change gender when they regenerate into a new body, the Doctor himself has never done so in the past, and the decision to cast a woman in the role is bound to be controversial among the show's enthusiastic fandom. Debate roared to life on Twitter as soon as the news broke, with supporters arguing the casting is an important step for equality and critics wondering how it will affect the Doctor's recent romantic relationships:
"I did not expect it but I think it's brilliant," said Erica Lear of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society. "It will spark debate and split fandom; there will be lots of people not happy with the decision, but it's up to the new series to change their mind."