Anyone not a fan of Wimbledon or Doctor Who may have missed the news that when Peter Capaldi regenerates at Christmas he will be taking the form of Jodie Whittaker. This news is particularly significant because this makes Whittaker the first woman to play the shape shifting, time travelling alien after a line of twelve men. This is either a major step forward or the biggest disaster since women thought they could bust ghosts depending on whether you pronounce it “feminism” or “feminazi”. I am not interested in debating that right now but will unapologetically eye-roll anyone arguing for the latter.
Fans of Broadchurch, the ITV crime drama created by Doctor Who‘s incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall, will recognise Whittaker as grieving mother Beth Latimer but she may be less known to some. In the following I highlight three other performances of hers that are easy to find online and don’t last for 24 episodes.
Attack the Block
Way back in 2011 I sat close to, but by no means with, Jodie Whittaker and her friends at a screening of Joe Cornish’s directorial debut Attack the Block at Somerset House the one year I managed to convince Film4 that I was a VIP.
Setting my bragging aside for a moment this film remains a great watch, particularly for anyone concerned about Whittaker’s alien battling skills. In Attack the Block Whittaker teams up with the young gang, led by a pre-fame John Boyega, who have mugged her to tackle an alien invasion on a South London estate. The film is a lot of fun and Whittaker is the audience’s emotional route through proceedings. And what is more Doctor Who than fighting aliens in London?
Black Mirror – The Entire History of You
Finishing off the startling good first series of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is this dark tale of obsession, jealousy, and tech. Like Doctor Who this series works best when it uses science fiction to explore very human ideas.
In The Entire History of You humans have an optional implant in their brains that allows them to record their every waking moment. Naturally this leaves people obsessing over every small detail of their day and replaying innocuous moments looking for deeper meaning. This particular episode is one of Black Mirror‘s finest and the whole episode pivots on intense scrutiny of Whittaker’s performance as we hunt for the subtext written on her face.
Adult Life Skills
This small independent comedy drama about a young woman stuck in arrested development crept in and out of cinemas this time last year. The film affords Whittaker a showcase for her skills and the one proper lead role I’ve seen her in.
Not enough people saw this film when it made it to the cinema and I don’t think many people even had a chance to so I suggest you seek it out now so that you can form an opinion of Whittaker beyond her gender. There are lots of silly jokes to distract you from the fact that the film is hitting you in the soft bits where your feelings live.
Plus… at various points she pretends her thumbs are two people travelling in a spaceship so there’s a tenuous Doctor Who link for you.