‘Doctor Who’ makes history by casting first black Doctor

Actress Jo Martin’s incarnation of The Doctor, a shape-shifting, time-traveling alien, appeared in Sunday’s episode of the show but won’t replace Jodie Whittaker’s, who made history as the 13th Doctor in 2017.

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Jo Martin is the first black actress to portray The Doctor in the history of the “Doctor Who” television series.

Jo Martin is the first black actress to portray The Doctor in the history of the “Doctor Who” television series.

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Two and a half years after ”Doctor Who” gave fans its first female lead, the long-running sci-fi show introduced another milestone: its first black Doctor. 

Actress Jo Martin’s incarnation of The Doctor, a shape-shifting, time-traveling alien, appeared in Sunday’s episode of the show but won’t replace Jodie Whittaker’s, who made history as the 13th Doctor in 2017.

Martin’s character appeared alongside Whittaker’s as a previously unseen past incarnation of The Doctor, just like John Hurt’s version dubbed “The War Doctor” appeared with David Tenant (the 10th Doctor) and Matt Smith (the 11th Doctor) in 2013.

Martin’s character is first introduced as Ruth Clayton, an Earth civilian whom The Doctor shows up to protect from an alien fugitive. But after her memory is reinstated, she reveals herself to Whittaker as a past version of The Doctor.

“You can’t be me,” The Doctor tells her newly-discovered counterpart. “I know what I’ve done. I know my own life.” 

Later, thinking out loud, Whittaker notes she’s lived “thousands of years. So many I’ve lost count. I’ve had so many faces.” Could there be more past incarnations of The Doctor that fans don’t know about?

USA TODAY has reached out to BBC for more information. 

In an 2017 interview with USA TODAY, 12th Doctor actor Peter Capaldi said that the character could “absolutely” be a woman and/or a person of color. ”Why not?” he said. “I think that would be a very likely thing to have happen. A very good thing, too.”

Back in 2017, new head writer and executive producer Chris Chibnall, who took over from Steven Moffat, selected Whittaker as the first woman to portray the iconic character.

“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our No. 1 choice,” Chibnall said in a statement, assuring fans that “The 13th Doctor is on her way.”

“I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey — with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet,” Whittaker said, adding the impact of the casting didn’t escape her.

Jodie Whittaker attends BBC America’s “Doctor Who” at Comic-Con International 2018 at the San Diego Convention Center in 2018.

Jodie Whittaker attends BBC America’s “Doctor Who” at Comic-Con International 2018 at the San Diego Convention Center in 2018.

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“It 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,” said the actress, adding, “It feels incredible.”

Whittaker urged fans with any apprehension “not to be scared by my gender, (because) 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.”

Contributing: Kelly Lawler, Lorena Blas

Read more at usatoday.com

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