Jodie Whittaker recently confirmed that she would be staying on as the Doctor in the next season of Doctor Who. Whittaker is currently playing the thirteenth iteration of a time-travelling, reincarnating alien in the BBC’s sci-fi series which originally ran from 1963 to 1989 with eight total Doctors and then received a reboot in 2005 and has run since then. Fifteen years is already a long runtime on television, but Doctor Who is one of the oldest and longest shows on TV, especially for fiction.
The character of the Doctor has been played by thirteen actors so far, with each one serving as sort of a long running guest star, and each one passing the torch off to a new Doctor usually as a finale to that particular actor’s time. Peter Capaldi passed the torch on to Whittaker in 2017, making her something many fans have asked for: the first woman to play the Doctor. This came with plenty of other cast changes of course, as the Doctor has a new set of companions, allies, and enemies each new iteration.
In an interview with EW Whittaker confirmed that she will be returning for a third season. There’s no real time limit to how long any actor plays the Doctor, so it’s an unknown going into most seasons whether this will be their last time in the role or not. Whittaker may have also spilled the beans on this one, saying “That might be a massive exclusive that I’m not supposed to say, but it’s unhelpful for me to say [I don’t know] because it would be a massive lie!”
Sometimes the showrunner is changed along with the doctor as in this case, with Chris Chibnall (who had written a number of episodes previously) trading with the somewhat polarizing Steven Moffat as showrunner for the thirteenth doctor, just as Moffat had taken over for Russell T. Davies when Matt Smith became the eleventh doctor. Davies, however, ran the show for two Doctors in a row (Christopher Eccleston as the ninth and David Tennant as the tenth), so it can be unpredictable.
Along with the cast and crew, Doctor Who can often rewrite the show’s plot, characters, and rules of time travel to suit new storylines or writers, which can be confusing for those trying to iron out a perfect narrative, but also gives the writers a great deal of room to bend things and write creative new stories. As the thirteenth Doctor continues, we may see more of her old enemies return or see brand new ones as well. Season 12 has just started, so keep an eye out.
More: Why Doctor Who Keeps Retconning Gallifrey’s Destruction