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Mandip Gill and Jodie Whittaker (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

Awesome Con: Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill Talk ‘Doctor Who’

Awesome Con carried through with its Doctor Who theme on the convention’s last day, featuring a panel with Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch) and Mandip Gill (Doctors). Both actors shared stories about filming the 13th Doctor’s adventures; the final episode aired on October 23, 2022.

When Peter Capaldi (Paddington 2) left Doctor Who, show runner Chris Chibnall went in another direction with casting. Whittaker became the first woman to ever play the Doctor. Chibnall reverted back to the practice of adding multiple companions, welcoming Gill as Yasmin “Yaz” Khan.

On Acting as a Career

Both Whittaker and Gill wanted to be actors early on. Whittaker believes that society needs to reconsider acting as a full-fledged, proper career and support actors. She said, “Even if your family is supporting you and your friends are behind you, society still considers the arts as a hobby or a sideline. It wasn’t a proper job. I’m here to tell you it is!”

Gill credits her journey through her education as instrumental to her career. Teachers helped her attain her goals and strive for new ones. While she’s been very excited about being a companion on Doctor Who, she maintains a healthy perspective with the help of family. Gill said, “My family knows what I do, obviously. No one is really like, ‘oh, my god! She’s on television.’ It’s just keep it real.”

And while Whittaker and Gill are big stars themselves, they took some time to delight the Awesome Con audience by being fangirls about the convention. Whittaker bounced on the couch when moderator Tony B Kim mentioned that The Lord of the Rings panelists — Sean Astin, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis — had sat there the day before.

Photo of Mandip Gill and Jodie Whittaker laughing
Mandip Gill and Jodie Whittaker (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

On Getting into Character

When Whittaker was cast as the Doctor, there were a lot of strong opinions. However, she thought it was about time for a woman to play the Doctor. The controversy seems weird to Whittaker. She approached the audition for the famous Time Lord without considering whether it was a man or woman portraying the character. “I’m playing an alien. If you wanted to be Method, you’re going to have to do a really long audition process to find someone who is really authentic.”

Gill had a specific aim in her portrayal of Yaz. “I tried to be emotionally relatable and constantly open [like] the audience: how the audience might ask that question, think that question, and take the response of the Doctor. I’m not just playing Yaz. I’m playing everybody who’s watching it.”

Working on set was a challenging with multiple companions. Whittaker pointed out that with principal actors, it can take longer to shoot a scene because everything needs to be covered correctly. “It worked storywise, but for action when you’re shooting, there was a lot of efficiency required to get everybody.”

Photo of Mandip Gill and Jodie Whittaker
Mandip Gill and Jodie Whittaker (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

On Why the Doctor is for Everyone

Whittaker and Gill were intrigued by the costumes that Awesome Con attendees were wearing that weekend. With this year marking 60 years of Doctor Who and a 14th Doctor on the way, there’s a vast array of costume possibilities to choose from.

Whittaker said, “It’s really beautiful for both of us seeing people wear our costumes and realizing it fits all. Whoever you are, you’re the Doctor in the costume. It felt like you represented me, but you represent so many different people as well.”

“If you identify with the role and have a love and affinity to it, then that’s the joy of Doctor Who. There’s something for everyone there.”

About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros is Pop Culture Editor for Blogcritics Magazine. She frequently covers TV, film and theater. Her portfolio includes interviews with Ndaba Mandela and actors Juliette Binoche, Fran Drescher, Derek Jacobi and Brent Spiner. She's also spoken with notable voice actors Petrea Burchard, Garry Chalk, Peter Cullen and Brian Drummond.

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