Jodie Whittaker has had a tough go of it during her tenure on the beloved cult sci-fi series Doctor Who. As the first woman to play the lead role of the Doctor, she was bound to run into some unfounded, bad faith opposition. And as her time with the character and property has gone on, it certainly seems like there is a narrative developing that revolves around getting her out of the series in order to “save” it.
On that note, a new rumor from a YouTube personality calling themselves The Rabbi From Another Planet is claiming that “Jodie Whittaker’s agent is desperate for her to get off the show because this is destroying her career.” This bit of journalism comes from “this guy from Cardiff” according to the YouTuber. Frankly, it is not the strongest source or lead, but it is worth examining how this current iteration of Doctor Who stacks up against other recent eras in terms of popularity.
As far as ratings go, Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who does seem to be trending downward. The most recent episode aired back in March and saw the series earn its lowest ratings since 1986. There are always a lot of factors to consider when looking at show data like this. As always, shows tend to lose viewers as a season progresses and that’s been true of this latest Doctor Who season. Plus, it is very tough to gauge a lot of audience interest in 2020 considering everything else that has been capturing their attention.
The idea that Jodie Whittaker herself is to blame for the decline in viewership feeds into a bad faith narrative, and it is far more likely a combination of issues regarding the show’s writing quality and general interest in the property. While Doctor Who was able to enjoy a healthy renaissance starting in the mid-2000s, the allure and popularity seemed to die off shortly after David Tennant ended his run on the show. The following Doctors all have their fans and were warmly received, but it is hard to argue that the show was able to maintain its pop culture fervor after an extended period with Matt Smith in the role. Simply put, Doctor Who just isn’t as popular anymore.
And to lay that blame at Jodie Whittaker’s feet is both unfair and somewhat malicious. It will be telling to see how many people tune in to the upcoming holiday special, “Revolution of the Daleks”. The newest episode promises a redesign of fan-favorite villains the Daleks as well as the return of a beloved supporting character, Captain Jack Harkness. It certainly looks like the powers-that-be are trying to stack this holiday special with some big treats for fans in order to lure some of them back.
So, is Jodie Whittaker being pressured by her agent to leave Doctor Who? Maybe! However, at this point, there is not a strong enough case to be made that her involvement in the show is “destroying her career.” Whittaker is a talented and accomplished actress who will assuredly leave her distinct stamp on Doctor Who and will almost assuredly go on to other celebrated roles once she’s done with it. How much time does she have left with the good Doctor? We will have to wait and find out.