Aside from a brief Joanna Lumley cameo for Comic Relief, there’s never been a female Doctor Who. But rumour has it, this might be about to change.
There’s been no official confirmation from BBC bosses, but rising star Phoebe Waller-Bridge could be in line to become the show’s next lead star. BBC Newsnight, not exactly the first place Doctor Who fans would go for the latest goss, appeared to let slip the news.
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) July 4, 2017
Despite having a whirlwind last 12 months, Waller-Bridge isn’t yet a household name. Here’s what you need to know about the rumoured next Doctor.
Who is Phoebe Waller-Bridge?
She’s a 31-year-old London-based writer and actress who made her acting debut in 2009, at the capital’s Soho Theatre for the play ‘Roaring Trade’. She also had brief roles in episodes of Doctors and the Jack Whitehall-starring Bad Education.
What’s she best known for?
If you’ve already heard of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, it’s because of 2016’s BBC Three series Fleabag. As well as co-writing all six episodes of the hugely successful first series, she stars as the main character.
Fleabag picked up a 2017 NME Award for Best TV Series, as well as winning Best Scripted Comedy at the 2017 BAFTA Television Awards. Waller-Bridge also picked up the prize for Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme, pipping co-star Olivia Colman.
What makes Fleabag so brilliant? Well, it’s mainly down to Waller-Bridge. Her character navigates sharp wit, self-deprecation, guilt and genuine tragedy – often in the space of one episode. She’s funny, she’s hurtful, and she’s completely believable. Add her self-penned script into the equation, and it’s no wonder she’s been touted for the big Doctor Who role.
What else have I seen her in?
Her first big(ish) role arrived in the second series of ITV murder mystery Broadchurch. She played barrister Abby Thompson, appearing in all eight episodes. But Fleabag was her real breakthrough.
Is she going to be the next Doctor Who?
Waller-Bridge has been rumoured for the role ever since current Doc Peter Capaldi announced he was leaving the show back in April. But speculation went into overdrive this week (July 4), when BBC Newsnight shared a vlog interview with the actress. Asked if she was going to be the next Doctor, she replied: “I am… not allowed to say anything about that, one way or the other. Um… It’d be cool, but… I might be doing other stuff.”
To make the rumours even more intense, someone at Newsnight’s graphics department had a laugh by superimposing a regeneration effect on Waller-Bridge’s face. Subtle.
However, as soon as the rumour-mill went into overdrive, Waller-Bridge’s own theatre company DryWhite rebuffed the gossip. “We can confirm that Phoebe is not the next Doctor Who,” it claims on Twitter. “Pls save the betting people their money!”
— DryWrite (@DryWrite) July 5, 2017
The bookies are still taking bets. Waller-Bridge remains the favourite, closely followed by ex-Death in Paradise and My Family star Kris Marshall. Tilda Swinton is also in contention, while a cheeky flutter on Danny Dyer at 50/1 could bring serious bucks. Don’t waste your money, though…
Kris Marshall would be a very safe choice as Doctor. He’s a dorky, fumbling, likeable-type. It’s not hard to imagine him wielding weird gadgets in a Tardis. But isn’t he a bit obvious? Despite the fact that his entire career seems to have been geared towards this role, shouldn’t it go to someone else? Waller-Bridge would bring a way more dynamic take to a much-loved character. Plus it’s about time we had a female Doctor.
What else do I need to know?
Waller-Bridge has also been confirmed to star in the upcoming Han Solo Star Wars spin-off. She was pictured alongside Donald Glover (Childish Gambino), Woody Harrelson and Chewbacca in a behind-the-scenes cast photo earlier this year.
The spin-off hasn’t had the easiest ride. Filming began back in February, but directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have since dropped out. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement, “it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon.” Ron Howard has since filled in the director’s chair. It’s scheduled to come out in May 2018.