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When Jodie Whittaker was secretly being cast as the latest Doctor in Doctor Who, the news was only known to a few. Interestingly, most of the Doctor Who crew itself was unaware of Whittaker's casting, which likely helped the BBC keep the exciting news under wraps. Visual effects producer Louise Hastings said she was just as shocked as fans were to learn of the female Doctor, since her effects team and others had been led to believe the next Time Lord would once again be a man. In her words:
The BBC actually had us quote her first scene before we knew it was gonna be Jodie, via storyboards, and the storyboards had been drawn with a man as the Doctor, so that was a bit of a surprise!
That sounds like an extreme measure by the Doctor Who top brass, although possibly a necessary one, since Louise Hastings also admitted she had tried comparing the storyboard images to relevant actors in trying to discover who had been cast. The tricky measure worked, and the crew was thrown off the trail, despite the fact they were blocking out the very first scene in which Jodie Whittaker would be introduced as the newly regenerated Doctor. It also ended up being the final scene Hastings and the company Milk VFX would shoot for the show, since Hastings also told RadioTimes a new visual effects team (Double Negative) has taken over for Season 11 to mark Chris Chibnall's stint as showrunner.
Now that the shock and newness of Jodie Whittaker's Doctor Who casting has worn off, it doesn't seem quite like such a big deal anymore, but just traveling back through the recent past will reveal the kind of early onset drama that would've started had it been revealed Doctor Who was definitely casting a woman as the lead. Had that news leaked out, many fans would've latched onto that small bit of information and ultimately made an overarching decision about how they felt about the entirety of the Doctor Who franchise, as fans are known to do. Instead, the world got to witness Whittaker's reveal together during Wimbledon, and while not every fan's "female Doctor" stance may have been changed by seeing Whittaker in the role, it likely helped others better visualize it.
While fans are always in need of visual proof of something, Milk VFX was able to go without any Jodie Whittaker images in blocking out her first scene on Doctor Who. The scene saw our newly arrived Doctor offer her opinion about everything being brilliant before getting shot out of the TARDIS and into the night sky, with the vast interior of the ship going up in flames. The scene didn't wholly need gender-specific references in order to to work, so no harm was ultimately done in keeping the crew out of the loop until the reveal was made official.
With all the big secrets seemingly revealed for now, Doctor Who Season 11 is coming to BBC America in the fall of 2018. For more on upcoming programming in 2018, head on over to our midseason premiere guide.