Doctor Who delivered one of its biggest modern-era shocks back in Season 12 when a new Doctor was unexpectedly revealed that fans had not previously heard of. Actress Jo Martin became the franchise's first black female Doctor, and while fans were busy speculating where her character might fall in the character's history and lore, Martin was just thrilled to be living a lifelong dream.
In recognizing and celebrating International Women's Day, Jo Martin spoke about her role with Radio Times and recounted that she spent her childhood as a big fan of Doctor Who. After early years of playing pretend with friends and family, and being told that she couldn't play the title character because of her gender and skin tone, Jo Martin couldn't help but get a bit emotional when her big reveal finally came. In her words:
It touches my heart. I remember when we shot that scene where I said: 'Let me take it from the top. Hello. I’m the Doctor.’ . . . Oh my gosh. I think we had to do it a few times, because literally, as I’m getting there, I just get so choked up. It’s not just for me. It’s not just about an actor getting their rocks off – 'Oh, yeah, I’ve got this part.' It was bigger than that. It was more than that. It’s all the young girls around the world, around the globe, to empower, and to show them. And the fact that I get to fight like Jason Bourne – hello. Because we can fight. We can do it all. Doctor Who is a lovely fandom to be a part of. I’m really proud of how they’ve taken me on as a Black, middle-aged woman. We’re not supposed to fit into this genre. We don’t exist, you know? But we do now, baby.
Jo Martin also revealed that when she auditioned for Doctor Who, she was not even told what her role would be, so she delivered her initial performance completely out of the loop. Martin added that had she known all the details, she probably would've blown the audition. Likely, she would have felt too pressured by the significance of what the show was planning, given her lifelong fandom.
While a bit of fear did set in once Jo Martin saw some problematic reactions to Jodie Whittaker's casting, the actress still felt a ton of excitement over portraying the first Black Doctor. Given the spread of social media trolls, Martin said she was advised to get off of Twitter after her Doctor Who debut aired, and she confirmed she did just that after her big episode. She appears to have returned to the social media site as of this writing, all while apparently sidestepping any criticisms that have been thrown her way in the process.
Jo Martin's Doctor was not present in the latest Doctor Who special, but it's assumed she'll come back into the story in Season 13. There are a lot of unanswered questions about Martin's Doctor, and we're still not entirely sure if she existed before or after Jodie Whittaker's Doctor. The obvious answer would seem to be "after," but when you're dealing with a series that handles space and spacetime travel, even the things that seem obvious don't always make sense.
Doctor Who Season 13 is in development and will air on BBC America at some point later in 2021. Until then (and after), we'll be keeping an eye on all the rumors surrounding the next Doctor who may come on board.