Jodie Whittaker: Doctor Who star to leave next year alongside showrunner Chris Chibnall

Whittaker became franchise’s first female Doctor in 2017

Related: Introducing Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor

Jodie Whittaker is leaving Doctor Who along with showrunner Chris Chibnall.

The BBC made the announcement on Thursday.

Whittaker has played the Thirteenth Doctor since 2017. Chibnall cast her for the part, making her the first female Doctor in the franchise.

Whittaker and Chibnall will wrap up their respective runs with three specials airing in autumn 2022, including a feature-length instalment.

“My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life,” Whittaker said in a statement.

“And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories. We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together.

“So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.”

She told fans: “I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.”

Chibnall said he and Whittaker made a “three series and out” pact when they first joined the programme, meaning “our shift is done, and we’re handing back the TARDIS keys”.

“Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations,” he added.

“She’s been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour.

“She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production. I can’t imagine working with a more inspiring Doctor – so I’m not going to!”

No announcements have been made as to who will portray the next Doctor and who will step in as showrunner. Since Doctor Who was rebooted in 2005, the Time Lord has been played by Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi, and Whittaker.

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