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Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor, will step down from ‘Doctor Who’ next year

By Toyin Owoseje, CNN

Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to play the Doctor in “Doctor Who,” is leaving the long-running sci-fi show, the BBC has announced.

The 39-year-old British actress made history in 2017 when her appointment as the TARDIS-traveling Time Lord was revealed.

The BBC said Thursday that she will be bowing out of the show after season 13 — due to air on BBC America later this year — and “in a trio of specials, culminating in an epic blockbuster to air in autumn 2022 as part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.”

Chris Chibnall, who succeeded Steven Moffat in 2016 as “Doctor Who” showrunner and cast Whittaker in the lead role, is also departing.

Commenting on her decision to step down, Whittaker said her time on the show was “the best job I have ever had.”

“In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them,” she said in a statement.

“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. 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.”

She added: “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.”

Whittaker is the show’s 13th Doctor and the latest in a new generation of Doctors that has included Christopher Ecclestone, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.

When she succeeded Capaldi in one of the most sought-after roles in TV, she described her casting as “completely overwhelming; as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human.”

According to Chibnall, the pair made “a ‘three series and out’ pact” when he hired Whittaker and “our shift is done.” He had previously worked with Whittaker on the acclaimed ITV drama “Broadchurch.”

“So now our shift is done, we’re handing back the TARDIS keys,” he said in the BBC statement. “Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations.”

The BBC has yet to announce who will replace Whittaker in the leading role.

Jo Martin appeared in the most recent series as the first Black person to play Doctor Who.

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