Excited does not begin to describe Jodie Whittaker as she speaks with TV WEEK about becoming the Thirteenth Doctor in the beloved British sci-fi series Doctor Who.
The English actress is the first woman to play the two-hearted alien Time Lord – originally embodied by William Hartnell in 1963.
"I didn't want to be tentative," the 36-year-old says. "Although there have been different Doctors, they've all been pacifists, they're mercurial, they're essentially hopeful."
"All those things carry through, and I really wanted to bring a friendly kind of being, electric and childlike in a way. I just wanted to run at it!"
Whovians got a glimpse of Jodie in last year's Christmas special "Twice Upon A Time" when the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) regenerated into her new form and began plummeting to Earth when the TARDIS exploded.
Now, the first full episode featuring the new Doctor picks up as she crash-lands and quickly takes up with a curious group of companions. They include wise-beyond-her-years Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), act-before-thinking Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), and cautious-as-ever Graham O'Brien (Bradley Walsh).
"We're a friendship group of four," Jodie explains.
"It hasn't been a four for a long time, and that brings a certain amount of energy."
Chris Chibnall inherited lead writing duties for Doctor Who from long-time showrunner Steven Moffat and was tasked with finding a new Doctor.
At the end of 2016, he asked Jodie – who played anguished parent Beth Latimer in acclaimed crime drama Broadchurch – to audition.
"I had the most fun," she reveals. "I found it moving and energising, and loved auditioning. I thought, 'Oh, my God – I want this job.'"
Yet for all the fuss over the Doctor's gender, Jodie urges fans to look at the bigger picture.
"The point of the role, which is so wonderful, is that the body you regenerate in could be you," she explains.
"If you're a kid watching, the hero looks like you. And because this is some people's first [Doctor Who], it won't be the female Doctor. It will be The Doctor, and that will be really exciting."