“Doctor Who” on Sunday night revealed its first Black incarnation of the title character, known as The Doctor, portrayed by actor Jo Martin.
And fans quickly took to social media to celebrate the moment.
Sunday night’s “Fugitive of the Judoon” episode involved the Judoon ― a band of rhino-like mercenary cops from space ― chasing down a fugitive on Earth.
The current Doctor, portrayed by Jodie Whittaker (the first female incarnation of the character) steps in to protect their target, a tour guide named Ruth Clayton.
However, Ruth isn’t a tour guide at all.
The Doctor can regenerate when mortally wounded, giving the character a new face and new life, via a new actor. Whittaker officially became the 13th after taking over from Peter Capaldi at the end of 2017.
In this case, Martin is not taking over the role, but instead seems to be part of the season’s arc surrounding the destruction of The Doctor’s home planet of Gallifrey.
It’s not yet clear when Martin’s incarnation sits in the timeline.
It’s implied she is an earlier Doctor ― perhaps prior to William Hartnell’s original ― but Whittaker’s incarnation clearly has no recollection of Martin’s form.
One thing is clear, given the nature of the show: Martin’s Doctor will almost certainly turn up again this season, given the events of Sunday night.
A Doctor outside of the official numbered timeline is not without precedent.
In 2013, in celebration of the show’s 50th anniversary, acclaimed actor John Hurt portrayed an incarnation known as the War Doctor in a crossover episode that included both David Tennant’s 10th Doctor and Matt Smith’s 11th.
Given the tight-lipped nature of the show’s production, Martin had to keep a lid on her character until Sunday night, when she updated her Twitter pic in celebration:
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