Amid the backlash from some quarters against the casting of a female Doctor Who, the BBC sci-fi show’s former star David Tennant has backed the newly announced Jodie Whittaker, saying that her gender will be “irrelevant almost immediately” when she makes her debut.

The 46 year old actor, who played the Time Lord between 2005 and 2010, chatted with American talk show host Stephen Colbert on ‘The Late Show’ on Thursday (August 10th). He said that although Whittaker’s appointment was the first time a woman has played the Doctor, the character has never been of any fixed gender, so a male actor is as relevant to the part as a female one.

“Whenever the Doctor changes, there’s a backlash,” Tennant explained. “Sure, Jodie is from a different gender – but that will be irrelevant almost immediately when she takes the part. It’s about finding the right performer at the right time, and that’s Jodie without a doubt.”

David TennantDavid Tennant played Doctor Who from 2005 to 2010

Yorkshire-born Whittaker, 35, will play the thirteenth incarnation of the Doctor, while Tennant played the tenth version of the character that first appeared on British television in 1963.

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She’ll likely make her first ever appearance at the very end of the upcoming Christmas special episode this December, with the current Time Lord Peter Capaldi set to step aside.

“I’m delighted,” Tennant told Colbert about his reaction to the announcement of Whittaker a month ago. “She’s been on ‘Broadchurch’ for three seasons so I know her very well, she’s a mate of mine. A couple of days before it [the casting] was announced I get this phone call from her, and she’s in sort of a tunnel of excitement and panic.”

He didn’t reveal to Colbert what they said to each other during their conversation, but he did say he had high hopes for Whittaker when she makes her premiere.

“I can’t think of someone better to join the gang and be poised to take it to a whole new level. It’s great.”

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