Who's next? Jodie Whittaker to leave 'Doctor Who' in 2022

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FILE - In this file photo dated Saturday, July 13, 2019, actress Jodie Whittaker sits in the Royal Box on Centre Court to watch the women's singles final match between Serena Williams of the United States and Romania's Simona Halep on day twelve of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London. The BBC said Thursday July 29, 2021, that star Jodie Whittaker will leave the Doctor Who science fiction series next year, but before leaving Whittaker will appear in a new six-episode series in 2021 and three special episodes in 2022.(AP Photo/Ben Curtis, FILE)

LONDON (AP) — It’s time for another “Doctor Who” regeneration.

The BBC said Thursday that star Jodie Whittaker will leave the venerable science fiction series next year, along with showrunner Chris Chibnall. Whittaker will bow out after a new six-episode series later this year and three specials in 2022.

The series’ central character is a galaxy-hopping, extra-terrestrial Time Lord who can regenerate into new bodies. Whitaker is the 13th actor, and first woman, to play the titular Doctor since the show began in 1963.

“Doctor Who” ran from 1963 to 1989, and was revived to acclaim in 2005. Since then, the Doctor has been played by Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Whittaker, who took over in 2017.

Chibnall, who took the reins at the same time, said he and Whittaker “made a ‘three series and out’ pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast.”

Speculation has already started about who will replace Whittaker, with bookmakers offering odds on actors including Olly Alexander (“It’s a Sin”), Vicky McClure (“Line of Duty”) and Michaela Coel (“I May Destroy You”).

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