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Doctor Who? A Teen Superfan Schools Us on the Cult Brit Classic

Yes, we're excited about the first female Dr. Who—but we actually don't know a hell of a lot about this show. Enter teen superfan Emily Cole, who knows her Time Lord from her TARDIS

The BBC’s announcement of the 13th Doctor Who was heard around the world. After 54 years and 839 episodes of the British series, Jodie Whittaker will be the franchise’s first-ever female Time Lord, and this news made fans really, really excited:

If you’re not already a Whovian (that’s a Doctor Who superfan, FYI), it’s likely this declaration of equality will pique your interest in the series. But what about the decades’ worth of Who-related information to absorb before Whittaker takes the screen this Christmas? Never fear, we tracked down a teen Whovian to talk us through what we need to know.

Emily Cole (@ILove_DoctorWho) is a 17-year-old Brit who has been living and breathing Doctor Who since age six. She was introduced to the show by family and friends, but says she’s stuck with it because it’s such a major part of U.K. culture. “Quite a lot of the show is set in modern-day U.K., and that’s where the majority of [the Doctor’s] companions come,” explains Emily. In each episode, the Doctor and his companions use his TARDIS (which stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space) to visit a different planet or time period.

The TARDIS is the Doctor’s main form of transpo, and such a machine is usually able to blend in with its surroundings. “However, due to a technical fault, the exterior of the Doctor’s TARDIS is stuck as a police telephone box from 1963,” says Emily. The TARDIS is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, and the interior changes whenever the Doctor regenerates.

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Credit: Des Willie/BBC/BBC Worldwide/Shutterstock

Yup, that’s right: the Doctor never dies. As a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, the Doctor has two hearts, which allows him or her to regenerate. Emily says regeneration is “essentially cheating death by changing form, which is why numerous actors have been able to play the Doctor, and why the show has been able to carry on for so long.” (The first iteration of the show ran from 1963 to 1989; it then relaunched in 2005.)

In each episode, the Doctor and his companions travel across the universe, encountering various mysteries along the way. “The Doctor’s dilemmas are more often than not caused by an alien foe,” says Emily. “The Doctor saves people from his foes and gives them hope.” The Doctor has many enemies, but Emily pinpoints the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Master/Missy as some of the most notorious.

As you may have guessed, there have been a ton of companions throughout the history of the show. “The most well-known have been on the show since its renewal,” explains Emily. “These include Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy, Rory, Clara and Bill.” Companions change quickly, and each allows the viewer to see the Doctor from a new perspective.

Enter Jodie Whittaker. You may already be familiar with her work on Broadchurch, a British crime drama. If you love her, you’re in luck—she’ll likely remain the Doctor for the next few seasons. “Each Doctor is usually on the show for approximately three seasons,” Emily tells me. “Despite this, the plot does change every season, which means you can pick up with watching the show whenever you’d like. The history of the Doctor always remains the same, as they are the same person. That said, with each regeneration, they acquire new characteristics.”

Emily loves Doctor Who as a form of escapism, and she leans into the deeply emotional plot lines to forget the stress of everyday life. “It spreads messages of love, hope, equality and kindness,” she says. “There is so much diverse representation within the show, made evident by the latest companion, Bill, a person of colour and a member of the LGBT community.”

With Jodie at the wheel, Emily is most amped to see a woman step out of the supporting role and become the main focus. “It’s exciting to know that a generation of young girls are going to grow up watching a female play such an iconic and inspirational role,” Emily said. “I hope that the community will continue to grow, with more women and young girls tuning in.” Amen to that!

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