Doctor Who” fans got their first glimpse of a historic new Doctor on Christmas night as Jodie Whittaker made her first appearance in the role as part of the series’ annual Christmas special.

Peter Capaldi, the 12th actor to play the Doctor, made a dramatic departure as the character regenerated, per Doctor Who mythology, into a new incarnation. Whittaker arrives just as the Doctor’s TARDIS time machine blows up, leaving her in free fall as a “To be continued” slate ends the special.

The new batch of “Doctor Who” adventures with Whittaker is expected to bow by the end of 2018. The series is also undergoing a change behind the scenes as “Broadchurch” creator Chris Chibnall succeeds Steven Moffat as showrunner. Capaldi had limned the character since 2014. The casting of Whittaker was unveiled in July.

The arrival of the first female Doctor Who is a fitting end to a year in which gender discrimination and other issues have been front and center in entertainment, politics and culture. The significance of Whittaker’s debut was not lost on “Doctor Who” fans, who hailed the 13th Doctor as a landmark moment for TV. Fans also had kind words for Capaldi’s portrayal of the iconic character and his parting words for his successor: “Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.”


Watch the clip below: