Jodie Whittaker replaced by TARDIS on cover of Doctor Who annual for 2022

The cover of the Doctor Who annual for 2022 has been released and does not have a picture of the current Doctor

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The cover of the Doctor Who annual for 2022 will not feature a picture of the current Time Lord for the first time in the show's history.

The artwork for the book has just been released and carries a graphic drawing of the TARDIS instead of actress Jodie Whittaker, who has appeared as the main image on the last three annuals.

The decision to drop her comes as she prepares to depart the show after the next series, which is currently filming.

But her exit is likely to be later than expected, with insiders saying she will appear in two specials next year before regenerating into the 14th Doctor.

One source told The Mirror: “Every Doctor Who annual since 1964 has featured the current Doctor so this is a big departure for them. It's surely no coincidence that it's happened just as she's on the way out.”

Jodie Whittaker is the first woman to play the Doctor in the BBC show
(Image: BBC/Ben Blackall/Matt Burlem)

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Jodie's third series, which started filming in November, was cut to eight episodes from ten because of Covid restrictions slowing down production. She will appear in all eight from the autumn, with her regeneration now expected to take place in a special to be screened next year.

One insider said: “As ever bosses are staying tight-lipped about what they have planned, but with filming still ongoing they clearly have plans for episodes to be playing out much later into 2022 – so there’s still more to come for Jodie’s Doctor.”

Jodie Whittaker featured on the front of the 2021 annual cover

The annual is released in September in good time for festive shopping, when it is a staple gift under the tree for every young fan – and many older ones too.

Writer Paul Lang told fans on Twitter : “I didn't do the cover but I can assure you she is inside on (nearly) every page.” And he added: “I love it! Fresh and new.”

Matt Smith on the cover of the 2011 Doctor Who annual

In January The Mirror revealed Jodie's plans to quit, after telling bosses she intended to keep to the traditional “three years and out” rule employed by her predecessors Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. David Tennant also did three series, but extended his tenure with a few specials.

Sidekicks Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole have already left and this time the Doctor's companions will be played by Mandip Gill and incoming comedian John Bishop.

Peter Capaldi on the front cover of the 2017 Doctor Who annual

Jodie, 38, has appeared on the front of the last three official BBC annuals, with Capaldi gracing the front from 2015-18. Prior to him, Matt Smith featured from 2011-14, David Tennant from 2007-2010 and Christopher Eccleston for just one year after the reboot of the sci-fi show in 2006.

The early editions across the 60s and 70s all feature the current Doctor on the front.

Last night Penguin Random House, who publish the annual, said: “We made the decision some time ago to experiment with a non-character led illustrated cover. Jodie is, of course, featured throughout the book itself.”

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