In Depth

Doctor Who: northern accents baffle American viewers

Huddersfield heroine Jodie Whittaker and Sheffield setting have some Who fans reaching for the subtitles

Jodie Whittaker’s debut as Doctor Who’s first female Time Lord has received the thumbs-up from critics and viewers, with her spirited performance singled out as a particular highlight of the new series.

However, for some fans from across the pond, the shattering of the glass Tardis ceiling took a back seat to a far more practical obstacle: understanding the show’s northern accents.

The Sheffield setting of the first installment of the drama, combined with Whittaker’s natural Huddersfield twang, had some Americans scratching their heads.

Whittaker is not the first northern Time Lord - Manchester-born Christopher Eccleston kept his native accent when he played the ninth Doctor in 2005 - but with a supporting cast of northern co-stars and Bradley Walsh sporting a cockney inflection to boot, the latest aural landscape all became a bit much for some.

And it wasn’t just the accents:

Satirising the reaction to the casting of the show’s first female Doctor, Mashable’s Chris Taylor described the decision to feature broad northern brogues as “a very brave and controversial decision, unprecedented in the show's 55-year history”.

Luckily, he added, the runaway success of Game of Thrones has already brought Yorkshire accents to the world, “so hopefully most American audiences can understand what the hell this Sheffield crew is talking about”.

But this isn’t the first time that Americans have been stumped by Whittaker’s native accent.

During an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote the show last week, an American subtitler failed to recognise that Whittaker was talking about her hometown of Huddersfield, instead rendering it phonetically as “Hoodezfield”.

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