Doctor Who Star Jodie Whittaker Had Terrifying Encounter With Poisonous Spider While Filming in South Africa

Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker faces all kinds of intergalactic terrors as the lead character in the long-running BBC sci-fi series. But while filming for the show’s new season in South Africa, she encountered a terror of her own. On an episode of The Graham Norton Show, Whittaker recalled how she got too close for comfort with a poisonous spider. “We were filming in South Africa and, unbeknownst to me, some of the South African crew had been filming what is known as a sac spider crawling up and down out of this tree,” Whittaker says. “So the sac spider’s in the tree. They’re filming it, filming each other, I’ve got footage, saying, ‘This is terrifying. Look how terrifying that is.’ No one told me. I run out of the building into the wilderness as this sac spider just crawled down, down my face, on my collar bone… I absolutely bricked it and cannot repeat what I said.”

She stripped off her costume and the episode’s first assistant director grabbed the spider and flung it away. Later on, Whittaker realized that she could have died. “I didn’t,” she clarifies on the show. “It didn’t even bite me.” You can watch her tell the story herself in the video above.

Jodie Whittaker is returning as the Thirteenth Doctor in Doctor Who Season 12. She debuted in the role in Season 11, becoming the first woman to play the Doctor. "I really can’t wait to step back in and get to work again," Whittaker said when the show was renewed, confirming her return. "It’s such an incredible role. It's been an extraordinary journey so far and I'm not quite ready to hand it over yet."

The new season also sees the return of Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill as Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair, and Yasmin Khan, respectively. Each is one of the Doctor's companions traveling in the TARDIS. Chris Chibnall, who became Doctor Who's showrunner with Whittaker's debut season, says the Season 12 two-part premiere, "Spyfall," is Doctor Who's biggest episode ever.


“Episode one is probably the biggest episode of Doctor Who we’ve done, or has been done, I would imagine. Physically, there’s a lot of stunts, there’s a lot of locations, it’s a globe-trotting action thriller,” Chibnall said in an interview. “But you don’t want to lose sight of character and intimacy and emotion. You can’t do everything at 11.”

Are you excited about Doctor Who's return? Let us know in the comments section. Doctor Who returns on New Year's Day on BBC One and BBC America.