So what’s the deal with the Doctor being a woman anyway?
It’s been just over a week since the BBC announced the identity of the 13th Doctor and suffice to say fans and even some non Whovians are divided over the casting decision. Just after the Wimbledon final the Broadchurch star Jodie Whittaker was outed the newly regenerated Timelord who will occupy the TARDIS with a brief reveal trailer and let’s just say social media went ape shit crazy with news outlets calling this breaking news. Sure it is to the Whovians but I’m sure the boring normal people would have gone “Meh” and scrolled past this alert on Twitter and Facebook.
Now for those who don’t understand why this is such a big deal its that the Doctor has regenerated 11 times with twelve different male actors playing the titular character, thirteen if you include the incredible portrayal of Sir John Hurt as the War Doctor in the 50th anniversary episode “The Day Of The Doctor”. Now its widely known that a Timelord’s regeneration is a highly random event with the outcome being anything from young to old, alien or human looking and male and female so the fact we have had twelve white males play the role is quite frankly astonishing ….. when in the context of the show anyway.
Who the hell is Jodie Whittaker?
Jodie Whittaker got her break in 2006 on TV and in a film called Venus. She is 32 years old and has had a few other more well known TV and even film credits to her name most notably the excellent Attack the Block and the two St Tinian’s films where she showed off her comedy chops pretty well.
You may recognise the actress Jodie Whittaker from a little show called Broadchurch where a few other Doctor Who alumni have made their home including the tenth Doctor David Tennant. It may be no surprise that a Broadchurch actress has taken on the mantle of the Doctor since when the new season begins we will also get a brand new show runner. The new man behind the curtain happens to be Chris Chibnall who is the man behind the hit ITV Broadchurch series.
Wasn’t this change inevitable?
Why yes, yes it was. In fact the current showrunner Steven Moffat has been hinting at this change for several years. First of all he introduced the absolutely magnificent Missy in place of a regenerated Master. Missy played by Michelle Gomez is the current iteration of the predominantly male Master and regenerated from John Simm’s portrayal of the character as we found out in the season 12 finale. The Master had previously been played by eight male actors.
Not only that huge change to probably the Doctor’s greatest adversary was in the season 11 finale where when trying to save Clara the Doctor forced a Timelord general to regenerate from a man into a woman. That was probably the biggest clue that the change was coming as we saw firsthand that a male Timelord can end up female after a regeneration.
There were also subtle clues woven into the dialogue the past few seasons that hinted to this. Missy’s monologue to Bill saying that the Doctor use to be a little girl and that one of the sentences was a lie. There’s the fact that the Doctor may be on borrowed time as well. In Matt Smith’s last episode as the Doctor we saw that the Timelords granted him more regenerations than a Timelord is naturally meant to get, maybe these granted regenerations will be a bit more random than previous, here’s hoping to a Klingon Timelord.
Does it really matter to the story is the Doctor is male or female?
HELL NO it doesn’t! Please correct me if I am wrong but there has never ever been an episode of Doctor Who where the Doctors gender has been brought up as a plot device. If you were to read the plots without knowing the Doctor’s gender you wouldn’t be able to tell if the Doctor was male or female.
Will the format of the show change?
Well yes and no. Every new Doctor brings their own style to the role which is why we always have a group of fans cursing the end of the current Doctor and hating the new actor or actress taking over, change is scary.
If we look at the past few Doctors of modern Who you have the 9th Doctor who was quite angry and still very raw after the death of his people. Ten was very fun and seemed to have moved on from the torture of the Time War but had the occasional brooding moments when he talked about it. Matt Smith’s 11th was the incredibly old Doctor showing his childish side which is shown in one of the best quotes from the show “Oh I am so cross right now, oooohh cake”. Then finally we have our current Doctor who seems to be embracing the fact that he is an old mad man in a box.
Every new regeneration has added something more to the character while perfectly preserving the essence of the Doctor’s previous incarnations. Jodie Whittaker coming onto the show will change the dynamic again but we also have a new show runner so we can expect big changes and only time will tell if those changes will be good or not.
So what do you think of this change?
Ah! I thought you’d never ask. Every fan and I mean every fan moans and cries out when an actor says they are leaving Doctor Who whether it is a companion or the Doctor themselves and then most of those same fans bemoan the new actor or actress that takes over.
Oh they are too old or too young. They are not well known or they don’t suit the character. There are a million reasons for a particular actor or actress not to take a part in one of the most beloved sci fi shows in the world but again there are also a million reasons they will be excellent in the part.
The Doctor is not a set character. One argument I have heard is well next they will cast James Bond or Jason Bourne as a woman or whatever other primarily male character as a woman. That argument I’d agree with normally you shouldn’t just change a character for the sake of equality or political correctness if it doesn’t fit. You wouldn’t be moaning for a male Lara Croft now would you. Where this argument falls apart here though is the character is not human and regeneration as we have already explained is a lottery, in the context of the show it’s a statistical anomaly that The Doctor has been a white male for his 2500 odd years.
In my opinion we have never had a bad Doctor, ever in 50 years and the same goes for companions but that’s probably a controversial statement that could do with an article itself.
The Doctor is a symbol who emphasises peace, intelligence, love, fun, curiosity, fairness, bravery, family, respect and many more incredible traits and if you honestly think that it matters whether the Doctor is a man or woman well quite frankly you need to get with the times.
So what do you think about Jodie Whittaker being our new Doctor? Leave some comments and join the discussion.