I normally don’t blog on Tuesday, but something happened that has made me feel the need. It’ll come as no surprise that I am colossal nerd in general, and that Doctor Who is my specific geeky poison. For those normal people out there in the world, the idea of setting your phone alarm to awaken at 3.30AM just to watch an actor being announced in a role probably sounds more than a little insane, but you know, the life of a Whovian. Set my alarm I did, and I was so not disappointed. And then I read the comments.
So What Is Everyone So Upset About?
Well in short – The Doctor has had a sex change along with his latest regeneration with Jodie Whittaker taking over the TARDIS from Peter Capadi during this year’s Christmas episode. And it has a lot of people very very upset. Some enough that Jodi has already had death threats not 24 hours after her casting.
And they’ll have to recolour the TARDIS pink!
It’s political correctness gone mad!
Sigh. I’m probably the last person who should talk about positive male role models in media – my son’s hero is Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony and besides my friend Amy did a much better job but here’s why I think why this just might be the change The Whoniverse has always needed….
Doctor Who Is About Change
The very concept of regeneration was written into the show to allow a change of actor because William Hartnell became too ill to continue. There have been subtle hints (The Doctor’s Wife) and out and out plotlines (Missy’s arc) warning that this was coming. Do you really have a problem with the fact that a phone booth driving alien detective who has the ability to change his face is now sporting a uterus? Is that the line in the sand you want to draw and say ‘well that’s it. It’s been a grand 50 years but I’m done.’ How are you any better than the ‘fake geek girls’ you derided for claiming Peter Capaldi was too old to play The Doctor?
Girls Can Do Anything (Even Drive The TARDIS)
While Doctor Who has always had some awesome female companions (Sarah Jane Smith and her groovy overalls were my hero growing up), they still very rarely had a narrative arc of their own. The Doctor is still the main character of the show after all, so most of their character growth centres around their relationship to him. It’s going to be incredibly cool to see a woman solving all the issues and just falling back on screaming DOCTOOOOORRR at the top of her lungs. Personally I’d love to go all in on this and see her pash on with River Song. They are married after all but I’m not sure the patriarchy could take THAT much awesome in one room….
The Casting Is Spot On (Regardless of Gender)
Sometimes there’s an actor for a part that is so perfect you can just see how it fits. Just like the absolutely spot on casting of Michelle Gomez (Missy aka The Master) as a foil for Peter Capaldi, Jodi Whittaker makes sense. A huge part of 13’s arc will be grief – the Doctor is in mourning for both Bill (an incredibly influential companion) and Missy (an evil nemesis that he almost managed to save). Just like The Master should be a study in gleeful mischievous evil, an actor playing the Doctor needs to be simultaneously wonder, grief, wrath and kindness combined – which makes it a bloody hard to part to play. Whittaker is absolutely incredible at letting four or five emotions play out across her face without speaking a word – see Broadchurch or Black Mirror if you still don’t see why she’s perfect.
It’s A New Era
A female Doctor may not have worked for Moffatt or RTD, but with Chris Chibnall at the helm, I have no doubts it will succeed. Why? Because of Broadchurch. His tenure on Broadchurch has brought some beautiful female characters that could easily have fallen over the line to shrewish caricature and yet they remained incredibly nuanced portrayals. In the end, this is his vision, his baby and we have to trust that he will treat it with the respect its history deserves. I have a deep and abiding love for this character, and I believe that Chibnall and Whittaker are the team to drag the fandom kicking and screaming into the modern age.
Are you excited about a female Doctor? Have you never watched it before and maybe will now? Want to call me a giant nerd? Let me know in the comments 😉