2017 will see the tenth season of the rebooted Doctor Who (the 39th season overall), and also the final season for showrunner Steven Moffatt, who took the reins in 2010 with the introduction of Matt Smith as The Doctor. Moffatt, much like his predecessor Russell T. Davies, was at the helm for two Doctors: Smith and the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi. It is assumed that when Chris Chibnall takes over the show in 2018 he will want to do so with his own Doctor much like the two previous show runners did. The BBC have yet to make the announcement but all the rumblings point to this happening and, logically, it makes sense. Doctor Who is in that incredibly unique position as a TV show that every few years gets to completely reboot itself. Each new Doctor gives non-fans the chance to jump aboard as an actor they like takes the role or the staff behind the camera change. Personally, I’ve found myself suggesting people begin with the Matt Smith Doctor as his first season in the role is a masterpiece and some of the Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant stuff has not aged well. With Chris Chibnall taking over as head writer, it’s only a matter of time before they announce Capaldi’s departure and then either a simple statement of who is taking over or another weird live show announcement like the BBC did for Capaldi.
If a new Doctor is coming in, then let’s have a woman to step into the role. Canonically, it has been established that when a Timelord regenerates it can mean a change of gender so now is the perfect time for it. The Doctor has been a man for fifty years, and when you’ve got a show that can literally change the appearance and actor of the main character, there is no excuse not to try and switch it up every now and then. The closest the show has done to that recently has been to follow up two skinny, floppy-haired young actors with a grumpy older one (also skinny, but with curly hair). There is completely a chance that the 13th Doctor will either be another grumpy old man or they’ll go back to good-looking youngster, but the BBC will have failed if they do that.
There has been a lot of push and pull about the role of women in sci-fi media. The two most recent Star Wars movie have had female leads, much to the disgust of people complaining that it’s Disney forcing an agenda upon people, and I would rather not relive the whole Ghostbusters thing. It seems these ‘fans’ have a short memory about who some of the best and most iconic sci-fi characters are: Princess Leia, Ellen Ripley, Furiosa, and Sarah Connor. Or perhaps they just don’t like women and saying that Felicity Jones is too short to lead a group of men is a way to channel that. Despite this, Ghostbusters was one of my favourite comedies of last year, and the two Star Wars movies have weathered Max Landis’ misogynist labeling of Rey as a Mary Sue and a concentrated campaign of negativity from ‘fans’ who want Star Wars to be a place where men can be men without women trying to be Jedi or lead armies, to become massive box office successes. Chances are that casting a female Doctor will cause a similar uproar, but the people complaining that equal representation is bad and somehow harmful to them and their beloved pop culture need to grow up. And the quickest way forward-thinking sci-fi franchises can transcend those attitudes is by ignoring them and doing awesome things.
The idea of a very popular TV show having a lead that was a man but who now finds himself in a woman’s body would be a fascinating idea and one that I believe would be handled well in a show that has been known for its progressive stance when it comes to representing different sexuality. Under the control of Russel T. Davies, the show was always introducing gay characters, married same sex couples, and a bisexual Shakespeare. Davies was criticised by some on the internet of pushing an agenda (and he probably was), but that agenda was that straight people aren’t the only people who exist and that seeing more queer characters on prime time Saturday night television is an agenda we can all get behind.
This is a children’s show and children being exposed to Captain Jack Harkness’ pan-sexuality, the lesbian marriage of Jenny and Madame Veatra, and even the Doctor’s semi-asexuality are all helpful tools for letting them know what’s normal in the world. Studies differ on when children begin to understand their own gender and sexuality, and as a society we’re quite happy to assume that a kid doesn’t know what’s what until their late teens or later. We don’t give children the language for them to express their feelings and confusion on these subjects, but TV is beginning to. A recent, gorgeous Twitter thread was all about a mother and daughter watching Supergirl and the daughter explaining to the mum that she thought she might be gay using a character on the show and her journey to put her own confusion into context. TV gave this kid the language she needed to talk to her mother and now together they can see what happens next instead of this poor child struggling alone through unknown territory. And then consider a transgender child, completely confused with themselves, their body, their place in the world. Imagine they could go to their parents and say, “You know how the Doctor is a boy but in a girl’s body? That’s how I feel.” Think about times when you’ve felt a certain thing but you couldn’t give it a name or describe it to someone, and then a piece of pop culture hits the nail on the head for you. The chorus of a song that convinces you you’re in love or a passage in a book that begins a grieving process or a show about a talking horse that diagnoses your own depression. Pop culture may seem slight but if it gives people the language and the words they need to ask for help and guidance then its effects are immeasurable.
Finally, the show needs a shot in the arm. A lot of people are turning away from it disliking Moffat’s clockwork plotting and his perceived dislike of the fandom. Bringing in a female Doctor will bring in new fans and people eager to see how the show handles it. Doing it well will mean these fans stick around, the show can go into new and interesting directions, and Doctor Who can run for another fifty years and beyond. Most importantly it can help people, especially young people. After all, if we’re going to have generations raised by TV, lets raise them right and give them the tools and the language they need to survive and for them to be happy with who they are.
I took to Twitter to find out what you thought and the response of overwhelmingly positive and just plain overwhelming with how many of these ideas sound incredible:
@Equiatic_Bind Hayley Atwell
— Anton Reyes (@TalesToAntonish) January 4, 2017
My picks are Marsha Thomason, Christine Adams or Naomie Harris. 😊 https://t.co/0FqgwTqPy8
— Jenét Morrow (@JenetAllDay) January 5, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind Helen Mirren
— David Hart (@pccasestudy) January 5, 2017
— Keith Gow (@keithgow) January 5, 2017
— Keith Gow (@keithgow) January 5, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind Maggie Smith.
— Josh (@JoshMLabelle) January 5, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind Lena Headey
— Logan (@LoganKenny1) January 5, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind Antonia Thomas!
— Diego Crespo (@deggowaffles) January 4, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind Olivia Colman
— Keith Gow (@keithgow) January 4, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind I think The Doctor might operate best under less recognizable actors, but Naomie Harris or Tilda Swinton would be killer.
— Ryan Horner (@wilsonlives) January 5, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind maggie smith
— William Blake (@willian_blake) January 4, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind Helena Bonham Carter. Get a bit crazy.
— Andrew Fox (@DigitalSneeze) January 4, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind Zawe Ashton
— Paula Garratt (@PaulaJee) January 5, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind Lucy Punch
— The Beast (@KnightmareBeast) January 5, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind Tilda Swinton/Miranda Richardson
— afterglow (@afterglow2046) January 4, 2017
Hmm… Sophie Okonedo, Olivia Williams, Carey Mulligan, Thandie Newton https://t.co/Xpamvgeki8
— Rron R2 (@rron007) January 5, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind Also , I know she was once The Doctor’s companion but Freema Agyeman could work as The Doctor imo.
— Rron R2 (@rron007) January 5, 2017
@Equiatic_Bind Haley Atwell would kill it.
— queen of winter 👑 (@emeraldleighw) January 5, 2017
— I Voted For Her (@electrcspacegrl) January 5, 2017
Amanda Abbington, Emma Thompson, or Hayley Atwell. (So many other choices though too!) https://t.co/rUJf78aD8W
— NYPinTA ⛄️ (@NYPinTA) January 5, 2017
Hayley Atwell https://t.co/y1khVSmuhF
— Alan (@Aquamomoa) January 4, 2017
Marianne Jean-Baptiste because lets be real….LEGEND https://t.co/kvvQJ2OopN
— Cartoons and Cereal (@BlckBolex) January 4, 2017
I would love to see Helen Mirren’s Doctor? I would also go totally nuts and maybe cast Natalie Dormer? https://t.co/dP2M8Toyfs
— Isa (@artincircles) January 4, 2017
— Shan (@TNRLM) January 4, 2017
Helena Bonham Carterhttps://t.co/H7Z2PXk5Gy
— Wolfy von Salzburg (@Richard_B_IV) January 4, 2017
Olivia Colman https://t.co/3N7G47b8Hz
— Kost (@kostmayer) January 4, 2017
Ruth Wilson. https://t.co/jdndnw03VK
— Scott Stamper (@DerfelBarada) January 4, 2017
Olivia Coleman ! She is witty & charming , If young then Eva Green !! She is the ultimate solution for everything https://t.co/vwnVAFDrvg
— Aadya (@aadya_100) January 4, 2017
Dame Judi Dench. Not sarcasm. The danger and the rage of Capaldi. But more terrifying https://t.co/gNWsMLNHOy
— justanotherfilmnerd (@Anotherfilmnerd) January 4, 2017
@Anotherfilmnerd a Dench and Maggie Smith team-up special.
— Patrick R Young (@JustYoungEnough) January 4, 2017
— Simon (@IAmSimonColton) January 9, 2017
Featured Image: BBC