Doctor Who has sparked a furious debate across the globe with its recent announcement that the 13th Doctor is going to be female. After 54 years of a man playing the role, the baton has been picked up firmly by Jodie Whittaker of Broadchurch fame.
The whole essence of the long running sci-fi delight is that the doctor is from Gallifrey and regenerates into different forms every few years. It was only a matter of time before it was a woman.
We had been gently introduced into this idea when the Master became Missy so the complaints received by the BBC do rather show that there is still a gender divide. Even “worse”, the new female doctor is so young.
Perhaps the writers wish to bring back the playfulness of Matt Smith, but being a talented actress, Jodie may bring a new dimension to the part we had not even thought about. Only time will tell how she will play it.
As a lifelong whovian, I have felt a sense of personal loss each time there is a new doctor but every time I think they have got it right. Doctor Who pushes boundaries. They explored Captain Jack’s sexuality and the doctors latest companion finally found her female lover in the exploding final episode.
For a series to run as long as it has, things do have to change and evolve and I would like to imagine that Katherine Janeway rather paved the way for female sci-fi main characters, but did life long Star Trek followers drop their popcorn when she was announced?
My personal favourite Doctor Who storylines were Rose Tyler and Bad Wolf, and the romantic connection between her and David Tennant. But then again, Matt Smith and his friendship with Amy Pond is also wonderful, plus Doctor Donna…. the Pandorica… the list becomes endless..
Peter Capaldi turned on its head the idea that the Doctor was always a romantic infatuation of his companion and re-established the idea that he is now thousands of years old.
The only sense of loss in my house when the news was announced though was from my daughter Isolde. Having three daughters and a gay son, my house reeks with feminism. My mantra is “you are a strong independent woman” to each of my girls and they firmly believe it.
Isolde has seen every single episode of Doctor Who many times and understands the nuances far better than I ever could. Her only disappointment was that she in fact would not be the first female doctor which had been one of her ambitions for many years, fuelled by me of course.
My advice for those who feel a little disgruntled, or perhaps feel a certain personal connection has been lost: give it time. Have an open mind and see what delights the BBC have in store for you.
I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.