And the New Doctor Is…

As most people know by now, Peter Capaldi is stepping down as Doctor Who this coming Christmas. At the end of the Christmas special, Doctor Number 12 will regenerate into Doctor Number 13. As usual, speculation has been fierce over who will be taking over the role. Yesterday, the BBC announced the name of that person.

And it’s either a shock, or not a shock. Maybe a “Blimey!” moment (as it was for my brother). If you are trying to avoid finding out before Christmas (good luck with that), CLICK HERE NOW.

If you’re still reading, you probably already know that the new Doctor will be…

 

Jodie Whittaker. No, that’s not what she will be wearing. But, yes, the new Doctor will be female. First, for those who don’t know Jodie, probably the most internationally high-profile role she has had so far is as Beth Latimer in the series Broadchurch, which was written and produced by in-coming Doctor Who show-runner, Chris Chibnall.

Why is this a shock or not a shock? It’s a shock because for the last 54 years, the Doctor has been played by a man. This is the first time in the show’s history the Doctor will be played by someone of the female gender. Why is this not a shock? Because for the past three years, Steven Moffat has been toying and teasing the idea–one might say he’s been laying the groundwork–by having the Doctor’s Time Lord arch-nemesis, the Master, regenerate into a woman (“Missy”–short for “Mistress”), and making other subtle (or not-so-subtle) references to the fact Time Lords are not locked into a single gender.

Some will not take this news well. Especially for some long-term fans of the show, used to a male Doctor, this will be a step too far. They will talk about how it will change the tone of the show, or the dynamic between the Doctor and her companion, and how it’s like having the next James Bond be a woman. Some may even become TARDIS Vacantists (a little theological humor there, courtesy of one of my pastors. Thanks, Todd!) As someone who has been a fan of Doctor Who all his life (and that’s a long time, folks), I say… hogwash. There is nothing in the Whoniverse that says a Time Lord must remain the same gender with each regeneration. Yes, it will shake things up a bit. There will be a new dynamic in the TARDIS. More than likely a new companion. I hope they give her a male companion, just as they have tended toward giving the male Doctor a female companion. Though, frankly, I’m just interested to see how it works out.

As a fan, I hope it’s a success. I hope the Doctor’s gender is not an issue in the show. It’s “An Adventure in Space and Time,” after all, not “An Experiment in Social Engineering.” None of the Doctor’s traditional enemies will care whether the Doctor’s a boy or a girl. What difference does it make to a Dalek, or a Cyberman, or the clone-race Sontarans? The Master might get a kick out of it, but who’s he/she to talk (assuming Missy regenerates…)?

My final word on the matter is actually my brother’s (thanks Ian!):

“I hope she gets a lot of support and not just mad, foaming so-called Who ‘experts’ kicking off about what supposedly can and can’t happen in a fictional TV programme.”

Amen.

Welcome to the Whoniverse, Jodie Whittaker!

What do you think? Excited? Scared? Share in the comments!

8 thoughts on “And the New Doctor Is…

  1. AJ Blythe

    I talked about this with my young Whovian this morning. He was totally okay with it because he said it made perfect sense. Now, I may get this wrong, but his reasoning went something like this… River Song gave the Doctor an extra life so it makes sense that when he regenerates into the 13th Doctor using her life, the new Doctor is female.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Well… technically, the Time Lords gave the Doctor a new regeneration cycle, but it’s a sweet thought. Another way to look at it might be this: We have observed that, though a Time Lord can regenerate into any gender, each Time Lord will favor a particular gender (the Master had been male most of his life, and River has been female for as long as we’ve known her–and we saw some of her previous incarnations). However, the odds are that some time (or a few times) in their regeneration cycle they will switch gender. The Master was already on “borrowed” regenerations, having blown through his original 12 as a result of his evil machinations. As far as we know, none of those original 12 were female, so Missy was long overdue. Likewise the Doctor. How’s that? 🙂

      Reply
  2. The Silver Fox

    I’m not a Doctor Who watcher, but I’ve already encountered online “fans” who are outraged and hate the new Doctor. Whatever happened to open-mindedness? Isn’t science fiction supposed to push the envelope and shake things up?

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I can understand some fans not liking this choice. After all, there are fans who didn’t like one or both of the previous two Doctors. But when that disappointment boils over into hatred, and hatred based solely on the actor’s gender (Jodie is an excellent actress, as anyone who has seen Broadchurch can attest), that’s just silly. As you rightly point out, Silver Fox, this is sci-fi, and anything can happen in sci-fi. And, as I said, there’s nothing in the world of Doctor Who that says the Doctor can’t be female. My only concern, as I alluded to in the article, is that the writers might be tempted to use the new Doctor as a vehicle to make contemporary social and political points. There really is no need to. Just let the Doctor be the Doctor, and do the things the Doctor does, things he can do in female form as well in male.

      Reply
    1. cds Post author

      It will be interesting to see what they do with a female Doctor, having laughed and teased and toyed with the idea for over 30 years (Tom Baker quipped that he might regenerate into a woman back in 1981). Fascinating times ahead, for sure! 🙂

      Reply

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