The announcement of an actor deciding to leave the role of The Doctor is a heady bag of emotions, you’re sad to see a familiar and much loved face go, you wonder what the future might hold for the character and perhaps most importantly, who the hell is taking the role next. It’s all change for Doctor Who moving past this years Christmas special, head writer & showrunner Steven Moffat is also leaving at the same time as Peter Capaldi and Broadchurch’s Chris Chibnall now assumes that mantle and with it, the task of heralding the new Doctor, the face of a new era for a much loved and revered show. Today the announcement was made for the person taking the role of the 13th incarnation of the titular Time Lord and it was probably the most historic and divisive announcement in the shows long tenure on our screens.
Following the final of the Wimbledon men’s competition, we cut to a trailer of a hooded figure walking through woodland. A key materialises in the persons hand as they remove their hood to reveal……. Jodie Whittaker, the 13th Doctor, she smiles before stepping into her Tardis. Goosebumps are an understatement. After a history of 54 years of The Doctor being a male character, we now have our first female Doctor and I couldn’t be happier with the choice of actor for the role. Firstly, this shouldn’t come as that much of a shock to regular viewers of the show, the fact that regeneration can change a Time Lord’s gender has been a canonical plot devise for a good few years now ever since Michelle Gomez took the mantle of The Master, or should that be Missy, at the end of Peter Capaldi’s first season, a decision that in hindsight was made to test the waters for what was to come a few short years later. So, it’s no short leap of faith to accept a female taking a role that up to this date has been male right? The ground work has been laid, it is a canonical concept that isn’t diverging from the science of the show, so why did the internet break in two at this announcement?
The predominant naysayers are long term fans, by this I mean people who have watched Doctor Who long before its 2005 resurrection. They are angry and in some cases I have witnessed from male fans on Twitter, offensively indignant to the historic announcement. Does such an reaction mark a very real, thinly veiled vein of sexism & misogyny amongst some of the shows fandom? In some cases, unfortunately yes. That’s not to say I have seen nothing but this kind of reaction, I have seen some very intelligently, well worded and thought provoking responses against the news of the casting and have indulged in some good natured debate on the matter also, but it can not be denied that a very ugly face of the fandom of Doctor Who has reared its head and it’s not pretty, we can only hope the volume of such discourse will dissipate when the angry people in question get it all out of their system.
Now to the lady of the hour, Jodie Whittaker is a stalwart of quality British TV following appearances in Marchlands, Charlie Brookers Black Mirror and Chris Chibnal’s much celebrated Broadchurch, she is an actor of great strength & diversity, much like every other actor who has assumed the mantle of The Doctor and I believe she will gel brilliantly in a brave new era of the show, the times they are a changing. My personal opinion on the announcement is one of optimism, I openly welcome a woman assuming the role, its canonical, it makes sense and the actor in question is excellent, couple this with the amazing Chris Chibnall showrunning and there is a hell of a lot to be excited about going forward in Doctor Who. The pieces are now in place, we have our showrunner, we have our Doctor now all we have is the wait for her first appearance in the role this Christmas.