It’s Time ‘Doctor Who’ Casts A Woman

By February 20, 2017

The following is an opinion piece about the future of Doctor Who. You might not care about someone else’s opinion. If that’s the case, might we interest you in a new limited series starring Kit Harington from Game of Thrones?

Doctor Who is a television and science-fiction icon not just in the United Kingdom, but really around the world. Whether you watched classic episodes on PBS, or hid behind the couch watching the original run on BBC, or discovered The Doctor and his Tardis after the 2005 reboot – you know the special place Doctor Who has in geekdom.

It’s maintained its popularity after more than 50 years from a lovable (if sometimes grumpy) main character, some adventurous stories – and the fact the show can reinvent itself with every new recasting of the lead role. Yet, there is one major thing that all 12 people who have starred in the series over the years have had in common: They have all been white men.

That needs to stop. Like right now.

Don’t get me wrong – there has been nothing wrong with many of the actors who have taken on the role over the years. Even Peter Capaldi, who might not be everyone’s favorite, has embodied the spirit of the character who travels through time and space to protect anyone threatened by outside forces. But even though The Doctor’s Tardis might be stuck in the shape of a 1960s relic, the show itself doesn’t have to remain a 1960s relic.

There are times I wonder what’s happening with this fandom, where we can accept the fact that Klingons make wholesale changes to their appearances every decade or so, but we can’t even begin to fathom a woman holding a sonic screwdriver. And there are all kinds of reasons circulating out there, too.

My favorite is that The Doctor simply cannot be a woman. That despite what we’ve seen on screen over and over again with other Time Lords, including The Master and River Song, Time Lords have a defined gender and it simply cannot change.

But I need to tell you a little secret. Doctor Who is not real. The “rules” are whatever the writers want them to be, and trust me, they’ve changed more times than many of us can count.

It’s a fictional world with fictional guidelines and constructs, so if incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall wants a woman to take over the title role, all he has to do is, gasp! … cast a woman.

It might be nice to believe gender inequality no longer exists, especially in Hollywood. But that’s about as fictional as Doctor Who.

Sure, it’s far better than what it was when the show premiered in 1963, but society has a long, long way to go.

How do we break down those barriers in our real lives? By beginning with the barriers in our entertainment. Television is a powerful medium, something we welcome into our homes on a daily basis. If we see strong woman on television, then we can get over our Neanderthal thinking and finally believe strong woman exist in real life.

I wish I never had to write something like this. I wish we had a society that could be gender-blind, race-blind, sexuality-blind … where we focus on someone’s qualifications instead of which restroom they’ll use.

We’re not there yet, but I do think we’re making progress, even if it’s slow progress. And while casting a woman in Doctor Who certainly won’t single-handedly change the tide on how women are treated in society (and especially the workplace), but every little bit helps.

And the best part? It’s not a charity move to cast a woman. There are so many extraordinary actresses out there, and many of them could easily become by far the best Doctor the show’s ever had. Let’s explore that a bit, and do something new and refreshing for Doctor Who.

Or we can pretend it’s still the 1960s, where women were not generally considered strong leaders despite the fact Doctor Who itself was led by an amazing woman in its early years, Verity Lambert.

Extraordinary women are not unique or rare. In fact, they’re quite common – I would say just as common (if not more) than extraordinary men. Because we shouldn’t even have to make distinctions among men and women – the goal for the future of Doctor Who should simply be, “Let’s hire the best actor, whoever he or she might be.”

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael began what has become nearly 19 years of entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based out of New York City where he is the editor of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in the Bronx.
  • Estavoratrelundar

    Ha. Very laughable. A women never holding a sonic? Seriously? That’s just an insult to women who actually know facts contrary to that. May I point you to Romana, a Time Lady who traveled with the Doctor, who, at first was green at the beginning, but grew immensely, and learning quite a lot from him.
    She BUILT her own sonic screwdriver and guess what the Doctor did: he tried swapping his for hers (The Horns of Nimon).
    And don’t get me started on the photo shoot Juliet Landau did for her Romana in the audios from Big Finish: she held a sonic and in Gallifrey: Intervention Earth, she USED a sonic!

    Now that I brought up Romana, let me make this clear: Romana freaking EXISTS for a reason. She is very like The Doctor YET her OWN character! There’s simply no need for a female Doctor at all.
    Gender equality is NOT slapping a women into a preexisting typical male role and calling it a day. No. that’s not how you get strong female characters. They are CREATED! Because you know what? Women DESERVE our own characters.
    Hence why I bring up Romana. She is that answer.

    Now, of course, what one is probably thinking is “the writers can write whatever etc The Master turned female etc.”
    I’ve got an answer to that too:

    First, The Master. Regenerating female is an assumption – one made by Osgood no less. And what does she know? Was she there? Heck, was she even there when Simm’a was quite unstable in The End of Time?
    It’s actually likely that The Master stole that body for survival, considering the instability in The End of Time. And we all know he does ANYTHING to survive! I mean, he’s twice took over bodies in order to survive. Why not here as well?
    And when you think about it, it really is a horrible thought, considering Missy is a Gallifreyan (two hearts: “One for casual; one for best.”) AND female, considering his distaste of females. I mean, she look at Jacobi’s and how he was disgusted that a GIRL shot him.

    Now other Time Lords like The Corsair and The General: well, guess what: they are NEW Time Lords so there’s no issue on that.

    Which leads me to explain why I firmly believe The Doctor can’t (you know, a show reason besides my real world reason above): it all has to do with The Academy on Gallifrey.
    Take Romana, for example: she got a Triple First at the Academy, which is a very good mark – she was a star pupil. Guess what: she actually controlled her regeneration in Destiny of the Daleks with ease, even going through a few bodies before deciding on Princess Astra’s face. Considering her mark, I’m not surprised.
    Now take the Doctor: he got a 51% on his second attempt (grades found in The Ribos Operation: note: Romana really does her research #awesome) – and just look at his regenerations. Heck, after she said something to him, he even goes something on the line (paraphrasing, of course), “Is that the sort of nonsense they are teaching you now?” Which seems to indicate that they change the curriculum at the Academy from time to time – so, this means, there’s simply not an issue for new Time Lords swapping genders since most likely they normalized it.
    I firmly believe that connection.

    But my main reason is Romana: saying there’s no gender equality is absolutely ridiculous, imho. That’s just a did at Romana. Nobody disses Romana on my watch.
    She’s amazing in every way. She is his true equal in every aspects, yet she retains her individuality. There is no need for a female Doctor, when there’s Romana.
    Thank you for your time. *decends soapbox*