On July 16th at 4.30pm on BBC1, history was made when a minute long trailer aired during the Wimbledon Men’s Final as it showed us the new Doctor walking through a forest, all hooded up, only for the last few seconds to reveal that the thirteenth incarnation of the Time Lord was in fact, Jodie Whittaker as she smiled and headed towards the TARDIS, key in hand.
The 35 year old actress, best known for her roles in both Broadchurch (created by incoming showrunner, Chris Chibnall) and Attack The Block was confirmed as the 13th Doctor and to say the reaction on social media was strong would be an understatement. The reaction primarily being one of near universal support for Whittaker’s casting but like with any actor casting in the role of the Doctor, there was also some opposition and some concerns too.
Now anyone who’s followed my tweets or read my comments on GallifreyBase will be more than aware of the fact that I haven’t been keen on the idea of a female Doctor and while I would’ve preferred a male for the Doctor too, I am however in complete support of Whittaker’s casting in the role. Did you really think I was going to drop the show because the Doctor’s a woman now? As if!
However I do feel that there are some things from both sides of the female Doctor debate that should be addressed a little here, so here goes ....
1: Labelling people who either didn’t want a female Doctor or have concerns about what the casting means for the show as misogynistic fails to address the fact that there have also been female fans too that have shared similar viewpoints on the matter. Sorry social media, but it’s not just men who may have an issue with a female Doctor.
2: The feminist critics and ‘woke’ social media types who do this are exactly the same people who would’ve reacted in a similarly childish manner had the BBC and Chibnall cast a conventionally attractive white male Doctor.
3: Framing Whittaker’s casting as a feminist victory comes across as pretty extreme response, considering that the show itself has always had fantastic female characters since it’s debut in 1963 and that the revived series has been more inclusive to female fans and generally everyone since it’s return in 2005. The show hadn’t been lacking a strong female presence, so not let’s not act like it was people, okay?
4: There is nothing wrong with having concerns about a female Doctor. Whether people like it or not, the casting is a huge risk, but it’s also one that obviously both the BBC and Chibnall considered but felt they could pull off. Vilifying people for expressing concern on this also reeks of hypocrisy.
5: Casting a female Doctor does change the show’s dynamic. It’s naive to assume otherwise. While I don’t think it’ll help the show if it overemphasises the Doctor now being a woman, it’s still something the show has to address too but I have confidence that Chibnall will not treat it in a gimmicky way.
6: With a female Doctor now at the helm, I do think it’s time for the main companion of the series to be male. By all means, introduce a secondary female companion towards the latter half of Series 11, but for now the main companion should be male.
7: The show has been in something of a rut for a while and it needed a jolt. This might not have been the one I had in mind, but the fact that it got people talking in a way that Peter Capaldi’s era hasn’t certainly indicates that Whittaker’s casting might bring some viewers back and add some newer ones in this mix.
8: Gender swapping characters still doesn’t address the gender imbalance issue in the media either. Spotlighting existing female characters and creating newer ones should be the way to tackle this thorny issue as well as acknowledging the plethora of female led shows we’ve had in the last several decades.
That said and going back to one of my earlier statements – Jodie Whittaker is the 13th Doctor and therefore she has my support and I can’t wait to see what she brings to the role. I still do have some concerns but I will admit the trailer alone did inspire confidence that she’ll bring an interesting new side to one of the best characters of all time and I liked her costume, even though it's not actually her official one.
Elsewhere there’s still one more episode left from departing Doctor Peter Capaldi and this week (July 23rd), the 12th Doctor actor along with Pearl Mackie (Bill), Matt Lucas (Nardole), Michelle Gomez (Missy), Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss will be attending San Diego Comic Con for a special panel, complete with a preview clip of the Christmas special, rumoured to be titled The Doctors that will also include David Bradley as the First Doctor and a glimpse of Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteen Doctor as well. Further casting for the special has yet to be confirmed but both Bill and Nardole will appear in some capacity along with rumoured appearances from some other past faces as well. Either way, we’re moving into a bold new era for the series.
13th Doctor Trailer/Press Release: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/doctorwho/entries/399b321f-63cb-4b83-8bd3-e6874d09579f
The Doctors will air on Christmas Day on BBC1 and BBCAmerica respectively. Series 11 of Doctor Who is rumoured to begin filming around November.