After much speculation, the identity of the next actor to take on the role of everyone’s favourite Time Lord has been revealed…
Jodie Whittaker, star of Attack The Block and Broadchurch, is the new star of Doctor Who, and will make her debut when the current 12th Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, regenerates during the Christmas special. Whittaker is the first woman to play the Doctor (excluding Joanna Lumley’s cameo during the Comic Relief sketch ‘The Curse Of Fatal Death’, of course) and the casting choice has proven to be polarising among fans, to say the least.
The move has been hailed as progressive and long overdue by some, a reflection of Doctor Who‘s constantly changing, forward-thinking nature. And then there are those who complain that “political correctness” has tarnished their favourite thing, much like that Ghostbusters reboot apparently “ruined” everybody’s childhood. These people are quick to point out that they don’t hate women, they just don’t want to see a woman get a chance to play one of the most sought-after roles on modern television, with one of the biggest international audiences. Because heaven forbid little girls see a woman represented on-screen as the hero, instead of just the sidekick.
Of course, fans of the show who are trying to rationalise that the main character have a fixed gender seem to be overlooking the fact that the Doctor is an immortal time-travelling alien with two hearts who regularly cheats death by regenerating into a new body, each time adopting a completely different appearance and personality. How is the character switching genders the only part they’re having trouble embracing?
And let’s not forget that gender-switching Time Lords have been a part of the show’s canon for some time now. We’ve just enjoyed a season-long arc with Missy, the recent female incarnation of The Master, played with wicked glee by Michelle Gomez, who proved that a Time Lady can be just as entertaining as a Time Lord. Perhaps the Doctor saw all the fun Missy was having and decided that after living for 1,000 years as a man, he fancied a change?
New showrunner Chris Chibnall has stated that he always intended to cast a woman as the next Doctor, and that Whittaker was his first choice, but it was all top secret until yesterday, prompting fans to speculate that the part would go to Idris Elba. While a number of the Doctor’s companions since the 2005 reboot have been black, the Time Lord himself has always been a white man. And even though casting Jodie Whittaker is a departure from the norm, some fans are growing frustrated that at this pace, it feels like it might be another fifty years before we see a non-white Doctor flying the TARDIS.
All of this furore and we have yet to even see Whittaker as the Doctor, aside from a 60 second promotional video released by the BBC over the weekend. The next season of Doctor Who will include a new companion and a new executive producer, providing a blank slate for new adventures. Whittaker has the acting chops to take on Daleks and whatever else the fictional universe of Doctor Who throws at her — we’re confident she can handle trolls, too.