Doctor Who has been on our TV screens for over 50 years now. What started out as a simple science fiction show, Doctor Who has now grown into one of the most successful and long lasting TV franchises of all time. The story of an alien from the planet Gallifrey, known as the Time Lord, who travels through time and space for adventure and fun, and of course, saving the universe from time to time, has not only been a popular TV show but has become part of the culture of several generations.
Because of this, Doctor Who has been the benchmark of so many science fiction shows that have followed. The main reason for this is that the main character of The Doctor can regenerate into a completely different person, which is possibly the greatest piece of writing that a TV show has ever come up with as it means that every few years you can have a completely new cast and yet keep the same show. Although this is one of the strengths of Doctor Who, the show has never had a female in the lead role, until now.
With the BBC recently announcing that the next Doctor will be a woman, we can all finally rejoice in the fact that a female will be taking on the role of The Doctor. With that in mind we look at 15 reasons why we’re so happy that a woman will finally get to play The Doctor.
15. The Fans
The first entry on our list actually goes out to the fans of the long running show that is Doctor Who. Over the years, Doctor Who has been at the center of the “equality” argument, that is to say that the lead character is always a white male. In most TV shows this isn’t such an issue but being that Doctor Who has been around for over 50 years, some critics feel that the format is outdated and should be brought into the 21st century.
Nobody can argue with this, except, that is, true die-hard Doctor Who fans. For some reason they don’t like anything that slightly deviates from the long and tired format and they are all very quick to voice their opinions, which has been the case since a female Doctor has been announced. But the simple fact is that the fans don’t need to worry. Whatever happens to the show, it’ll always be held in science fiction as one of the greatest shows out there but in order for the show to keep up and stay fresh, it needs to change and adapt with the times.
14. Less Pressure
Next we turn to the lady in question herself. Jodie Whittaker has possibly become one of the most famous women in the world, and she hasn’t even started her job yet. Because Doctor Who has such a rich heritage and an even bigger fanbase, you would think that the attention would be too much for one person.
However, we think that the opposite is actually true, particularly since when Doctor Who burst back onto our screens in the 21st century, the role of The Doctor has had so much pressure on it that it’s almost become impossible for them to be a success. After all, Peter Capaldi and Matt Smith were both panned by the critics and fans before they even stepped foot in the T.A.R.D.I.S and they soon became fan favorites. Whittaker, however, has the complete opposite effect. Because many people are already expecting her to fail, she has nothing to lose and therefore can truly “go for it” and give the character of The Doctor her own spin without the pressure of her predecessor, which can only be great news for us fans.
13. More Culturally Relevant
It’s fair to say that over the last 50 years or so, the world has changed dramatically. Not just in the real world, such as politics and equality, but the world as a whole. But the world of entertainment has also changed a lot. When Doctor Who first came onto our screens back in the 1960s, the world was a very different place and Doctor Who mirrored that society, with the man taking the lead and taking us through his world.
It may be argued that equality, especially when it comes to gender and race, isn’t really reflected that well on screen, it’s certainly true that it has come a long way and therefore having a female lead on such a long running and influential TV show like Doctor Who will be such a great leap in reflecting the modern society that we now all live in. It can only be seen as landmark and even a groundbreaking moment in TV.
12. Connect With Younger Audiences
We’ve just mentioned how culturally relevant it is to have a female take the lead on a show such as Doctor Who. With this entry we actually go one further than that and talk about the youth culture that is influenced by what they see on TV and in the movies.
The simple fact is that “heroes,” or at least the lead in a major story, has always been men. The comic book world has alway struggled with this and has come under a lot of scrutiny over the years. However, even the likes of Marvel and DC have gone out of their way to introduce strong female characters that rival their male counterparts. This has been a big boost in the sales of comic books and their movies, particularly with young girls who now have a role model to look up to and someone to identify with. We’re glad now that Doctor Who can be counted as one of those role models.
11. Able To Tell Different Stories
We’ve already mentioned what the significance of having a female lead in a TV show like Doctor Who could be from an actor’s and fan’s point of view, but there is also the viewpoint of the show itself. Doctor Who is famed for the fact that the lead character has a spaceship that can travel anywhere in time and space, and therefore the possibilities of storytelling are endless. Or so it would seem.
Although being able to tell any story in time or space, which surely is every writer’s dream, it doesn’t mean that the writers are not still hampered or trapped in certain formats or stereotypes. It’s fair to say that Doctor Who has been stuck in a time warp for many years now and having a female take the lead, means the writers instantly have more freedom to write different types of stories that will break the format and monotony.
10. Will Be Less Intimidating
If you look back over the history of Doctor Who, then it’s fair to say that the character of The Doctor is quite an intimidating one, especially for the younger viewers. In “Old Who,” The Doctor was usually seen as an older and more “worldly” character that would often be prone to anger and snap decisions that put many people in real peril on a weekly basis. Since Doctor Who came back to our screens, in an era dubbed “New Who,” The Doctor was portrayed more as a hero with David Tennant and Matt Smith playing the romantic lead and silly clown respectively.
Once they were replaced by Peter Capaldi, we were shown just who the Doctor is and used to be: a force of anger and grumpiness that has no time or patience for the little things in life, such as people’s feelings, and it reminded us all just how intimidating the Doctor is. A female Doctor, however, can bring a softer and more approachable side to The Doctor. She can still be the hero but she can do it with more warmth.
9. The Companions
Apart from The Doctor, the most important aspect of Doctor Who has always been the companions. These are the people that travel around time and space with The Doctor and help him in saving the universe. But more than that, the companion has always been the eyes and ears of the audience as they are our way into the strange and crazy world of The Doctor. They also serve as a sounding board to The Doctor so we can understand what is going on.
Because The Doctor has always been male, most of his companions have been female and even more so, a lot of them have been in love with The Time Lord. This romantic element of the show has often caused a bit of a rift between Who fans, as a lot of them don’t think The Doctor should be involved in anything romantic, David Tennant’s Doctor and Rose Tyler, for example. With a female Doctor, it will be interesting to see how The Doctor/companion dynamic will work. Or will they just stick to the same format but have a male companion instead? Either way, it should shake up this old format.
8. Jodie Is No Stranger To Science Fiction
For this entry we talk about the lady herself. Whenever a big show like Doctor Who adds different characters or replaces existing characters with different actors, the first question that should come to mind isn’t about gender or ethnicity, but it should be: can they do a great job and do they have the acting ability and experience? For both of those points, Jodie Whittaker is a big yes.
Not only has she been a big part of the critical and popular Broadchurch TV show, which incidentally was written by Chris Chibnall, who will be taking over from Steven Moffat as Doctor Who‘s head writer, but she also has some science fiction experience too. Starring in the science fiction cult movie Attack The Block, as well as the Black Mirror episode “The Entire History of You,” Whittaker certainly has some experience without being too well known, so her fame won’t overshadow the character of The Doctor, like a certain David Tennant, who went on to become one of the most popular Doctor’s of all time.
7. She Could Last A Long Time
Doctor Who, like a lot of other big science fiction shows, can be subject to actor stereotyping and a lot of those actors involved, struggle to free themselves from their science fiction character. Doctor Who is no different and a lot of actors, especially with “Old Who,” get stuck in this stereotype, so much so that many previous Doctors have actually come to despise their time on the show.
In “New Who,” this is also the case. Christopher Eccleston famously brought the show back from the dead, but would only do it for one season as he wanted to avoid this stereotype. Even the Doctors that followed, Tennant, Smith and Capaldi, didn’t stay too long as they also wanted to avoid this. With Jodie Whittaker taking the lead, this could be different for her. Being the first female Doctor, she is forever going to be associated with the role, no matter what she does in the future. So this fact alone could mean that she stays with the show for many years to come.
6. Righting The Show’s Past Gender Mistakes
For this entry, we dive back into the old days of Doctor Who, and look at just how old fashioned the show has been. While it’s true that Doctor Who started in the 1960s, which was a very different era and generation, the show has always come under fire for its portrayal, or lack of portrayal, when it comes to diversity.
The men, usually white men, are in charge and take the focus of the show, and we’re not just talking about The Doctor here. Women have always been seen as “lesser” than the male stars and were typically there as a love interest or to be rescued. In “New Who” they tried to change this slightly by having stronger female characters, but they were still there to serve The Doctor and The Doctor, or even other male characters, still had the final word. With a female Doctor taking the stage, the door is open for Doctor Who to truly embrace diversity as anyone now can take the lead and push the show out of the old fashioned era and into the 21st century.
5. Breaking The Stereotype
With our previous entry we talked about Doctor Who being stuck in the past and not embracing the diversity of life and choosing to stick to an old format. With this entry, we go one further and actually champion Doctor Who, as it could be a real trailblazer in regards to TV shows and the science fiction genre. While Doctor Who may be viewed as being behind the times when it comes to diversity, it’s still fair to say that a lot of TV shows and movies are guilty of this.
Although gender equality has come a long way over the years, the men do still dominate the screens, especially within the science fiction genre. Having a big and culturally important show like Doctor Who breaking its own rule by having a female take on the lead role, could be a big stepping stone for others to do the same and who knows, maybe one day we’ll be celebrating a female James Bond! That may be a step too far for some fans, though…
4. It Will Expand The “Whoniverse”
With many big franchises out there, from Star Trek to Star Wars, The MCU to the DCEU, even the likes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, in order to keep those franchises popular and successful, even after they are no longer on the air, you need to add depth to their respective universes. Doctor Who has tried this on a few occasions with spin-off shows such as Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and Class. Although they have all added to the Doctor Who universe in some way, what would expand the Who brand more is more wealth in their characters.
It’s true that having a main character that can regenerate, and also travel through time, does already add depth and wealth to its history. After all, there have been many stories over the years that involve The Doctor interacting with one or more of his former selves. But having a woman in the middle of it all just adds that extra dimension and the universe of Doctor Who becomes more inclusive for all kinds of people which can only help strengthen Doctor Who and expand its show and fanbase.
When a TV show has been on the air for as long as Doctor Who has, it can be difficult to seem fresh or exciting. Even for a show like Doctor Who, which can tell any story in time or space and seemingly keep reinventing itself every few years or so, it can still fall into the same trap that a lot of other shows fall into and become predictable and even tired.
In the mid 1980s, Doctor Who was famously taken off the air and this act alone instantly restored the dying show to a cult status. Although it would be decades before the show was back on our screens, the fact that so much controversy surrounded its cancellation, brought the show back to life. Having a female Doctor for the first time is just the jolt of controversy that Doctor Who needs in order to make it fresh, exciting, and interesting once again.
2. It’s About Time
The number two entry on our list of good reasons that we are getting a female Doctor is an obvious one really. With a show that has spanned the decades, both on TV, the movie screen, books, and audio books, and with a show that has such a big fanbase, why is it only now that we get a female lead?
Doctor Who has always prided itself on being at the forefront of science fiction and when your lead character is a regenerating alien that is essentially a god to us mere mortals, why has it taken so long for something as simple as a female Doctor to happen? The simple answer is that people are scared of change or rocking the boat, which isn’t what Doctor Who started out to be. It wrote a lot of the rules on what TV science fiction could be and paved the way for so much and for so many and yet has been stuck in the gender battle for decades. So having a female Doctor? We only have one thing to say: it’s about time and we can’t wait to see Jodie Whittaker grab hold of the sonic screwdriver and take us away into the stars!
1. Steven Moffat
The number one reason on our list of why we are excited for a female Doctor, isn’t really a reason at all but a nod and praise for the man that made it all possible. Steven Moffat’s tenure on Doctor Who hasn’t always been a happy one, as fans have often been turned off by his overly complicated style of writing. But it’s fair to say that within the Doctor Who community, Moffat will go down in history as one of the most important people in the show’s history.
When Doctor Who came back on our screens, seasoned writer Russell T. Davis was brought in to control the show and he brought in Moffat as his number two. They famously had the first openly bisexual character in the show, in the form of Captain Jack Harkness, but when Davis left and Moffat took the reins, Moffat went even further. Having strong female leads, such as River Song, openly gay companions, such as Bill Potts, and paving the way for the female Time Lord by having The Master become a woman, all of these points are down to Moffat and we all want to thank him for bringing Doctor Who into the 21st century so that it’s possible to have a female Doctor.
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