A Female Doctor Who
Could a female Doctor Who be on the cards? The next incarnation might prove a benchmark for gender equality… and be a great story.
Skimming through the reliably trashy right hand column of the Daily Mail yesterday, an intriguing article caught my eye: ‘Who should be the next Doctor? ANYONE but a woman!’ cried Christopher Stevens, in gleeful anticipation of the coming media storm.
Mr Stevens goes on to categorise himself as a fan of the long-running show from childhood. And then explains why it would be nothing short of disastrous for Dr Who to regenerate as a woman.
Sue Perkins would make a great Doctor Who, and is said to be ‘beyond flattered’. Photo: The Mirror.
Among his logical reasoning is tradition – ‘The character has been a role model for three generations of boys.’ And girls, Christopher, don’t forget us girls.
He also brings up the lack of male role models in an age where girls outshine boys academically. Other brainy heroes just don’t cut the mustard; Sherlock Holmes is denounced as a ‘drug addicted loner’ and Hercule Poirot is just a ‘pompous dandy’.
Hang on, what about Tony Stark, the inventor behind Iron Man? Or Brains from Thunderbirds? Or Tyrrian Lanister from game of Thrones (maybe not such a kids show)? Or any of the characters on Star Trek? There are plenty of boffin heroes in popular culture to inspire boys.
Will the sky fall if Judi Dench becomes the next Doctor Who? Only if she tells it to, because she’s NAILS.
Basically, Mr Stevens wants a man in the role because that’s the way it’s always been and because women have their own heroes. Well excuse me for liking a character for its own sake rather than its genital arrangement. Despite Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr Megan Hunt from Body of Proof, Dana Scully and DI Jane Tennison, Stevens doesn’t appear to have noticed the revolution in female TV characters over the past 20 years. I’ll just go back to my room and carry on playing Barbie dolls, shall I?
Of the women who are in the frame (just rumours or forum suggestions mind), Mr Stevens objects to Helen Mirren (who has said she would ‘jump at the chance’), Billie Piper, Olivia Coleman, Sue Perkins (who is apparently ‘beyond flattered’ to be considered) and Miranda Hart.
Despite their proven acting chops and in some cases, love of the character, Mr Stevens has declared himself a spokesperson for all Dr Who fans, saying ‘a woman Doctor would be more than a disappointment to the show’s legion of fans’.
Well not me, pal. And I don’t profess to support any political agenda. I just support good writing and good TV.
Yet on the comments board beneath the article, I was astonished to see many women rushing to support Mr Stevens, upset that our gender would ‘piggyback’ of the success of a male hero. And mostly just against changing the status quo. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But would it really break the show to have a Time-Lady? One of the best aspects of Dr Who is that the character has the ability to regenerate into anyone. Any character. Any appearance. Oh the possibilities. The Dr is not human, so why should he/she suddenly be constrained by human preferences?
‘The Doctor’s strength is that he always wins through by thinking rather than fighting’ says Stevens; surely this is the more natural response of stereotyped feminine behaviour rather than male? If so, how does this support the Mail man’s argument?
Stevens’ is quick to cry political correctness at the hands of the BBC but I would argue that if anything, Dr Who is currently the creation of a focus group. For if the Dr being played by a woman is unlikely, so it seems is the prospect of a black or asian Dr, or a Dr over the age of forty.
Since the reboot of Dr Who, the actor in the role has invariably been young, white and hot. Did William Hartnell, John Pertwee or Tom Baker have to resort to being a love interest to save the world? No. So what are the BBC so afraid of that they cannot have some fun with the casting of this shape-shifting, time-travelling, inter-dimensional alien hero?
A friend of mine says they keep the Drs dishy so mums like her have a reason to sit down and let their kids watch it.
At a conference in Cardiff (where else), Steven Moffat (the man behind the TV show) asked if any of the audience would stop watching a Time-Lady. Roughly a quarter said they would. Stevens parades this statistic as a trump card, I cite it as a call to arms for a generation who support gender equality in TV.
Any fan that would turn off their favourite show due to a perfectly valid sci-fi twist would miss out, guilty of not displaying the Dr’s trademark curiosity and spirit of open-mindedness.
Because it would be some seriously cool, inventive TV, and the viewing figures would go through the roof.
We’ve already got a female Tardis called Sexy. She might quite enjoy working with a female Doctor Who. Who knows?