Yesterday during the Edinburgh TV Festival, Danny Cohen, Director of BBC Television, voiced his desire to eventually see a female Doctor piloting the TARDIS. I for one couldn’t agree with the chief more. The Doctor up until now has always been portrayed as a white male; portrayed by exceptional masters of their craft (Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith – to name a few), but white males nonetheless. Simple reason is this: the show was created in 1963, a far different era with less willingness to showcase a broader spectrum of diversity across the airwaves. Accepting change is hard, so I do empathize.
Being a part of fandom, I too prefer recognizable continuity over the anxiety-inducing terror <EEK!> of drastic change. It’s just the nature of geek culture; change isn’t always welcomed. It would be like making the captain of a Star Trek series a woman <record scratches>, oh wait, yes, this worked brilliantly in Voyager – and was well-received.
I can already smell the torches and hear the clingity-clang of pitch forks at my window. (Lookout! Doctor Who purists are a-comin’ for a reckoning!) But before I’m lynched like the traitorous scum they think I am, allow me to elaborate. Yes, perhaps making the Doctor a female would be tantamount to making Captain James T. Kirk a female; although, IDW Publishing recently released a parallel-universe story in which actor Chris Pine’s Kirk meets a female version of himself and it worked fantastically. So to disallow for a female Doctor because it would diminish the authenticity of the series – me thinks not. In the case of Doctor Who, the argument in favor of a woman is simpler. Why? The Doctor is an alien. The conventional rules of human, earth-bound gender roles aren’t applicable.
Besides, why wouldn’t we open-minded fans want to make the Doctor an awesome heroine? Think of how wonderfully that would change the dynamic. Imagine how cool it would be to watch a female Doctor in action as she protects the inhabitants of different worlds while wielding her trusty sonic screwdriver? Besides, our fandom is a shared space. There are arguably just as many women who’d like to see themselves in the Doctor as there are men.
Over the past 13-years I’ve attended San Diego Comic-Con, the majority of female fans partaking in Doctor Who related cosplaying has increased exponentially. This past year, the number of female “Doctors” in attendance seemed vastly larger than in 2013. And the coolest part – almost every version of the Time Lord throughout the franchise’s history was accounted for amongst these female cosplayers – all 12 Doctors, from fez-wearing Matt Smith, to 3D-glasses-wearing David Tennant, to scarf-wearing Tom Baker. They were all there, looking fabulous. And if the Doctor is a conduit through which we as viewers observe ourselves – an alien mirror, if you will, making “him” a “her” for once would be a logical move in the grander scheme of the Who narrative; because at its core, Doctor Who is a morality tale in space – which defies gender specificity.
A female Doctor at this juncture in our ever-expanding geek culture should seem like a no-brainer. Additionally, Doctor Who has a tremendously strong history of writing stories in a progressively forward-thinking fashion. The collective brainpower of the geniuses charged with caretaking one of the greatest franchises in all of television history can surely provide us with a viable pseudoscientific way in which to tell this incredible tale. After all, we are watching a show about an alien who traverses the whole of time and space in a ship disguised as a blue police box.
That said, someone get Felicity Jones’s agent on the phone, STAT!
The floor is now open for discussion…..
Categories: Doctor Who