Ok, bandwagon, consider yourself well and truly jumped on. While I normally try to stay away from the “subject of the day”, I think I have to wade in on this one. WARNING: This post is Tennant gif heavy. Consider yourself told.
Doctor Who. I started watching “new Who” when Eccleston took the screwdriver back when I was at Uni. Then he turned into David Tennant (yes please, thank you) and I was hooked. So I can’t claim to be a “lifer” – I’ve not watched any of the older Who, bar the odd bit of Tom Baker’s incarnation.
Before I get started, lets just clear one thing up. The Doctor is a fictional, increasingly ancient alien with two hearts from a pretend planet called Galifrey, who, thanks to a casting issue early in its conception, has the ability to change their form when they die. For the last 50 odd years, the character of The Doctor has been played by a long list of white male actors.
And now, thanks to new show runner Chris Chibnall, the Doctor will be played by a woman – Jodie Whittaker.
For some reason, half the internet seems to have exploded in keyboard warrior rage about this fact.
There’s a few sides to the argument here, but I’m definitely on the side of this being a good thing. There is the idea that this is the BBC pandering to their audience – which, when considering their audience pays directly for this programming, seems a sensible choice. Whether this is true or not, this is IMPORTANT.
There is a horrific lack of female leads on TV, in Movies, in theatre. It is getting better, but until writers and producers are brave enough to put more female main characters out there, it will never be equal. Sure, you can rant that perhaps they should have created something new, a new TV show, a new character – but that’s where you’re missing the point. The fact that Chibnall has been courageous enough to use a character who has the opportunity to change, and change them this time into a female character, is amazing. The Doctor is ICONIC. Why else would they have made a trailer just to announce who the next actor to play them would be?!
I can understand those out there who are confused by one of their favourite characters changing so dramatically… oh, no, hang on… The Doctor literally changes everything about themselves every few series?! How is this such a problem?! Ok, I’m being belligerent. Yes, I can see why it might be a little disconcerting – you’re used to something being the way it is. But, to quote Tim Minchin’s White Wine In The Sun, “I don’t believe just ‘cos ideas are tenacious it means they’re worthy”. Change is good, and is the way of the world. If you’d like everything to remain exactly the same, may I calmly suggest you remove yourself from the internet and go live in a museum?
We’ve no shortage of straight white male role models on TV. My son has the privilege of being born a white male – I’d love for him to realise that not everyone in the world is like him, that there are strong women, people of colour, LGBT+ people, who can take on the role of hero, leader, saviour even. The world is a wonderfully diverse place, and personally I think all the “outrage” regarding the gender of a fictional time traveller just goes to show how needed this is. There are more leaps to take, but right now, this is a giant step in the right direction.
You may have noticed that I’m a Tenth Doctor fan… I can’t wait to see what the 13th has in store for us!