You know, I’m not proud of this, but if you’d asked me five years ago, I’d probably have said that casting a woman as the lead in Doctor Who was a completely terrible idea.
It’s not, of course, it’s going to be brilliant: to be clear, I have changed my mind, and now think my argument against was complete and utter bullshit. But just for the record, it was this:
The Doctor is supposed to be a slightly patriarchal old sod. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature: you’re not meant to think it’s good, but it is one of the few things that has stayed consistent through 53 years of this thing. The character is inherently male, in roughly the same way he’s inherently British: a female Doctor made no more sense than a female James Bond who happened to be French.
Look, I did warn you it was bullshit.
Anyway: I’ve changed my mind, obviously. Having been slightly meh about next year’s season of Doctor Who, on the grounds I’m not a huge fan of new lead writer Chris Chibnall, the fact he’s cast Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor means I’m suddenly excited about it all over again. At time of writing, we know absolutely nothing about Chibnall’s take on the show, except that he’s claimed that he’ll shake things up a bit, and that he’s cast as his lead a woman with a northern accent. Okay. Now I’m listening.
How did I get turned around on this? The longer version is that it dawned on me that the fact the character has always been played one way is the strongest argument for doing something completely different. One of the reasons Doctor Who has survived as long as it has is because it can change almost anything. The weakest periods of the series have often been those when it stopped trying to move with the times.
More than that, though, the fact the Doctor has always been played as a patriarchal old sod is bloody good argument for casting someone who, by definition, can’t play it that way. You can suggest that being a POS is A Bad Thing by showing your…