After much anticipation and rampant speculation on the big reveal of just who would be Peter Capaldi‘s replacement when he departs ‘Doctor Who‘ during the show’s upcoming Christmas Special this December, it was finally announced earlier today that the role of The Doctor would be taken over by accomplished actress Jodie Whittaker. You may have seen her in such series as ‘Broadchurch‘, ‘Black Mirror‘ and ‘The Smoke‘. Now she will be taking on her biggest role yet as the 13th Doctor in the longest running sci-fi series in history. The new show runner who will be coming aboard beginning with the upcoming Series 11, Chris Chibnall (who worked with Whittaker on ‘Broadchurch’), called her “our number one choice” and said her audition “blew us all away.” The reaction to the casting of a woman in the role has been met with both applause as well as anger with some fans even stating that they would no longer watch the show. Addressing the backlash, Erica Lear, the Doctor Who Appreciation Society‘s social secretary stated that it’s now the job of the new series to change the minds of people who are unhappy with this decision.
Whenever a new Doctor is announced, there are the typical tears from those who have grown accustomed to the current Doctor (I will personally admit to shedding a tear or two during 10th Doctor David Tennant‘s final episode.), but everyone who is a fan of the show has been through it now as many as 11 times now. Change is inevitable and change can be good. Whether or not people accept change is up to each individual person. Arguments can be made both ways and even those connected to the show admit a certain… trepidation regarding this latest regeneration. Sebastian J. Brook, who is Doctor Who Online‘s site editor, acknowledged this by saying: “I must admit, I’ve always been of the opinion that the Doctor is and should be a man. He has always identified as male in the series, and after 50+ years, it’s certainly going to take some getting used to, but I support the show and Jodie is a fantastic actress, so she gets my full support, too.” I myself wonder how much of this “backlash” in regard to Whittaker’s casting is less about gender and more to people just not liking change. After all, there was a lot of vitriol directed Daniel Craig’s way after it was announced that he would be taking over the role of James Bond back in 2005. Luckily, many in the Doctor Who community have been very supportive of the announcement with several previous Doctors taking the time to weigh in on the casting.
7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy took time to congratulate Jodie on her winning the coveted role of everyone’s favorite Time Lord (Time Lady?) and 6th Doctor Colin Baker also tweeted his approval by way of paraphrasing HIS Doctor’s first words upon regeneration. He then went on to tweet admonishment towards those fans of the show who threatened to no longer watch due to the casting of a female Doctor:
Several companions from throughout the show’s history have also expressed their support for Jodie Whittaker after the announcement was made. Tweets from Katy Manning (3rd Doctor’s companion Jo Grant), Louise Jameson (4th Doctor’s companion Leela), Janet Fielding & Nicola Bryant (5th Doctor’s companions Tegan & Peri, respectively) and Karen Gillan & Arthur Darvill (11th Doctor’s companions Amy & Rory) all show the support for this changing of the guard that many feel has been a long time coming.
Many fans, however, are not at all pleased with the result and tweets have ranged from displeasure to decisions to stop watching to just downright nasty. But again, as Colin Baker suggests: perhaps they were never true fans after all. To me, ‘Doctor Who‘ has always been about change and understanding. For my part, I am excited to see what dynamics and quirks Jodie Whittaker will bring to the character just as I am intrigued by the direction in which new show runner Chris Chibnall will take the stories. As long as the series stays true to it’s core of being an absurdly fun and outrageous sci-fi adventure show, then no one should truly have any reason to complain. Not that it will stop some people. But for those who insist that The Doctor MUST be a male, I would remind them of the words of the 7th Doctor when he said: “I’d hate to live my life by some boring old rule book like you do.” Allons-y!!