Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Thirteenth Doctor

So, I thought I'd finally add my tuppence worth to the whole Thirteenth Doctor announcement response.

First of all I should explain that I'm delighted. Jodi Whittaker is a fine actor. I think she'll be a fine Doctor but a lot will depend on the quality of the scripts she gets. I wrote - a while back - that casting a woman or a person of colour might require the telling of different stories and I'll be fascinated to see in what direction Chris Chibnall takes the programme in.

Steven Moffat has done fine work in sowing the seeds for this but fundamentally there was never any reason given in the television series as to why The Doctor had to be a man. The only thing that made it so was convention. It had always been a man. Therefore it must always be a man. The gender fluidity of Time Lords is now and always will be a thing.

There's been a hostile reaction from some people, which I find baffling. All this nonsense about having your childhood ruined I find frankly pathetic. My childhood went a long time ago. Somewhere around 1986/87. Nothing that happens in the present will ruin it (or improve it.) It's gone. Sometimes when the world is complicated and stressful I miss it. I think that's one of the reasons Doctor Who always cheers me up. It reminds me of a less complicated time. And if I want to revisit my childhood then I have shelves full of Doctor Who DVDs and CDs that allow me to do that. The casting of a female Doctor hasn't deleted all the past Doctor Who stories. The BBC isn't going to come around and take it all away from you. It's all still out there.

I'm a 46 year old man. Doctor Who isn't made for me anymore.

I still happen to like it quite a lot but I'm not the person who the BBC wants to make this stuff for and that's perfectly right. If they were making Doctor Who just for me we'd have Zarbi and Nimon. Doctor Who has survived so long because it always brings a new generation of fans who bring a new generation of fans. It will die if it just appeals to the hardcore amongst us. It needs to change to survive. It's why New Doctor Who was radically different to Classic Doctor Who. And since 1966 change has been in the programmes DNA. Or even earlier when Susan left and was replaced by Vicki. Companions come and go. Writers change. Showrunners change. And Doctors change. Accept it. Embrace it.

But the best thing about the announcement has been the joy with which it has been received by young girls. There are a couple of video reactions out there and it seems that was echoed elsewhere. We should be pleased for them rather than disappointed for ourselves. They're the new audience. The new fandom. They know the Doctor can be a man or a woman now. They're not anchored to the past. And that's the way it should be. Doctor Who needs to be a living show not a television museum. I've also had female friends - one of whom never even watched Doctor Who - who are interested in watching to see how it pans out.*

So let's all welcome the new Doctor, Jodi Whittaker. Let's hope she gets the stories that make everyone forget that this is something different. And we'll just settle down to watch Doctor Who once again.

Welcome aboard Jodi.


*And - on a side note - we shouldn't be gatekeeping these people. I want everyone to love Doctor Who. I don't want them to be forced to justify their interest to some quasi-inquisition by fanboys on the internet. However you come to Doctor Who enjoy it. Obviously, I'd like you to dip into all of it. If you like New Who try some Classic. Or vice versa. There's something for everyone in Doctor Who. So, let's be nice to those coming on board. Doctor Who isn't just for me. It's for everyone.


  1. I've been a little surprised by some of the negative reactions, although perhaps I shouldn't be. Some Doctor Who fans are notoriously critical of everything the show does, and the internet world out there is always looking for new ways to criticize.

    I'm actually more curious about the direction that Chibnall takes the show than I am with how a person who happens to be a woman will do with The Doctor. It's bound to be a lot different with Moffatt gone and I am excited to see what happens!

  2. angela hagaman19 July, 2017 15:22

    As a 56 year old woman who grew up watching Dr Who I am pleased for all the young girls out there. Women were the companions, not the main character and at some point would always trip when being chased through the woods. (this still happens in some films)

  3. As my Doctor Who fan of a fiancé just put it. "I don't see why we should be saying we're pleased for all the young girls about this. We should be pleased for the young boys. It's not girls who need to know women can be heroes, it's boys. Girls know they can be heroes already."