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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.


Helen Mirren Would Like to Play the Doctor, and We Would Be Extremely Okay With That

You guys, Helen Mirren just said in an interview that she would like to play the Doctor on Doctor Who. And then I exploded. Wow. Helen Mirren. Doctor Who. With a creamy “wants to play” center.

Oh, did you want context? Please, click through for the exact quote and some context to go with it.

Dame Helen Mirren recently provided this quote to the Daily Star:

“I would like to play the new female Doctor Who. I don’t want to just be his sidekick.”

The odds of this happening? Probably remote. Maybe. Perhaps there is something about how British film and television careers work that is a little different than here, across the pond, where being an award-winning film actor and turning to a regular television series might be considered a “downgrade.” (Depending, of course, on the series and the network.) Doctor Who, however, is not your average show. The role of the Doctor is an iconic one, though it is generally a star-maker; few truly famous actors go on to play the Doctor. So that means Helen Mirren might be doing this for the pure fun of it. That might not be such a bad thing, and maybe she’d work out a short tenure as the Doctor.

And maybe, she’d be the perfect way to get people used to a female Doctor.

If anyone has proved herself to be a performer capable of displaying true emotion, outrage, comedic timing, adventure, and even a few stunts, it’s Helen Mirren. But also, she is familiar. There are certainly people who feel that the Doctor has to be played by a male, even though the Doctor is a Time Lord who can take on the appearance of pretty much anything upon regeneration and may not have a set-in-stone gender. (We’ve heard that from both the 9th Doctor and the 11th Doctor.) So, maybe Mirren would be a good way to ease those more trepidatious Whovians into the idea of a female Doctor.

But then again, Mirren was probably just saying it because she likes Doctor Who and would get such a silly kick out of the idea. But then again, could a statement by someone of Mirren’s caliber set the gears in motion to consider a female Doctor?

(via Blastr)

Previously in Doctor Who


  • John Byrne Says…

    I’ve long said I want a female doctor and I hope the next one is. Just not Helen Mirren. She’s an incredible actress but I think the Doctor should be someone unknown or at least not to the degree someone like Helen Mirren is.

    If she were to be the Doctor, I  think it would probably last one series and that’s it. Then we’d get a male Doctor for years/decades and I’d prefer a female to get the role for at least a few years.

  • Nazaniel

    As cool as Helen Mirren is and as awesome as a female Doctor would be, the Doctor gets younger each regeneration, so that really doesn’t work.  

  • Kate Falanga

    I’m not British but I’m ok with this. 

  • Helen the Dreamer

    Hmmm, quick one shot special anyone?

  • Mauricio Ariel Portnoy

    the old swicth minds or bodies comes to mind ( no pun intended), the blood family episode and the neil gaiman episode worked that angle really fine, that could by the way and not risking enrage the fans 

  • nmlop

    That’s just an accidental casting pattern. All regenerations have looked younger than 1, sure, but the ages of the actors have actually fluctuated a lot. It seems even more pronounced because Smith is younger than Tennant who’s younger than Eccleston. But it’s not actually canon that he gets younger.

  • Ray Radlein

    In the past, she would have been ideal for a guest spot as the High Chancellor of Gallifrey; alas, that’s probably not in the cards any time soon.

  • Anonymous

    I personally would like Rupert Grint to be the next Doctor. He’s hilarious AND he’s ginger. The Doctor always wanted to be ginger…

  • Anonymous

    That’s what I’m thinking–I doubt they could afford to keep her for a full series.  I stopped watching because I just hate what Moffatt has done to the Whoniverse, but an appearance by Dame Helen would convince me to tune in again…

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and don’t forget, Joanna Lumley was actually the first woman to play the Doctor :-)

  • Derek O’Brien

    I remember the Children in need Special Curse of the Fatal death when Joanna Lumley played the Doctor, albeit as a joke. She wasn’t half bad in it. Anyone who might take the role should be a decent character actress.

  • Anonymous

    This is a splendid idea!  It would also help him break the HP typecasting with a role that would still appeal to his fan base.

  • Francesca M

    Part of the joke was the fact that there had been rumors for years about her probably playing the Doctor.

  • Francesca M

    >_< I know I know, I've never been a fan of a Female Doctor. I know its a possibility but in my head I just have that preference. But when I heard that My brain kind of melted, that wouldn't suck. I'd be okay with that, but it doesn't have to happen.  My brain did the thing when it came out that they wanted Kate Winslet for River. I love Alex Kingston, really do, but doesn't your brain just for a moment go, "What if… the awesome"

  • Life Lessons

    Oh God/Dess yes please. 

  • Charlie

    No, no, no. We don’t need a female Doctor. 

  • Jeremy Sadler

    Here’s an idea: Helen Mirren as Romana. A guest spot, anything from one episode to a season, so there’s no tying down a major Hollywood actress. She’s also the Doctor’s equal, and we get the whole dynamic of a very young Doctor in Matt Smith with an older Romana.

    If you ignore the audio adventures, Romana is still in E-space and could easily come back.

  • Marc Schoderboeck

    The doctors only got 1, 2 more regenerations? I wouldn’t like to ‘test’ a female doctor with one of those… nor an old one. The new show is aimed at a younger generation… i doubt this would go down well

  • Mark Mason

    If someone had asked me prior to reading this who I thought would make a great female Dr Who, my answer would have been Dame Helen, for sure.  Boy, I hope this happens…

  • Anonymous

    I thought Romana (in the books at least), became President of Gallifrey.

  • Maiasaura

    Whoa!  I knew she wanted to be on the show, but I didn’t realize she wanted to be the Doctor!  On the one hand, she’d probably be awesome at it.  On the other hand, Doctor Who is a very silly show and I have trouble imagining such a serious actor as the Doctor.  

    As far as appearances go, she reminds me a little of a more attractive, female version of the First Doctor, which is sort of neat.  

  • Kifre

    Why the hell not?

  • Psychotronic (Michael F.)

    Given the tabloid origins of the story, *cough* Daily Star *cough* I would take it with a great deal of salt. That said, she would make a brilliant Doctor if they were to go that route (and sort of did with Joanna Lumley).

  • Abel Undercity

    This would raise all sorts of questions about Time Lord biology and gender roles.  Could be interesting to explore, but I agree with TheFatling: Mirren might be too far out of their price range to explore a lot of the possibilities.

  • Anonymous

    To be frank, I’m long past caring about Doctor Who.  They can do whatever the hell they want.

  • Anonymous

  • Hayley Knoss

    Here’s a twist, does the doctor have a gender to begin with?  I mean, if he can change his body, is his mind gendered?  Would being a woman change him?  Does he represent maleness as a man?

  • Anonymous

     a time lord can regenerate 12 times,unless they are evil, then they can take over other peoples bodys just as the master did. 

  • super

    The Doctor is not a gender bending character. Time Lords are not star trek “trills” they always stay there same sex either male or female after they regenerate. 

  • super

    What is this obsession with making male scifi characters into female characters??? 

    Lets do some reboots of Alien and Terminator and replace with men.  Hmmm have a Mr Alan Ripley. 

    Dr river song is a female time lord equally as good as the Doctor.  There have been other female time lords in the earlier Doctor who series.  If you want a female time lord tv series then ask the BBC in a letter writing campaign to make one.  You can easily have a River spin off series. 

  • Sharrow

    No they don’t stay the same, they can and do change gender and that’s cannon.

  • Anonymous

    a) the doctor already ran out of the theoretical number of regenerations IIRC, but that was *old* cannon so easily sidestepped.
    b) If anything, a younger audience is more likely to accept a female Doctor because these days we’re allowed to vote and drive and stuff, so people are used to women being allowed out in public and such.

  • Melinda Kimberly Melin

    Dame Mirren can play comedic too. Watch RED to see her play to (and blatantly against) type. She does it brilliantly.

  • Melinda Kimberly Melin

    River Song is human, arrogant, and (spoilers). She was never a Time Lady to begin with, and I personally hated her from the first because I always felt she was smug and rude to the Doctor. (An absolute no no in my book. You can smack him upside the head when he needs it a la Donna Noble, but you can’t act as if you’re better and more knowledgeable than he, even if you are.) Yes, the BBC can create a new character, and I’m all for that, but why not play and stretch and have some fun with the franchise? The BBC has been on the vanguard of smart and innovative SF over the last decade: if Sherlock can text, and werewolves can live with vampires, why can’t the Doctor be a woman?

  • ryan good

    I would love for her to be the Doctor… and not JUST because I think she is HOT.

  • Justin O’Neill

    Yeah, you must have missed the part this past season where the Doctor talks about the other Time Lord who regenerated as both men and women.  If you’re going to make things up, it should at least be consistent with what they’ve said on screen.

  • Justin O’Neill

    The working theory I have is that the regeneration limit was an artificial limit imposed by the Gallifreyans as a form of population control, not a biological limit.  Without the Gallifreyans, there’s no regeneration limit.  Evidence: the Gallifreyans reset The Master’s regenerations in one of the original run’s episodes as a reward or some such, proving they had power over it.

  • Justin O’Neill

    Last season, they specifically mentioned that Time Lords can regenerate as either male or female.  So why NOT have a female Doctor?  Keeping him as a man for no reason other than “that’s how it’s always been” seems silly.

  • NefariousNewt

    In the recent episode, “The Doctor’s Wife,” it was noted by The Doctor himself that Time Lord’s can change sex. He personally may never have, but that isn’t out of the realm of possibility, and frankly would be damned cool. And if it were Helen Mirren… *sigh*

  • NefariousNewt

    This is the kind of thing that would further reinvigorate the franchise, and it would both break new ground (The Doctor as woman), but would also honor the older Doctor Who cadre of Hartnell, Troughton, and Pertwee. I say, go for it!

  • nmlop

    I don’t think being a woman would change him any more than any other regeneration. That’s the whole idea of why a lot of us want to see a woman play the Doctor. because of the whole idea that a woman could be just as amazing, hilarious, brilliant, and scary as a man playing the Doctor. it would still be the Doctor, just played by a different person, who would happen to be a lady. a woman playing the Doctor would, in fact, going a long way toward indicating that Time People don’t have genders in the same way that humans do, and don’t have our constraining notions about gender roles and gender performance. which I think would be SUPER RAD.

  • nmlop

    the obsession comes from an annoying LACK of female characters, especially leads, in our scifi. part of why Ripley is so well-loved, particularly in places like the Mary Sue, is because there aren’t many characters like her (and of course she is an amazing bad-ass!). in the BSG reboot, Starbuck was awesome as a female character (up until the show in general got bad IMO). and in the case of the Doctor, there is no reason why he can’t regenerate into a woman, so it’s pretty sexist to arbitrarily decide that he can’t. just as there is no reason he couldn’t regenerate into an actor with red hair, or of a different race (as Melody did).

    that said, I agree, I would LOVE to see a River Song spin-off :) I do totally get the hate, I think she was derailed in the finale eps, but I still like the character, for me the annoyingly smug lines are pulled off beautifully by Alex Kingston and her amazing charisma.

  • Anonymous

    Bring it.  I know there are going to be people who are going to flip out over this.  Don’t care.  Its about time.  However since there has never been a female Dr.  They need to build a reason as to WTF just happened.

  • jack mackenna

    Is everyone ignoring the fact this comes from the Daily Star? They make crap up all the time.

  • Xenaclone

    The Doctor certainly does not get younger with each regeneration. Nor is there anything to say he couldn’t be female. The Doctor himself said so very strongly in both The Sarah Jane Adventures and Dr Who.

  • Merennulli

    Rassilon took over during the time war. Having the Master be an exception to the “all the other Time Lords are dead” was meant to be just that, an exception.

    The dynamic of an energetic and powerful male protagonist and spunky female companion is well established with the fanbase, many taking it to the same sexual appeal of rock stars, so it might give the series a drop in popularity. I don’t like changing genders of characters simply for the sake of changing their gender, but in this case it’s relevant and something that should be explored in canon further than the Corsair’s brief mention. It’s worth a temporary dip in popularity to make the Doctor’s range open, and if they want to bring this particular actress in as the Doctor as a one-off, it would be a perfect opportunity to explore the theory that without the Time Lords, regeneration are unlimited.

  • Rocktoonz

    What I found most interesting about that quote is that she said she’d like to play THE new female Doctor, not A new female doctor.  Did Ms. Mirren just tip something no one was supposed to know yet?

  • Anonymous

    If the Doctor got any younger on the next regeneration, they’d have to cast a ten year old. 

    Maybe Justin Beiber’s got a little brother.

  • Todd Masco

    You recall wrong.  It was 12 regenerations (13 incarnations) and 10 regenerations (11 incarnations) have been used.

  • Anonymous

    Are you even aware what the term Canon means. Clue. its not, “Shit I hallucinated.”

    Where pray tell is it stated? No where on the TV show…

  • Anonymous

    Dislike what Moffat did? You mean save it from Davies hackery?

    Seriously The Pandoricum is how you press the reset button with style.

    And thank good we are done with Huzzah! All the Daleks are dead, AGAIN!

  • Anonymous

    I’m obviously in the minority, but I was a big fan of Davies’ hackery.  I like Moffat fine as an episode writer, not as a showrunner.

  • William Roentgen

    You’re kind of an obnoxious twit, aren’t you?  At least learn to use Google before you mouth off on your ignorance.

    It’s stated in the “The Doctor’s Wife” (you know, a Doctor Who television episode – which means it’s the highest source of canon) where the Doctor is talking about an old Time Lord friend of his who was different sexes at different times.

  • Anonymous

    In early episodes I’m pretty sure they said the Doctor got 7 lives, and then extended it as was needed (back in the days before people worried about continuity … you remember Peter Cushing playing Dr. Who, right?) … my memory is fuzzy though.

  • Anonymous

    She brings the right weight to it she’s phenomenal.

  • Greer Hauptman

    Personally, I thought River was a great character.  She was much like Romana– who was also arrogant and acted like she was better and more knowledgeable than the Doctor too because news flash!  She did.  I see no reason for a character who DOES know more to act deferential to the Doctor just because he’s the Doctor (or just because he’s the main character).  River even less than anyone else considering everything she goes through with and for him.

    On topic, I was really hoping for Patterson Joseph to be Eleven.  Does anyone else remember the “OMG there’s going to be BLACK Doctor” rumors around Eleven?

  • Joe Wright

    Perhaps do the mind switch after bringing Mirren in for an episode or two as the Rani.

  • Sophie


  • Sophie

    I agree. I don’t think Moffat does longer story-arcs or character development that well at all. That said I like his individual episodes and his sense of style far more than I did with RTD.

  • Rusty Patti

    If (and I know this is a big “if”) this happens I really hope they have River Song in for a few of those episodes. Imagine Alex Kingston saying “Hello, Sweetie” to Dame Helen.

  • super

    then write story’s with leading powerful female characters.  Space above and beyond had it.,…Andromeda had it too. 
    On switching genders,
    SHow me an example of  Time lord regenerating into a different sex? 

  • super

    I missed that episodes.  If they did mention it then they plan on doing that in the near future or have it as an “option.”  However it was never previously done with any previous time lord. 
    Show me any womens clothing from the TARDIS clothing rack when the Dr decides on a new outfit to wear?…never saw any :)

  • super

    Being conceived in the tardis makes her one.  She can regenerate. 

  • super

    one rule for DR who…the rules always change. 

  • super

    i missed that episode.  If that did occur then they are changing again something that never previously occurred in the show.    They are clearly leaving the possibility it can occur.  Not once during any of the doctors regenerations did he mention he might change gender…just his face.  His TARDIS clothing rack never had female clothing.  For decades on the show all other time lords that did regenerate never changed gender.   

  • Anonymous

  • nmlop

    Responding to “I wish there were more female characters” with “so YOU write them” is disingenuous. I am not a writer, nor could I single-handedly change literary gender roles by writing one, nor could I magically break into TV screenwriting, a notoriously competitive field. I am expressing a preference based on my politics, yes, but it’s not really much different than saying something like, “Oh, I wish LOST had ended differently, that was poor writing.”

    Plus, lots of people DO write gender-swapped DW – it’s called fanfic, and there’s some great stuff out there.

    And by your own example, there are some good female characters in scifi. No one is arguing that there aren’t. And I would argue (though I relate to the many who would disagree!) that River is a great female character (up until the finale, blergh!). And I mean – we all love Donna, right?!?! I also am a huge Martha fan. In BSG, Starbuck and Roslin are totally rockin’. There’s most of the Buffy cast. And I love 7 of 9. Of course I could go on! That’s not the point. The point is that it is nowhere near 50/50, that a “strong” female character is often stereotyped, and nearly always commented upon as being soooo amazing and progressive. (And many complain that she should be a man – see Starbuck.) I and many others would like to get to a time when it is not surprising that female characters show up equally often as male characters in roles of all kinds. The whole point of the Doctor regenerating into a woman, also, is that there is NO REASON he can’t. It is a made-up, wonderful, mad scifi world. He dies and then mystically becomes another person who looks different, has a different haircut, different hair color, hair type, eye color, and accent. He could regenerate as a ginger, as he’s always wanted. Once you accept that – there’s no reason why he wouldn’t regenerate as Chiwetel Ejiofor (yes pleeeeeeaaaaasse). So why not Helen Mirren?

    As for canon instances of a Time Lord regenerating into a different sex, the best example I can think of at the moment is in “The Doctor’s Wife,” when the Doctor mentions the Corsair having been different genders. When he regenerated into 11, he also thought he might have become “a girl” because of his longer hair. There are other examples, and while I haven’t seen the pre-2005 canon, I understand there are examples from there as well.

  • Samantha Suzanne

    Nine tells Rose to find a dress in the Tardis’s Wardrobe, so… {“The Unquiet Dead” Season one, episode three.}

  • super

    fanfic is nonsense …never saw it on the tv series.  ANd until recently it was never even hinted at as a possibility.   

  • amberite

    It is a trend, but not a definitive each time. I made a scatterplot:

  • Anonymous

  • nmlop

    ah, I should have realized sooner I was arguing with a troll, or at the very least, someone not arguing and good faith and with poor reading comprehension. good luck with that, super.

  • Anonymous

    we have already had a female timelord in Dr Who,remember he had a daughter.

  • super

    actually its inconsistent.  In the 2009 Doctor who episode the end of time he says a NEW MAN takes over his body when he changes.  He could have said a new person..he specifically says a “new MAN” and not a new person. 

  • super

    In the 2009 Doctor who episode the end of time
    he says a NEW MAN takes over his body when he changes.  He could have
    said a new person but he specifically says a “new MAN” and not a new

  • super

    actually its inconsistent.  In the 2009 Doctor who episode the end of time
    he says a NEW MAN takes over his body when he changes.  He could have
    said a new person..he specifically says a “new MAN” and not a new

  • super

    actually its inconsistent.  In the 2009 Doctor who episode the end of time
    he says a “NEW MAN” takes over his body when he changes.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, originally in the script it was SUPPOSED to be that Ripley was a man, they changed it to a female, it wasn’t written for a female. Did changing the sex make the movie suffer? Ostensibly, it made it better. So why not do it with the Doctor?.

  • IceBeam

    Yeah, you want some hot young trollop, right? ;)

  • John Romero

    Two words: Patrick Stewart.

  • Mandy

    Why would there need to be specific women’s clothes anyway. The Doctor would still be the Doctor and you realize that women can wear pants these days. Why not rock a suit?

  • Jim MacDougall

    I adore Dame Helen – heck, I saw the trailer for “Red” and thought “Dame Helen with an automatic weapon, I’m THERE” but…

    It’s pretty obvious the Beeb is trying to skew the Doctor younger and younger with each incarnation.  I figure, by 2025, the Doctor will be played by an ovum.

  • Anonymous

    Hurrah! Yes, me too.

  • Amber Goldsmith

    Not to mention Romana! Instead of a female Doctor, they should bring Romana back in her fourth incarnation!

  • Amber Goldsmith

    I posted this on another part of the comments, but I really think they should bring Romana back.

    She was the 4th Doctor’s Time Lady companion, and later President of the Nine Gallifreys [and leader of the Time Lords/Ladies], until something happened to her, and Rassilon took over (“The End of Time”). None of the DW writers explained what happened to Romana, and she might have survived the Time War [maybe trapped in another universe], just like the Doctor.

    If Romana is/was such a pivotal Gallifreyan/Time Lady, then what happened to her?

    If the Daleks can continue to come back in newer, stranger, and un-anticipated ways, and the Master can come back, then Romana should be able to as well [albeit in her 4th incarnation]. She could be totally kickass!

    (My pick for Romana IV would be Lauren Cohan, a British-raised actress also known for her work on Chuck, Supernatural, and The Walking Dead.)

  • Justin Cipriano

    Ok I’m sorry but why did they establish male and female time lords in the first place I understand the whole time lords having different gender definitions and all but I agree it would be odd with things like the already set characters such as romana seeming to define certain characters gender. Also I know the possibility has been alluded to in recent canon but it seems to me to much of a new idea to feel right. With the entirety of the series up until its original hiatus began in ’89 seeming to establish male and female time lords this seems a little bit to gimmicky and call me mysoginistic or whatever (which I’m not I adore strong female charcters) it smacks a little to loudly of just trying to make people happy. I’m with the others bring Romana back if you will but please don’t do this or at least let me know what Mr. Davies would say. And I’m sorry but make it a non Brit. I prefer a Brit to play the part but really if he can change his sex why is he always from the UK? Or bring Romana back as well as changing his sex to a female but have her be a male so we could see a simultaneous switch but please keep her (well it would be his at that point) name as Romana because that doesn’t indicate a specific gender or anything. I know what canon means but 20 odd years of it seem to outweigh few recent lines.

  • Anonymous

    Yes. Do want.

    The fanfic writes itself.