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Wise Words

Helen Mirren Says It’s Time For A Woman To Lead On Doctor Who

“I think it’s absolutely time for a female Doctor Who. I’m so sick of that man with his girl sidekick. I could name at least 10 wonderful British actresses who would absolutely kill in that role.” - Dame Helen Mirren on who should play the next Doctor on the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The actress previously expressed her interest in playing the Doctor (which Karen Gillan thought was an awesome idea) saying, “I would like to play the new female Doctor Who. I don’t want to just be his sidekick.”

When she was told one bookmaker is offering 25-1 odds her being cast in the role she said, “Oh, please — I would put much longer odds on it than that.”

Will Mirren play the Doctor? Probably not, but it’s a fun alternate universe to daydream about. Skyfall’s Rory Kinnear was rumored over the weekend as being offered the role but there’s really nothing solid on that front yet.

(via Yahoo, Photo by ITV/Rex US)

Previously in Doctor Who

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  • Anonymous

    “More like Dame Helen Misandrren, amirite?” — MRA

  • Knackeredback

    This just underlines the whole problem of the “Should the next Doctor be female?” debate. Very few people ever come up with a better reason then “We’ve never had one before, so its time we did”

  • jedi_penguin

    I think I’m one of the few who wouldn’t like a female Doctor. While “Lungbarrow” tried to screw up all understanding of Time Lord reproduction, I still prefer to believe that Time Lords are organic creatures–more evolved than humans, certainly, but mortal at the end of the day. Switching genders at regeneration just suggests more about their biology than I can easily wrap my brain around. Now, a physically male Doctor that chooses to identify as female? Heck yeah! Love to see that!

  • Guymelef

    Well then, can you come up with a good enough reason NOT to have a female doctor?

  • Jill Pantozzi
  • Carl Jackson

    Look, the whole thing is about preference. There’s very little that is right and just about it.

    My fundamental issue from a writers perspective is I don’t think there should be some sort of burden of proof to take the best idea off the table and run with that. However, because so many people have invested in the outcome, they can’t really do that.

  • Cori Redford

    I’ve got a good reason: To see The Doctor romance some historical men! I suppose he could already, if the men were gay like Alan Turing or Michelangelo, but that list is quite short.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not really against the idea of a female Doctor, but I don’t necessarily think there must be one. It kind of feels like taking… any other male lead character and saying they should be female. In a lot of fantasy/science fiction shows it would be possible through magic, technology, or what have you, and it might even be interesting or a good idea, but there’s no real push to say we should do it.

    I’d still be fine with it, and I think, from a story telling standpoint, it would change very little, because I doubt the Doctor really gives a good gorram, Eleventh Doctor’s regeneration scene aside.

    The most awkward thing to handle would be new companions, actually. Which is actually a little awkward now. Right now, it’s almost exclusively a woman in the role. Which has some kind of unfortunate implications, but as long as we have only one companion, it has to be a woman, or else there aren’t any female leads on the show at all. So, switching to a female Doctor, it’s likely the companion would be male, which would seem really heteronormative. Which, again, the show already has issues with. I’m not putting this out as a reason not to have a female Doctor, but I think it would have to be handled very carefully.

  • malkavian

    There are organic creatures on earth that switch sexes, they’re called sequential hermaphrodites:

  • Melynda

    I’m not a terribly big fan of the female Doctor idea. It seems strange to me that the Doctor, being a Time Lord, would spontaneously change sexes. It always seemed to me that Time Lords and Time Ladies were two different sexes. Not that they could change their mind and switch for awhile. It was just in The Doctor’s Wife that the fact that a Time Lord regenerated as a woman was ever even mentioned in an offhand sort of way.

  • Eva Catherine Harding

    (I need to state before i start this rant that i’m definitely not sexist, theres no reason a female character couldn’t be just as brilliant and have the same attributes as the Doctor)

    It’s all very well all these people saying we need a female Doctor but I bet most of them aren’t even big fans. I consider myself a feminist, and whilst i’m certainly not against a female Doctor, I think the Doctor should stay male. A woman can defiantly have the same attributes as the Doctor and I’m sure they’re are many females who would be great in the role, I would rather see another female timelord (bring back the Rani?). I just think the character works better as a male, mainly for continuities sake, he has always been male. If we had had alternating gender regeneration previously it might work better, but just randomly changing gender for the sake of it is not the way to gender equality. When we have equal amounts of non-stereo typically portrayed male and female roles, where stereo typically and non- stereo typical attributes are not surprising or labeled as such is gender equality.

    I think that this has always been male role, like James bond. If it has started as female role I would say that she should remain female.

    Sorry if that didn’t make sense.

  • Gordon Borland

    Arabella Weir played an alternative Third Doctor in the unbound audio “Exile” it’s damn good, the Doctor is the Doctor regardless of gender.

  • Lizikins

    As a woman and a feminist, I just can’t get behind the whole female Doctor just for the sake of having a female Doctor thing. I’m not totally against it, but I’m not for it, either. I suppose it could be done well if the right person was in the role (just like the wrong male actor could ruin it). But I take issues with feminizing roles that weren’t previously feminine (Lucy Liu playing Watson in Elementary comes to mind) – it just doesn’t work for me. I’m not saying that just because the Doctor’s always been male that he has to stay that way yada yada, but do we really need to feminize the role? No. Let’s create more shows/movies/etc that BEGIN with strong female characters, instead of feminizing already established characters.

  • Benjamin Meis

    I tend to agree; I, personally, think the Doctor is male and don’t think it would come off right if the Doctor suddenly became a woman. I wouldn’t stop watching the show, and I’d fully give the new person a fair chance – male or female – but I (again, personal opinion) don’t think it would work. They could totally prove me wrong, though. Better, in my opinion, would be to have a hidden Time Lady show up – heck even make her a central character or, like with Sarah Jane, end up giving her own show. All sorts of cool things could be explored that way and she would have a better opportunity to define a new character – rather than deal with hang-ups from viewers about taking over the Doctor. And if the Master survived, so could a Time Lady – maybe the Rani, even, or someone totally new could be cool, too. Just my opinion, though. Let’s just all agree that the new Doctor should continue to be awesome.

  • Anonymous

    It’s all very well all these people saying we need a female Doctor but I bet most of them aren’t even big fans.

    I don’t think this assertion is necessary, especially considering the number of people on this site who have shown interest in the idea.

  • Sheree ‘Blue’ Rehema

    It’s cannon that it’s possible. Helen Mirren would be my #1 choice for the next Doctor. A shame it won’t happen… anywhos, a quote from The Doctor’s Wife.

    The Doctor: There aren’t! No Time Lords left anywhere in the Universe. But the Universe isn’t where we’re going. {he tosses it to Amy} See that snake. The mark of The Corsair. Fantastic bloke. He had that snake as a tattoo in every regeneration. Didn’t feel like himself unless he had that tattoo. Or herself a couple of times. Oo hoo! She was a bad girl!

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I’m trying to think of some way of tying this into Doctor Mephesto’s five-assed monkey but I’m a little busy. Raincheck!

  • Adrian

    Why is it necessary for The Doctor to be male? Honest question.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    It is canon that they can change.

  • Laura Nungaray

    I’m not against the idea of a female Doctor just not THE doctor. However, I’d LOVE to see a spinoff or something with the Doctors daughter and her own regenerative abilities that run parallel to the series. She’s pretty much a female clone of the main Doctor anyway so the likelihood of her pulling his $|-|!7 is pretty high right?

  • Anonymous

    I actually had assumed that some Timelords and Timeladies had a preferred gender. Romana, for example, somehow manages to regenerate several times in her regeneration scene, but always into a woman. Likewise, the Master tends to regenerate male (Though in the new series he’s shown some signs of sexism himself), as does the Doctor. While we’ve been told that they don’t really care about sexual orientation, that’s no reason to think they don’t have a sense of gender identity. Some, like the Corsair, might not really care, or might have thought it would be interesting to be a woman a few times (Hell, if I got to regenerate, I’d definitely be a woman at least once). It has also been implied that Timelords have some control over their regeneration, though most seem to have more control than the Doctor.

    Like I said above, I don’t think the Doctor would be all that fussed, but I had taken the fact that Timelords and Timeladies that we’ve seen on screen, such as the Master, Romana, Borusa, and the Doctor, tend to regenerate inside the same gender as signs that they do have a preference.

    The issue with a companion is less to do with the companion’s sexuality than the Doctor’s. As it has been stated the Doctor’s sexuality is… something that he doesn’t even really consider, he wouldn’t pick female companions because he was attracted to them. I figured he picked them because he just found he got along better with women from 20th/21st century Earth than he did with men. I can understand that. But if the Doctor were female, and suddenly started picking male companions, it would be a little harder to hold that position, and would kind of imply the Doctor was picking at least partly out of attraction… and then the female Doctor picks male companions, and the male Doctor picks female ones. Again, it doesn’t have to be like that, but it’d take some careful work to avoid the implication, I think.

  • Anonymous

    They could at least have her as a fellow timelord with her own TARDIS. Especially if Neil Gaiman wrote it would be phenomenal.

  • Anonymous

    Funny you mention that, because Liu’s portrayal is well-received.

  • Lizikins

    I generally like her, but just not in that role. It just didn’t work for me.

  • Sally Strange

    It’s already been established that Time Lords can switch genders during regeneration. That doesn’t mean that gender is irrelevant to Time Lord society. It just means that people can switch genders.

    Please name a couple of aspects of The Doctor’s personality that are “in his very essence male and masculine”. Be specific.

  • Sally Strange

    Absolutely nobody has come up with an argument against it besides “It’s always been that way and I don’t like change.”

  • Sally Strange

    I’d like to know what is so quintessentially male about The Doctor that he couldn’t possibly be written as a woman.

  • Sabrina

    Yeah, I’d like to know that, too. I’ve read so many discussions about a female Doctor and seen hundreds of people cry out “OH NOES, you can’t make him female! He’s a manly male man!!11″ but no one was ever able to point out what exactly is so male about the character – apart from him being played by a guy every time.

  • Gordon Borland

    And they are referred as Time-Lords regardless of gender.

  • Sign Ahead

    “We’ve never had one before, so its time we did,” is an excellent reason.

    Right now, the Doctor’s in a rut. He’s been cooped up in the same sex and gender for nearly 1000 years, that’s shockingly dull for a daring, ever-surprising interstellar explorer like the Doctor. He’s definitely due for a change.

  • RMCoyote

    Agreed with this!

    And even if a doctor did have a preference that influenced things, that still doesn’t change my assertion that there should have been one, two, or maybe three female regenerations by this point (I did say ‘a couple’ as opposed to ‘half of the regenerations should be’ or etc). Because the doctor obviously has little control of their form (see how on the 11th regeneration for a moment the doctor thought he HAD become a woman, and cue sexist Moffet joke, but regardless that means it is possible).

    11 regenerations- even if for some reason a bit of preference did come in, I can’t see it being so strong in the doctor to sway them from not even being a woman once, especially earlier on when I imagine they would want to collect different experiences (once again, if preference came into play).

  • RMCoyote

    Well, it works for most people, so in that case you should probably admit it is a preference directly related to your own biases rather than ‘feminizing a role that weren’t previously feminine’.

    Watson has been a freakin’ mouse, a dullard who is somehow a doctor, and comedic relief. I think his character is fine being a woman.

    Also, although I definitely agree with more female orginal roles, the fact of the matter is that we have a ton of stories to tell that are a part of our histories and mythology as a modern civilization and because of the sexism of the past all these roles are strictly men. I don’t fault a person for wanting to retell this epic stories, and I love seeing them retold, but the key thing about retelling stories is getting to change them into something different to expand on the mythology. Gender and race swaps is a great way to do this, and it has the benefit of providing reflections for people who were denied their reflections in mainstream culture for huge chunks of history.

    Also- just because a role is made for a woman does not mean it’s feminizing it. Not all women are feminine. Heck, not all men are masculine!

    …Now I want to see a Drag Queen Sherlock. Dammit, brain.

  • RMCoyote

    He has been male because of writer’s and director’s and producer’s choice. If you think it was the Time Lord’s choice every time, then A) you obviously have not paid attention during regenerations, and B) You know nothing about the writing medium.

    And the fact that you can only say he reads male because he has been one, rather than pointing out specific traits, is just proving all our points.

  • Fisty

    Top choice for me would definitely be Mirren.

  • Anonymous

    Not always. Romana was called a Time Lady at least once, in City of Death. Possibly far more often, but City of Death and Destiny of the Daleks are the only Romana episodes I’ve seen recently. But Time Lady is, at least, an acceptable form.

  • Anonymous

    @Sheree ‘Blue’ Rehema:

    I also think the Doctor does have some preferences. He’s been known to critique his looks before, on regeneration, and express disappointment at not being ginger. It’s never lasting, and I don’t think, if he did regenerate as a woman, it’d be an issue for about two seconds and never mentioned again.While the Doctor seems to have little control, other Time Lords do seem to have some. Again, Romana was able to choose her form entirely, actually duplicating another person twice. Although her regeneration scene was all kinds of weird. The Master, likewise, stated “If the Doctor can be young and strong again, so can I” before regenerating in the new series, and then regenerated as a much younger person. Which would be a pretty nifty coincidence if he didn’t have some control. The Doctor seems to be fairly bad at this, but it seems he has some control. For example, he mentions a botched regeneration could leave someone with two heads, or no heads, which is yet to happen. River also mentions that he chooses to wear the face of a six year old, or some such. Which could refer to his personality, but, frankly, might also refer to his actual face.

    I also think the Doctor does have some preferences. He’s been known to critique his looks before, on regeneration, and express disappointment at not being ginger. It’s never lasting, and I don’t think, if he did regenerate as a woman, it’d be an issue for about two seconds and never mentioned again.

    @RMCoyote: That’s a fair argument. Like I said, I’d definitely be female at least once if I got a pick. Of course, bringing realism into Doctor Who is an iffy game, but that can’t be an excuse for everything.

    I can see a logic to keeping the Doctor the same gender though as well, from a storytelling point of view. Gender may or may not be an important marker of identity for Time Lords, but it certainly is for people. I’d say it’s one of the single biggest identity markers for people. I mean, that’s sort of why we’re here talking about it now. I can understand wanting a character who is supposed to be different aspects of the same person to keep that sort of consistency. To use, say, Mass Effect as an example, I always see Commander Shepard as female. When I see someone’s male Shepard, it doesn’t feel like the same person, even though the dialog and actions are exactly the same. With the Doctor, it may not be quite the same person each time, but it’s always close. That’s very hard to pull off even within gender.

    I don’t see that as a huge reason not to do it, or why it couldn’t be done. But there is a logic to it that I understand as well. It’s enough that I don’t see this as a change that must be made. Obviously though, if we don’t make this change, we have to make others. Even I am sick to death of over saturation of male heroes and leads. I’d love to see more shows, especially long running shows, with female leads, and female heroes. I’m also kind of ticked off that we’re getting what I think to be the sixth Superman film, and yet no studio has put out a superhero film staring a woman since Catwoman. Which we’d all rather forget about anyway. Hell, I know everyone loves Wolverine, but I’m kind of annoyed he took up all the screen time of the X-Men films, which, between him, Magnito, and Professor X, left pretty much nothing for anyone else. (I’m also annoyed that they decided Mystique couldn’t wear clothes for some reason.)

    I do hear people talk about this occasionally, especially on this site, but I feel like way more energy has gone into the much more minor issue of demanding a female Doctor, while very little has gone into demanding female characters across the board.

    Also, this comment has gone on far too long, and I apologize for that.

  • Roberta

    Thank you for not counting RDJ’s Sherlock in disguise as Drag Queen Sherlock. Oddly enough, there is an actual picture of Benedict in drag. Damned if I can’t find it though.

  • Roberta

    I would love a female Doctor. Come on ladies, we all thought about what would happen if we were companions, but I imagine many of us wanted to have the keys to the TARDIS to themselves too :P
    My only concern with having a female Doctor would be the chance that her character is butchered. Even with a “template” of what she would be like, the show has had a mixed history of how they treat their female characters.
    Personally, I want them to treat the companions better. Then we can talk about getting Dame Mirren on the show.

  • Mina

    No, they’re Time Lords when they are currently male but are Time Ladies if they switch. It can happen.

  • Mina

    I was about to point this out myself. Sequential hermaphroditism is actually extremely common in the animal world. Knowing that, it makes total sense to me that an alien species that changes its body periodically would be able to switch between male and female once in a while.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, I’d hate to see Helen Mirren is already a well established actress. I’d infinitely prefer it if it were a woman I’d never heard of before. Doctor Who does tend to pick at least relative unknowns, who are very, very good, and I absolutely love that.

  • Gordon Borland

    But not standard, Time-Lord as a blanket at term for both genders is far more common, most uses of “Tine-Lady” cropped up during season 17, which also featured the use of “Time-Tots” in reference to Gallifreyan children,which can be put down to season 17′s comedic nature. “Time-Lady” is rarely used outside this season and it serves no indication to the way Time-Lords view gender.

  • Anonymous

    It’s kind of weird that every female DW fan I see online wants a female Doctor, but every female DW fan I know IRL actually don’t (although, that would be about 5 people, so it’s probably the minority.)

    Personally, I would love to see a female Doctor. But she would have to be the best Doctor ever, or else people hating her would blame it on her gender.

  • Anonymous

    While I support the idea of a female incarnation, I don’t quite buy this argument. You can’t define gender like that. I couldn’t tell you what is ‘so male’ or ‘so female’ about actual people, but that doesn’t invalidate their sex. I.e. My dad is pretty definitely a bloke, but that doesn’t mean I could tell you what makes him ‘so male’.

    I keep seeing the argument that this issue is about sexism and misogyny only – the implication (or sometimes the outright statement) being that the only reason someone might object to a female Doctor is misogyny in some way or another.

    But gender IS a part of identity. It’s not our only defining quality, but it’s one of ‘em. If gender didn’t matter to our identity, transgenderism wouldn’t exist, because it wouldn’t matter to anyone what biological sex they were. A change in gender will affect the Doctor’s identity.

    I think it’s valid that some people feel that maleness is just one of the fundamentals with the Doctor. It is – or has been – pretty much his only consistent aspect though 11 incarnations. I think it’s valid to feel that changing that might be the thing that breaks the through-line with the character.

    Now, just to restate, I personally LIKE the idea of a female incarnation. I simply don’t feel that the only reason might disagree with that viewpoint is that they’re latently or overtly sexist.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe it;s like sexual preference; a sliding scale. The Doctor’s extremely male in his gender identity, the Corsair (for instance) was more towards the middle of the scale, though still towards the male end of the spectrum.

    So for the same you’d never expect to see a gay character suddenly being in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, you’d never expect to see the Doctor regenerate female.

    Not arguing against a female incarnation, just theorising.

  • Anonymous

    It’s true that it;s never a good sign when something starts ‘I’m not a (…)ist, but…’.

    But I think it’s a little harsh to read the OP’s comment as really sexist. All she’s really saying is that, to her, the Doctor is a male character and that’s not a fluid part of his identity. That’s a valid reading of the character.

    It’s possible for such an attitude to be motivated by misogynistic impulses, of course, but it’s also possible for the attitude to be motivated by other issues.

    The Doctor is a character who has always been male; asserting that therefore he is male is a perfectly valid interpretation.

  • Anonymous

    Quite. I personally like the idea of a female Doctor, but I don’t think ‘we’ve never had one before’ is an argument in itself.

    We’ve never had a child-Doctor before, or a racist-scumbag-Doctor, or a plate-of-biscuits-Doctor.

    I’m not saying these concepts have equal weight to the woman-Doctor idea. I’m saying that if your only argument in favour of the latter is ‘it hasn’t happened before’, your argument is weak enough to let through all those other concepts.

    You either need stronger arguments to back that up, or alternatively work from the stance of ‘there’s no real logical reason to do or not do this, but I think it’d be cool and here’s why…’

  • Anonymous

    You’re accusing the OP of generalising her opinion of Liu-Watson but she never claimed her opinion was anything more than a personal take. You’re the one who claims to speak for a majority. Your opinion on Lucy Liu’s portrayal is no more or less valid than Lizikin’s.

    I also think you may have misunderstood use of the term ‘feminizaion’. In Lizikin’s context it means literal feminization – taking a previously male character and turning them into a female one. She wasn’t talking about making a masculine character more girly. She;s simply using the word to refer to the process we’re all discussing here – turing a male character into a female one.

    I think Lizikin’s point of view is a perfectly good one. For her, the Doctor’s gender is immutable. That’s fair enough.

    As an aside, I’m not sure how comparable the case of Liu-Watson is: every time Sherlock Holmes is adapted the characters are essentially invented anew. But all adaptations stand as fanon with regard to the actual canon that is the ACD stories. Now, in Doctor Who the show IS the canon, and the character in discussion isn’t a new version of an old, established character: it’s a new phase in that character’s continuing canonical story.

    So this is less like casting a female Watson in a new adaptation, and more like going to the original Arthur Conan Doyle manuscripts before they’re published and in the final third of the stories, changing Watson – no, the main character, SHERLOCK, into a woman. Not in a-version-of. In the actual, original canon.

    Now, you might or might not find that idea appealing, but it’s certainly worth bearing in mind that this is the impact on the story we’re all talking about.

  • jedi_penguin

    Totally forgotten that. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Roberta

    That’s the rub. It’s like that in the movies too.

    DC and Marvel: “We tried like, 3, female-led superhero movies in the past decade and they flopped. It’s not because of the writing, acting, directing or producing, it must be because of the estrogen”

  • Amber Barnes

    Its canonical in Moffat’s Who that Gallifreyians can swap genders in one regeneration to the next.

  • Anonymous

    I once asked Claudia Black if she’d like to be The Doctor. She enthusiastically said yes, but she’d “want to do it properly, with the hair and the long scarf.”

  • Sabrina

    The problem I have with the argument “But being male is THE defining character trait that should never ever be changed!!” (or something along those lines) is that we’re talking about a fictional character (and a show by extension) with the unique in-build quality that everything can change. The only reason the Doctor hasn’t been cast as a PoC and/or woman is because of the show’s casting practises. There isn’t an in-universe reason that prevents the Doctor from regenerating into a woman. During all his incarnations the Doctor is surely the same character at the chore -an adventurer out to explore the universe- but so much has changed thanks to the vastly different portrayals of different actors and new directions given by different writers. It’s baffling me that the fans of a show and a character that is all about change by design are the ones who have such a huge problem with it. Sure, you don’t have to like everything but this particular idea gets so much vile hatred that it’s hard to argue that there isn’t any misogyny involved on some level.

    And yes, I get what you are saying about gender identity and I respect that it is important to many people. However the Doctor just doesn’t strike me as a character who would give a crap and I haven’t seen anything to the contrary. It’s one thing to value your (general “you” from here on) own gender identity and declare it an integral part of yourself – it’s quite another thing to impose this believe onto others and even further: to argue that your world-view must be the only correct one when we’re talking about a humanoid alien
    from a species that is known to regularly change their bodies and occasionally even genders. And you’re certainly not helping your case when you’re arguing in a way that implies the character would be “ruined 5ever!!!1″ if the production team hired a woman for the job.

    If the Doctor regenerates into a female body what will change isn’t so much the character itself – it’s how the character is perceived by certain parts of the audience. And this is actually the core of the problem here. They could give the new Doctor the exact same lines and have an actress that would deliver them in a typical Doctor’ish manner and these people would still argue that the character is not the Doctor anymore. Not because the Doctor changed that much but because they judge men and women differently. Cause this is what growing up in a cissexist society that practises gender essentialism does to you.

  • RodimusBen

    If Helen Mirren played the doc, I’d be on board.

  • Julie Bozza

    Amen! My vote is for Tilda Swinton.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    “They can not just choose to suddenly be female”

    Actually, they can, so let’s take the anger down a notch, shall we?

  • Melynda

    Yes, that convinces me it’s a good idea.

  • Jason Hunt

    Ratings, that’s what it comes down to(as it does with 99% of TV shows). I’d like to see a break down of Dr Who viewers and see what the gender ratio was. No program is going to fool around too much with its identity if it means it loses viewers in great numbers because of that change.

  • Anonymous

    Your first point: I think it’s a matter of interpretation whether you see the doctor’s gender as immutable or not. I think it’s a valid inference from the given facts on the show. Sure, we know that some Time Lords change between incarnations but that doesn’t mean all Time Lords do (I made the point elsewhere that it might be analogous to sexuality – some people are more bi than others sort of thing). Some rules and tendencies to do with regeneration are outright stated, some are left for us to surmise on our own. For instance, I have extrapolated from what has been shown in DW that the Doctor will never regenerate into a child form, or into a non-humanoid form. I don;t believe the impossibility of either of these has ever been stated by characters, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a valid conclusion based on observing the patterns.

    So the idea that the Doctor is just basically male, based on the fact he has never regenerated as female is, I think, a valid interpretation.

    As to your point about the Doctor’s gender identity: yes, you’re right there. And I don’t disagree exactly, but I’ve seen the point made before that ‘the Doctor wouldn’t care’ and it feels like part of a circular argument to me. I agree that I don’t think the Doctor has human/Western gender philosophies, and that he probably wouldn;t see maleness as part of his identity himself. BUT I don’t think his in-universe attitudes are the important thing. It’s about how we as viewers relate to the idea. (I mean, obviously, because if the thing that mattered was the Doctor’s own attitude, and he doesn’t care less, then there’d be no impetus for making the change in the first place. The whole idea is that having a female Doctor would be a good thing from OUR perspective). What I’m saying is: either gender matters, and you’ve got to accept that changing it is a big deal, or it doesn’t because the Doctor wouldn’t think so.

    I approve of changing male characters into female characters, but not because I don’t think it makes a difference to them fundamentally. I like it because it DOES make a difference to them. If it didn’t, why make the change at all?

    But I do think you’re right in that sometimes the thing is to realise the gender has all this associated stuff, but the best thing you can do is to ignore it in writing a character.

  • Anonymous

    “We just don’t get it. We thought women would LOVE our Catwoman film. But I guess women aren’t that into superhero movies.”

  • Melynda

    Yes, that convinces me it’s a good idea.

  • Ruby S.

    What she said!

  • JamesJournal

    The thing is if a woman was cast in the role right now (unlikely, but someone will be bold enough to do it eventually) then there would be a whole generation of viewers that’ll never know the male version.

    Much M from the James Bond movies or Starbuck in Battlestar Galatica.

  • JamesJournal

    Even before that we’ve had the Doctor checking his Adam’s apple post regeneration to make sure he was still male.

  • JamesJournal

    That’s one main thing that actually turns me off to the idea. A non white male actor in the role would completely shut down discussion of the show.

  • JamesJournal

    That’s actually not a bad justification. It would be a cool change up from the norm.

  • JamesJournal

    Wow! I thought the female Watson and Moriarty on Elementary was a great idea that mixed up the tradition in a new interesting way.

  • JamesJournal

    Seriously guys it is 100% cannon that time lords can switch genders doing regeneration. So on this level, you can’t argue against it.

  • JamesJournal

    1) Overall public opinion is not screaming for the Doctor to become female

    2) This argument does not acknowledge the over representation of men in these kids of roles.

  • JamesJournal

    1) The fact that it would change things is why it would be interesting. But I will say that I’d rather it happen as the result of an 11th Hour style re-introduction of the character so we don’t have to deal with how this affects River/Clara and have a cast that ONLY knows the Doctor as a woman

    2) Again people, it is established (although it is apparently not common) that Time Lords CAN change genders

    What is hard about this when your show jumps of with a 1200-year-old shape shifting space wizard with a time traveling telephone box?

  • JamesJournal

    When 9 regenerated into 10 the speech he gave Rose caused me to think that regenerations could be even more severe than that.

  • JamesJournal

    The Doyle stories didn’t have shape shifting time travelers at the very base of their mythology

  • JamesJournal

    YEAH! Then the internet can attack portrayal of the female Doctor as being sexist because she’ll sometimes flirt with men

  • JamesJournal

    Well the reason for female companions is that without them there would be no female lead on the show at all. Maybe you could say he’s trying to replace is granddaughter or something, but that is just fan wank. The main reason is because the show has to have a female lead.

    Physical attraction is not part of it (look at is reaction to Amy just trying to have casual sex with him) its because the show has to have a female lead.

    So if there is only one companion (Jack, Mickey and Rory have been in the mix but not by themselves) it mechanically has to be a woman.

  • JamesJournal

    The amount of effort you’d have to go through for that doesn’t just border “you might as well just have a female Doctor then” it completely blasts through in and spins back on itself from across the globe and then some.

  • Anonymous

    That’s actually kind of my point. Right now, there’s generally a female companion. From a storytelling perspective, it’s because there has to be. In universe, you could say he wants to replace his granddaughter, he prefers the company of women as friends, or any number of things.

    The sticky point for a female Doctor would be that they’re presumably want a male companion for the same reasons that companions tend to be female now. If the Doctor suddenly started picking male companions after regenerating into a woman, it could look very awkward and have all sorts of unfortunate implications if not handled right. It’s not a reason why there shouldn’t be a female Doctor (Could actually be fun if a male companion fell for the Doctor the way so many of the new series female companions do… if it was handled right.) but it would have to be handled well. Possibly by having two companions beforehand, male and female, keeping them onboard for at least a season, and either dropping the female one if they want one companion only, or keeping both long term. That way it wouldn’t be the Doctor suddenly selecting a male companion. I’m sure there are other possibilities as well.

  • Sabrina

    But saying “He must always be male because he has always been male!” isn’t a particularly convincing argument either. Again, we’re talking about a show where the Doctor went from a wacky grampa who kidnaps his granddaughter’s teachers to all of a sudden being an alien that can “rejuvenate” his body, later they came up with the Time Lords and having them force him into another body as punishment and it isn’t until the Third Doctor’s final adventure when they figured out the process and called it regeneration – that was at the end of Season 11! About halfway through Classic Who! The show is a constant work in progress. Nothing is written in stone. Not even that the Doctor and the TARDIS are travelling the universe – Three spend much of his time on earth (with the TARDIS not working and all), so did Nine and even Ten only had occasional trips to other planets or space stations/ships.

    The point is: The only thing that keeps them from not having a female Doctor is not casting one. I’m not even arguing that you could recast just any character as a woman on the fly – but the Doctor is one of the few cases were it would be absolutely justified in-universe.

    So when someone says “The Doctor has to be male cause that’s an integral part of his character!” I do question this sentiment cause there isn’t anything from the show (in-universe and from the production’s point of view) that would back them up. Overall it is not that much about the character but more about the person’s personal hang ups about gender and identity. The idea that the body must be a reflection and integral part of one’s gender identity is a very cissexist one.

    I personally think casting a woman as the Doctor would 1st) open up the casting pool for a lot of great actresses and 2nd) it could indeed open up dialogue about gender and identity (though I realize you’d need a capable writing team for that and with Moffat still in charge… oh well). All in all Doctor Who is just such a sausage fest these days that I’m craving any sorts of female input. The Doctor is a role that had many of its actors commenting how much they enjoyed playing themselves in a sense and I would love what a woman could bring to that role. More female writers and -dare I say it- a female showrunner would be much appreciated as well! :D

  • JamesJournal

    I see no reason why you couldn’t just gender swap the standard Doctor/companion set up. It feels like a really obvious and cool way to mix things up BUT I HAVE NO FAITH in the public when it comes to judging a change like this on its own merits. There is no way you could cast a female Doctor without nonsensical outcry from well … read some of this message board. People will see this as some kind of betrayal.

    And is there any possible way future writters could address any kind of gender indentity issue without being accused of being sexist.

    In fact, I’m pretty sure you could cast female Doctor, put her in a burka and have her do perfect impressions of David Tennant and Matt Smith and the next day the critics will claim you turned the Doctor into a manic pixie dream girl.

    Let’s go crazy and say there is a romanic subplot. Let’s say there is not, but perhaps an episode where someone has a crush on the Doctor and gets rejected. Is there seriously a way this could be handled without accusations of sexism? NO!

  • Anonymous

    Straw man argument. I don’t think she is a misandrist. Anyhow, f I had to choose a female to play the twelfth Doctor, I’d go with Tilda Swinton.

  • Anonymous

    Fair enough. I still dispute the ‘nothing is set in stone on DW’ point because I think some things ARE set in stone (the Doctor is an adult, the Doctor is an adventurer, the Doctor has companions etc), but it’s a matter of personal opinion wether ‘the Doctor is male’ is one of those unchangeable things. But since I am actually one of the people who thinks the Doctor’s gender is mutable, and would love to see a female Doctor, I’ll concede the point!

    Actually you’ve hit upon the only reason I WOULDN’T be keen to see a female Doctor asap: can you imagine the hash Moffat would make of it?

    He manages to insult woman-kind weekly with just a female companion character, if the show had the Doctor regenerate female on his Watch… ugh.

    Basically, with all suggestions and ideas for DW, my first response is, ‘that sounds great! But first fire Stephen Moffat.’ :)

  • Sabrina

    Yes, a few things are rather fundamental for the program as it is. That it’s about an alien called The Doctor and his TARDIS. Everything else is up for grabs though because the show is so wonderfully versatile and it’s really just a question over whether the production team picks up a certain idea or not. :)

    Oh god, yes. I’d be very worried for a female Doctor under Moffat (then again I’m worried for anyone under Moffat, lol). He doesn’t understand anything about women and writes his companions as female first and character second and treats them as these mystical beings that the Doctor needs to figure out. “Ugh” indeed. So yeah, maybe not a female Doctor for Twelve but Thirteen with a new showrunner? Pretty please? ;)

  • Anonymous

    There’s not really a problem there persay, it’s just unlikely. Getting a female Doctor at all seems unlikely, I’d say getting a female Doctor and a female companion with no male lead is downright impossible. I’m not saying it wouldn’t work, I’m just pretty sure it’s not going to happen.

    As for Davis… I don’t know. Maybe he would have been open to it, maybe not. He doesn’t have much of a track record either way that I can tell. And whenever I feel nostalgic for the RTD run, I just watch End of Time again, and suddenly feel much more grateful for what we do have…

  • TKS


  • Tristan Richardson

    the doctor is a male. it would be stupid to make the doctor a woman. I am not a sexist but the doctor is a man all ways have been. it would destroy the show if they did that. again not a sexist. I mean think about it, what if they changed the d.c character “wonder woman” into a man. wonder woman is one of the strongest super hero’s in d.c. I know you are saying that super-man is the strongest, but super-man is an alien, wonder woman was born on earth. and did not get there powers from the sun.

  • JamesJournal

    Have you read any other comment on this board besides mine? Have you yet discovered youtube, or just people in general. There is no way a woman could be cast in the role (at least right now) without some overwrought reaction. There is no way we’d be able to judge or discuss the actress/character/story in and off itself without that elephant in the room coming up.
    And that would to an extent, sour the show for me, even if that Doctor was seriously the best one ever, unless I made an effort to never discuss Doctor Who with other human beings for the next couple years.

  • JamesJournal

    I think Davies actually said outright that he’d never to do it, while Moffat said it was possible, and has allowed writers to reinforce it being possible.
    Eitherway it isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

  • JamesJournal

    Wonder Woman doesn’t regenerate.

  • JamesJournal

    Wouldn’t they need to go the same route they’ve gone since 2005 and cast a relative unknown? And you know, someone BBC could afford and could devote several years of their time to it.

  • TKS

    I hate to be “that comment section cliche guy” but…

    Best possible comment. Best possible response.

  • TKS

    I hate to be “that comment section cliche guy” but…

    Best possible comment. Best possible response.

  • TKS

    “I don’t think the Doctor’s sex is important” (long post explaining why the Doctor should stay male)

  • TKS

    “I don’t think the Doctor’s sex is important” (long post explaining why the Doctor should stay male)

  • TKS

    That’s like saying people who watched Voyager as a kid would know that all the other captains are dudes.

  • TKS

    That’s like saying people who watched Voyager as a kid would know that all the other captains are dudes.

  • JamesJournal

    Obviously, being introduced the position with a female character is going to shape your idea of wether or not a woman could/should fill that position on the show.

    I used the M character in James Bond as an example. My first James Bond movie was Goldeneye which I saw on VHS in middle school. So while I know M is traditionally played by a man all those instances are outdated from my perspective and the shift back to the male M in Skyfall feels like the weird change up, as it should to basically everyone on the planet under 30.
    A male Starbuck makes about as much sense in my mind as a male Buffy, even though I always knew there was a ’70s version of BSG with a guy as Starbuck
    Anyway just like my idea of the Doctor is shaped by Matt Smith/David Tennant, plenty of people will inevitably be introduced to the Doctor as a woman and to them this thread will seem completely ridiculous

  • TKS

    Why is that “completely ridiculous?”

  • Anonymous

    If you’re accusing me of this ‘bigoted temper tantrum’ can I just mention that I personally am up for seeing a female Doctor? And that I think it IS within the Doctor’s character to change sex? But I don’t think that anyone who disagrees with me with on this is a sexist, and that’s why I’m arguing that corner.

    Your analogy with the presidents is flawed. The president is a JOB, to be performed by many different people. The Doctor is a single person. Now, it is built into that person’s character that he changes almost completely every so often, but there are certain fundamental principles that always remain the same for the Doctor in every incarnation. We have rarely been given information overtly on what the rules are – as viewers we mostly have to infer what the rules are:

    For example, I wouldn’t expect the Doctor to regenerate as a 9-year-old child, because, by inferrence, one of the rules seems to be that he’s always adult. I wouldn’t expect him to regenerate as non-humanoid because he seems to be fundamentally human-shaped. I don’t believe we’ve ever been explicitly told that non-human forms are impossible, but it is valid for me to perceive that rule based on the information.

    Therefore it seems reasonable to infer that a character we have only ever seen as male, is male. I;m not saying that is the only possible interpretation. as I say, it; not one I myself take. But it IS possible to reach this conclusion not motivated by misogyny, just as the fact I would be iffy about the idea of, say, a teenage Doctor, doesn’t mean I’m anti-teenager.

    (On a side note, yes we have been told that a Time Lord switched genders, but agin it is a matter of interpretation whether this is something that applies to all Time Lords. Again, I think it hints the Doctor can change sex, but that is my own interpretation, not something set in stone in the canon).

    The fact that a lot of arguments on the matter ARE misogynistic doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the time to realise that it’s not the only possible motivating factor for disagreeing with us on this one.

  • Mikey V

    I’m sure they will, but every time a Doctor leaves it is full on “what if?” fantasy time. It just makes it fun for fan awaiting the decision:)

  • Ashe

    My analogy was targeting the idea that because something has always been a certain way, we must accept it as the way it’s gotta be. I’ve never liked that outlook.

    Did you say that’s your viewpoint? No. But you supported it as a ‘valid interpretation’. Whether or not that means I’m accusing you is, well, up to you.

    ‘Interpret’ comes up a lot in your response and I can’t say I’m against it. When you don’t have things set in stone, but a routine pattern, yeah, people will tend to follow it without question. But I don’t encourage it.

    If things AREN’T set in stone and redundant regardless, that’s all the more reason to question and bring to light new possibilities.

    Especially so, since I don’t see the issue with different forms of the Doctor. Any of the ones you brought up, honestly! I’m a beginner to the show, but so many people have brought up valid points supporting a change that it’s only opened my eyes. Guess that’s a side effect of being new.

  • Ashe

    It’s always the fear or apprehension of making bigots upset that makes change so damn slow.

    That’s how they succeed.

  • Tristan Richardson

    no woman should be the doctor. ( i am not a sexist ) the doctor is a male you should never change that. if you made the doctor a female that would destroy the show.

  • JamesJournal

    Oh, I’m not suggesting in the slightest that such a change could not be made because people would complain. Just that it would absolutely have to be the end of me discussing the show with people.

    Although I’m also 100% sure people will explode when BBC inevitably casts a nerdy 30ish white dude in the role.

  • JamesJournal

    - All time lords are dead, including River subjectively.

  • JamesJournal

    “Unlike Starbuck this would be a female actress taking over a largely male role in a program that’s still running, and it has to be pulled off without alienating the audience.”

    This is Doctor Who we are talking about, there are no reasonable measures writers could take and not catch crap from their audience. (Hence Davies and Moffat’s policies of never reading anything said about them on the internet and instructing other writers to do the same)

    So it is really about having the balls to do it or not.

    Also, again, this is Doctor Who we are talking about. It is built on fantastical nostalgia. And I have yet to witness one hard character death since the first season 1.

    That said, I don’t think Davies and Moffat are interested in going down that path, because otherwise, they would have already. I actually wouldn’t know who “Romana” if I’d never been to a DW message board (which I never bothered two until I was already done with season 6). So this isn’t even a concern of mine.

    But some future writer that loves certain classic characters will obviously at some point hand wave some timey-wimey loophole and bring them back, this show doesn’t live by strict enough logic that there is really anything holding that sort of thing back than your personal taste.

  • JamesJournal

    Because we will be arguing about a thing that for some people, will have always been the way it has been.

    How could a person without our baggage that was introduced to the show through a hypothetically awesome female Doctor develop an ideological attitude that the character can’t be a woman?

  • M Lynn Walker

    Okay, can I ask a favor? Can everyone who has never seen “classic” Who episodes please refrain from commenting? Thanks.

  • Eva Catherine Harding

    I wasn’t talking about fans though was i?

  • Eva Catherine Harding

    No actually it’s nothing like that. Just because i would prefer a character in a tv show to stay the same gender doesn’t make me a sexist. I actually did think through what i was going to say next as i wanted to try and eliminate the possibility being called sexist for having an opinion that some people disagree with. I’m not in anyway being ‘discriminatory on the basis of sex’ in that comment, if you actually read my comment properly instead of jumping in all guns blazing displaying the kind of attitude which gives feminism a bad rep.

  • RMCoyote

    Then you shouldn’t need to say ‘I am definitely not a sexist’, the word should stand for themselves. And if you think THAT is guns blazing? I am kinda impressed. That was like me shooting a little water gun and giggling.

    But alright, let me get out the big guns.

    Out of my 5 friends, all who are dying for a female Doctor and have commented on multiple sites about that, I am the only one who isn’t a diehard Who Fan. Mostly because I despise Moffet and refuse to let myself become dedicated to something he is running, then having to deal with all the sexist sludge he puts into things. So, from my 4 HUGE FANS (one with a TARDIS tattoo), to 1 ‘I want to get into but I can’t deal with the fail right now’ which is me. So, your argument of ‘I BET MOST OF YOU AREN’T EVEN FAAAANS.’ is ridiculous, and kinda smacks of the Fake Geek Girl fallacy in it’s brand of logic. Also- if non-fans feel like a change would get them interested, why shouldn’t they provide their opinion?

    Your other argument mostly falls apart because of ‘continuity’. When ‘continuity’ is purely based on racist and sexist casting practices (which are present in the vast majority of television and movies) your argument is moot. It is pretty much saying ‘Well, I know the only reason it’s been this way is because people are racist and sexist, but let’s keep it that way anyway!’

    And on top of that, you have no canon reasons, no character reasons, and no thematic reasons for why you want them to stay male present in your argument. You are arguing purely because ‘that’s the way it’s always been’, which is painful to see because that is literally one of the worst arguments for anything ever. That is the argument I hear when people say women shouldn’t be equally represented as leaders, or why women shouldn’t be soldiers, or etc. Because ‘it’s the way it’s always been’ (which isn’t even ACCURATE, but that’s another issue). You are, essentially, arguing for the Status Quo when the Status Quo sucks.

    And ‘randomly changing gender for the sake of it’…. You do realize regeneration is random, right? Like, if it was alternating that would not make sense for canon either. It’s completely random. So it would make sense for it to happen like that.

    Basically, the reason I pointed out the ‘I’m not sexist but…’ thing is because your argument has pretty much no point except to defend the status quo BECAUSE it’s the status quo. And on top of that, the way you said ‘a woman can definitely have the same attributes as the doctor’ instead of ‘a woman could definitely BE the doctor’ points to me that you believe woman and men (or a Alien representation of such) is somehow different where one cannot embody the other. As someone who is gender fluid, and as someone who has studied gender theory, that is a incredibly faulty and non fact based argument.

    Oh, and feminists can be sexist and they can be racist and all that stuff. You know that song ‘Everyone’s a little bit racist after all!”? It’s like that with sexism. We all struggle with sexist ideas that we grew up in. I have been called out for things I have not thought over or researched enough in the past, and I imagine I will be called out for things I miss in the future, because that indoctrination runs deep. Don’t be offended when people point out the obvious. Stand up, brush yourself off, and take a serious look at yourself- I have learned that’s the only way to grow.

    And if a little bit of snark gives feminism a bad rap to you, well, you might want to stop using time blaming women for ruining feminism instead of using it in tackling the issues out in the world.

  • Eva Catherine Harding

    Fine if it makes you happy i retract that first sentence. Don’t tell me my opinion is based of sexist ideas because it’s not. I’m not naivete about issues like this surrounding the media and i get where your coming from, but my reasoning isn’t that women can’t be as good as him, of course they can, but why not just actually write some decent female characters?

    guess also part of me doesn’t want the show to change too much and possibly be destroyed by a too bigger shift away from it’s traditional format. Even though i’m a big believer in not having to stick to social norms, men and women are different in some ways. A female Doctor would change the dynamic.

    Also fans, and indeed the british publics opinions, are clearly more important than celebs wanting to look like they’re doing there bit for equal rights. This is a rather more serious analogy but the mother’s opinion is more important than the father’s or indeed everyone else’s in abortion.

    I’m sure you are aware of this but it’s about more than just being a big fan of a tv show for british fans, it’s part of our culture, it’s what i’ve partly grown up with (i was 8 when the revival began), I can tell you what was happening at times in my life when each series aired and i don’t want it to change, even if it might help progress. Yeah so shoot me it’s selfish but i’m human.

    This video is worth a watch:

    I can see the logic in your argument but i just don’t want to mess with the show. and Moffat writing a female doctor-i dread to think.

    Well if modern feminism had a better reputation then i’m sure we would have made as much progress has early wave feminism, we can’t tackle the big issues unless we are united etc

  • Anonymous

    Helen Mirren as the next Doctor would be awesome. But if people are going to express their interest in playing a role, it’d be nice if they could call the role by the proper name…

  • JamesJournal

    “I just have to add that I think it’s ludicrous to say casting ONE female Doctor would mean those who grow up on her would never know male Doctors existed”

    I think you are taking that statement far too literally.

    Obviously at first, older depictions of the Doctor will be irrelevant to new viewers. Everything before the 9th Doctor is irrelevant to me. As I wasn’t even alive when for the classic years. Because I’m a DW nerd now, I have some of the old episodes (after I’d already watched the first 6 years of the modern show), but they are “before my time.” Skimming through Netflix and Wikipedia, I was initially surprised there was no episode I could watch that would explain the Time War.I can’t even physically sit through “Classic” Battlestar Galactica.

    I’d personally like to see someone mix up the show this way, sometime before I’m 40. But I’d also love to see some kind of balanced fan reaction to that. So I’m 100% I won’t get my way.

    People will complain that they absolutely ruined the Doctor by giving him/her breasts, because you just can’t get behind an immortal time traveling alien space wizard that has to sit down to pee. Others will complain that the depiction of the female Doctor is sexist. Oh now the Doctor is just a manic pixie who can’t even save the planet from Daleks without a man. Blah blah blah blah blah