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Peter Capaldi Calls Out Misogyny, Sexist Ageism in TV: “It’s Ridiculous”

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During a recent interview with The Standard, Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi was asked about the praise he received for saying that the Doctor and his companion, Clara, have an entirely platonic relationship. Capaldi went on to describe the double standard he sees his female Doctor Who co-stars regularly experience:

“It’s ridiculous that we get these old guys with young women draped round them. When I started Doctor Who and we were doing photoshoots we’d be asked if Jenna could just lie down there while I, you know” — he leaps up and acts out a young woman sprawled coquettishly about while he gets to stand and look powerful over her. “I had to say, ‘Look, that’s just not what we’re about. The relationship between my Doctor and his companion is one of deep love. But it’s a strange sort of platonic bond. It becomes clearer and more moving as this particular series goes on.”

It’s worth considering why it was Capaldi who apparently had to address the obvious sexism of that photoshoot, rather than Coleman; my hunch would be that, as someone with less of an established career than Capaldi, Coleman might have more cause to be worried about getting ‘shut out’ of the industry for speaking up. She may have also raised objection and been ignored until Capaldi himself said something. Regardless, it’s important to remember that men who call out sexism are far less likely to face repercussion and far more likely to be heard than their female peers.

Capaldi went on to address rampant ageism in the entertainment industry, and the dearth of roles for women no longer deemed young enough to play the love interest:

Of course it’s sexist. Most of my peers have partners their age, so if we have a dinner party with a bunch of actors, the wives or partners are largely the same age. Then you see your friends on screen and they are suddenly with some extraordinary young lady who wouldn’t be at the dinner party. It’s ridiculous.

It is true that women reach a certain age when people decide that they’re not useful anymore as actors. There are a few significant theatrical roles that they might be viable for. That’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s not a proper reflection of what goes on in life.

According to The Standard, Capaldi wouldn’t be adverse to changing traditional gender roles in Doctor Who, as well:

He says he’s not averse to a male sidekick once Coleman bows out in December — and he doesn’t rule out a female doctor with a male sidekick in the future — but “it depends on who plays them”. Capaldi isn’t keen on speculating on his possible replacement because as far as he’s concerned, there’s no vacancy.

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