Skip to main content

7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy Doesn’t Want a Female Doctor for Doctor Who

Here's why he's wrong.

sylvester mccoy seventh doctor

In an interview with The Mirror, Sylvester McCoy shared his thoughts on why he thinks making the Doctor a woman would be a bad idea. Put simply, he said, “I’m sorry, but no – Doctor Who is a male character, just like James Bond. If they changed it to be politically correct then it would ruin the dynamics between the doctor and the assistant, which is a popular part of the show.” He went on to add, “I support feminism, but I’m not convinced by the cultural need of a female Doctor Who.”

He’s maybe half right. The dynamics between the doctor and the assistant would absolutely change, but who’s to say they’d be ruined? One wonders if this opinion is formed on the basis of always having a female companion. But even then, how would having a female Doctor ruin the Doctor/companion relationship dynamic? Frankly, the idea of two badass women traipsing about the universe poking at things and people and ultimately saving said universe is great.

We’ve already established–before Missy, even–that Time Lords can change gender during regeneration (The Corsair, anybody?). It’s a fascinating plot device that was used to some great effect when Missy’s identity was revealed at the end of the last season. If it’s not a question of whether it can happen, then why is it so taboo to even entertain the thought of a female Doctor?

The onus for a good story would lie solely with the writers and the showrunner (and a good actress, of course). But when it comes to the writer’s perspective on a female Doctor, Steven Moffat had this to say last year:

Do you know how it will happen? It will not happen that somebody sits down and says we must turn the Doctor into a woman. That is not how you cast the Doctor. A person will pop into the showrunner’s head and they’ll think. ‘Oh my God, what if it was that person?’ And when that person is a woman, that’s the day it will happen.

Casting is the dark arts of television. It is everything. That decision is central and absolute to everything you do. It’s the difference between a television programme and a sensation. So you don’t mess around with that; you don’t cast for any other reason than for passion and for aesthetics. It’s not a political decision, it’s an aesthetic decision and will always be.

Uh-huh. Aesthetic decision. Okay. That (odd, awkward) comment aside, the idea of “a person popping into the showrunner’s head” is kind of unreasonable, isn’t it? When you’ve got a bunch of people connected to the show adamantly fighting the idea of even considering a female Doctor, then what’re the chances of said person being a woman? If they’re not willing to challenge their beliefs of “what makes a good Doctor,” then the status quo marches on. Casting is absolutely tough. And to Moffat’s credit, he did enable the first confirmation of a gender change via regeneration.

But honestly? That’s not enough.

The idea of “casting the person, not the gender,” strikes a remarkable parallel to the problem tech companies have in their staggeringly disappointing gender and diversity numbers. The lesson there is that sure, you want to hire based on the best person, but you need to question your definition of what makes the best person. Being aware of why you’re drawn to (and not drawn to) someone for a job or a role is crucial to the process.

To a point, McCoy and Moffat are right. The casting of a female Doctor shouldn’t be one based solely on political reasons (whatever that means). I mean, I wouldn’t want to be brought into something simply based on my gender. I would want to know that I’d earned it. But like I said: if you’re not always attacking and being critical of the idea of the always-male Doctor, then you’re really just perpetuating a status quo while raising your hands and saying, “It’s not my fault.”

So how much are they really challenging their own beliefs, here?

(via Cult Box)

—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—

Do you follow The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.