It was announced this weekend that Jodie Wittaker, yes, A WOMAN, has been cast by the BBC as Doctor Who’s 13th Time Lord. The advert, featuring the revelation, was shown, rather sensationally in my opinion, after the Men’s Wimbledon Final today. Wittaker, famous most recently for her role in Broadchurch is taking over from Peter Capaldi who has been the Doctor since 2013.
Unsurprisingly, Twitter has exploded at this news, the country has really. I can only imagine the conversations that went on during today’s Sunday lunches up and down the country; families divided over this quite frankly groundbreaking announcement. Die hard Who fans are no doubt furious: ‘The Doctor is a man, he has ALWAYS been a man. This is the BBC trying too hard to tick the boxes, you wouldn’t have a female James Bond would you? So why a female Doctor FFS?!’ The rest of the world seem to be pretty happy about it though, I think we’re working on the logic that this move will open the door for women to go out and, you know, maybe become REAL doctors. Who knows?!
The idea that people are hopping up and down complaining about the fact that it is ‘unrealistic’ for a woman to be the star of a show that’s focuses pretty heavily on time travel and various alien species is laughable really. Having never been a huge fan of the show myself I’m not entirely sure if it is stated anywhere if the Doctor HAS to be a man, but I have to say I did notice in the episodes that I have watched that the focus of the episodes themselves were rarely revolved around his penis which to me suggests that it doesn’t matter that much.
On being cast as The Doctor, Wittaker says “It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you’re told you can and can’t be.”
She has told fans not to be “scared” by her gender. (Which is an interesting point in itself…) saying: “Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change,” adding: “The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.”
She is of course right. Doctor Who has been through a lot of changes, that’s kind of the point. I’m not sure where the problem lies in the fact that this time it is now a woman, because I don’t know why I wouldn’t be. It’s not exactly like the producers of the show were just swapping in white man for white man for the last however many years hoping that their fanbase wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. They’ve never tried to hide the change before, so why not embrace it, make it bigger and better than ever?
People are making the comparison here with James Bond. “James Bond would never be a woman!!” they say. No, but James Bond is also called James, which is, you know, a bloke’s name. He might be black one day though, something that people are really struggling to get their heads around.
I’m disinclined to label the antis in this instance although I have seen them referred to on Twitter a lot this evening as ‘menists’, I don’t like that, personally, but maybe because the concept seems so ludicrous. Anyway, the antis here have sort of fallen into two categories, those who are disappointed because they are worried that the dynamics of the show will change and Wittaker might not do it justice, and those who are just pissed off that it’s a woman, the ones who are arguing that the BBC are becoming too politically correct for their own good.
But here’s the thing, for me at least. The Doctor was a man originally because that’s how it worked. Women have NEVER been the star. They weren’t written in as the main roles and if they were they certainly were not given the support by the public. Bond, Who, it’s the same thing: it’s always been a man’s world. If Doctor Who had always been a woman, we would never have needed the feminist movement, either that or it would never have gained the popularity that it did, it probably wouldn’t have made it past the pilot.
Now though, now women CAN be the stars. But the only way that that can happen is if we allow them to, you know, BE the stars. This is the change that we NEED. This is how we work to break barriers, smash through the glass ceiling and I have to say, the fact that this has become an issue at all shows me quite how far we still have to go….