Less the heroes of our stories than the villains of some other bastard’s

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. mr_mond
    July 16, 2017 @ 4:22 pm

    From the moment they announced Capaldi leaving I felt they were going to cast a woman. Chibnall might be a middling writer at best, but he is not without ambition. At the same time I was really afraid this was only wishful thinking on my part and that the “they’re gonna cast Kris Marshall because ratings and young attractive male Doctor worked in the past”.

    So yeah. I’m happy and I also feel validated as hell.

    I also can’t readily imagine what kind of Doctor Whittaker might be – so this is quite exciting.


    • mr_mond
      July 16, 2017 @ 4:25 pm

      That should have been: “that the ‘they’re gonna cast Kris Marshall because ratings and young attractive male Doctor worked in the past’ brigade was right”. Apparently, in my excitement, I forget how to sentence.


      • Chicanery
        July 16, 2017 @ 4:41 pm

        Kris Marshall is neither young, nor attractive.


        • Aylwin
          July 16, 2017 @ 4:54 pm

          I was thinking “there’s hope for us all then”!


        • mr_mond
          July 16, 2017 @ 6:22 pm

          No argument from me there.


  2. James V
    July 16, 2017 @ 4:29 pm

    Having read this blog, in hindsight it was maybe inevitable that we would one day have a Doctor named “Whittaker”


    • David Headman
      July 16, 2017 @ 10:21 pm

      It’s not spelled the same. Whitaker vs Wittaker. She’s the new Davidson and Ecclestone.


  3. Dustin
    July 16, 2017 @ 4:34 pm

    As the 9th Doctor would say… Fantastic!

    Funny though. It’s both surprising, and also not, given that it’s Chibnall’s choice and he went with someone he’s worked with before. I’m just really, really happy that they didn’t go with someone obvious, safe and boring.


  4. Scurra
    July 16, 2017 @ 4:50 pm

    Once Chibnall had been announced, I had spent a while looking at the Broadchurch cast trying to figure out who he would pick. And whilst Coleman would have been nice, Buchan or Whittaker seemed like the most obvious candidates.
    I’m really glad the BBC were willing to take Chibnall’s choice, because they’re going to get a lot of grief too.


    • Dustin
      July 16, 2017 @ 5:03 pm

      I honestly think they won’t get much grief at all. The brigade of useless sexist tools (aka, douches) is far smaller than their volume would have anyone believe. Make sure and let your support for this decision be heard on the BBC’s social media presence! I’ll be tweeting today.


    • Camestros Felapton
      July 16, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

      Marianne Jean-Baptiste would have been awesome as the Doctor IMHO


      • Janine
        July 16, 2017 @ 9:08 pm

        She would, though from the same series, Charlotte Rampling would have left a sour taste in my mouth. Someone that racist really doesn’t deserve that sort of role in British culture, which is racist enough already.


  5. Aylwin
    July 16, 2017 @ 4:52 pm

    So, it turns out my interpretation of that line about casting “in the traditional way” (viz, the same way Davies did) may even have been right. Huh.

    On that front, it was Colman I was hoping for, but then as I didn’t actually watch Broadchurch, Whittaker wasn’t really more than a name to me, though I knew she was being talked about. Still, from a glance at her past roles, the couple I saw at the time seem fairly promising by my recollection (Venus, and Attack the Block, which between her and John Boyega must give Joe Cornish some sort of retrospective credentials as a sci-fi franchise talent-spotter).

    On the broader casting-a-woman front, I had got to wondering whether the fact that Moffat laid it on so thick in the finale was a sign that he knew something we didn’t. As Phil remarked in the review, it would have been a pretty crass way to treat his successor otherwise, but not if he already knew who was getting the role when he finished the script.


    • Roderick T. Long
      July 16, 2017 @ 7:56 pm

      “but not if he already knew who was getting the role when he finished the script”

      Or at least knew they were looking for a female actor.


    • Janine
      July 16, 2017 @ 9:10 pm

      “So, it turns out my interpretation of that line about casting “in the traditional way” (viz, the same way Davies did) may even have been right. Huh.”

      Yeah… I really owe Chibnall an apology for my assumption. I was wrong, and glad to be wrong, and my mind is considerably more open than it was last week.


  6. steven
    July 16, 2017 @ 4:56 pm

    as a PSA, for people curious about our new Doctor I’d recommend catching up on her recent film Adult Life Skills.

    It’s off-beat, comic, with emotional heft. Most of the work she’s known for (Venus, Broadchurch) is more serious and dramatic. I think ALS shows us what to expect.

    Amazing choice tbh, best possible start to the CC era


    • Matt Davison
      July 16, 2017 @ 5:03 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation. I only know Whittaker through her work in Broadchurch. There is not a doubt in my mind that she can do angsty drama, but what I haven’t seen from her is the comedic offbeat weirdness that I feel is essential in the role. I’m frankly somewhat over the angst of the Moffat years, so while it may be wishful thinking, I am hoping that Chibnall brings the fun back to the show.

      In any case, the choice of Whittaker has me more excited about a new series of Doctor Who – a feeling I truly haven’t felt for quite some time. This past series has seen an upturn in quality after suffering through the abysmal depths of Hell Bent which almost drove me from the show altogether, but I am so ready for the new era to begin.


    • John G. Wood
      July 16, 2017 @ 7:29 pm

      That’s good to know, thanks. I knew she could do quiet and loud drama, but wasn’t aware of any comedy credentials.

      I do hope she uses her own accent. I know she can do others, but it sounded so right in Antigone!


  7. Daru
    July 16, 2017 @ 5:02 pm

    So darned happy about this news! I didn’t expect it to be done so simply with a nice little in-world teaser, and I grinned my head off and excitedly showed the video to my partner. This makes me a whole lot more excited for the next series and Jodie looks to me like she will bring maybe a lot of grace to the role.


    • steven
      July 16, 2017 @ 9:49 pm

      Yes! The speeches she has in Antigone- and the way she channels outrage, anger at injustice – outlines why she’ll be perfect in the role.

      I think we could be looking at a huge coup with this.


      • Daru
        July 17, 2017 @ 9:18 am

        Cool, I will have to check our her in Antigone – thanks. I thought she was really enjoyable, funny and touching with her performance in Adult Life Skills as others have mentioned. For me that film was so good it is one I could watch again and again.


  8. Dave
    July 16, 2017 @ 5:22 pm

    Well, she was terrific in Attack the Block, which now looks like an audition piece for so much.

    Yup. Very happy. This will gain more than its gonna lose, as now one of the top TV parts is open to anyone. Which is as it should be.


  9. Eric G
    July 16, 2017 @ 5:25 pm

    You capture my reaction quite well, Phil… “the Chibnall era might be worth getting excited for after all”.

    There has, by a fair margin, never been a safer time to cast a female Doctor. But casting the first female Doctor was never, ever, going to be the “safe” choice.

    The next season of Doctor Who is going to be interesting, and it’s going to be something new. And that’s a good starting point for any new showrunner.


  10. TimC
    July 16, 2017 @ 5:40 pm

    At last, the first Yorkshire Doctor. I’m very happy.

    Also, ‘Attack the Block’ is the new ‘Shallow Grave’ for geek trivia purposes.


  11. Peeeeeeet
    July 16, 2017 @ 5:56 pm

    I’m surprised and delighted!


  12. Kazin
    July 16, 2017 @ 5:56 pm

    Thrilled, and yes, it’s made me excited for the eleventh season (casting a woman was pretty much the only way I was going to be excited about it).

    I liked Whittaker in Broadchurch but haven’t seen her in anything else, looking forward to seeing her in the role.

    Interesting way to announce the casting, I bet that will be a TARDIS Eruditorum post in itself one day…


    • mr_mond
      July 16, 2017 @ 6:31 pm

      The TARDIS materializing in a gap in a wall brought Neil Gaiman’s Stardust to my mind – it really seemed to emphasize the “TARDIS as a portal to Faerie” reading.

      I wonder if Chibnall reads the Eruditorum…


      • Yossarianduck
        July 16, 2017 @ 7:56 pm

        He’d probably be a little bit hurt if he did, he hasn’t exactly been well-received up to now.


        • mr_mond
          July 17, 2017 @ 7:50 am

          That’s true, although I feel like his treatment around here only got really harsh once he was announced as the showrunner.


      • Daru
        July 17, 2017 @ 9:22 am

        That’s a nice read. I also read it as walking through a portal beyond the ruins of the past.


        • mr_mond
          July 17, 2017 @ 4:43 pm

          True! And of course the TARDIS materialising in a breach in a wall is a meaningful symbol in 2016…

          (I really, really love this promo).


  13. Sean Dillon
    July 16, 2017 @ 5:59 pm

    Aside from being happy with female Doctor, I’m chuckling at the realization that The Curse of the Fatal Death was the blueprint for how the Doctors would be characterized: The Clever Witty one, Lick the Mirror Handsome, Awkward with Girls, Older chap, and Blonde Woman. Also, since I’m not sure if Scriptscribbles goes on this forum, but FUCK EXILE!


    • Jesse
      July 16, 2017 @ 8:31 pm

      The Curse of the Fatal Death was the blueprint for how the Doctors would be characterized

      The secret key to Nu Who is that The Curse of the Fatal Death was the blueprint for everything.


      • Sean Dillon
        July 17, 2017 @ 3:46 am

        Given this site, one could claim that Fatal Death was a magical ritual to bring about a female Doctor.


  14. fourthings
    July 16, 2017 @ 6:14 pm

    Part of me is still apprehensive, since (and I think a few EP folks have expressed similar feelings) I’ve desperately wanted a non-male Doctor, but I’m not sure if I want Chibnall to be the one writing her introduction. I’m trying to put that aside and take this as the good sign that it is, and give the production team credit, but it’s still kind of there.

    Regardless, best of luck to Jodie; she was great in Attack the Block (which was, of course, not a role that’ll tell you that much about what her Doctor will be like.)

    I know we’re ignoring (as we should!) the brigade of sexist blowhards who imagine themselves to be true fans simply thinking of what’s best for the show etc., but if you could use an acerbic laugh, take a look at Ian Levine’s twitter.


  15. Anton B
    July 16, 2017 @ 6:45 pm


    I couldn’t be more excited about this casting choice. It’s about time. Whittaker showed impressive range in Broadchurch and Attack the Block. I can’t wait to see what she does with the role of the Doctor.

    BTW (apart from Ian Levene’s tweet which was so predictable I suspect he’s just playing to the gallery) I’ve seen much more online traffic railing against a perceived sexist backlash than any genuine mysoginistic comments but perhaps my social media outlets are too curated. What’s the mood on Gallyfrey Base for instance?


    • Aylwin
      July 16, 2017 @ 7:20 pm

      Never set foot in GB, but the atmosphere on the Guardian comments thread (closed just short of 2,000 comments) seems less than fragrant.


    • nwgoons
      July 16, 2017 @ 7:24 pm

      GB has a lot of both. Certainly lots of the highly original “RIP Doctor Who 2017” stuff and other critiques that fail to address why this, of all changes, is the fatal flaw in a show that is meant to change and evolve. Other than that there’s just a bunch of, “well I don’t need to tell you why I don’t like it because you’ll call me a sexist”, and a few who are open enough to admit that they simply believe the Doctor needs a penis, for whatever reason.

      But there’s plenty of support. Whether it’s 50% or 70% or so, there is certainly enough positivity to shine through, even on GB. Seems like a good sign in relative terms.


      • steven
        July 16, 2017 @ 7:37 pm

        GB is very split, but the negative voices (before the announcement) were a little louder. It feels like people are already being won around though.

        There was a poll this week, yay or nay on a female Doctor. The nays had it, but it was close.

        I think she’ll convince them, really excited for her debut now.


        • nwgoons
          July 16, 2017 @ 8:24 pm

          Oh, absolutely. It’s not as though a large population was rooting for a female Doctor before the announcement. The only people, mostly, expressing opinions were extremely against it or neutral. But today, I’m sure I’ve seen more support than nay-saying.


      • John G. Wood
        July 17, 2017 @ 12:44 pm

        I was in a giddy mood (it’s my birthday, it’s allowed) and decided to take a look at the GB thread – the first time in years (literally) that I’ve ventured into any of the “current Who” discussion there, because I just find it too unpleasant (unlike some of the less crowded areas of the site). Sure enough there were the expected trolls and idiots, and the people who tried to argue with the trolls and idiots, and the people telling those people not to argue with the trolls and idiots, but I actually enjoyed my visit. I was able to view the silliness with amusement for once, and pick out a few gems of comment. And, as mentioned, the response was probably a little more positive than negative. I think the new team will be given a fair shot by most people.

        Even so, Whittaker must be a brave woman to take it on!


    • Anton B
      July 16, 2017 @ 8:48 pm

      Okay I’ve been trawling the net all evening and OMG there are some neanderthals out there. There’s a lot of counter argument around ‘well, the Doctor is an alien so it’s okay’ which is actually pretty sad and nearly as bad as the plain ‘the Doctor can never be a woman’ comments.
      I mean, real people in the real world gender transition. What is the fucking problem?


  16. Prandeamus
    July 16, 2017 @ 6:49 pm

    Given that Chibnall said previously that a female doctor was not on the cards (not a verbatim recollection), perhaps we should just change rule number one to Chibnall Lies.

    I don’t know JWs work but I love the potential of this announcement.


  17. Champiness
    July 16, 2017 @ 6:50 pm

    Just a side note in all of this, but how polite of her to have that extra “t” in her name.


    • Roderick T. Long
      July 16, 2017 @ 8:02 pm

      “how polite of her to have that extra ‘t’ in her name.”

      Reminds me of Isabel Paterson explaining why her last name wasn’t Patterson: “my ex-husband’s family were too cheap to pay for a second T.”


  18. Daibhid C
    July 16, 2017 @ 6:58 pm

    My mum (who, unlike me, has watched Broadchurch) thinks Olivia Coleman would have been better, but she can see Whittikar working too. Personally … well, I’m glad there’s a female Doctor, obviously, but I haven’t seen her in anything, so I can’t form an opinion beyond that. (And if anyone’s about to say “Ah, but she was in…”, nope. I’ve checked imdb, and I haven’t seen any of them.) I will rectify this shortly.


    • mr_mond
      July 16, 2017 @ 7:07 pm

      Yeah, Olivia Colman was my #1 choice for the Doctor. But for me Whittaker is more unpredictable – I actually have no idea what kind of Doctor she could be.

      And Olivia Colman can still play the Mistress :).


      • Aylwin
        July 16, 2017 @ 7:16 pm

        Quite. “Not as self-evidently good a choice as Olivia Colman” leaves a lot of room for manoeuvre.


    • steven
      July 16, 2017 @ 7:38 pm

      Said this up-thread, but start with Adult Life Skills!


  19. BeatnikLady
    July 16, 2017 @ 7:48 pm

    Well done, Chris Chibnall – thank goodness there’s now a producer who realises the Doctor is in fact a shape-shifting alien and not actually a white straight man.


  20. encyclops
    July 16, 2017 @ 8:10 pm

    I had planned to stop reviewing episodes on my blog because it was a lot of work (I can see why one would start a Patreon!), and indeed to gently and firmly lower my expectations for the show, but I don’t see how I can do either now. I almost feel compelled to support the show with renewed energy now, which is dismaying and also tremendously exciting.

    I really, really did not expect this and I’m really, really pleased.

    It’s worth remembering with some trepidation that the TV Movie had an excellent Doctor in McGann and still managed to fuck almost everything else up. But for now, optimism.


  21. Kit Power
    July 16, 2017 @ 8:10 pm

    my 7 year old daughter’s smile could power the entire national grid right now. As she goes, so goes my nation. It’s awesome news.


    • Daru
      July 17, 2017 @ 9:28 am



      • Dave
        July 17, 2017 @ 5:42 pm

        Kit Power’s daughter defeats the internet.

        Hey. That’d be a nice episode title.


  22. Lambda
    July 16, 2017 @ 8:15 pm

    I find it incredibly difficult to predict whether… the casting of a female actor will be good, bad or indifferent. (At least from the perspective of someone who already has plenty of female characters in their media, if you’re getting bludgeoned into submission by an endless stream of Marvel and The Other One superhero movies and other things which are popular in Britain and America, I can see why it might seem an inherently good thing.)

    It’s not even obvious how to describe it from an in-universe perspective. Neither “female Doctor” nor “trans Doctor” are really right, since getting a body of the opposite sex due to a magic thing which just happens sometimes is outside of human experience as far as I can tell, we don’t really have the language to describe it. (Ditto the Master, but I don’t care about that character much.)

    But what I’ve been thinking about for the past few hours. I think I probably dislike male-type heroes in general. And I’m also not so much of a fan of the show from Tennant onwards. And I think this might be a phenomenon of Doctor Who in the superhero movie age. (With me still loving the Eccleston series because it was just too brilliant not to.) I feel that old series Doctors don’t feel to me particularly gendered, for the most part, (Pertwee perhaps an exception,) their characters tend to be quite far removed from the sorts of things where gender gets important. Whereas the new series Doctors tend to feel far more actively “male” to me, (in quotes to try to avoid suggesting gender essentialism is right,) which might be why I don’t like them so much. You got your maximally assertive Time Lord Victorious, you got your Moffat Doctors on a Moffat-mirroring quest not to be toxicly male or whatever the theory was, even Eccleston has a bit of a dick-waving contest with Van Statten one time.

    Giving the Doctor a sexuality-at-least-sort-of might be relevant too, but to stick with the theory. It’s all happening in a time when you’ve got this very male stream of superheroes dominating sci-fi-fantasy-genre-whatever-we-call-it, in a way which can only be inherently regressive because they were all created so long ago. (As was the Doctor, of course.) Of course, Doctor Who is going to critique that. But it needs a regressively male superhero for that. So you get the same effect as “the Doctor becomes sexist so Sarah can criticise him for it”, but far, far bigger. And so I can’t like the character much.

    But that doesn’t make me welcome the casting of a female actor, because it’s not the skinsuit I care about, I want the character to behave less in a “traditionally male” way, and it’s hard to tell what effect a female actor will have on that. Because there’s kind of a good reason to specifically avoid that, because “male actors only get to do traditionally male things and female actors only get to do traditionally female things” is obviously very bad, that really is gender essentialism. But it might happen anyway, only white men can get away with various types of bad behaviour and still get treated as heroes, usually. So… I think either I won’t feel like much has changed, or it’ll be simultaneously gender essentialist, but giving me a character I’ll like more.

    So I’m kind of confused right now.


    • Lambda
      July 17, 2017 @ 12:05 pm

      Well, I’ve figured out one thing which makes it hard to reason about. Up until this point, I’ve never really thought much about what the Doctor’s gender identity is, and I suspect few people have. But the degree to which this is a change depends quite a lot on whether the Doctor has a gender identity, if so, what it is, and how much the character cares, and whether it will be changing as well as the body.

      And it seems quite likely that any decisions made will affect things which happened in the past, retroactively deciding things about previous Doctors’ gender identities. (Though there’s always the “the fact that Genesis of the Daleks introduced Kaleds does not change the fact that there were no Kaleds ever on the Skaro of previous dalek stories” perspective.)


    • ML
      July 17, 2017 @ 4:54 pm

      The interesting part with regards to the casting – and the part that’s going to determine how much of an awkward mess this is or isn’t – is when they cast the “assistant” role. I’m concerned about this because nothing I’ve seen from Chibnall indicates that’ll he be able to handle aspects of the show such as this in a mature and/or interesting fashion.


  23. Tim B.
    July 16, 2017 @ 8:24 pm

    Good choice. Just glad it wasn’t a white man again but isn’t the obvious pick. Seen her work in Attack the Block & Broadchurch, although not overly familiar with her so the next series’s prospects are definitely looking up.


  24. Wm Keith
    July 16, 2017 @ 8:44 pm

    Unless…remember Indira Varma’s press call for Torchwood? Perhaps little Kris is still in with a chance?


  25. Janine
    July 16, 2017 @ 9:05 pm

    “I’ll be moderating the fuck out of sexist trolls”

    No other verbs? Not disembowelling? Oh well, moderating is a good start at least.

    They really are scraping the barrel with the criticism now. Can’t use continuity as a defence anymore because of Missy. Can’t use thematic inconsistency because of Series 10. Can’t use role modelling because that’s just obviously sexist now.

    What are they coming out with now? “James Bond wouldn’t be a woman.” Yeah, that’s actually it. Taking a human character, ignoring their context, and throwing in some pretty unpleasant transphobic implications whilst they’re at it.

    I’m thrilled, personally. Whittaker did a great job in Broadchurch, and she looks every inch the part. Plus, this is a chance to purge fandom of some of its worst offenders, and welcome in a new and more progressive strain of Whovian. I hope this reaches out to the right people – I could have really used a role model like this as a girl.


  26. Roderick T. Long
    July 16, 2017 @ 9:46 pm

    Jodie Whittaker says: “I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender.”


    And all i can think is: “Don’t get strung out by the way I look, don’t judge a book by its cover; I’m not much of a man by the light of day ….”


  27. AlfredJ
    July 16, 2017 @ 9:48 pm

    Incredibly happy about this news. It raised my interest in the upcoming series considerably. It also means that I’m going to remain confident in my decision to just ignore most online DW communities while I’m just enjoying the moment and the surprise (I was hoping for a female Doctor but, even though it seems so obvious now looking back, didn’t expect they’d actually go for it). I’m sure there are many good people fighting for rationality online, but I just don’t want to read the toxic parts. I don’t have much more to say about the ‘controversy’ because i just don’t have the energy to consider that the interesting part.

    So, let me just say that I love that they actually shot a short little scene instead of what they did with Capaldi, where they wheeled him out during that awkward live show and he had no idea what to do. Great introduction, even though we’re still waiting for the ‘proper’ one. It actually feels like a bit of what will be a historic scene!

    Oh, actually, one thought about the gender change thing. I’ve seen people talking about Moffat setting the pieces into place for this to happen, with, obviously, the numerous conversations within the show/public statements and seeing two Timelords change gender on screen, but the one I think people sometimes forget about: the first genderchange he introduced on the show was the Brigadier. While not literally the same character, they serve essentially the same function within the world, and I don’t think there was a single Kate episode where the Brigadier wasn’t mentioned (and thus, reminding the audience of what function Kate fulfills in the larger world of Who).

    I just thought the Brigadier/Kate transition is notable enough to include in these conversations. With the people currently losing their minds. That I’m personally not going to talk to.

    So yeah, happy news! Exciting times! Weird, hazy promises for the future! I’ve seen it being compared to the Hartnell/Throughton transistion, and really, in a very real sense (even if it shouldn’t be seen like that, but being honest about how a large part of the population thinks, should be accepted as reality), this feels like the first time such a momentous and surprising change has actually been used since the first regeneration.

    Also, most of all, I want to see the new Doctor do the big verbal sparring scene against Davros. Which is what I always want with a new Doctor. I don’t even want a Davros episode since I feel the Capaldi two parter was so good that I want him to get a bit of a rest. But I do want that scene.

    Sorry for going on but man I’m excited. For the Chibnall series. What a world.


    • sofia
      July 17, 2017 @ 1:59 am

      i think the female takeover of unit and kate assuming the brigadier role is relevant but clara and river are more important. while missy and the general (and the characters’ reactions to them) show gender change regenerations are normal and accepted in time lord society and that the viewing public will mostly go along with this, river & clara share a number of personality traits w/ the doctor & take on his role in the narrative.


    • ScarvesandCelery
      July 18, 2017 @ 11:21 am

      And Kate Stewart was, of course, introduced (to the main TV series) in a Chris Chibnall episode.

      Not that she’s really a “Chris Chibnall Character”, as Moffat wrote more for her than any writer (with Moffat a credited writer for in “Death in Heaven”, and “Day of the Doctor”). Really, she’s the Moffat era’s equivalent of Captain Jack – a character conceived of (sort of, in Kate Stewart’s case, because “Downtime” exists) by the current showrunner, and introduced in an episode written by said showrunner’s successor.


  28. AuntyJack
    July 16, 2017 @ 10:18 pm

    My only disappointment is that after seeing ‘Fleabag’, I was hoping the new Doctor would be played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

    The door is open for her to be number fourteen, though!

    And I’ve got a 4 year old daughter who’s recently started playing the role of a nurse in games when she used to like to play the doctor – I think she’s been picking up the ‘women are nurses, doctors are men’ thing from someone at preschool. Now she can see that women can actually be The Doctor…


  29. Janine
    July 16, 2017 @ 10:18 pm

    Another interesting point: implications for the Christmas special. This is going to be a fundamentally different kind of story now: one about returning to the beginning as a way of preparing for a radical change within the show. I like that it’s not just the current Doctor who validates Whittaker, but also the very first one.

    There’s something just right about seeing the first Doctor in the first story to feature a female Doctor.

    Which also convinces me that Moffat’s known about this for some time…


    • mr_mond
      July 18, 2017 @ 8:17 am

      I seem to recall Moffat’s comments that this year regeneration was going to be more complicated and that he was talking with Chibnall about that storyline. We’ve seen the complications with Twelve not wanting to regenerate, but I think this story takes on a whole new shape when we know that the next regeneration is going to be a woman. That, along with all the lines in the finale, leads me to believe that he absolutely knew at least that Chibnall was going to cast a woman in the role.“We can only hope” was not a challenge to his successor, but a tease for the fans.


  30. BeatnikLady
    July 16, 2017 @ 10:38 pm

    As others have said, it would be nice to get a hint of Yorkshire in the Doctor’s accent too. Nothing wrong as such with the old-fashioned ‘BBC English’ that prevailed all through the classic era until Sylvester McCoy – at the time that was seen as fairly normal – but it’s nice to have Doctors with regional accents. Or non-posh accents. After Eccleston and Tennant it was a bit disappointing to have Matt Smith sound so upper class. Note to international audiences – sounding British isn’t limited to RP!


    • Roderick T. Long
      July 17, 2017 @ 8:01 am

      “have Matt Smith sound so upper class”

      Smith’s accent didn’t sound so upper class to me. (But then I’m a clueless American.)


      • dm
        July 17, 2017 @ 8:40 am

        Nah he was well posh


        • Gnaeus
          July 17, 2017 @ 1:57 pm

          No, his accent was very clearly London. The last (northern) RP Doctor was Paul McGann.


      • TimC
        July 17, 2017 @ 4:55 pm

        Considering Matt Smith went to the same school as Alan Moore, he’s definitely not got yer traditional working-class Northampton voice.


        • Gnaeus
          July 18, 2017 @ 1:17 am

          Well, no, but Alan Moore is 63, and Matt Smith is 34, and in the mean-time a lot has happened to regional accents in southern England (cliff-notes version: a lot of smaller-scale regional variation is homogenising across Britain, and Estuary English has basically wiped out a lot of older southern rural accents; the rural Kent accent is basically gone from large parts of the county, for instance. No idea what’s going on in Northampton, but I would be astonished if the local accent is strong enough to resist that pull.)

          Maybe I’ve been in the north-west too long, but his accent, particularly when the Doctor is in a loud or jokey mood, sounds distinctly London to me.


          • Gnaeus
            July 18, 2017 @ 1:23 am

            Addendum: Just listened to a bit of an interview with Moore. It’s an interesting accent. It really does sound like a rough mix of Brum and some curious East Anglianisms. No idea if that’s standard for the area.

  31. 5tephe
    July 16, 2017 @ 11:01 pm

    Hip hip hooray! Love Billy Piper’s tweet.

    I also would have preferred Coleman, and was actually expecting Chibnall to cast a woman, so am a little surprised by the specific woman chosen.

    One other interesting point: the two things I am most familiar with Whittaker’s work from are Broadchurch, and another BBC thing – Marchlands.

    In both those series, she portrays a mother who has lost a child. And I know that this is foaming-at- the-mouth, continuity-obsessed, fan-wankery, but … that makes me think about Susan. SORRY!

    Regardless, I will very much enjoy introducing my then 8 year old daughter to her first Doctor, next year.


    • Matt Davison
      July 17, 2017 @ 12:17 am

      Seems a bit cruel to deprive your 7 year old from the current show though. I started showing Doctor Who to my daughter when she was just 5 years old. While I grant that some of the Capaldi episodes may need a bit of parental guidance, I think your daughter might be more prepared to be exposed to this show than you may think.


  32. Jacob
    July 17, 2017 @ 12:16 am

    I just told my 10 year old daughter the news… she danced around the room saying “YES!” And “FINALLY!” One of those fabled punch-the-air moments. She’s already grilling me about when she can get the 12th Doctor action figure. Can’t wait to share this run of the show with her.


    • Jacob
      July 17, 2017 @ 12:17 am

      13th Doctor action figure. Pardon me.


  33. Rob
    July 17, 2017 @ 12:23 am

    I can’t think of anything at all original to say about the casting but only that this is great news and I am really excited to see what Jodie does. I think she will be great. I am curious if they will give her a male or female companion. If they give her a male companion, I guess they could address sexism in interesting ways, eg, the Doctor’s male companion being considered an authority/hero by the people they meet just because he is male. They could show Jodie’s Doctor having to overcome/deal with male figures ( jaded space captains, etc) and their prejudiced views while also trying to save the world. Okay, that’s sounds a bit boring but you know what I mean, this new Doctor could be used to highlight how the Doctor in the past , just by virtue of being male, got to be accepted more. But I am sure there are hundred cool ways it could be handled. I am just excited.


    • Matt Davison
      July 17, 2017 @ 12:33 am

      The classic run wasted a lot of time having the Doctor fight to be listened to… it was one of the charms – watching him subvert expectations and take control of the situation. The modern era introduced the Psychic Paper in large part to skip the tedious ‘take me seriously’ scenes that keep us from getting to the meat of the story. Having Whittaker’s Doctor be underestimated by others due to her gender might be acceptable once or twice but would quickly grow stale, so I trust they will just have her take charge by essence of her Doctorness so we can just get on with the adventure.


    • John
      July 17, 2017 @ 4:36 am

      Had I to guess, I’d guess that she’ll get a female and a male companion. But who knows?


      • Aylwin
        July 17, 2017 @ 10:21 am

        I think that’s a good bet. The companion thing seems to me like where writing with a female Doctor gets complicated. Which is natural enough, given that that’s always been where the series vests its gender stuff, on account of the Doctor’s hitherto consistent default-maleness, and that those gender dynamics have loomed larger with the new series.

        A single female companion seems hard to justify. There isn’t even a boot-on-the-other-foot excuse (a pretty crap way of justifying anything in any case), given how consistently the series has always maintained a mixed-gender Tardis crew (aside from the Doctor occasionally travelling alone, I think The Massacre and Planet of Fire are the only exceptions, but will no doubt be corrected), and indeed maintained a 50/50 split whenever even numbers permitted. It could happen, but I think it would be a bad move.

        A single (or even primary) male companion creates all sorts of complications though, if not so much in objective storytelling terms as in terms of likely worries about perceptions. Fears of the Doctor getting overshadowed would be liable to tempt writers into overcompensating by hamstringing the companion. It’s a difficulty magnified by the way the new series has built up companions, in response to the very fact that the Doctor has always been male. Companion-centred storytelling, ostentatious glorification of companions through dialogue and plotting, and even to a lesser extent the tendency to problematise the Doctor have all been driven in substantial part by the desire to redress the structural gender imbalance of the series without actually casting a female Doctor. Simply reversing the polarity on the adjusted Doctor-companion model created by the new series would produce something that I think a lot of people would be uncomfortable with. But turning sharply against that could easily leave us with a “tin dog”, which wouldn’t be great either.

        Having more than one companion, of different genders, doesn’t eliminate the problems, but it blurs their outlines. To blur them further, I would also tend to expect something more like the plural-companion set-ups of the classic series, with companions of equal stature, rather than the more hierarchical new series practice of always having a (female) primary companion, with optional secondaries. Possibly also less focus on companions generally (and, er, some might say season 10 was going that way already), almost certainly less bigging-up of companions, and almost certainly a less problematised Doctor. More like the classic series all round, in other words. Back to the future.

        But I’ll probably turn out to be wrong about all of that.


        • Matt Davison
          July 17, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

          I think the casting of Jodie Whittaker provides a golden opportunity to redress the severe underrepresentation of male companions, and I hope that Series 11 introduces a strong male companion. Well, strong characters all around would be a major improvement on recent years.

          That being said, I’ve always preferred the format when there are two companions – so I’m personally rooting for a boy and girl pared with the new Doctor.


        • John
          July 17, 2017 @ 4:10 pm

          There’s a couple of others: Evil of the Daleks and Wheel in Space both start with a Doctor/Jamie team (and Evil is pretty much Doctor/Jamie all through, I believe, and Victoria only really joins up at the end).

          We also get Doctor/Adric as the Tardis crew for Keeper of Traken and the beginning of Logopolis.

          In the revived series, Return of Doctor Mysterio is Doctor/Nardole.


          • Aylwin
            July 17, 2017 @ 5:18 pm

            Yes, I was mostly counting stories in which companions are introduced as part of their run, but discounting The Massacre because Dodo only technically turns up in a postscript, although … but anyway, and entirely forgetting how much Peri is in Planet of Fire because I only saw it once, very many years ago, and can’t remember much more than the Master getting incinerated, what with my fan credentials being as shaky as all get-out. Still, the general rule applies, whatever the exact set of exceptions.

            How very, very strange that something as recent as Dr Mysterio should have completely slipped my mind, though. Almost unfathomable. I wonder what conceivable explanation there could ever be for my forgetting…er…sorry, what were we talking about again?

        • John
          July 17, 2017 @ 4:16 pm

          Also in terms of multiple companions, worth noting that we’ve come off a series that’s the closest the new show has come to having two coequal companions. Obviously the narrative focused much more on Bill than Nardole, but Nardole was the senior companion, the one who knows about how the TARDIS works and the Doctor’s mission to guard Missy, the one the Doctor relied on to help him with his blindness, the one that gets sent off to care for the Mondasian farmers at the end of the last story, etc.

          It’s a very different role from Rory’s “I am just here because this is a thing that is important to my wife” one. I think it’s a good stepping stone to two actually coequal companions.


        • David Anderson
          July 17, 2017 @ 8:44 pm

          Missy has established that exposition and comic relief are genders.


  34. Doctor Memory
    July 17, 2017 @ 1:08 am

    I’m having a hard time drawing a balance between my enthusiasm for Whitaker with my dread of Chibnall. My worry here is that poor writing will sink her quickly, and of course it’ll be blamed on her having ovaries rather than having the misfortune of joining Doctor Who just in time for it to be handed over to the single worst writer on the new series.

    Time will tell; it always does.


    • Przemek
      July 17, 2017 @ 9:40 am

      Yeah, that kinda worries me too. Whittaker will be under a LOT of pressure to get the part right. And God help her if she gets poor scripts.


    • ScarvesandCelery
      July 18, 2017 @ 1:02 pm

      To an extent, I share your worries, although I rate Chibnall as quite a bit better than “The single worst writer on the new series” – he’s streets ahead of the likes of Stephen Greenhorn, and out of the realistic choices for showrunner to follow Moffat (basically Chibnall, Whithouse, and Gatiss, accepting that the likes of Dollard and Mathieson don’t have enough showrunning experience yet), Chibnall seems, on reflection, by far the best choice. But I also rate him a lot less than Davies or Moffat, so I get the concern about whether he’ll do a good enough job and secure the concept of a female Doctor as something that can happen after Whittaker.

      But I think it’s worth noting that Chibnall’s most recent project – Broadchurch 3 – was literally the most watched television show of 2017 (unless it’s average rating was topped by Britain’s Got talent). He knows how to make drama that is popular with millions of viewers, which is what I think you’d want out of a showrunner trying to make a success of the first female Doctor.


  35. AlfredJ
    July 17, 2017 @ 1:13 am

    Hah, one other quick thing. Saw this on Jamie Mathieson’s Twitter (although he wasn’t the original poster, he retweeted this yesterday):

    “The new Doctor will be announced tomorrow after “the men’s final”. I think that’s a clue…”

    If that was intentional, my hat goes off to whoever at the publicity department thought that up. That’s just hilarious.


  36. Dave
    July 17, 2017 @ 1:39 am

    I’m excited too, though i was hoping for Natalie Dormer. I love how the regeneration concept can throw up different physical manifestations of the one Time Lord. Only this show can that happen, and it perfectly sums up just how wonderfully weird this thing called Doctor Who really is. What would be the point of having regeneration in the show if each doctor wasn’t wildly different?

    Having said that, I don’t think we should disparage or dismiss everyone who doesn’t agree with us. That would be just as bad. There are many non-sexists who are disappointed with the gender-switch and have some interesting explanations as to why.

    Those branding this a political, and not creative, decision may not be entirely wrong. The show will get big publicity through this and will revive and ignite interest in the show. Chibnall, for his part, gets to make history on the show, which must have been very tempting, even if it wasn’t the only factor which governed his decision. The show generally will also get a lot of good will for making what will appear to be a brave decision (though, arguably, it may have been braver to ignore calls for a female doctor and cast another male). Political correctness, thank goodness, is at an all time high and the show will hopefully be a symbol for that.


    • AlfredJ
      July 17, 2017 @ 2:11 am

      You already pretty much said it in your last sentence, but I never understood how a decision made out of a drive towards political correctness could be used against these decisions. It’s taking a moral stance against people making decisions based on morals.

      I guess the idea is that, in this case, they only cast Whittaker because they wanted to get a woman. Implying, of course, that they just grabbed any woman from the street, threw her into a forest and pointed a camera at her. Which also doesn’t make sense. Or the “just to score points with the audience” angle, which ignores how casting another white young male actor would result in far less hatemail and internet dramatics.

      I know I’m preaching to the choir, but what I’m trying to say here is that, yes, I complete agree that you can have healthy adult discussions about what gender identity means for fictional characters (although Who’s DNA and the ease and frequency in which old lore (even with how little there actually is) gets rewritten (which isn’t even necesarry here) should make acceptance pretty easy for those that are only mildly scratching their heads right now).

      So, yeah: people expressing doubt doesn’t necesarilly imply sexism and could result in some very interesting discussions, but I’m always wary of people hiding what they really want to say when they throw out the old political correctness accusations.


  37. Peg
    July 17, 2017 @ 2:53 am

    I’m-a keep it short and simple.

    To me, it’s perfect. Moffat spent Capaldi, one precious second at a time, to create a meta narrative about the Doctor reviewing who he is and how he feels about his core identity, about regeneration in general, and about having been handed an unasked for new cycle of regenerations. By the end we got Capaldi’s Doctor in full rebellion–with one show left to reconcile everything Moffat built in over the seasons–and to make the new cycle a true renewal.

    And then they give us that trailer–magical, quiet, understated, finishing with not just the revelation of a female doctor–the first BIG change since Eccleston came in with his leather jacket and his guilty angst–but with her receiving of the key–and her smile.

    That is one heck of an Easter Morning turn around. The Doctor shines again. The Doctor is ready to be new again. Is coming home to her Tardis dripping life, and a smile. I have no idea how Moffat will clear up the final stages of Capaldi’s Doctor, but it feels so right that the Doctor he’s built a launch pad for is a happy one, who’s done the deep work needed to be ready to be reborn. Where ever it goes from here, this is a Doctor coming back with joy–and perhaps a fez and some fish sticks–not one coming back in sorrow or self-hatred. Really, the anticipation as the whoop-whoop slips in, and the final smile of anticipation and quiet happiness as the Tardis appears….

    God. I do so hope that really is a snapshot of what they are aiming for.


    • Kat
      July 17, 2017 @ 2:47 pm

      This is lovely – 100% agree.


    • Prandeamus
      July 18, 2017 @ 7:29 pm

      That little smile in the trailer is so nicely done. Not excessive, just acceptance of the key, and enough to set up possibilities for later. It would be wrong to hang too much on this, but a Doctor with real joy as a character basis instead of angst would be something I’d watch.


  38. Jesse Smith
    July 17, 2017 @ 3:37 am

    Well, I’m really excited about this. After the hints dropped in the finale (one could almost call a theme), it doesn’t surprise me all that much, although I’m a little impressed that they actually went for it.

    I’m not convinced it will be a successful experiment, just because I lack faith in Chibnall and other writers to handle a female lead maturely, without sexualizing her or making a “point” about her gender with endless scenes about her authority being dismissed because she is a woman or about being put in sexual peril, etc. It was bad enough with Peri, thanks. I mean, I think Steven Moffat did a consistently clumsy job at addressing women’s issues with Amy various travails, although I’m sure Moffat would tell you he considers himself a feminist.

    Now maybe Whittaker will be the perfect counter balance to Chibnall’s “guns” tendencies. Or maybe he’s a better writer/showrunner than I’m expecting. I have not seen Broadchurch; I only really know him from his work on Doctor Who and Torchwood, none of which exactly overfills me with confidence. But we’ll see! Even if it doesn’t go perfectly, at least they tried something new. It’s exciting!


    • mr_mond
      July 18, 2017 @ 7:19 am

      I heartily recommend checking out Broadchurch. It’s not without flaws, but I think it shows nothing but respect to it’s female characters, as well as demonstrates Chiball’s interest in exploring their perspective and experiences.


      • steven
        July 18, 2017 @ 8:11 am

        Broadchurch season 3 was explicitly feminist and took an unusual amount of care to navigate the tropes and cliches you can activate when dealing with that subject matter.

        Chibnall wasn’t my first choice, but Broadchurch season 3 really did sell me on his tenure, and JW’s casting compounds that. I think he’s grown hugely as a writer since his last DW ep.


        • mr_mond
          July 18, 2017 @ 8:21 am

          Absolutely (although I think it drops the ball in the finale).

          The point I was trying to make is that even seasons 1 and 2 are very much concerned with women’s interiority. It’s part of its general exploration of grief and community, sure, but given the general shortcomings of our culture, I think it’s still quite easy to imagine that story where women are marginalised. And I don’t think they are in Broadchurch.


        • James V
          July 18, 2017 @ 6:35 pm

          Yes, I think it’s a good sign that Chibnall isn’t writing for “the GURL Doctor,” the way some people are treating it, he’s writing material specifically for an actress he likes that’s he’s worked with and written good stuff for before. It’s very much an RTD/Eccleston dynamic, which is encouraging.


          • Aylwin
            July 19, 2017 @ 7:40 am

            Well, let’s hope it’s not exactly like the RTD/Eccleston dynamic…

  39. kevin merchant
    July 17, 2017 @ 6:40 am

    It’s not hard to imagine the Doctor as a woman. Any Patrick Troughton episode could be played by a woman. Any Peter Davison episode could be played by a woman. Ditto Matt Smith, Sylvester McCoy or Christopher Eccleston. She would have to be a great actor and I’m pretty sure we have one.


  40. ML
    July 17, 2017 @ 7:04 am

    The only thing I’ve seen Jodie Whittaker in is an episode of Black Mirror. The episode in question was exceptional, but I certainly can’t at any point recall thinking, “She’d make a fantastic Doctor Who” or even, “She’s brilliant.” To be fair, the only female actor I’ve seen lately who it has occurred me would actually make a fantastic Doctor is Ruth Wilson. She’s at this point probably out of the DW’s league.

    Suffice to say however, I’m probably least concerned about the acting talents of Whittaker and it remains to be seen how this will all work out, but considering Chibnall is a weak writer who I don’t think has even got the ability to riff on the tension of a female lead, I expect the show in upcoming seasons to be more of an awkward mess than a bastion of progressive TV.


    • Roderick T. Long
      July 17, 2017 @ 7:52 am

      I’ve often thought that Amanda Plummer would be great in the role if only she were British.


  41. dm
    July 17, 2017 @ 8:27 am

    Only seen her in Broadchurch, which demonstrated that she’s a fantastic actor who can make fairly middling material sing, which I guess is what you really need in Doctor Who, especially when Chibnall’s writing for you.

    I guess what makes me the most excited is that I have no idea how she’ll play it. With all the previous NuWho Doctors, even Smith, you could get a fair idea of their performance tics from previous work. I’ve seen Broadchurch and now a few clips of Adult Life Skills and still have no conception of how she’ll play the part. I just hope she keeps her accent, because I really think the accent change really limited Tennant’s performance and bludgeoned out any chance for nuance.

    The only white male I’d have welcomed had they been announced would be Joe Gilgun. I don’t think we should have another one until at least Doctor 15 but I’ll start campaigning for that now.

    Anyway, in summing up, it’s a strong choice and exciting in the way that the casting hasn’t been since Eccleston, and even he had Second Coming.


  42. ferret
    July 17, 2017 @ 9:08 am

    Deeply disappointed… that Phil didn’t have more to say yet. Plenty of time for that though!

    Very happy with what little we saw in the TV spot (why has no-one thought of filming a seemingly in-character scene as an announcement before?), and this just gives me more reason to watch Broadchurch at last before the new season begins.


  43. crossie
    July 17, 2017 @ 9:39 am

    I liked that Capaldi’s Doctor basically had the least “costume” of any previous Doctor, and on occasion would just show up in a t-shirt if he felt like it, especially after his first Christmas episode, where the hoodie showed up.

    See they kept the hoodie; left some other things, obviously, but if that ends up being her “Doctor” outfit, I’m down with that.


    • Roderick T. Long
      July 17, 2017 @ 8:28 pm

      She said in an interview that they haven’t chosen her outfit yet. The one in the video wasn’t her official outfit; it was just something they chose to disguise her appearance.


      • ScarvesandCelery
        July 18, 2017 @ 1:21 pm

        Although I do like that the “outfit” chosen for the trailer is pretty close to Capaldi’s S9 and 10 “Hoodie and Coat” ensemble. Feels suitably Doctor-y as a result even though it isn’t her planned costume, and gives the trailer a nice “in character/in universe” feel.


  44. Przemek
    July 17, 2017 @ 9:56 am

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    On one hand, I am very happy that we’re getting a female Doctor. I never thought this would really happen. I thought it would all just amount to teasing and another young white male in the role. I haven’t really seen Whittaker in anything, but as that was my experience with all previous Doctors, it makes me excited to see how she plays the part. And this news gave me a strange feeling of hope. If the Doctor can be a woman, then I can face big changes in my own life too.

    On the other hand, I’m afraid that from now on I’ll have to deal with people being vicious, spiteful and toxic about a show that means so much to me. That I deeply love. I know it was all out there before but it’s been relatively easy to avoid. But yesterday I shared the news about Whittaker casting with my sister and her immediate reaction was “oh no”. Because “he’s always been a man”. And that made me really anxious about the future.


  45. Richard Bennett
    July 17, 2017 @ 1:16 pm

    Saw that trailer yesterday and I felt quite innordinately happy. I’ve no idea if this decision is feminism for the sake of feminism (as many are immediately trumpeting) I just saw her and thought ‘wow, let the blurring of the gender lines in popular culture continue’ I’ve not seen a single thing she’s done in the past but I love her (and her outfit) already, and now she’ll have to stand in the wake of some pretty hard-core disapproval, before her doctor has even uttered a word, just hope she’s got the balls for it. Rock on sister <3


  46. Chris C
    July 17, 2017 @ 4:15 pm

    Pleased that Chibnall isn’t devoid of ambition, and I’m obviously delighted that it’s finally being explored. There is something really brilliantly transgressive about the Doctor being permanently freed from a singular gender. Whittaker is a less than radical choice of actor, but for the first ever female Doctor safe is probably sensible.


  47. TheMagister
    July 17, 2017 @ 4:43 pm

    It’s not Hayley Atwell but this’ll do.


  48. DocGerbil100
    July 17, 2017 @ 4:55 pm

    Doctor Who is cool again.
    I’m happy.


  49. Nether
    July 19, 2017 @ 1:21 am

    I want to be the sole voice of dissent here. I’m concerned about the Doctor being a woman for feminist reasons and fandom reasons.

    I don’t think that western culture has yet reached the point where a mainstream super-hero whose gender identity changes will be handled well by the writers or by the fans. I think this is just me being more invested in trans issues than I have any right to expect Chibnall or indeed Whittaker will be, or the fanbase. Don’t get me wrong, I knew we were getting a woman Doctor eventually, I just hoped it might be in another decade when trans issues are more mainstream and her gender identity would be easier for mainstream writers to analyze (preferably trans writers!)

    And like I said, I don’t think Whittaker, Chibnall or anyone else will be interested in spending more time on the Doctor’s gender identity shift than “I was a man, and now I’m a woman”, because paying more attention to it would risk scaring off lots of different kinds of fans.


    • Peg
      July 19, 2017 @ 5:22 am

      I have to admit, to me the best response IS for the Doctor to treat the gender shift as a non-issue. It adds conviction to the arguments that the Doctor is alien and from a post-gendered culture, and it avoids turning very contemporary issues of transition into a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy: because we think it is complicated and loaded now, it will always be. I think if it is to come up as an issue, it should come up only on the part of other people, and I think the Doctor should treat it all very much as THEIR problem, not hers. For her this is a normal option, with perhaps surprises, but very little baggage.

      But, then, one of the things I disliked about Torchwood was that it stopped feeling like a story about an alien, advanced pansexual in a screwed up world of sexual judgement. Captain Jack seemed more and more to internalize very present day conflicted guilt/angst/anger into what had originally seemed like well-adjusted enthusiasm, seeming more and more in keeping with the sexual melodrama of Cucumber’s po-mo gay angst. But it belonged in Cucumber. It seemed less suited to an advanced alien from the future who had originally accepted himself.


      • Nether
        July 19, 2017 @ 3:29 pm

        I don’t think we’re going to wind up in 20 years with a society where we look back on our views of gender from 2017 and think “We overthought that, gender identity is way less complex than we made it out to be”. I suspect that gender identity and expression will always (and should always) be a complicated subject, even if it stops being a politically loaded one (I think it will, at least to the extent that homosexuality did).

        For another thing, I don’t think Time Lords are actually a post-gender culture. Time Lord men like Maxil or Borusa conform to western expectations of manhood, and Time Lord women like Flavia and Romana conform to western expectations of womanhood. The women wear long hair and make-up while men do not, separate pronouns exist for each gender, etc. Time Lords, as Klingons, Kryptonians and Gems, aren’t really aliens but humans on tilt, and their human creators built their assumptions about gender into the Time Lords from the ground up. Any claim that Time Lords have a post-gender society can be read either as a retcon or as the Doctor posturing, but given that Moffat lets Bill point out their inherently patriarchal title (as much as it’s re-appropriated in a unisex manner) and doesn’t let the Doctor respond except by knee-jerk, I think reading his claim as posturing is more reasonable. Perhaps women are equal to men on Gallifrey in a way they’re not on Earth, but gender differences exist in a pretty obvious way.

        My problem with casting a cis woman as the Doctor at all lies in the fact that in contemporary transgender discourse, gender is usually treated as an aspect of one’s identity which is fairly intrinsic, and that living as a gender not your own is inherently traumatic.The Doctor skips over this very real element of gender transition by transitioning (in all reasonable probability) from a cis man into a cis woman. To me the attempt to cast a woman as the Doctor without engaging in trans issues at all just indicates a deliberate break from contemporary gender theory just for storytelling convenience, but doing that demonstrates something about cultural values, namely that we don’t care enough about the complexities of gender to try and figure out exactly how it would work in the context of Time Lord psychology and biology, in favor of hand-waving it to satisfy the crowd who want the Doctor to be a woman because it’s progressive but haven’t really put any thought into how that would work.

        Ideally I’d have liked a trans companion, before just to give an in to these issues, now to have a contrast to the Doctor’s unrealistic gender-change.

        My previous worries about the male writers writing for female heroes in general were allayed when I was reminded that Whittaker and Chibnall have worked together for years, but I’m still under no illusions that anyone involved will be interested enough to engage in trans issues. I probably just have an absurd expectation in that regard, but still. It’d be nice.


        • Matt Davison
          July 19, 2017 @ 11:13 pm

          I think we have to be careful about assuming this is a trans situation, as I suspect that this will not be a situation in which the Doctor finally becomes on the outside who is identifies as on the inside. It is just not the same thing.

          I’m reminded of the admittedly touching essay posted on this very website by a viewer who was personally affected by the Master becoming Missy and feeling that it spoke to her in that it seemed to tell the story of a character finally embracing her true identity. At the time, while appreciating how fiction can be interpreted in many ways, I also felt that such an interpretation would not hold up to scrutiny – because we are ultimately talking about a fictional alien race which doesn’t transition from one gender to another because of any sort of self-discovery or attempt to grow closer to representing truth in the exterior to match the interior – but rather – somewhat random coin flip of change that could go back and forth depending on the season.

          Basically, I think going into Series 11 with the idea that the Doctor is now a woman, but is still basically a man on the inside – or even, embracing the idea that the Doctor was always a woman, and this is the first time her exterior matches her interior – well, neither is quite accurate.

          I just don’t know if I buy that this is a cis/trans storyline.


          • Nether
            July 20, 2017 @ 2:04 am

            Well no, of course it’s not the same thing as a real engagement with transgender issues. That’s my whole problem with it! If I was “boss of the world”, I’d have cast a trans-man as the Doctor and have him declare that just because he regenerated in a body with breasts, he’s no less of a man or alternately the first female Doctor would be a trans woman and rather shocked at the new gender identity, rather than taking the new identity and the new body together in a package and taking them bizarrely in stride. Of course, the vast majority of DW fans and casual viewers probably aren’t ready for such a treatment of gender on their mainstream slap-dash SF show, which is why I think that we just ought to hold off on exploring gender-regeneration issues entirely until they are.

            Because not only is the upcoming regeneration not consistent with current common consensus of human gender identity and presentation, I assume it won’t even be mildly interested in exploring adjacent questions. The notion that the Doctor can go from being a man to being a woman with corresponding “traditional assumption” body-parts just screams physical-gender essentialism to me.

            Like I said before, Time Lords might be “aliens”, but like all aliens they’re not actually any different from humans, they’re just humans on tilt. Gender and sexuality was never meant to be an area of focus for the differences between Time Lords and humans (unlike for example the Crystal Gems), and a significant difference is being imposed on them because it makes it more convenient to cast a woman as the Doctor while pretending that to do so doesn’t massively over-simplify the obvious issues of gender, whether the story is framed in those terms or not.

            I guess I’m probably just being unreasonable for wanting Doctor Who to stay out of gender issues until it could more fully embrace them, but man. Disappointed.

          • mx_mond
            July 20, 2017 @ 10:42 am

            I feel like there are other possibilities not being explored, for example the Doctor being genderfluid. Or, since the conceit of regeneration makes it impossible, I think,to draw 1:1 parallels to any specific human experience such as transition, it might be a way to explore aspect of the Doctor that haven’t been to the foreground until now (much like, even though this isn’t his ethnicity as a Time Lord, regenerating into a grumpy Scotsman influenced his personality). Or just a meditation on what we designate as “male” and what is designated as “female”.

            This is not to erase your concerns, because I think they are perfectly valid, especially given how trans experiences are treated in culture (misrepresented, erased, or appropriated – cf. cis actors playing transgender people), and, of course, representation of transgender, genderqueer and non-binary people is baluable in and of itself (both as characters and as actors) – I just wanted to offer some sort of redemptive reading of that decision, as a person questioning and examining their gender identity, who sees the casting of Whittaker as an opening for many interesting possibilities for the Doctor.

            Whether they will be made use of is, of course, another matter entirely.

          • Nether
            July 21, 2017 @ 2:54 am

            I really appreciate your desire not to erase my concerns and your offer of a redemptive reading. I think that there’s probably far more people who like you think of the new Doctor in terms of the exciting possibilities she offers than in terms of how she might potentially violate consensus gender theory, even among trans folks or questioning folks, haha! I definitely cop to being an outlier here, and I sincerely wish it didn’t bother me as much as it does.

            I don’t think a gender-fluid reading of the Doctor totally works, as Time Lord gender-fluidity apparently does work more like a coin toss in presumably healthy cases like the Corsair, or else (in problematic cases) in terms of an unhealthy association between men and brutality leading a Time Lord to suppress traits they associate with femininity while they think they need to be tough and brutal as the General and I think arguably the Master demonstrate. The Doctor clearly doesn’t fit the latter description since he obviously doesn’t regard his compassion and kindness as contradictory to his maleness, and if he were to fit with the Corsair’s “coin-flip” version of genderfluidity, getting the same result on a coin toss twelve times in a row (counting Tennant only once) is a 1 in 4116 flips chance of happening, so I don’t think that the “coin toss” reading is altogether reasonable.

            I want to reiterate though that I appreciate your redemptive reading and respect it, to say nothing of how much I appreciate you supporting my concerns.

        • UrsulaL
          July 20, 2017 @ 12:12 am

          It’s tricky, because many of the culturally feminine things that are significant for trans women to be able to participate in are expectations that cis women may resist for feminist reasons. E.g., for a trans woman, wearing makeup in public may be a significant event, while a cis woman might, at the same time, be fighting the expectation that being a woman means that you must wear makeup.

          But where the show will be interesting is in defining the things that aren’t necessarily defined by gender. Changing gender didn’t make the Master less of a villain. It won’t make the Doctor less heroic, or wise.

          The Master went from being quite misogynistic as Harold to being very femme as Missy. How much are these things related – seeing being feminine as being about cultural feminine trappings?

          I think the contrast between “future” stories, where the Doctor, perhaps, can be written with others reacting as they always have, because the future is different, versus historical/contemporary stories, where the Doctor will run into all the problems women have faced with historical and present prejudices, is going to be the make-or-break of the writing and storytelling.


          • Nether
            July 20, 2017 @ 1:08 am

            I mean honestly, it took me a while to stop seeing Gomez’s Missy as anything other than an unintentional but still painfully unfortunate collection of negative stereotypes of villainous trans women- the frilly dresses, the the overly exaggerated insistence on performative femininity (e.g. Romana being a Time Lord while Missy insists on being called a “Time Lady”), the sexual assault on the Doctor in form of unwanted kisses obtained by lying about “what she is” (in her case by pretending to be a robot rather than “pretending to be a girl” but the point still stands), etc.

            The fact that she ultimately wound up as a tragic hero changes that analysis somewhat, but all those things I thought were painfully problematic are still THERE, you know?

            In terms of past vs. future stories, I kind of expect that as usual the show will wave away historical sexism with as minimal a hand-wave as it can. After all, Doctor Who is a show about exciting science fiction adventures, not historical injustice. Martha has racial issues brushed away as if they didn’t exist, which was of course truly dreadful, and while the writers’ method of confronting racism with Bill was better, it was still minimal. It’s really quite unfortunate, and maybe Chibnall and Whittaker will rise above that tendency of the show’s, but I kind of doubt it. πŸ™

          • Aylwin
            July 20, 2017 @ 10:44 am

            Changing gender didn’t make the Master less of a villain.

            Maybe not immediately, but I doubt it’s a coincidence that “hey, why not do a redemption story?” followed a couple of years later. And actually, even in the first Missy story, for all that the expression of the urge was highly villainous, “I want my friend back” represented a marked shift in motivation, angled towards reconciliation.

            Cf. the very similar case of Euros in Sherlock. It was the female supervillain who got pathos and implied redeemability, and who had a desire for meaningful human contact and love, however warped, at the root of her motivations, whereas Moriarty and Magnussen were just bad to the bone. Obviously, qualities don’t have to be gender-related in reality for characters to be written differently in relation to those qualities because of their gender. Of course, the cases mentioned were Moffat, who has always had a strong tendency to essentialism, but it’s a widespread phenomenon.

            Though I certainly wouldn’t expect the Doctor to be written as “less heroic, or wise” at this point – if anything, more likely the opposite. For various reasons, my hunch would be that the degree of criticism and questioning of the Doctor that has been prominent since the revival will be much curtailed during Whittaker’s tenure.

          • Aylwin
            July 20, 2017 @ 10:51 am

            I mean OK, Euros’s motivations and Moriarty’s aren’t that different, but there is still a different inflection put on them, and certainly a different outcome. Anyway, I was already taking this sub-thread off-topic, so I’ll shut up now.

          • Aylwin
            July 20, 2017 @ 11:19 am

            [Briefly un-shutting-up again to go on-topic] If it does go that way, we are likely to end up with a Doctor noticeably more comfortable in her own skin than at any previous time in the new series. Which, though it will most likely not be diegetically treated in gender terms, or quite possibly even acknowledged at all, could accidentally produce something that would support a retrospective reading akin to Anna Wiggins’s interpretation of Missy as a character who was always trans.

          • David Anderson
            July 21, 2017 @ 10:48 pm

            The redemption storyline is really required by Tennant’s attitude to the Simm Master. If the Master is a villain beyond redemption, as the Simm Master is apparently, then the Doctor’s attitude makes no diegetic sense.

        • Peg
          July 20, 2017 @ 12:56 am

          To me, your argument sounds like great SF/F world-building, but not like good Doctor Who. The Doctor…the being whose continuity surpasses any single regen…is constant in its failure to get entangled in elements of culture that drive human drama. A trans companion might-even should-struggle with human, modern issues. The Doctor should sympathise, or scold, or lecture, but otherwise have it roll off without pain.

          The Doctor’s constants are laid out: never cruel or cowardly. A hero without hope, witness, or reward. Always kind. Someone who helps. Someone who brings hope.

          Those are the things the new Doctor HAS to prove carry from body to body, regardless of plumbing. Everything else can be assumed to come along with the new body: there is no canonical need for the Doctor to transition, if the new body is already at home and content with itself.


          • Nether
            July 21, 2017 @ 4:47 am

            I think your reference to the Doctor’s “plumbing” itself indicates part of the problem though. It’s not about “plumbing” and it never has been, it’s about identity.

            I see gender as fairly intrinsic, and the Doctor’s always been a man, while the Corsair has allegedly bounced back and forth and the General suffered extreme discomfort while pretending to be a man in an assigned-male-at-regeneration body. Those three readings make sense to me. Doctor’s a cis man, Corsair’s gender fluid in a way divorced from human norms, the General’s a woman who was temporarily a closeted trans woman. Arguably Missy is too, but was closeted for much longer (I like to think she was a woman for several regens before going renegade, or perhaps was like the Corsair in his coin flip approach). I guess that’s what bugs me about Whittaker’s casting, right? The thirteenth Doctor defies my understanding of both real and Time Lord gender. The Doctor’s just a woman because they cast a woman to play the Doctor and that’s it. No in-universe reading that I’ve stumbled upon helps. I hunger for a more intense engagement with gender identity issues from the show in order to “prove to me that I am not mistaken in [my beliefs]” about Doctor Who- namely, that it’s the kind of show capable of that kind of engagement. I suppose that is, in fact, a science-fiction/fantasy-worldbuilding approach to the issue more than it is anything else.

            Now someone else pointed out to me that even an unintentional and tangential relation to gender and trans issues has more impact on social progress than my suggested approach of “wait til society catches up to the issues before putting them on the show”, and I have to admit that’s true. If a single trans kid is encouraged by the fact that the Doctor changed sexes, that’s a pretty damn sound argument for letting her do it.

            You also pointed out that the Doctor, being largely defined by freedom from entanglement in culture can never really engage with trans issues directly, which is also true, so in some ways letting the Doctor side-step the greater trans issues entirely in favor of the tangential connection has SOME merit.

            I find myself thinking that a more realistically transgender companion would better serve the issue, and there’s no reason why such a character couldn’t come into being in ten or fifteen years when pop culture is more ready for them. I still wish that the Doctor would engage with trans issues a little more openly than I think she will, but I’m slowly growing more and more open to the idea of a woman Doctor whose relation to trans issues is only tangential.

  50. Christopher Bown
    July 19, 2017 @ 2:10 am

    I’m over the moon about the news, both in terms of general representation issues and the specific prospects of Chibnall’s tenure. This is a boat-pushing move and indicates that the show isn’t resting on its laurels, which was always the danger after the more experimental Moffat era.

    Right now, though, I’m too sad to celebrate as it’s since come out that Trevor Baxter aka Professor Litefoot passed away the same day as the announcement. As problematic as Talons is and however much of that the Jago and Litefoot audios inherit, the characters have meant an awful lot to me in the decade I’ve been a Doctor Who fan (Talons was my second ever story) and, thanks to their audio series, they have become some of my favorite characters in fiction.

    By all accounts he was a truly lovely human being. Rest in peace, Trevor, and thanks.


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