Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock (how painful), you’ll have heard about the announcement of the 13th Doctor, Jodie Whittaker. That’s right, the first female Doctor has been cast! Read our thoughts below…
I became a Doctor Who fan at 8 years old in 2006. I fell in love with The Doctor and Rose as they travelled through space and time having exciting adventures. On the playground I would always be Rose Tyler, and as the years passed I was Martha and then Donna too. I never played The Doctor because the Doctor was never a woman, and I suppose it never crossed my mind that a woman could be a time lord too. As Doctor Who history has gone on, the role of the companion has been portrayed as just as important, and in some cases even more important than the role of The Doctor themselves. In terms of female representation, this is brilliant and has given young girls idols to look up to for generations. But it’s still. Not. Enough.
I’ve been deeply integrated into the world of Doctor Who and its fandom for some time now, particularly in the last few years. It’s given me hundreds of friends, memories and achievements and is my biggest love. But most of the time, I still don’t really ~fit. I’m rarely looked at as a ‘real fan’, or have particular labels stuck to me as a ‘female fan’ of the show. I feel left out. I feel pushed out. I feel like I don’t belong. No matter my efforts with this blog, my commitment to the fandom and my friends, I still feel something missing.
Until it was announced that the 13th Doctor would be played by a woman.
Just like that, I belonged. I finally have a place. A female actress is playing The Doctor, who for over 50 years has been played by a man. I feel accepted. I feel like I belong. To know that a woman will be playing a character who for so long has been male immediately made me feel like I was as important as all the male fans, the male actors and the male crew on the show. Of course not everyone needs something like this to know that they can be a hero, or to know their worth, but for me, it means everything. I have hope that hundreds of young girls and women will have their lives changed by this. No matter your opinion on the Doctor being female, you cannot deny that it is an incredible moment in not only Doctor Who history, but history itself. It will bring hope, it will bring change and it will bring joy. I can finally see myself in the main character of my favourite TV show, and it was the change I never knew I needed.
Doctor Who has been a big part of my life since I was 9 years old, and along with it the Doctor and whoever the companion may be. Despite the Doctor himself being the centre of the show, I was gravitated towards each of these companions, from Rose Tyler to Bill Potts. It was these women that I wanted to be on the playground and in real life, never the Doctor. Perhaps it was the way that the companions always felt kinder and more human than the Doctor, or maybe it was simply because the Doctor never felt accessible for me. He never felt relatable because he was a man. Growing up, I could never see myself in him while he darted across the television screen, saving the world in his wild and wonderful ways.
When I was a teenager, I started to consider the possibility of the Doctor being a woman. Was it possible? Is this how Time Lords and Ladies worked? However, once Missy appeared on our screens in series 8 I realised that the idea of a female doctor could no longer be dismissed by fans. It was possible.
When I heard the news of the new Doctor being a female, my heart jumped. I was suddenly 9 years old again, playing Rose Tyler on the playground because my male peers had already claimed the role of the Doctor because ‘they were boys and it made sense’. I was suddenly 11 again, and dreaming of becoming a real life Doctor just like Martha Jones, because that idea felt far more accessible than pretending to be a Time Lord, travelling throughout time and space. I was taken back to the time when all I wanted was Donna Noble’s dry humour and wit, because that was what shined and proved to be the most prevalent theme for me throughout the whole of series 4. Those bright and shining companions, that helped me grow and develop throughout my childhood and were my consistent role models.
I am delighted at the news Jodie Whittaker being announced as the next Doctor, because those little girls watching will no longer just have to relate to the female companions. They will no longer get tossed aside as playing the Doctor on the school playground. Most of all, they can dream of travelling throughout time and Space as a Time Lady themselves and never feel as if that idea is impossible.
I think like many Doctor Who fans, I didn’t realise how much I’d wanted and needed a female Doctor until I saw Jodie Whittaker pull down that hood and smile gloriously towards the TARDIS. Honestly, my heart leapt and I started tearing up.
Even just from that scene I found her Doctor inspiring, which sounds silly to say but from a female Doctor Who fan not so much. Like all my fellow Time Ladies I’ve grown up with Doctor Who and I can’t tell you how much it would have meant to me to have seen a woman in the lead role when I was younger. I’ve spent years defending the women in the show – Rose was ‘too common’ (honestly a comment that was said), Martha was ‘too clingy and try hard’, Donna was ‘trying to be a lad with her humour’ and Amy was ‘a supermodel and nothing more’. As much as fans say they love the women in the show, they’ve always been inferior to the Doctor because the whole show is driven by that character, they are the hero. Sure, the companion is allowed to play that part for an episode or two but for (nearly) 54 years of the show’s history the lead has been played by a man.
And what does that say to girls? That they’re not good enough? That they must always be resigned to play the sidekick? Because it certainly watches that way. We already know that there are Time Lords who are women and they are brilliant. Romana is one of my favourite characters in the entirety of the show and out performs the Doctor in so many ways, the manipulative, ultra-glam Rani and of course our favourite Master, Missy. So again, I question as to why those female Time Lords are only ever celebrated as companions rather than what the Doctor could be.
Basically, it’s not good enough.
So what is the Doctor? Kind, open-minded, eccentric, brilliant. All the things women and men can be. Let us think about what the Doctor would do, our hero. Would they care about this regeneration? Absolutely not. They would shake their hand to welcome them and say “still not ginger.”
We all feel extremely proud to be fans of a show which is taking such a brave and wonderful step forward in it’s history. We’ll be here every step of the way.
Look out tomorrow for our post on The Time Ladies press tour after the announcement of the 13th Doctor! We spoke on over 10 radio shows and had a television appearance, talk about girl power. Keep those eyes peeled.