Families gathered and fans glued themselves to the screen as a brand-new era of Doctor Who exploded onto our television sets on Sunday. Jodie Whittaker came crashing down to Earth in her debut at the 13th Doctor to huge live audience of over 8.2 million. Inevitably, the discussion immediately turned to the biggest opinion splitter in who history; can the Doctor be played by a woman?
The answer is yes, absolutely, and Jodie Whittaker just made it look like women belonged in this role all along.
The Doctor is an alien. Thousands of years old, two beating hearts and a time travelling police box, there are many things out of the ordinary about this character. The very reason the show has lasted nearly 55 years is the genius concept of regeneration; the Time Lord’s body transforming into a brand new one when it is worn down or injured. A Time Lord can regenerate into anyone or anything, from anywhere ever. Really, the least out of the ordinary fact about the character should be their gender. In fact, it seems troubling that out of any form the Doctor could inhabit, they’ve taken the face and bodies of white men for 13 incarnations. Canonically, this seems completely absurd. Surely a female Doctor should naturally always have been a thing. Yet in the real world, a female Doctor is a huge deal. But why?
Jodie Whittaker slides effortlessly into the Doctor’s shoes, becoming the character instantly. There is no hint of difference to suggest she isn’t the same character who grabbed Rose Tyler’s hand in a department store basement, or the person who stopped a Sycorax invasion with a satsuma. The mannerisms, quirkiness and alien nature of the Doctor remains the same. Jodie embodies the authoritative, parental figure we know and love, leaving us feeling comforted knowing the universe will remain safe in the 13th Doctor’s hands.
The Doctor we adore is still here, ready to take us on our next adventure. The new version of our favourite Time Lord is the very same one we’ve been travelling with for 55 years. This is why it should no longer be a big deal.
On the flip side, in the world we’re currently living in, it is a massive deal. However, it is only a massive deal because it works. A woman taking a role traditionally played by a man is huge for representation of women in the media and a massively important step towards a better, more equal future. The Doctor is a woman, and the fact that she is a woman makes no difference; she is still oozing the same brilliance, warmth and energy that the character always has done. The importance of gender is heightened because of how unimportant it is, in the fact that the character remains the same whether it’s a man or a woman playing it.
This is just a small step for Doctor Who, but a gigantic leap for womankind. The future of the show is looking very bright, but perhaps even brighter are the important steps we’re taking towards achieving equality. So, can a female Doctor work?
There was never any doubt in our minds…This is gonna be fun!
What did you think of the 13th Doctor’s opening episode?
Tweet us @thetimeladies_ or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org