After months of waiting, Doctor Who fans finally know who the latest regeneration of The Doctor will be. Peter Capaldi will be passing the TARDIS keys to Jodie Whittaker after this year's Christmas special, and the internet is abuzz with reactions to this historic move. In case you missed it, here's the announcement trailer:
Whittaker's predecessor, Peter Capaldi, spoke with the BBC about yesterday's announcement, praising the choice:
“Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker's work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm. She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She's going to be a fantastic Doctor.”
For the first time, The Doctor will be played by a woman — and many would argue this has been a long time coming. By its very nature, Doctor Who is about change and, as such, it should move with the times. There's an argument to be made that Peter Capaldi's entire tenure has been foreshadowing the coming of a female Doctor — The Master's transformation into Missy demonstrates this — but when you consider that Doctor Who is about a 2000-year-old alien who travels throughout time and space, it really proves that anything is possible.
Don't Be Scared Of Her Gender
Jodie Whittaker also spoke with the BBC after her casting, hoping that fans will embrace the change:
"I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender, because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that's exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one."
The Doctor is possibly the most successful science-fiction character to come from Great Britain, so it's a big deal when a new regeneration occurs. Whittaker herself is aware of this, but spoke of her excitement about taking on the role:
"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. It feels incredible."
The Regeneration Cycle
There have been 12 incarnations of The Doctor (and one War Doctor) to date, and with every different regeneration there's been an outcry. Nobody wanted David Tennant to leave the role because they believed he couldn't be bettered, but then Matt Smith came along and made the character his own. The same was true when Peter Capaldi took over from Smith; fans become attached to "their" Doctor and fear the change.
Once all the dust has settled, it's clear to see that although there might be a different face, The Doctor remains the same deep down. Taking over the role of such an iconic character brings its own pressures, but Whittaker is keen to give it her all:
"To be asked to play the ultimate character, to get to play pretend in the truest form: this is why I wanted to be an actor in the first place. To be able to play someone who is literally reinvented on screen, with all the freedoms that brings: what an unbelievable opportunity. And added to that, to be the first woman in that role."
When it boils down to it, the decision of who to cast as The Doctor shouldn't be defined by gender — ultimately, it should just come down to who is best for the part at any given time. Even though the character has been male for the last 50 or so years, there's nothing to say a female Doctor could never happen. After all, the character is called The Doctor, not Mister Doctor.
Peter Capaldi has given Jodie Whittaker his blessing, and that's good enough for me. She deserves a chance, so let's see how she does.
What are your opinions on the 13th Doctor? Let me know in the comments!