ByNicholas Brent, writer at
Film Fanatic and Aspiring Director - "I do wish we could chat longer, but... I'm having an old friend for dinner..."
Nicholas Brent

A little over 12 years ago, Doctor Who burst back onto our screens thanks to Christopher Eccleston and captured the imaginations of children and adults alike, introducing the Doctor and his incredible adventures across time and space to a whole new generation.

Both David Tennant and Matt Smith continued this success, and under showrunners Russell T Davies and , they carried the show through six more successful series, culminating in the 50th Anniversary special and Smith's final episode in November and December 2013.

Since then, has been playing the Doctor, and through no fault of his own, has lately become somewhat stale and stagnant. Capaldi has been excellent, but let down by underdeveloped and rushed characterization, a very mixed bag of scripts, and an unlikable, smug companion in the form of Clara (As with Capaldi, that is no fault of Jenna Coleman's).

This has been substantially improved upon with the show's tenth series, which is currently airing on BBC One — and is probably the best since Series 5 — but there is still work to be done. With Capaldi stepping aside in this year's Christmas special, and Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall taking over showrunning duties from Moffat, it seems the time for change is now.

I do not believe there is one good reason why the next Doctor should not be a woman. In fact, I think there is a good argument to be made that this change could be exactly what the series needs right now. The show needs a complete re-brand to allow Chibnall to have the fresh start he needs — a new Doctor, a new companion (Sorry, , I think you're really great as Bill!), a new logo, new theme tune, new title sequence and a new TARDIS — both inside and out. While the current showrunners have tried that to some degree with Series 10, there is still a lot of leftover baggage, and it's going to take more than a few new ideas to completely rejuvenate the series.

You're not necessarily going to make something new again by casting another man as the Doctor. I'm not against the casting of another male (and I don't think they've ever made a bad casting choice), but there comes a time where the status-quo has to change. Series 9's trailer tagline says it all:

Same old, same old, just the Doctor and Clara Oswald in the TARDIS.

And people wonder what went wrong. We don't want the "same old" thing. It's time for something new, something exciting; it's time for a female Doctor. "But it's sensationalism!" "It's stunt casting!" "It's political correctness gone mad!" I hear you cry. But no, it isn't! Or at least, it doesn't have to be.

Casting a woman as the Doctor may alienate some viewers, but I think it is more likely to peak viewers' interests than anything. The Doctor is not a role exclusive to men, and gender swapping is an established part of Doctor Who lore. Missy and the General were definitely testing the waters for something like this, and while the latter wasn't so successful, Missy has proven to be a hit among fans and proof that a female Doctor would work (even with the inevitable resistance from some estranged fans). Here are five potential choices for a female Thirteenth Doctor.

5. Suranne Jones

'Doctor Who' [Credit: BBC]
'Doctor Who' [Credit: BBC]

Suranne Jones is perhaps best known by Doctor Who fans for her role as Idris, a personification of the TARDIS in 2011's "The Doctor's Wife" and also for her part as Mona Lisa in The Sarah Jane Adventures serial, "Mona Lisa's Revenge." She currently stars in Doctor Foster, which has been renewed for a second series, potentially ruling her out.

4. Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Currently a favorite among bookies, the Fleabag star has ruled herself out of the role, but her quirky personality and charm would be perfect for Doctor Who. Waller-Bridge will be starring in the upcoming, as yet untitled, Han Solo Star Wars movie.

3. Gugu Mbatha-Raw

'Miss Sloane' [Credit: EuropaCorp]
'Miss Sloane' [Credit: EuropaCorp]

Best known to Doctor Who fans as Tish, the sister to former companion Martha Jones, Mbatha-Raw has proven her self to be an incredibly capable and versatile actress worthy of the role of the Doctor. More recently, she has appeared in movies such as Miss Sloane and the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. Gugu would make history by being the first Doctor who is both female and a person of color!

2. Emma Thompson

This is more of a dream pick for me, as Emma Thompson is my all-time favorite actress, and possibly my all-time favorite human being. Although she's unlikely to commit to a series like this, Thompson has such incredible range and can easily cover all aspects of the Doctor's personality. Most of all, she has a warm and a motherly persona that would be absolutely perfect for the Doctor.

1. Hayley Atwell

'Agent Carter' [Credit: Disney-ABC TV]
'Agent Carter' [Credit: Disney-ABC TV]

"I'd like to BE Doctor Who" — Hayley Atwell

I'd like that very much too! Former Agent Carter star Hayley Atwell is the perfect candidate for the next Doctor. She has a terrific screen presence and, if her role as Peggy Carter is anything to go by, she's damn good in a bust up and evokes everything I think the next Doctor should be (and more). Atwell has just finished filming the BBC's adaptation of Howard's End, which gives me more hope than it should.

Speaking of Agent Carter, I think casting a woman as the Doctor will also present some important political issues — not only in the past, but in the present too. Atwell, as the titular lead in Agent Carter, dealt with 1940s sexism in a male-dominated world. The theme of gender equality would be a fantastic one for Doctor Who to tackle and a very important and powerful message to young children watching the show today. Having a woman in the lead role would lend much more credence to this, as it isn't really something that's touched on with the current male Doctor/female companion dynamic.

To those that say they wont watch the series if there's a female Doctor, I say fine. That is, after all, their opinion. I also say good riddance. I fully expect people like that will watch out of intrigue anyway, but I find it hard to understand how any fan of this show wouldn't accept a change like this. Doctor Who is a show about inclusivity, acceptance and change, and if something doesn't work, then regeneration is never far away. I'm surprised more fans aren't more tolerant of that, aren't you?


Should the Doctor be played by a woman?


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