So, the Blokes returned from a food shop this afternoon just in time to watch the conclusion of the Wimbledon Men’s Single Final. Roger Federer, who seems a genuinely nice chap, has won for a record breaking 8th time. (Sorry for the spoiler, but if you cared that much you’d probably already know.) Ironically, he served his winning game using new balls….
In a slightly odd scheduling decision, (to capture that huge Doctor Who/ Tennis crossover audience.) the BBC had been trailing that they would reveal the identity of the new Doctor after the conclusion of the final.
Now, I’m not what you’d call a hardcore Whovian. (A fan of Doctor Who.) Having said that I do watch, and did watch as a child. Everyone has ‘their’ Doctor, usually the one you grew up with, like geeky carbon dating. Mine is Peter Davison, his charming mixture of pixie mischief and foppish charm is the basis of my whole personality. Although these day’s I guess I’m getting closer to Tom Baker’s weird uncle vibe. (Just on a side note I remember being devastated when Adric was killed, sacrificing himself to save the world from the Cyberman. Shouldn’t have bothered, they’ve been back causing ructions nearly every series since.)
So, the trailer eventually came up, showing a hooded figure walking through pretty woodland. A hand opens, the key to the TARDIS materialises into a hand. A white hand, but no nail polish, then the hood is drawn back and, god save the Internet because it is about to lose its shit, it is revealed as a woman! (Incidentally, I called it before that moment. the ankles were too thin.)
Jodie Whitaker is to be the next doctor, the 13th iteration of the character, who up until this point has been a full range of white British men. And I’m pleased. Not really pleased, but pleased all the same.
Why not really pleased? Because, whilst she is a woman; she is a young, white, woman. I’d have much preferred to see an older actor take it on. Olivia Coleman would be top of my list. Also a long shot on Comedian Susan Calman. (If she turned the fury she exhibited on The News Quiz about ‘Bake Off ‘ moving to Channel 4, onto the Daleks, they wouldn’t stand a chance!) So, they aren’t pushing the envelope too much are they?
Now, I’m sure we’re about to get a lot of angry fans tweeting one hundred and one reasons why it shouldn’t be a woman, but I would argue, that of any character in the fictional universe, The Doctor is uniquely suited to a female persona.
The Doctor is not a warrior. He does not defeat his enemies with aggression. (Sorry, should switch to the female pro-noun shouldn’t I.) Her spaceship does not bristle with guns and bombs. She is an explorer, a teacher, a nurturer. She will always try and give the invader a chance to turn and run, to try and work out a compromise. But, on those occasions when she has been left with no other choice, she has been fierce in her defence of those under her protection.
The Doctor’s tool of choice is not a phaser, or a lightsabre. It is a screwdriver. She fixes things. Intellect, science, compassion and empathy have always been her greatest assets. Add to that a flamboyant sense of style and we have a character who is so gender neutral that it really doesn’t seem to matter what’s going on inside those trousers.
For so long women have only made it on our screens as wives, mothers, daughters. They are there to be rescued, or to be bedded or to fall in love with the male lead. Even today, they are more likely to be a passive figure, in a support role, rather than ‘out in the field’ It is better now, of course it is. But I think this is a hugely positive step.
And to all those doom-sayer geeks complaining that it can’t be a woman because of one line in an episode thirty years ago I say this…..
It’s just a bloody TV show. Get over it.
My only hope is that she doesn’t start wearing heels; running down corridors needs a flat shoe.