Women can be Doctors Now?

I laughed.

No really. I did.

A shitstorm was approaching. And Jodie Whittaker is in the centre of it. I actually feel sorry for her. She is going to get more hate than any other incumbent Doctor. As time goes by, the chances of the public accepting a gender swap becomes exponentially lower. I doubt viewers would have batted much of an eyelid in the eighties when the question first arose. But now we have thirteen male incarnations behind us rather than four (yes, I am including the War Doctor, So, Jodie is still the Fourteenth. Or even the fifteenth, if you include Ten’s fakeout. Which is still regarded as a proper regeneration, but it’s the same incarnation. Doctor Who is confusing).

I honestly never cared whether the Doctor was female or not, and I never understood why it was such a big deal to those who objected. I did kinda understand those who wanted the change, but the entire concept of a role model has never made sense to me either. I can’t really think of anyone I would consider a role model to me in my formative years. Not even the Doctor himself, as I came to the fandom later. My favourite pieces of media when growing up didn’t really have much of an effect on me now (at least I don’t think they do). And the ones I remember that had most of an effect on my life were Buffy the Vampire Slayer and His Dark Materials, both of which had female protagonists. But maybe some people do need role models of the same gender as them, and considering there is a dearth of female protagonists in F&SF, it’s something I can understand.

But even then, there may be a large quantity of male protagonists, but are they quality ones? Most tend to fight the bad guys by killing them. Is that the kind of role model we want? The Doctor is different. While there is the occasional instance where he resorts to violence (much more common in the classic series than the regenerated show), much of how he solves problems is through his intellect and diplomacy. A far better role model than James Bond.

What about female protagonists? Many of them also take the shoot first approach. Lyra Silvertongue does not though. However, that is one example, and I certainly do not have the data to analyse every major piece of media to compare male and female protagonists. Suffice it to say though, there are certainly very few characters of either gender that embody the less violent approach.

I have not seen any of Jadie Whittaker’s performances that I can recall, but people do say she is a good actor. Will she be a good Doctor? We’ll have to wait until next year unfortunately. Personally though, I am far more interested in what Chibnall will bring to the show. Moffat’s era was overly bright, full of spectacle, but not always enough substance. It was there, definitely. And I have absolutely enjoyed the last eight years, some of my favourite episodes have been Moffat era ones, but something always felt missing. I have always said it is not the actors who make a film, but the people behind the camera. The change of show runner is far more of a concern to me than who plays the lead character.