A gender change at the TARDIS controls would be a bold new direction for the long-running sci-fi series, and could be just what the Doctor ordered.
It’s that time again. Peter Capaldi has announced he’ll be departing Doctor Who at the end of this year, somewhat prematurely after only three seasons in the role and a year’s absence between series nine and ten. So who will be the next Doctor? It’s a question that’s been regularly asked over the last fifty years or so, ever since William Hartnell regenerated into Patrick Troughton.
Capaldi was a great choice after a pair of boyish predecessors – David Tennant and Matt Smith – and it’s a shame to see him go so soon. Among the actors tipped to replace him are Murder in Paradise star Kris Marshall (a good choice), Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Anthony Head (another good choice), The IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade (interesting), current Bond Q Ben Wishaw (good, but another youngster), and Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint (no way).
The most interesting name to be floated is Tilda Swinton, who would be absolutely perfect given her otherworldly demeanour. Which brings us to the inevitable debate over a change of gender for the perennially male Time Lord. A female Doctor would have been unthinkable back in the days of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, but now it’s entirely possible and could well be the major shake-up the show needs after becoming a little stale under current showrunner Steven Moffat.
The programme has already been subtly laying the foundations for the arrival of a female Doctor. The Master recently regenerated into Michelle Gomez, aka Missy, turning the Doctor’s arch nemesis into a Scary Poppins (who’s much more fun than John Simm was) and paving the way for gender equality at the TARDIS controls.
For a female Doctor to work, she would have to be British. If not Tilda then a Dame like Helen Mirren or Judi Dench, although movie commitments would probably rule out those two, more’s the pity. Olivia Colman’s name has also been raised – another great choice and somewhat appropriate given she stars opposite David Tennant in Broadchurch, a show created by Chris Chibnall, who will take over from Moffat as Who showrunner next year. Hmm…
This also raises the question of the choice of companion; a female Doctor would certainly change the dynamic in the TARDIS. However, with Pearl Mackie already onboard for the new season and Matt Lucas sticking around for now, a gender switch for the Doctor would complete the perfect trio.
Male or female, a new Doctor means exciting times for Whovians, who have learned over the last 54 years that anything is possible in time and space.