A big debate among Doctor Who fans is whether the Doctor should suddenly change his sex and become a female Time Lord. This is one of those ideas that would certainly kill the show, not in my opinion alone, but to quite a few others as well.
For fifty years the show has revolved around a Time Lord traveling in his home, the TARDIS with his granddaughter at one point in time, and with many companions, both male and female afterwards. This article is focusing on why the Doctor should stay male. And before people say I’m sexist, I’d like to point out having been active in feminist movements in the past, and still supporting them to this day, it just goes to show there are female fans that would just prefer to have the show stay as it has been for fifty years.
Why should a male character change his sex?
First off, the Doctor is a Time Lord. There are Time Ladies; Romana is one of them. So those who are basically wanting a female Doctor, you have one already in some way. She is the female counterpart of the Doctor, so it would be redundant to make the Doctor a female as well. Romana is extremely intelligent, she’s Gallifreyan just like the Doctor. Another female Time Lady was the Rani. She was a renegade Time Lady, just like the Master was a renegade Time Lord. She even had her own TARDIS. So it is proven there are two sexes on Gallifrey. Secondly to just make the Doctor have a instant sex change after eleven incarnations being a male Gallifreyan, it would just be absurd. No matter how much the Doctor regenerates, he still keeps some of the personas of his previous incarnations in the next form. It wouldn’t work out that well if it were played by a woman, of course this is just my opinion.
Now the rumors of a woman playing the Doctor has been around since at least when Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor, was making his way out the door for someone else to take his place. Fortunately that never took place, and Peter Davison became the Fifth Doctor. Steven Moffat even called the Doctor on the latest Doctor Who Guide on BBC America on the Fourth Doctor, a very strange man. Even the show runner himself knows what the Doctor is. He wouldn’t risk possibly destroying the franchise just because a minority of fans would like to see a female in the role. There is a higher majority of fans that would, however, not want to see this happen.
The whole issue with the wish that the Doctor could change to a woman, is that well he has a granddaughter named Susan, and obviously he had a wife or lover at some point, though some people claim Susan is not really his granddaughter. But Susan is also from Gallifrey and is a Time Lady as well, so here is another instance that Gallifreyans are two sexes and can not just spontaneously change into another. It would be like suddenly changing Susan into a male character; that cannot be done. Think of it another way: Would you want James Bond, another character that’s been around for fifty years, suddenly turn female? I don’t think so.The Doctor is very much like James Bond in his own manner. He will use violence if necessary, he is extremely intelligent; the difference is that the Doctor is an alien and can regenerate. Also very much like James Bond, Doctor Who has a very massive fan base, and I think it is even more demanding.
It’s not that I’m afraid of little changes to the program itself. But this particular one is a massive change, and it wouldn’t bode well with Doctor Who. Even though the references are small, the new series does nod every now and then toward the Classic Series, and even though they have done the Time War ordeal where Gallifrey is supposedly destroyed, there is always a way to look back at the previous Doctors, and their past experiences through the eyes of the current Doctor. Although the new series isn’t always consistent with the past stories, they tried to be consistent with the most major important things in the Doctor’s lives.
Janet Fielding (Tegan) has always brought up the fact John Nathan-Turner would tell her and other female companions that they were there for the dads. Basically female companions brought in the male audience, while we have the male Doctor, looked upon as the hero who saves the day and was there for the kids, ladies and men. In the case of Peter Davison, David Tennant, and Matt Smith, they were some good looking Doctors to say the least, for the female audience, and I think that is what they were going for. Especially David Tennant and Matt Smith. I think in the case of Peter Davison, he was chosen because his acting was so well liked on All Creatures Great and Small, John Nathan-Turner thought he was perfect for the role as the Fifth Doctor. I’m not going to complain, I think he was absolutely correct in that assumption.
When David Tennant came along, the new fans came along rather quickly. I think that there is a problem with this as well. The majority of fans who want to see a female Doctor, are the newcomers, the ones that fell madly in love with David Tennant and his Doctor, but not realizing there were past Doctors beyond Christopher Eccleston, or they just weren’t interested in watching them. The biggest issue here, is that the ones who are just starting to watch, the ones who don’t know the history of the show think anybody should have the chance to have the role of the Doctor, and in this situation, it just can’t happen.
The Doctor has always been a mysterious man who travels in time and space. He never really talks about his life on Gallifrey except for bits and pieces and although we have seen him regenerate several times, we still don’t know everything about him. He’s a Time Lord that keeps his personal life to himself, never getting extremely close to his friends. If people aren’t happy with how Doctor Who works, or how the character is, then maybe the show isn’t right for them. Or perhaps if they were to make the Doctor a woman, it would be about time to flick the switch on the show. The character of the Doctor was written specifically for a male actor, and if a woman was to take the role, the writers would have to adjust everything. Some shows have already attempted switching roles and the results weren’t good. Like Battlestar Galactica made Starbuck a woman, and that did not work out well. Also Elementary has a female Watson, played by Lucy Liu. They swap genders to try to pull in a new audience, while alienating the loyal fans that watched it before.
For Doctor Who it would doom the show because there are a mass amount of people who would stop watching. And the ratings would plummet. This is definitely a sensitive issue, and it certainly wasn’t easy to voice why I’m against it. But talking to other fans, I know I’m not the only one that feels this way.
This article was first posted on May 11, 2013