Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Doctor Who: Time for a Feminist Regeneration?
As an avid fan of ‘new Who’, the revival of Dr Who which kicked off with Christopher Eccleston’s cantankerous portrayal of the infamous Time Lord in 2005, I was glued to BBC One on Saturday night for the 50th anniversary special. With three doctors on screen - personal favourites David Tennant and Matt Smith and the forgotten ‘War Doctor’ John Hurt - and a storyline that turned the show’s history on its head, it really was the spectacle fans had been waiting for.
However, putting more than one Doctor on screen at the same time - however thrilling - was also a stark reminder that after 50 years Doctor Who is still being played exclusively by men, whilst the majority of his companions have been women.
Prior to the announcement that Peter Capaldi would play the twelfth Doctor when Matt Smith stands down at Christmas, there was much chatter about the possibility of a female Doctor, with acting legends like Helen Mirren hopping aboard the campaign for greater diversity in the role. When asked why he didn’t choose a woman to play the twelfth Doctor, Head Writer Stephen Moffat claimed he “didn’t feel enough people wanted it”. However, he also proclaimed it was “narratively possible”, debunking any insistence from fans that the Doctor could never be female.
I have no doubt that some fans would object. The announcement of a new Doctor has always provoked apprehension as we wonder whether they will appropriately capture those unique character traits. We all know the doctor has the ability to regenerate into hugely dissimilar forms - from the beady eyed eccentric Tom Baker to the traditionally handsome David Tennant, no two doctors have been the same, or even alike – but for many, changing his sex would be a step too far. However, all fears aside, if the Doctor can take any form (and he has now had a whopping twelve) I would argue strongly that it’s time for a dramatic change.
To give ‘new Who’ its dues, the companions who have accompanied the Doctor since 2005 have been strong protagonists, often holding as much of the screen time as the Doctor and usually playing an integral part in saving the day. The latest companion, Clara Oswin Oswald, has been the most intriguing character to date with entire blogs dedicated to discussions of her particular significance in the Doctor Who story. Towards the end of the ‘Day of the Doctor’ John Hurt acknowledges her significance by stating, "If I grow to be half the man that you are Clara Oswald, then I will be happy indeed".
Despite slow shifts in the right direction, it is now time for a woman to take the starring role in Doctor Who and, in case Moffat uses that same pathetic argument again, I’m getting on the bandwagon nice and early to back the campaign for the thirteenth doctor to be a woman. I would implore you to do the same. For the sake of all those young girls and women who idolise the Doctor (including me!) I am desperate to see a dynamic, intelligent, sharp female Who, one that I can relate to and that those little girls can aspire to be. And with great British actresses like Emma Thompson lining up to take on the role, it won’t be long before Moffatt changes his mind.
(Thanks go to this awesome blog for the pic)