Falling Out of Love with Doctor Who…?

How do you begin an article you’ve dreaded writing? With a rhetorical question, apparently.

The truth is, Doctor Who hasn’t felt right since the end of 2013. I need to make it immediately known that this isn’t the fault of Peter Capaldi, who has been a fantastic Doctor. No, it’s because the show, these days, is content with being controversial, with dividing a loyal fanbase. We had a Doctor forced into being someone who wasn’t very likeable; we had Missy, a female Master who didn’t, if we’re honest, either act like the Master, or have any purpose for being; and a shocking take on the afterlife, courtesy of Dark Water/ Death in Heaven (2014).

In amongst the controversy, there were great stories, and these were the ones that didn’t rely on anything that would tamper with the fabric of the show. Listen (2014) was as close as a solid story came to messing with Doctor Who, but towed the line well.

Then Series 10 exploded onto the scene, and much of it was good. Why? Because it concerned itself with telling stories. Not to split audiences. Not to upset some. Not to get people on Twitter spitting bile at each other. It just told a lot of good stories. Finally, I thought, Doctor Who was coming back.

It’s no secret that the announcement of the Thirteenth Doctor hit me like a tonne of bricks. Look, it’s pointless me trying to explain why I feel a female Doctor isn’t the same character at all: the people who disagree with me won’t be swayed, and I won’t suddenly decide to take to the notion because a few people are intent to assure me that the Doctor isn’t a male character. I know who the Doctor is to me. Instead, it’s more worthwhile to point out the consequences of this decision.

It’s cracked fandom, and made me remember the question I’ve been putting to the back of my mind ever since the Series 8 finale: have I fallen out of love with Doctor Who?

The answer, of course, is no. Not completely. More accurately, I’ve fallen out of love with the show as it is, and as it will be in its immediate future. I can still take some comfort in the past. I’ll always have twelve Doctors to enjoy, but going forwards, it’s tainted by the sad fact that, come 2018, I won’t recognise the show anymore, and perhaps that I don’t relate to fandom anymore.

Sure, fandom’s always been a potentially horrible thing, but that vocal minority, I have to remind myself, are exactly that – a minority – and that on the whole, fans are lovely people.

Now, however, a gross beast masquerading as liberalism sits on a stump and calls it a moral high-ground, there to remind anyone who disagrees with their opinions that they’re wrong, and spouting whichever insults they deem suitable for the situation. The latest, of course, is that you’re a sexist, a chauvinistic pig for knowing who the Doctor is to you, and not rolling with the times.

It was inevitable that a female Doctor would come along, but, if I were a betting man, the smart money would’ve been on the Fourteenth Doctor. Just because some folk on Facebook say “now is the right time” doesn’t mean it is the right time. We do live in a world where differing opinions are scorned, people are very easily offended, and you have to write “IMHO” to let readers know that an opinion is, indeed, an opinion. The aforementioned high ground has always been an ever-shifting mass, but now more than ever, people don’t seem to know what’s right and what’s wrong when it comes to supposed freedom of speech.

While half of Twitter are celebrating the man who took Katie Hopkins to task about her views on the Thirteenth Doctor, the other half are angry because he concluded his tweet with “you bitch”. I hope the same people were critical of Missy describing herself as such too. No matter how well-intentioned you may be, however nice you are, people will turn against you.

The problem is that many think of Doctor Who as just a show. It’s not. It consumes its fans, prompting them to give the franchise time, money, and love.

As a writer, I’ve always known the importance of stories. In college, far too long ago now alas, I argued that they made us human. Saying Doctor Who is just a show, that it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, is entirely missing the beauty of culture.

That’s why it hurts when fandom turns against you. Because it means a great deal. Saying it means “a great deal” is seriously underestimating the hours spent in front of the TV, consuming books and comics and audio, searching for merchandise, and worrying about its future and its past. It underestimates the heart we put into the series.

And it’s really not about being sexist. A very tiny minority of people are genuinely sexist. A female companion has always been an essential part of the show, and I wouldn’t want that altered. This is the story of the companions just as much, if not more than, it is of the Doctor. I didn’t watch for the Eleventh Doctor. I watched for the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, Rory, and River.

(If people wanted a female-led TV show set in the Doctor Who universe, they should’ve supported The Sarah Jane Adventures more: while many passed it off as a show for kids, it was often better than Doctor Who!)

Of course, this regeneration throws up more questions. Will the male be a companion now? If so, will people find cause to complain to the BBC that the corporation doesn’t have faith in a female-led show? If the Fourteenth Doctor is a man, will people call this sexist?

Fans are even split as to how this can work. One half think it’ll only work if the series doesn’t bode upon the gender-swap; the other, only if it does just that.

Oh, what a mess. What a mess.

Some are justifying the mess by referring to Tom Baker and Sydney Newman; the former first joked about the Doctor changing sex, and the latter mentioned it in 1982 as well. Now, this is a funny one. Because Newman was a genius, and created the show we love. Does that mean we take his word as law? If so, the Daleks would never have happened, and the series might not still be on air.

“If you can’t accept this change,” some have argued, “then you’ve missed the point of Doctor Who.” No. If you’re revelling in the hurt this change has resulted in, and calling people bigots for not sharing your viewpoint, then it’s you, my friend, who have missed the point of Doctor Who.

That’s why it’s so baffling that such scorn has been used by several members of the Doctor Who cast and crew from present and previous day. In particular, I’m aghast at one such former cast member, who shall remain nameless because I have respect even when it’s not returned, claims he struggles to call people like me “fans”. I wonder if the same view will be taken when he’s accepting £20 per autograph on a DVD sleeve.

We are fans, whether you like it or not.

Peter Davison, meanwhile, has proven again why he’ll remain a hero; his tweet simply read, “It might be more helpful to be encouraging, and not simply scornful, of fans who are uncertain about change.”

He’s recognised that this has shaken many fans. Sadly, I feel that’s more than can be said of Chris Chibnall.

I wouldn’t have chosen him to be the next showrunner, but since his appointment, I’ve been very optimistic. I was sure he’d return Doctor Who to a safe place, there to deliver enjoyable stories and not cause unnecessary controversy. How wrong I was. I guess this is what pains me so much. It’s not that Chibnall went out looking for the best person to the play the role: he’s admitted to solely wanting to cast a woman. This was his grand plan. He went into the show with that as an agenda. As far as many are concerned, he went into the show intent on upsetting part of the fanbase.

Chris is no stranger to fandom. He knows what this change will mean. Arguments are rife. He’s really divided friends apart, and I won’t forgive him for that. This isn’t a reflection on Jodie Whittaker: it’s not her fault that Chibnall wanted to play gender politics.

How does this all relate to Peter Capaldi’s tenure, which I’ve admitted had me questioning whether the show was for me anymore? Simply that I want Doctor Who back. I just want Doctor Who.

If it weren’t for the DWC, I wouldn’t be watching the Thirteenth Doctor’s era. What would be the point? As far as I’m concerned, it’d be like watching fan fiction, with better CGI. Now, I genuinely don’t know if I’ll watch or not. It wouldn’t be fair on Whittaker, but then again, the whole situation isn’t fair to all fans. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, surely you can see how sad it is that a tear has formed in fandom. Regeneration can do that: if you don’t like the new guy, it’s a bad situation – but the changing of a lead man is a necessity. This upcoming change is not.

I’m sure that, one day, the people who have drifted away will return to the “present” series. Not all, but most. Until then, we can enjoy over 800 episodes. Catch up on books and audio adventures. And remember the good times.

We’ll find our ways back, but rest assured, it will have been the long way around.

  • Philip

    *braces myself*

    • The 13th Dr. Moo

      You’ve expressed an opinion that the show is currently in a position that you’re not entirely comfortable with, that’s fine. I don’t agree with you on this personally and feel like I’ve never been more proud of my favourite show – but the fact you don’t feel the same way, well, that’s totally fine.
      You’ve expressed the opinion in a well-written article and expanded on where that disillusionment has come from. Brace yourself for what? Open debate?

      All I can say is that I hope you stick with it anyway and give it the chance to win you back – you may be pleasantly surprised! And even if it doesn’t, well, up to the end of 2013 you’ve got 33 seasons of the show to enjoy up to that point and that’s more than most TV shows get.

      These things happen. This is a show that’s always changing so sometimes people can fall out of love with it, it’s nothing new; give it five years and it will be a very different beast once again and hopefully people who share your opinions expressed above will fall back in love with it and remember what drew them to this series in the first place.

      • DonnaM

        Nicely said, Dr Moo.

        I’m not convinced that the change is necessary or right. Whittaker doesn’t give me “Doctor” vibes any more than Eccleston, Tennant or Smith did, but I gave them a chance and I’ll do the same for her.

        On the wider issue, the Doctor recently gave a masterly lecture on the importance of being decent and kind. Here’s hoping with the passage of time, his admirers on all sides of the argument honour him by doing the same!

  • The Lazy Womble

    Okay Philip. Let’s wrestle with this. The monster sitting on the stump is just that: a monster. It is also a liar. I came so close during season 9 to deciding that I wasn’t a Doctor Who fan that I nearly gave up. It was rubbish then. It is rubbish now. Peter Davison is correct. Those Twits who slap him down, while noble in their aspirations, have missed what is genuinely worrying fans with a deep love of the show. Whether the end result of this incarnation be good or ill I do not know. But it is divisive. It is painful. It is causing deep hurts.

    Now more than ever we need to come together as a community. TDWC has always been superb at embracing different opinions. Now as never before we must be excellent. We must be the best that Doctor Who fans can be.

    • DonnaM

      I’m not a great fan of Davison’s Doctor but he’s a fine actor and he’s been bold enough to articulate a truly Doctor-worthy message in the bear-pit that is Twitter. Being uncertain about the change myself, I appreciate his understanding.

      Oh – and I adored Series 9! Isn’t it the best thing about Doctor Who that all tastes and opinions are (or have been so far) catered for?

      • The Lazy Womble

        Yes DonnaM it completely is

      • Kathryn O’Connor

        I love 9. what’s the matter with it? Didn’t it have enough boom booms for some?

        • DonnaM

          I don’t know. It’s a matter of opinion and other people’s are quite as valid as yours and mine. I did say I adored it…

    • Kathryn O’Connor

      I wish we could come together but as long as 40 year old virgin nerd boys are scared of us girls, there’s going to be a division. They just need to overcome their gender issues. I don’t judge them for their lifestyle choices but when they make mean inaccurate comments about me as a biological being, oh you bet the claws and teeth will come out along with my wit

      • DonnaM

        I’m a woman of approaching fifty. I don’t see this change as necessary. I don’t see it as “nerd boys” being scared of me, Jodie Whittaker or our shared biology. I find that an unkind and crude generalisation by the way.

        I see casual sexism in action every day, and if you think the Doctor being female is going to change it – I respectfully disagree.

      • Philip

        I’m not sure you can say you don’t judge people on lifestyle choices, urge people to “overcome their gender issues”, and disparage those who make “mean inaccurate comments”, directly after accusing anyone with a different opinion as being “40 year old virgin nerd boys.” As DonnaM points out, it’s not universally men who take issue with a female Doctor; she equally notes that she sees casual sexism in action every day, and I’m afraid I see that in your comment, Kathryn.

        • DonnaM

          It’s depressing to see this whole conversation dragging down to the level of the primary school playground. This isn’t about “yucky girls” and “stinky boys”! Can’t we at least be adults?

          Delivery drivers who slap their parcel next to my desk name plate (job title too – “office manager” should be a bit of a clue) and smirk “Hiya poppet/darlin’/sweet-cheeks. Gonna sign for this for us?” The creepy bloke from the fourth floor who conducts entire conversations with the chest-rack of his female colleagues instead of their faces. Smarmy sales reps who *know* they’re at the correct office even when they’re repeatedly told the buyer they’re wanting to see works 40 miles away…. oh believe me, I’ve seen sexism in action!

          On the other hand, the vast majority of the men I deal with every day are pleasant respectful and thoroughly decent human beings. I won’t generalise and name-call based on a small cross-section of society!

          • Philip

            Agree 100%, DonnaM! I find “sweet cheeks” is a hilarious greeting. I hope you burst out laughing if you’re called it.

          • DonnaM

            In lieu of Missy’s pointy stick, I tend to ignore for a few moments then say an innocent “Oh sorry, were you talking to me? I didn’t recognise the name…”

            I’m feeling at the moment as if the show is my favourite stuffed toy when I was young enough to call myself a “girl”. The vocal “best thing since sliced bread” brigade have it by the head; “the never-watching-again” crew have it by the tail; and they’re pulling it so hard the stuffing’s coming out all over the floor. I just hope there’s going to be someone around at the end of the day to sew the poor old bugger back together again!

  • DonnaM

    Philip, I respectfully disagree with your opinion of the past four years (well most of it – there’s definitely been a touch of controversy for the sake of it) but I assume you will equally disagree with my take on the four preceding. I’ve commented many times that the Eleventh Doctor didn’t do it for me – galumphing, gimmick-ridden grandstanding dominated his era to my eye. It’s no more the fault of Matt Smith that I feel this way than the way you feel about Twelve’s time is Peter Capaldi’s. Fine actors given material we don’t like just won’t work for us.
    I drifted off from the “current” show halfway through Series 5. I saw bits and bobs – gave it a chance again at the start of Series 6, didn’t like it so returned to my DVD collection. Came back again to see if a new companion would improve matters – found it didn’t, so ambled off again. There’s a chance – the way I’m feeling at present quite a strong one – that Series 11 might go the same way.
    I expected a woman to be cast this time; I think I was resigned, and when Jodie Whittaker’s name appeared out of nowhere I was accepting of the inevitability. Does that mean I’m enthused? No.
    What appals me is the howling of abuse aimed at anyone who doesn’t toe the approved line – the illiberalism of some self-proclaimed liberals when anyone dares offer an alternative opinion is one of the scariest things about the modern world and it’s a damn scary place at times. I’m hardly anti-women, being one myself and yet my concerns about the Doctor’s (unnecessary in my eyes) gender change is can only, apparently, be sexist!
    It’s a sad reflection, not on fandom but on humanity as a whole. Even the BBC has got in on the act, arrogantly dismissing the concerns of one portion of their audience because “well other people think it’s brilliant”.
    Brace yourself – this won’t be allowed to be seen as anything but a triumphal success. Chris Chibnall’s made himself bulletproof by casting the approved set of reproductive organs. Anything he writes will be hailed as a masterpiece; critical acclaim and award nominations are almost guaranteed. I sincerely hope they’re merited.
    Any casting would have been divisive – there’ll be a minority complaining about Whittaker’s ethnicity already, I bet – but a degree of compassion and consideration for those uncertain, undecided or even virulently hostile is surely what the Doctor would urge. I’d certainly back that call!
    I was dreading the Christmas special anyway – saying goodbye to a beloved Doctor isn’t easy. Now – well, it’s likely to be another battle in the ongoing war that’s become my favourite show. However Thirteen plays out, that’s a tragedy for all of us who love the show she’s joining.

  • alienwizardling

    seriously what a load of self pitying boredom – fandom is ALWAYS splitting – there are long-term fans I know who wouldn’t watch any NEW-who, then there are those who thought that Matt smith was way too young and they all said they wouldnt watch it again. Frankly I’M tired of folk complaining and bitching before one shot of her ‘era’ has been shot – I think she’ll be magnificent and give it a whole new impetus – a while new audience.

  • David Blyth

    People outgrowing Doctor Who for certain stretches is perfectly natural….the show has to keep changing, and fans hate change [ironicly], or they only tolerate change that does’nt take risks. People cann get [hell] bent with that attitude, series ten was a mediocre chore and the ratings reflect that. Series Eight and Nine were both audacious and brash series that I had a lot of fun with, but of course they did things the nerds did’nt like so poof, they get villified.

  • Peter Rabytt

    Firstly I agree with Davison, it is more helpful to be encouraging than scornful of those struggling with change. That’s true more generally because attack causes defence, whilst encouragement is nurturing.
    Secondly I do understand identifying with a very long standing character as male, when they have been that way and important to you for many years. If your dad suddenly said he wanted to be a woman and had sex change, most people would struggle with that, even if you believe everyone has the right to be who they feel they are inside. Finding it upsetting that the doctor is not going to be as we have always seen him, isn’t necessarily sexist and assuming that is unfair.

    So relax Phil, we don’t all think you are sexist.
    I think we need move away from dwelling on those who might jump to those assumptions, for whatever reason. Why should they dictate the agenda? I would prefer to try to look at what we want of the show, rather than second guess each other motives.

    We all have what feel like red lines in the sand when it comes to Doctor Who. For example, I think I would really struggle to see it as the same show if they got rid of the Tardis and he had some other way to jaunt through time eg a wrist band gizmo or something.

    However, for me, and its only my view, I think there is some catastrophising going on. Sure for some fans this is a big change that challenges their sense of what makes Doctor Who be Doctor Who. But……and I say this as a massive fan of the show and someone who feels an emotional connection with it……

    • Kathryn O’Connor

      Peter may be right but has he had 40 year old virgins making rude comments about his genitals and devices used for reproductive hygiene? That’s when I decided to not play Ms Nice Lady anymore. I’m dealing with a 50 year old Virgin and his issues with dressing in a hotel room at conventions right now so I’m sick of their hang ups and gender issues

      • Peter Rabytt

        I choose not to go into what people have said about my genitals in this arena.
        I don’t wish to make light of any individuals experience, or that of the oppression of groups. I have spent my life fighting discrimination, labelling and injustice. Strangely enough, I am not really a rabbit. When i log on to DWC I want to talk about Doctor Who and try to get along with people.
        Good luck to you in your situation. Pete

    • Rick714

      A lot of the arguments like “what if your dad had a sex change?” are all thought provoking and I think it’s bad to demonize anyone struggling with this whole thing—but at the same time, the sex change in real life is apples and oranges to a time Lord switching bodies, again, bodies that don’t even matter, said the Doctor many times. The new life cycle gives the character an out here and yeah, bodies are a dime a dozen to a Time Lord. So those who are having real issues with it are either going to split entirely but I hope that given the basic tenants of the show they’ve been watching for so long, they’ll at least give the new era a chance.

      • Peter Rabytt

        I agree Rick. I reserve judgement on the next series until I have seen it. I don’t personally have any problem with The Doctor being a woman. I just wanted to encourage people to be more understanding of people who are struggling with it and not assume that this must be because they are sexist. I am finding some of the ‘discussions’ polarising and tribal. I am looking forward to the next series and just hope Chibbers is a better programme runner than episode writer……

  • In regards to the new Doctor, I honestly didn’t know how I would feel when the moment arrived. After the initial shock had worn off and I had time to process it, I find that I am okay with the change. I for one am going forward with an open mind, I’ve survived many changes to the programme since I’ve started watching the programme in 1975, and for a programme that is all about change, I’m of the mind that such change should be embraced. You mileage may vary, of course.

  • Rachel

    Hi Phil, To be honest I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about a woman being cast as The Doctor either, but after it happened I realized I was thrilled. Because of that previous nervousness though I can understand where you and others are coming from. I may be fooling myself, but I like to think the people attacking from BOTH sides are a very vocal minority.

    • Philip

      That’s fair enough, Rachel. I think the vocal minority depends where you go to – Twitter, for instance, is particularly bad. Saying that, media outlets seem to think people tweeting is news, so some websites have turned tweets about some wanting a female Doctor is a news article; I guess that’s why I feel people who share my views are being unfairly judged. Thank you for commenting 🙂

  • ColeBox

    Philip, while reading this article, I found myself nodding several times. I have said on another post on this site that my knee-jerk reaction was that my favourite show had been confiscated. However, I still intend on giving Jodie Whittaker a chance. But, by the sound of things, that’s over a year away. It’s a long time to wait, for such a monumental change, to either confirm or alleviate one’s fears. Having said that, it’s no secret that I found this last series so very lack-lustre that, where I once used to really look forward to a new episode, I’d be pretty slack about picking it off the TiVo and hadn’t bothered to watch a few of the episodes for a couple of days. I too had been feeling a little out of love with Doctor Who.

    I hadn’t seen Davison’s tweet. I wish I had as it would have restored a tiny bit of faith. All I was seeing were re-tweets of cheap gags, from those in the Who world, about (for example) a Who fan’s brain being smaller on the inside. One notable individual (who will also remain nameless), who was re-tweeting said digs and *other* people’s congratulations to Jodie, was saying *nothing* themselves. They had previously indicated that they weren’t too keen on a woman Doctor, but it appears they can’t bring themselves to stick their neck out in fear of the backlash. Even more credit, therefore, to Davison for at least going against the tide.

    It is interesting to note that Jodie Whittaker herself made a similar comment to Davison – “I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender…” – but this got picked up by certain corners of the press and made into a further political issue in that “she shouldn’t apologise for her gender”. At least she understood what a huge impact this was going to be, but that gross beast just wants to feed.

    • Kathryn O’Connor

      too bad. she is right. those boys are scared of girls

      • Christian Cawley

        By that logic, by wanting a female Doctor, you’re scared of boys… I doubt that’s true, either.

      • Philip

        Surely any “boys” scared of “girls” wouldn’t have started watching a show that, in 1963, introduced a female teacher and a schoolgirl as two of its central characters, and has had a female central to the show, in companion roles, ever since…?

      • James Lomond

        Kathryn can you explain rather than assert? I suspect it’s more complicated than “scared” whether that’s “threatened” or “have been socialised into believing it is impossible for a man to identify with a woman because they’re somehow fundamentally different”… if people are failing to understand your point you could do a lot more than just re-assert it.

    • Philip

      Thanks ColeBox. I think a lot of people are feeling exactly the same thing as you and I, but are too worried about speaking out. And that’s wrong. The media has turned against us, as Twitter sets a terrible example. As it stands, we’ll likely have to wait over a year to find out what the future is like for the show, and that feels like a huge mistake.

  • Mark Whiteley

    Thank you

    • Philip

      Thanks, Mark. I am sorry it’s hit you hard, and that a lot of the vocal fandom don’t appreciate its impact on people. For me, it’s personal because I have the DWC, so DW cuts deeps; so while I’m not coming from exactly the same place as you, I do feel the same. It’s a massive shame, and I wish people wouldn’t be so unnecessarily offensive to people with different views.

    • bar none but PC

      Must admit, if I still needed my interdimensional Father-Figure now as much as I did when I was growing up, I might feel as bereft as so many do. Thanks to some other good people in real life, I’m able to still appreciate the Doctor, but not need ‘him’ to be a him as I used to.
      Fortunately, on this site, you’ll find decent people of all opinions hanging together despite the storm over JW. Maybe where a Father-Figure is absent, some sibling fans will encourage you to stick with the family that is Who, til it feels more like home to you again.

    • Don’t you think that female viewers – especially young girls – should ALSO have role models? Or are we only allowed to have so many, and no more?

      • Rick714

        The way that question is asked is somewhat provocative, as if there are no female role models at all. I’d counter that most female companions have been wonderful role models. Sarah Jane, Romana, Leela, River, Rose, Clara, Amy….all strong, powerful, great women. The comment above makes it sound like as if a female role model is not valid if she’s a companion? What’s wrong with being the companion? Is a woman only a worthy role model if she’s got top billing? (and BTW, I wish Whitaker well as the Doctor and I’ll be watching)

        • “What’s wrong with being a nurse” – Men to women when they first wanted to be doctors.

          You don’t realize you’re being sexist and demoralizing with your comments, and that’s okay. Maybe this is an opportunity for men everywhere to realize that a woman taking a role that has historically been limited to men isn’t the end of the world. It might actually encourage men to view women as role models for once.

          • Rick714

            While you’re being patronizing, offensive and unnecessarily provocative at the drop of a hat and that’s not ok. I’ll let you rail at some other imagined slight elsewhere.

          • Christian Cawley

            Perhaps it would be more constructive if you listed some alternative male role models for young boys and girls.

      • There have been so many female role models. Sarah Jane even had her own show!

        • Philip

          It was brilliant too! Oh, I do miss SJA, and I do miss Sarah Jane so much.

    • I completely understand what you are saying. Men who disagree are sexist and women just want to fan girl over a cute Doctor.

  • Kathryn O’Connor

    The fandom has always been divided. always. Especially between those who are buttholes and enjoy being one and those who aren’t and don’t. Those who are into science fiction for the boom booms and those who prefer stories and characters. but it sure made the 40 year old virgins cry. (Seen enough of those at cons in the past 20 years) and the Broflakes. Seen enough mean comments from them about vaginas and dildos and tampons turned into sonics. (Newsflash nerdboy: the sonic has always looked like a dildo) Seen enough whippersnappers who never read Left Hand of Darkness, an iconic classic in the genre and deals with aliens who change genders. Like I said. Many are into it for the boom booms like they did with Wonder Woman. All boom booms. cut out the story.

    • The Lazy Womble

      Sorry. Genuine question. What do you mean by “boom booms”?

      • Philip

        I think she means a young mutant called Tabitha Smith.

        *OBSCURE X-MEN REFERENCE KLAXON*

        • The Lazy Womble

          ah no wonder I didn’t get it.

          • Ranger

            I thought she was talking about explosions?

            Apart from Kathryn’s strange obsession with virgins, these have been very interesting comments to read. I agree with Phil’s central tenet in his article, that it is distressing how divisive this has been. However, due to some wise words from my husband, I have modified my position somewhat. ” Pretend it’s like Matt Smith, grit your teeth, get through, and there will be things you love, like the companion or a monster or a supporting artist or a story and it might make you happy, don’t throw 50 years of love away”. I know I married that man for for a reason.

          • Simon Danes

            Interesting. I have written an enlightened and fascinating post on the topic elsewhere (on ‘A Call to Optimism’), to which I refer you for your delectation. Basically, what I said is that some fans like some things about certain periods of the show and others can’t stand those periods. We seem to be approaching another such era. Anyway. I’m baffled by people not liking Matt Smith’s Doctor; my own view is that he’s the best of the four nu-Who Doctors, by a long way. I’m baffled by people not liking any of nu-Who. I’m baffled by people not liking Pertwee’s Doctor or who don’t like ‘The Twin Dilemma’. (OK, that last one was a joke.) Some will like Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor; some won’t.

            Aaaaaaaand…. there’s a difference between disagreeing with someone and writing them off as a human being. One we should observe.

            This is probably inarticulate but it’s 4.50 a.m. and I’m insomniac.

            Have a great weekend, everyone: those who welcome Ms Whittaker and those who are worried.

            Love from Simon
            (50 and a bit. Not been a virgin for quite a long time.)

          • The Lazy Womble

            he sounds a sensible man, your husband. And finally “tenets” yessssss!!!

          • Ranger

            Lol! For pity’s sake don’t tell him that, he’ll become insufferable! 🙂

    • reTARDISed

      Why are you so obsessed by virgins? It seems to be a recurrent theme of yours. Other men (and women) are available…

      • The Lazy Womble

        oh for the days before “virgin” was an insult!

        • bar none but PC

          I blame Richard Branson.

          • The Lazy Womble

            So do I. It’s a default setting.

      • Kathryn O’Connor

        This little virgin boy just made a statement that illustrates the problem. He assumes someone calling out a virgin is doing so because that person wants to screw the virgin.
        It’s the same mentality of the virgin boys who said things like, ” So now will she hold a dildo instead of a sonic screwdriver?”
        Newsflash, boys. Go outside to a busy street and look at the real people out and about. How many women are walking around holding dildos? They don’t know anything about women. They think they do. they barely know themselves. they don’t even realize what it’s like to not be understood by a group and read the stupid and horrible things that group believes about you.
        and yeah, I’ve known enough 50 year old virgins over the decades from science fiction conventions to understand them enough

        • Philip

          Okay, Kathryn, I’ve had enough.

          You DO NOT use such language against other commenters. You’ve had a chance to make valid points, but you’ve refused to, instead using unnecessary language, insinuating that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is a “little virgin boy”, and bizarrely brought in an argument about people who are saying, “So now will she hold a dildo instead of a sonic screwdriver?” – NO ONE on the DWC has said this, so you;re literally arguing with yourself.

          Now, you either treat other commenters with respect, or you don’t visit the DWC again. It’s as simple as that. If you make points without lowering yourself by insulting other people, that’s fine; any more comments about “little virgin boys” will be treated as spam.

          • Kathryn O’Connor

            I’ve also called them Broflakes, and have insinuated that they only watch science fiction for the explosions or boom booms rather then ideas. It’s why all american science fiction is like watching a 2 hour video game. (borrriinnnnng)
            Plus, the comments I’ve responded too were all over on many forums. I left out their miss-spelled bad language. YOur forum is your forum but I’m not going to pretend none of that was going on and the type of person it indicates

        • reTARDISed

          It’s very sad that you feel the need to be so angry and aggressive. If you can’t be happy when something you like happens (i.e. a female Doctor), then when can you be? (This seems to be a disease of our times, when even supporters of the winning side in elections and referenda seem to be as angry as those that lost.) Series 11 is over a year away, and unless you can regain some happiness and excitement during that long wait, then what is life for? Nothing anyone says, whether they agree with you or not, can alter the fact that you got what you wanted, so use that as your reason to be happy. Words are words; they cannot hurt you if you don’t let them. If everyone thought and believed exactly the same, there would be little joy (or even point) in having a world population of over 7 billion. My better half, for what it’s worth, remains unenthused (even annoyed) by the prospect of a female Doctor, whereas I am slightly more equivocal. We shall all have to wait and see how series 11 turns out; I certainly plan to give Jodie Whittaker a fair chance.

  • Darren M Gomes

    Davison’s being very diplomatic. Two years ago, he was interviewed for an Australian TV programme, where he was confronted with the question should a woman play the role? Here’s the clip;
    https://youtu.be/EVfK_Fiph3o
    For me, it’s something I can accept, as NuWho has crossed the line since it started in 2005 for me. I’ve put up with the disappointment with what RTD and Moffatt have given us, I persevered with the series to see if real Doctor Who would return, where it stopped naval gazing and trying to psychoanalyse the Doctor (a huge no no in my book, it’s called Doctor Who for a reason) and just got back to basics. But it’s not happened and I don’t think it’ll ever happen now. Too much of what was established from 1963 to 1989 has basically been binned since the TVM. Missy I could accept, as we know the Master’s wasted his regenerations and presumably his second cycle as well. He became a body vampire in order to survive (taking Tremas’ body and Eric Robert’s paramedic), so if he took over a woman’s body to create Missy, fair enough. But Hell Bent, having the Doctor behave out of character to shoot a Time Lord as an escape ploy and then have that Time Lord regenerate and change gender, just to show it can be done, without any real explanation, just a throwaway line which was missed by a lot of people, myself included, as I only watched it the once on transmission and was told about it only recently. Presumably now, after Chibnall’s statement, it was done to pre-empt Chibnall’s plan. It’s what’s been the biggest bugbear with NuWho, things happen without reason. Both RTD and Moffatt have admitted in interviews that they don’t like, nor understand Science Fiction and it shows. There has to be cause, effect and reason, but instead we’ve been confronted with situations, which are then solved in a hocus pocus, timey wimey, izzy wizzy let’s get busy way. Things happen and there’s nothing to explain why it’s happened. It’s been dumbed down and although RTD said he didn’t have a particular audience in mind when he revived it, he did aim it at the lowest common denominator, while Moffatt’s tried to keep old school fans happy with blatant references to the original series, while pushing us further away at the same time, because he’s screwed around with things. That in turn has turned away the casual viewer, which is why Chibnall’s gone with the female Doctor. I’ll watch, but I no longer watch as a fan.

    • Philip

      Thanks for that, and for that clip. I think former cast and crew have to tow the line, but both Davison and McCoy have said in the past that they don’t want a female Doctor; now, they’ve had to withdraw that, and I can understand it completely: as former Doctors, you have to wish the new one the best, and give them the best chance possible. Nonetheless, you can’t stop them believing as they do.

      • James Lomond

        Though Davison’s concern about a fallible Time Lady and “strong” (so sick of this vague and over-used work – *what* is it supposed to mean? Socially dominating? Opinionated??) male companion will be a backward-stepping stereotype can easily be addressed in the writing and characterisation. The Doctor, while fallible, is still brilliant and heroic. I can’t help but think a lot of this is to do with how people conceive of gender and have a real difficulty with the idea of the continuity or preservation of consciousness/ character across a gender or sex change- which relies on how we conceive of gender and sex more generally. If this thought is right then people who believe men and women are somehow fundamentally different may be more likely to feel uncomfortable or object to the change and those who don’t may find it easier. I shall think further…

  • Javi VD

    Yeah i pretty much agree with all you say. I thought many similar things over the last few days before i read this.

    Let´s just leave it in 6 words: at least we got Big Finish

  • DoctorWho?

    I saw a great meme on a DW FB page yesterday, saying…and I’m paraphrasing here…” If they would have announced Jodi Whitaker staring in a new DW series about the adventures of Romana, I’d be all over it.”

    First, I think that’s is an awesome idea! She looks the part too. Seriously, the BBC should cast someone and run with that idea. I love Romana!

    Now…hypothetical: suppose they did. And it was a hit with the fans. It has a great 3-4 year run and then the actress decides to move on.

    And Romana regenerates into a man!

    Is that allowed? What would be the reaction? The backlash? Would that be called ‘sexist’? What would we call her? Ramone? Raymond?

    Food for thought.

    • Rick714

      Excellent, excellent point.

      • DoctorWho?

        Thanks.

        And I would…as I assume you would too…be equally against the idea of Romana regenerating into man. I would want to see Romana fulfill her whole regeneration cycle as a Time Lady and look forward to the array of wonderful and talented choices of actresses to play the role.

        Is this “sexist” of me?

        And can we still say actress, or is that sexist now?
        No, I’m seriously asking…

        • Rick714

          Oh, it’s become quite the mine-field. “Actress” is now an offensive term like so many others and it’s gotten to the point where I’m very wary of saying most things as you never know who you’re going to offend and when. Those that become offended at the drop of a hat—and there are many out there, don’t help matters, cranking up the anxiety even further when simple, honest mistakes are made simply because someone isn’t up to date on the latest determinant and categorical phrases. I don’t believe that incendiary sect is predominant as I think most folks are more or less accepting and/or respectful or try to be.

        • As a woman, I hate having my gender hidden in these now genderless terms like everyone is an actor. No. I’m an actress. I am a woman and proud of it. Will they have female Time Lord’s regenerate into males? My guess is not because it doesn’t fit Chibnal’s agenda.

          • The Lazy Womble

            Being extremely pedantic, there is at least an implication that a female Tome Lord has changed into a male. In Hell Bent, when the Doctor forces the General to regenerate, he becomes she and states that her earlier incarnations were female.

          • DoctorWho?

            Respect!

        • Circle of Awesome Moviegoers

          Romana has been shown to have control over her regenerations, so she clearly chooses to be female, and has a female name. The Doctor, The Master, The Corsair, The General, and even The Rani choose to go by titles that do not indicate gender, and can therefore be any gender. As these Timelords don’t appear to exercise control over their regenerations, I don’t see why gender should be a part of their core identities.

          • DoctorWho?

            There was never any indication Romana could choose to be male if she wanted.

            Because we’re talking science fantasy here, anything is possible and you can explain anything. But for the solid underpinning of consistency of character, I would want Romana to retain her female awesomeness throughout her regeneration cycle. Switching genders is an aberration.

            Gender swapping regeneration serves no purpose. It’s frivolous. Its a novelty. It does nothing to serve the story. It sacrifices iconic characters to mere sociopolitical agendas of the time.

            Let’s have the Doctor regenerate into an 8 year old child. Why not? Would it serve any purpose? No. Would you find that silly? Unnecessary?

  • Terence R. Douglass

    WELL, WELL done sir! When I saw the casting reveal online I was like jaw to the ground, seeing that Chibnall & the BBC did what I thought couldn’t be worse than what’s already been done! Thanks!

  • daft

    As a long term fan, it doesn’t bother me, but as a sentient human being, I also recognize it matters to others. It would be hardly shocking for anyone logging on here that geek fandom can be incredibly insensitive at times, so check yourself.

  • GiftoftheMagi

    Something I would like to add if I may. I talked about the change to my wife, who is not a fan of the show. She seemed pleased that the character is now a woman but she did make one good point.

    The Doctor is a strange, eccentric, socially awkward male hero that solves problems without weapons or fighting, by using his intelligence, wit and courage. And he relies on strong female friends when he loses his way.

    In other words, The Doctor is a powerful alternative role model for young boys. One that casts off the stereotype so often seen and promotes peaceful solutions to dangerous problems and positive models for behavior with women.

    And now that is gone. The Doctor is now a female role model, one that neatly fits most other female role models of positive and mostly nonviolent problem solving.

    Young girls do need more and better role models…but should you do that by sacrificing ones for boys, especially when so few like the Doctor exist. Right now, all we have is Steven Universe.

    I have no answer for my wife. Do you.

    • The Lazy Womble

      Not yet. We just have to hope that Fish is able to provide an answer.

    • Coopergreg

      If there’s a strong male companion, he could well be a role model for the boys.

    • Philip

      Your wife’s absolutely right! There is a so-called toxic masculinity in male role models, and the Doctor was an exception to that.

      • bar none but PC

        Not ‘an’ exception; THE exception that I know of. If there was no sexism and boys could see girls as role-models it wouldn’t be an issue.
        Although I’ll watch S11 with an open mind, I’m not sure little boys are given that option in the pink v blue world they’re brought up in.

      • James Lomond

        Yes – though I don’t think Doctor Who being the *only* solution to a clture of toxic masculenity is a reason to stop the casting changing to a woman. It’s a reason to combat toxic masculenity in society more generally. Doctor Who doesn’t exist solely to promote a particular kind of masculenity though that is one of the wonderful things it has done. And really, my feeling is that if there is some other objection withing a person (whether me, Phil or anyone else) to there being a female Doctor, that objection needs to be interrogated and understood rather than the choice and outside world debated endlessly. Until we properly understand the objections we’re stuck – and a lot of them haven’t really made sense. I’ve got more thoughts on this but this probably isn’t the time or place…

        • bar none but PC

          Great point James. I’d like to hear your further thoughts too.

    • Maybe put more energy and effort into supporting other shows with strong male role models. I’m surprised that so many people think that the Doctor is the ONLY positive male role model out there. And young women – especially nerdy, awkward, sci-fi loving young women like I once was – deserve to have positive role models, too.

      When I was growing up watching the 4th Doctor on PBS, I loved him but hated how his “assistants” were a bunch of ankle-twisting scream queens. I appreciate them more now, and obviously we’ve had a lot of great actresses in the role of companion in the new series. But finally seeing the Doctor as ME – I’m so excited. And so are millions of female fans. And it’s sad that we’re having to fight for this relatively tiny slice of the cake – as if women are only allowed X number of sci-fi roles and no more.

      • GiftoftheMagi

        The problem is Doctor Who IS one of the few shows with this kind of male hero. Point in fact, there are no live action TV shows with a male herothat refuses to use weapons and instead using intelligence and wit to end a conflict, preferably with out people dying. One that shows real consequences to actions, and allows the hero to fail. Badly.

        On the other hand yes you are correct. We have a depressing draught of female leads in sci-fi. The Doctor is a good fit for one…because that is the stereotype for one. Janeway, Romanoff, Delenn, Troi…the standard sci-fi female hero is the one seeking peace at all costs, avoiding violence and weapons whenever they can. A character like Riply is super rare, but common amongst male action stars.

        So yeah. Retconning the TimeLord to gender bend and making the Doctor a woman instead of bringing back Romana or Ace in their own series I believe takes away more than it gives. And don’t knock the 4th’s Companions. Leela, Romana, Nessa and Tegan were NOT scream queens.

  • nospokenword

    I read the entire piece, and I have dismissed Philip’s arguments. They are too regressive. He wants *his* Doctor Who back. It sounds like the same arguments that Trump fans in America make about wanting to return to some idealized America of the past when they felt that they were in control (spoilers, white men are still in control of America). What Philip misses in his argument is that the show had a male lead for more than 50 years and how that could affect girls and women. He is so focused on his feelings, that he ignores the fact that many people the world over are cheering this change. The author is so caught in his own bubble that he doesn’t realize how selfish he sounds. I have no sympathy for people like this that feel like something is being taken away from them because the next Doctor is a woman. Sorry not sorry.

    • Christian Cawley

      What a relief after *dismissing* Phil’s arguments that you took the time to offer a detailed rebuttal.

      Oh, no you didn’t, did you 😉

      • TimeyWimey

        They did though

        • Christian Cawley

          Not really: Phil wrote 1500+ words. nospoken managed barely 10% of that.

          Barely detailed; barely a rebuttal. If there’s a strong argument *in favour* then it should be presented. Throwing words like “bubble” around and how a 50 year male lead “could affect girls and women” is as vague as nospoken word implies Phil’s argument is with his/her instant dismissal.

          That’s no debate, it’s “lalalalalanotlistening”

      • nospokenword

        There wasn’t a whole lot to rebut. His argument was basically that the Doctor has always been male, so he should stay male. Arguments from tradition don’t carry much water (hence my calling his argument regressive). As a man, Phil was comfortable with the Doctor being male, and now that the show is becoming more diverse and inclusive, Phil (and people like him) cry that it’s divisive. Like many conservatives, they lament that their favorite show/actor/writer/etc is joining the “culture war.” Whatever. The only people that complain about this are people latching on to some good old days that never existed for most people. The only people that make these arguments speak from such privilege that they are blind to the feelings and experiences of the less privileged. The world has been centered around men for most of human history. It is long past time for that to change. If you feel like something has been taken from you, too bad. It’s time to give a shot to people that have never had it before.

        • Christian Cawley

          “I have dismissed Philip’s opinions….” “his argument…” “Phil (and people like him)…”

          Why don’t you actually address Phil? He took the time to write a 1500 word article, why don’t you show some respect and speak to him directly with your arbitrary dismissal?

          • nospokenword

            Dude, that’s twice you’ve referenced 1500 words like it matters. Word count is irrelevant to an argument. It’s not about quantity, but about content, and I boiled down the main argument in Phil’s article, as explained above. Also, it is my writing style to refer to Phil in the third person as the author of the main article. That also is irrelevant to the points of disagreement.

    • DonnaM

      I respect your right to dismiss Philip’s opinion. I hope you’ll respect it if he chooses to dismiss yours.

      He’s expressing an opinion. He’s perfectly entitled (until the re-education camps are opened and I fear the world’s not far from that) to express it. He’s not being selfish, any more than you are in disagreeing.

      I thought Doctor Who was about tolerance, kindness and respect. Lately I’m suspecting I might be wrong.

      I hope Whittaker is a brilliant Doctor. I hope I still see the Doctor in her. I don’t in Smith; I struggle in Davison. I do, totally, in the first four and in Capaldi. If that’s me being selfish – sorry. Not sorry 🙂

    • Philip

      Is the show progressive then? Or is it merely progression for appearances’ sake? The show can be progressive without a female Doctor, and indeed, it has been. Look at Bill. Or Clara. Or Martha. Or Liz Shaw! Isn’t it *more* genuinely progressive for the show to have more female behind-the-scenes crew members? How many female writers, directors, and producers have worked on DW since 2005? You, too, focus on your feelings, ignoring the fact that many people the world over are lamenting the change. You’ve proved that you’re willing to ignore us, as you’re dismissing any arguments to the contrary.

      How does a male lead affect girls and women? Maybe they see that the show is as much about the companions as the Doctor, and find that they’re, more often than not, stronger than the Doctor. Look at RTD’s vision for Rose: she might not have been the best role-model at all times, being often selfish, but then again, throughout Series 1 at least, she’s the hero.

      “He wants *his* Doctor Who back.” All showrunners want their old vision of DW back. They stand on the shoulders of giants, the people who have influenced them, what the show is, and what they think of as their ideals. They may tamper with it slightly, but the very fact that Davies, Moffat, and Chibnall – indeed, all the writers who have worked on the show – have been fans means that they’re inspired by other people’s work on DW.

      • TimeyWimey

        It occurs to me that you underestimate how important this casting decision has been to a lot of female Dw fans. Read this -https://thetimeladies.com/2017/07/19/the-13th-doctor-our-reaction/amp/

        • Philip

          I don’t see how I could underestimate it; that’s all I’ve been getting from social media – drowning out any opposing views with calls of being behind the times (or some such nonsense). I think you’re underestimating the number of people upset about this; that’s what my article seeks to address. I’m familiar with the Time Ladies – very nice people. A small sample of fandom, though; I could easily find as many people in the DWC community who aren’t so sure about the change – indeed, just look at some of the comments here.

          Look, I do get it, TimeyWimey. I do. This is an important casting decision for a lot of female DW fans. But that goes both ways. Not all female fans are really happy about it. I’m just trying to get people to realise that the folk who aren’t so sure are not sexist or whatever. They’re fans too, and their worries need to be addressed without resorting to the petty name-calling that’s been going on.

      • nospokenword

        The show has indeed been progressive at times in having strong female companions as well as diverse ethnic heritages and sexual orientations. Further, I agree that the scarcity of woman writers and directors on the show is shameful (but a problem hardly exclusive to Doctor Who). However, your argument that a woman can do those things instead playing the Doctor is insulting. It is a bit like churches saying women can’t be priests or bishops, but look at all the other ways they can get involved. The stodgy old patriarchy is slowly dying, but it isn’t going without a fight. I look forward to the day when people no longer say that a woman can’t/shouldn’t do that. Stodgy men are going to have to learn to share with women (and those who don’t conform to a gender at all).

        • bar none but PC

          Speaking as a female priest, I see where you’re coming from, but our Phil doesn’t have much in common with stodgy old patriarchy. he’d certainly never intend to patronise by praising the women who are so vital to the show in other roles and skills. I guess the problem is some see the Doctor him/herself as a glass ceiling, and will feel patronised until the Pope is a woman too. Maybe ‘sharing’ feels like being robbed/taken over. Maybe the Doctor becoming a woman isn’t the last straw, but the first, dreadful realisation that patriarchy is dying and nothing is sacred to boys any more. The Church has been struggling with this deep, personal pain for 50 years or more, so we have a responsibility to be sensitive to those it’s hitting for the first time.

        • Philip

          Entirely agree that it’s not just a problem with DW; nonetheless, if we see DW as progressive, the scarcity of female writers etc. is a problem.

          “However, your argument that a woman can do those things instead playing the Doctor is insulting.” That’s okay; I find it insulting that, instead of creating strong female characters in their own right, a male character has to be hijacked.

          • nospokenword

            “A male character” hijacked. Well, first of all, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but part of my issue with the uproar is that some people feel like something is being taken away from them. It is this weird sense of ownership that this is “my show,” and “my male Doctor,” and nobody else can have it or him. You’ve had him for 52 years, and women (and again, let us not ignore the growing number of people who don’t identify with a binary gender) have been fans of the show, coming along for the ride. Now it is your turn to come along as a fan and perhaps show a little joy in knowing that you’re helping children and adults from different walks of life get a chance to see themselves a little better in the Doctor. That’s why this is so important.

      • bar none but PC

        I respect your opinion on much Phil, you know that. But I can’t accept your para here about only the girls being role models for us girls – I found it easy to want to be The Doctor – because girls have ALWAYS had to fight for chances that are apparently all taken by men. We’ve always wanted what is not, apparently, available or allowed. We’ve done it anyway. We don’t NEED JW to make the role more available. Sadly boys have suffered a lot when they want roles traditionally taken by women – nurses, ballet-dancers etc. This change seems to disempower boys more than it empowers girls. So I have sympathy with your disquiet, but not your reasoning on that specific point.

        • Philip

          Ah sorry, bar; I do agree with you actually. What I meant (but didn’t express properly) was that if an argument is that a female Doctor is a female role-model, DW has never shied away from having female role models anyway. Does that make sense? Sorry, it’s been a loooong day!

          • bar none but PC

            I bet it has! But yes; you’re still making sense.

  • Coopergreg

    We all knew the Doctor would become a woman at some point. The seeds have been sown for a long time, from mentions of the Corsair in ‘the Doctor’s Wife’ through Missy and the General. I don’t see why now is the wrong time and why the fourteenth would be more appropriate?

    I’m 44 years old, and have been watching since Tom Baker’s last season, got all the VHS’s through the 80s and 90s etc. Change is one of he key factors in the show. Some will like a particular change, some won’t. If you take off the rose tinted glasses and look over ALL the seasons there was a lot of brilliance, but also a reasonable chunk of crap at times. Same now – every season has some great episodes, some good, some not so good.

    With over 50 years of history we have to have change, and that’s not change for changes sake. We can’t sit still in the modern TV world and risks have to be taken. If they don’t work, change them!

    It’s a family show, and many of the original fans of the show are my age or older. Us older fans can and should love it, but I think many forget it’s a family show aimed at all ages – my 4yr old loves the episodes he’s allowed to see ( not Knock Knock, Oxygen, World Enough & Time of course!!). He was also excited to see the new Doctor reveal on Sunday, and didn’t bat an eyelid when Jodie was revealed.

    I am looking forward to seeing her Doctor next season. The naysayers have often been proven wrong the last few years, Matt Smith – “he’s too young”, Bill – “too irritating”. When their series have actually aired they’ve been loved!

    Give it a chance before knocking it down. Make decisions when it’s aired, not before.

    • DonnaM

      Nicely put. I’m not enthused, but I will be giving the newcomer a chance. A great deal will depend on the writing, as it always has.

    • Rick714

      I’ve been watching the show since 1980 here in the US. (I’m 55) Before the notion was brought up with the Corsair, I never imagined that Time Lords were capable of gender switching. It simply never occurred to me. It always just appeared as if there were male and female Gallifreyans. Only after the Doctor’s wife aired did I suspect that the Moff was setting the table for a future incarnation to be a woman.

      I think Philip may have been thinking strategy regarding casting down the line. They had a big push of recognition that the gender switches happen when Missy showed up, so maybe the thought was that to communicate that it was commonplace and maybe continue to do so for another incarnation before making the switch.

      However, we really did have a grace period, if you will—since the notion was floated out there during Smith and played up during Capaldi, so everyone did have 6 years to accept that it does happen. So I’m eager to see where Whitaker goes with the role. I’m just nervous about Chibs.

      • What I find the most interesting is that Moffat opened that door but didn’t walk through it. This is a crap shoot and could either make or break the show. I think Moffat didn’t want to be remembered as the one who ruined Doctor Who if a female Doctor fails.

        • Rick714

          I think you’re right on all counts. Today, I read something over on the Doctor Who site—that back in the ’80’s, Sydney Newman had told Michael Grade at one point that the Doctor should probably change into a woman at some point in the future. No idea if that’s on the level but if true, I found it interesting.

          • Philip

            Pretty sure that’s true, Rick. He definitely said it, but I don’t know whether it was to Grade or not. I *think* it was as a suggestion for the Sixth Doctor, but don’t quote me on that!

          • Christian Cawley

            Sydney Newman also said “No BEMs.”

  • Parkin76

    I don’t think anyone has encapsulated my feelings in such a well considered, well reasoned piece. Thank you!

  • Christian Cawley

    I think a lot of people are missing a key point in all of this.

    Is Chris Chibnall really the man for the job if he is willing to split the show’s core support on his first public day as showrunner? Many people who have invested in DW over many years run fan sites and other communities. These play a vital role in promoting the show. For those that are unhappy about the news, this could result in some less than enthusiastic support.

    In short: you don’t start a new job by pissing people off and expect things to go well.

    • The Lazy Womble

      We have the name of the next Doctor. Nothing much we can do about that (whether we wish to or not) except continue to support the programme that we love. Support doesn’t necessarily mean agree with or like everything that is done. But we are Doctor Who fans and it is in our nature at root to love the show. I share your questions about Fish’s suitability. I await the next season with interest and not a little trepidation. I am hoping to be proved wrong with a vengeance.

    • Philip

      Absolutely. That’s why I thought the Fourteenth Doctor would be a woman, not the Thirteenth. You’d think Chibnall would come into it with some respect for the whole community.

      • bar none but PC

        I think the Missy conversation shows fandom was ALREADY split; Chib’s choice has revealed it rather than caused it.

        • Philip

          Hmm yeah that’s a good point. I think Chib’s choice exemplified it.

    • DonnaM

      My doubts about Chibnall have always been based on what I feel to be his unimpressive writing credentials within the show. Having said that, the official response to people having the audacity to be upset with his casting decision isn’t reassuring me.

      Would it really be so hard to say: We do appreciate that some people are concerned and upset by the significant change Chris Chibnall is boldly taking. We appreciate their commitment to the show and hope they will give him and Jodie Whittaker the chance to show what an amazing Doctor she can be.

      And now there are rumours about Kris Marshall being not the Doctor but the new companion. Based on the snippets I’ve seen of his previous work – the BT ads, one episode of My Family and the odd Death in Paradise – I’m really not feeling that.

      I’m nervous. Probably more about Chibnall than Whittaker to be honest. I *know* she’s a fine actress; I can’t say the same about his show-leading skills.

    • TimeyWimey

      Doctor Who is about getting new audiences, taking risks, and embracing change, not trying to appeal to a minority of moaning fans who will watch it anyway (they did that in Season 18 and look how well that worked out)
      And I must stress, the negative reaction to Whittaker’s casting has been a minority opinion. Brandwatch has used data analysis and found that 80 percent of reactions were positive . Add to that, the clip introducing the 13th Doctor has captured the public’s interest and been viewed 16 million times. https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/react-doctor-who-13/amp/
      Compare that to the largely negative response to Matt Smith’s casting and your point is null and void

      • Christian Cawley

        I never waste my time making null or void points. I also never waste time with name calling. “minority moaning fans…” — those are actual people you’re talking about, as real as you. You dismiss them as an irrelevance. As long as you’re homogenising a group, you’re prejudicing yourself. Not a nice look, and it ruins any hope you have of attempting to make a point.

        And I’m well aware of the figures. I’m also more than aware of how PR works. You can’t translate it into success or viewing figures any more than I can translate conversations in the street, corner shop, and pub that this is a change that splits opinion right down the middle, regardless of gender or age.

        (Incidentally, I suggest you start a new job next week and make changes that dismay the core consumers. We all know you won’t get far.)

        • TimeyWimey

          Since when has good PR for a to show and a positive mainstream reaction not helped in success or viewing figures? That’s sort of how TV works

          When I call them ‘minority moaning fans’ I’m not doing anything other than stating an objective fact – they are the minority and they are moaning.

          How many changes does the show have to go through before the ‘core consumers’ realise that’s the key tenet of the show’s success? The result of a 50 year old show with an ever-changing and growing narrative is that devoted fans will leave, complain, and say ‘back In the day’. Likewise it will gain new fans for whom a new era will be their definitive and most beloved. A female Doctor will inevitably invite as many viewers, if not more, than it alienates. And those that can’t accept change in a show entirely about it probably aren’t ‘core consumers’ anyway since they’re sort of guaranteed to stop watching anyway.

          • Philip

            “Since when has good PR for a show and a positive mainstream reaction not helped in success or viewing figures? That’s sort of how TV works” <– Series 10. Good publicity, solid buzz, acclaim, and suffered in the ratings.

          • TimeyWimey

            There’s been a negative mainstream reaction to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor due to his grumpy persona in S8, the lack of publicity for S9, and the year break in 2016 leaving a lot of people behind.
            I’m sure without ‘good PR’ and the positive reaction (from the fans, not the mainstream) the ratings would have been even worse.

    • Rick714

      From what I hear, Chibnall wasn’t too eager to commit to this job at first, claiming the Beeb had to woo him, etc. It’s possible he’s just socially awkward or just doesn’t give a crap and just wants to stir things up. You’re absolutely right that starting in this fashion may not be wise but then again, if he can deliver with a whole new, fresh direction away from the RTD and Moffat eras *and* hit a home run with stories, eventually, most of the gender arguments will fall by the wayside. I’m really hoping Chibs can greatly exceed my expectations of him.

      • The Lazy Womble

        so am I. But my expectations are quite low

  • Philip

    I get what you’re saying, but equally: “No matter which side of the fence you’re on, surely you can see how sad it is that a tear has formed in fandom. Regeneration can do that: if you don’t like the new guy, it’s a bad situation – but the changing of a lead man is a necessity. This upcoming change is not.”

  • Trish Morton

    Thanks for this blog, it’s a breath of fresh air when a lot of vitriol has been flung. I’ve been called sexist and not a real fan just for disagreeing with the decision.

    • Philip

      Thank you, Trish – glad you enjoyed it, although I’m sorry you, too, have been called petty names. It’s a horrible situation to be in.

      • The Lazy Womble

        For me “sexist” just washes over me. The word gets used so often it has sort of lost its currency. “Not a real fan” is far more hateful. At my lowest point during season 9 (and no, I am not going to rehearse why I don;t like season 9- I just don’t) I was asking myself whether I was a real fan. I didn’t need others to make the same accusation. Thankfully, TDWC rises above such petty name calling (mostly) and nobody on here has levelled it at me.

        • bar none but PC

          They’d have to come past us first Womble 🙂

          • The Lazy Womble

            See? That. That there. That is why I love this community. This is humanity (and fandom) as it should be. Thank you bar none but PC 🙂

  • Maritimer1

    You know, every single time the Doctor has regenerated there has been fear, apprehension, ANGER. And yet, the regeneration is a HUGE part of the Doctor…without it, the story falls apart. And yes, every time it is announced that the current actor is leaving, I am unhappy and sad (ok, with the exception of Colin Baker; THAT change was cause for celebration). But you know what? I kept watching, and the world kept turning and, eventually I learned to accept, if not love, the current actor (with the one exception). And there is always this….if you aren’t fond of the current Doctor, wait…he/she/it (because, what’s to say the Doctor has to be human? Why not a lesbian Silurian female?) will change….like the weather! Amazing how it works.

    Personally I am more interested in seeing the quality of the scripts. I already know Jodie Whittaker can act….

    And remember…this too shall pass…….

  • Rick714

    The problem here is that you’ve obviously had issues with the show since 2013, not liking the brusque nature of Capaldi’s Doctor. Everyone’s entitled tho their own opinion but it does cast a pall over any article you write here knowing how you’ve felt about the show for years. I myself liked Capaldi best at the beginning of his tenure, much like both Smith and Tennant. Those early eps in each era, I found the Doctor/actor to still be searching out the identity and at their most fascinating before they fell into their stock patterns and mannerisms.

    I too, have a ton of reservations about *Chibnall* but as far as Whittaker, none at all. I think she’ll be great. This is a brand new life-cycle starting with Capaldi and it’s a perfect in to explain away why he’s only now switching gender. Hopefully—probably, knowing Moffat is as anal retentive as I am, he’ll throw in a line making that clear right from the get go. But yeah, it’s all down to Chibs writing good stories. I’m doubtful but hopeful that this is finally his niche. I *did* love “Dinosaurs on a spaceship”, if nothing else he’s ever done. So fingers crossed.

    If you have fallen out of love with DW, ok. I’d think the very nature of the show and what it’s been for over half a century would compel you to keep an open mind for the new era even if you didn’t like the last three years. Otherwise, I’d think a clean break is required because if the well’s been poisoned, you’re going to be unhappy either way.

  • Rick714

    A friend of mine commented recently —his daughter was very much against this change at the start. ***Then realized that at the next convention, *she* could now be the Doctor, dad can be the companion! totally turned her around. 🙂

    • bar none but PC

      Far be it from me to suggest that blokes with big beer bellies playing Tegan in a leather skirt are doing it for any other reason than pure love for the character… but seriously, cosplay has always been non-gender-specific.

      • Rick714

        Of course, but this opens things up a bit wider, as a lot more girls would now identify with being the Doctor I think.

      • The Lazy Womble

        I am not sure that I can unimagine this. Thanks, Bar!

      • I see as many fem Doctors at comic cons as I do male. Lol

    • There are numerous women who cosplay a Doctor. I cosplay River because she kicks ass and could even kick the Doctor’s ass if she wanted!

  • Jsmith

    I may mellow and give the premiere a chance because and only because I am a Doctor Who Fan. I will tune out any program or film that injects lectures and preachings on social issues, gender politics etc. When I tune in it’s to be entertained, not to be lectured. I know what I believe and
    having the entertainment industry try to ram their socio political ideas down my through doesn’t motivate me to watch, it motivates me to turn off the program and or walk out of the theater. Entertainers and tv producers alike need to stick to what they are being paid to do, entertain, leave your left wing liberal politics out of it.

    • nospokenword

      If you think that offering gender equality is a lecture, then you must have some pretty fragile feelings, Jsmith. Offering equality isn’t ramming social issues down your throat, it is opening opportunity for more people. A chance not just for more diverse actors to play these parts, but also a chance for more people to see themselves and recognize themselves in the characters they see on screen.

  • Brenda C

    I don’t think it’s the fault of the show, it’s the fault of the fandom. Whatever happened to politely disagreeing with someone and discussing your POV’s on the subject? Now everything has to be politically correct and God forbid, you say something that might somehow hurt someone’s feelings. People need to grow up and learn to deal with things they don’t agree with instead of spitting vitriol and insulting others for their views. Can’t we all just get along, regardless of what side of the fence we may be standing?
    What’s funny is that Peter Capaldi actually brought me back into the DW world. I watched an episode here and there with my son when 10 and 11 were the Doctors. Then Peter came along and captivated me with his performance. I just loved watching him be the Doctor over these last 3 seasons as he grew and evolved in the role. I’m going to miss him so much.
    When I heard it was a woman taking over the role, I really didn’t know what to think. At first I thought “Oh, no way” but then I’ve been thinking about where they can take this in the future. I’m going to give it a try and I respect others who may think otherwise. There are many who don’t like Peter as the Doctor. That’s their choice. Peter will forever be my Doctor.
    Let’s all be civil to each other and, as the Doctor says, just “be kind”.

    • Philip

      Lovely comment – thanks Brenda. We hear a lot about DW shedding viewers (rightly or wrongly – it’s very hard to judge based solely on even BARB ratings), so it’s fantastic to hear of someone drawn back to the show because of the wonderful Peter Capaldi.

      • Brenda C

        Thanks, Philip. Peter has put his heart and soul into playing the Doctor and it shows on screen. Ratings are so difficult to judge nowadays. There are so many different sources where we can get our entertainment and they can’t base viewership solely on TV. I know many people who watch the show online as well. Judging by the turnout at the Minneapolis comic con in May where Peter was a guest, I’d say the DW fandom is pretty strong! The auditorium was packed!

      • I had a really hard time liking Capaldi’s Doctor and now, he has become my favorite!

  • Night

    Feels like everyone is calling this too early… We found out who the new Doctor is barely even a week ago; it’s way too soon to decide whether or not you’ll even watch Series 11. Let’s just be optimistic, give some time for the dust to settle, and at least wait until we’ve at least seen some episodes before declaring the show or its fandom has been irreparably damaged by this…
    For all we know, this whole thing will blow over once Series 11 starts, and everyone will agree the show’s actually back on form, despite the anxieties we all have right now.
    I mean, there’s no way to PROVE that a female Doctor won’t fundamentally change the show, unless they actually bite the bullet and do it to prove that nothing will actually change.

    • The Lazy Womble

      I agree to a large extent. Where I differ is that I think that this is what several of the commentators are actually saying. But I am 100% with you when you say that we must wait and see.

      • Night

        I would’ve hoped open-minded optimism would be all Doctor Who fans’ second nature by now…

        I think there would’ve been less pushback if they’d announced the new Doctor wasn’t British. I wasn’t expecting this level of… concern. We’ll see where it goes, I guess…

        • The Lazy Womble

          Will you settle, in my case, for cautious optimism? I hope that I am open-minded and I am looking forward to the time of the 13th Doctor. But I do have a lingering hesitancy about the writing. Nothing would please me more than to be proved wrong about Fish. But there is that nagging doubt.

          • Night

            Well, I think it’s normal to have some doubt about a change like this, as long as you’re not already deciding that it’s “ruined forever” or something, I think it’s the best they could hope for.

          • The Lazy Womble

            I will go into the next season with an open mind and hope for excellence.

          • bar none but PC

            Don’t forget the teaspoon 😉

  • Jack Ashcraft

    One of the consequences is that this makes the Doctor potentially more difficult to “know” or to find an affinity with. The Doctor isn’t a “he” anymore, but nor is the Doctor a “she”. The Doctor has been rendered an “it”, a nebulous idea more than a person we can identify with. While I’ve accepted the fact that this is the future of DW, and won’t go on endlessly about it, it does seem to have removed something from the character that may be irreplaceable for some veteran fans.

  • Donald Cotton

    I’ve wanted Doctor Who to be Doctor Who again since 2005…

    I’ve been a fan for almost 50 years and In that time I’ve had friends my age, fellow fans who grew up with the show as I did walk away when the show was not for them anymore.
    A TV programme that has been molded by so many unique voices over half a century is going to create eras that will alienate some and encourage others.

    You have simply found your jumping off point. It’s sad but it happens to most of us. Over the last few days Ian Levine, a man (no matter what you might think of him) who has watched
    from 23rd November 1963, a man who’s entire life has revolved around the show has announced even he has finished.

    I loved every era from Hartnell to McCoy. I bought the VNA’s and the BBC EDA’s & PDA’s and am a Big Finish Subscriber,I never thought I would ever quit but it happened to me too.
    I just cannot stand nuwho. I have tried over and over again to get into it, but I find I have to make too many compromises to get anything out of it. So despite a heavy heart I left towards
    the end of the Tennant era.

    I guess what I am trying to say if anything is that just because you walk away from the show now doesent make you any less of a fan. It just means you arent a fan of this particular era.
    Maybe one day you will come back, or maybe like me you wont. But dont feel guilty, and dont stop enjoying the Doctor Who that you do like.

    • Philip

      Thank you, Donald. Your comment actually means a great deal, especially “don’t stop enjoying the Doctor Who that you do like” – I’m learning that the future need not taint the past.

      I don’t really blame you for stopping watching towards the end of Tennant’s era, though I do feel it’s a shame as Series 5, with Matt, is, for me, the highlight of NuWho. I’m glad you have 26 years of DW goodness to enjoy, however! And that’s without mentioning all the other mediums you can consume; I think I’ll spent the upcoming years catching up on some of what I’ve missed.

  • Wow! You expressed how it feels for those of us opposed to the choice of a female Doctor exactly! I don’t want a tenderness Doctor. Someone referred to the Doctor as ‘It’. I thought, is this really what the Doctor has become? I will be watching the new season but it will no longer be Doctor Who. It will be a completely different show.

  • When someone referred to the Doctor as ‘It’, I thought, is the what the Doctor has become? I don’t want a genderless Doctor and I don’t see why men can’t be men and women can’t be women. I will continue to watch the show but it will no longer be Doctor Who. It will be a completely different show.

    • The Lazy Womble

      Susanna, may I ask if this is your first time commenting here? If it is I would just like to say two things. First, welcome to TDWC and I hope you will stay and that you will enjoy the community. Secondly, thank you for your comments. I have enjoyed reading your insight.

    • Philip

      I can only concur with Womble – thank you for your comments, and welcome to the DWC! I hope you stay part of the community; everyone’s always welcome 🙂

  • My biggest complaint is the line, Time Lords have ‘evolved’ past genders. What is wrong with genders? I’m a woman and proud of it and I don’t see anything wrong with a man being a man. If there had been a better explanation than that, it would have gone over a lot better for me and I think many others as well.

    • Rick714

      Phraseology is everything, especially when this suggest comes up. I took it to mean that in Time Lord culture, it had been millenia since they assigned any importance or maybe significance to different genders. Really, it’s a sad state of affairs for Gallifrey, yet they think they’ve “elevated” themselves beyond it. They don’t know what they’re missing!

      • bar none but PC

        I believe in ‘vive les differences’ but not that those differences must be determined by gender. But it does bother me that in this climate, my usename might be misinterpretted – I’ll have to change it to none but Capaldi. PCness is an excuse for some people to overreact to other people’s comments rather than engage with them.

        • Rick714

          Spot on. These days it feels like most conversations are stumbling through mine fields and the lone tree has a sniper in it.

  • Moonbayb

    I agree with you that it is sad that this has divided the fan base. I am a woman, Tom Baker was my first Doctor back in the 70s, and I have been against a female Doctor since the rumors started. How is changing an iconic character for political reasons empower women? If anything, the female companions were smarter, stronger & saved him more times than you can count.
    I am going to try & keep an open mind since the change has been forced on us, and will support the show. It’s also a shame that the end of Peter’s tenure is being over shadowed by all of the bickering.

    • bar none but PC

      We won’t let it be overshadowed by the bickering Moonbayb; the tears will be too loud… Was just watching Peter C on the San Diego Comicon vids and can’t take my eyes off his hands. Big Finish can be excellent, but I will SO miss his physical expressive skill.
      And I love your cat yin/yang pic; purrfect.

      • Moonbayb

        Agree with the tears…mine started to flow when I saw the video of standing ovation he received at SDCC. I just hope he continues to con events in the future as he is about the only one I’ll pay money to meet. I also can’t wait to see what he does as an actor…would love to see Malcolm come back.
        Thank you for the comment on my avatar & I wish I could take credit for it. I found it on an avatar site years ago while looking for something with cats appropriate for my handle.

    • The Lazy Womble

      Another new commentator? Excellent and welcome to TDWC 🙂

      • Moonbayb

        Thank you for the welcome, I just happened to stumble across this site. I am still processing this change in my favorite show & although I still dislike it, I no longer hate it. Time will tell.

        • The Lazy Womble

          You are not alone in feeling like that. Not only in here but in the wide world, there are long-term fans of the programme who are struggling to like it. We stay with it for love of what it was and the hope of what it might be. For myself, I have not liked the majority of Peter Capaldi’s run. I did like last season and loved the final episode. But TDWC is a place where people will respect your opinions and encourage you to express them. We are all mini Voltaires: we disagree with what the other person says but will defend to the death their right to say it. (Subject to the usual caveats about how it is said of course)

          • The Lazy Womble

            and maybe not quite “to the death”

  • Mark Evans

    Um , perhaps this is unfair, but i figure the reason all the actors & film stars share the progressive politics, is quite simply, so they can continue getting work.