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Doctor Who: It's about time this fictional character that swaps bodies got boobs

Meet the thirteenth Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to play the role in 50 years.

OPINION: On Monday, in the wee small hours, a long held childhood dream came true: Doctor Who has become female.

When we were younger, my brother used to tease me about my dream of a female Doctor on Doctor Who. "He can't turn into a girl, Kylie," he'd say, like he was reasoning with a five-year-old. "He's a Doctor." 

It was a joke, of course, tailor made to get under my sensitive Social Justice Warrior, PC Brigade, Bleeding Heart Liberal skin by a little brother especially talented in the wind-up arts. The "joke" being that a woman can't be a doctor, because that's a man's job. 

Jodie Whittaker will be the first women in 50 years to play The Doctor.

But a quick glance at the comments following the announcement that British actress Jodie Whittaker will take up the Time Lord's mantle, suggests that the world is full of blokes who genuinely do believe a Doctor can't be a woman, not even in 2017. 

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There was a similar brouhaha about Marvel's Thor being turned into a woman in the comics, which neatly ignored the time Thor was an alien space horse, and a giant frog.  


The Doctor Donna: Donna Nobel (played by Catherine Tate) was a fan favourite companion who had a rich and exciting story of her own playing out along with The Doctor's adventures.

And lets not even get into the number of man-babies whose perpetual childhoods were ruined by Kristen Wiig in a grey jumpsuit

It's weird that people feel like this about the Doctor Who's Galifreian lead, though.

First of all the Doctor is fictional, and therefore can be anyone or anything the creators like - in this instance, an alien from a far off planet that may or may not still exist somewhere/when in time and space.  

Buffy Summers, gone, not forgotten... but man, it's been a long time since we've had a heroic female lead like her.

Secondly, and possibly most importantly, the character literally changes bodies all the time. 

Time Lords regenerate any time they're too badly injured, or their bodies become worn out. The Doctor was literally written to be played by just about anyone. Why not someone with boobs? 

Thirdly, in an episode written by sci-fi and fantasy guru Neil Gaiman, The Doctor's Wife, the fact a Time Lord's sex can change was written into canon.

Writer and producer Chris Chibnall is taking over the Whovian reins.

So, it was only a matter of time really. Which is funny, isn't it? Time lord, matter of time...anyway...

Apparently "just about anyone" really only means "white, male dude" to some folks.

Age isn't an issue. I don't recall anyone kicking up a stink when Matt Smith, at 26 the youngest actor to take on the role, took over from David Tennant. Like the Fez, de-aging is cool with the fanboys. Vaginas, not so much. 

And that's fine. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Even when the opinion is "she's not the Doctor!", stomp stomp, chuck toys, kicky feet. But at least be honest about it. It's not that "she's not the doctor" it's that "I don't want her to be the doctor, because I can't relate to female characters." 

I'm not really surprised, since it's rare that woman get to be the heroes, or the leaders or have complex and engaging back stories. Especially in genre shows. 

I mean, it happens (Buffy Summers, gone but never forgotten), just not as often as women play the supportive girlfriend, or worse yet, the nagging girlfriend who's holding him back, or even the disposable prop girlfriend killed off or threatened to give the male lead motivation, or the annoying sidekick, or the annoying... wait, I'm seeing a theme here...

I'm a lady and I can't relate to most of those character cliches either. 

Doctor Who has actually been epically good at giving it's female characters depth and purpose of their own (Until Jenna Coleman's lamentable Clara Oswald, who was literally only born to save the Doctor. Which is funnily enough about the time I started switching off to the episodes led by former showrunner Stephen Moffat. A leery Matt Smith commenting on Clara's short skirts and pretty smile was pretty much the death knell.)

Moffat once said the only reason he'd never cast a woman in the role was because it never occurred to him to pick one.

He told The Telegraph casting the part was a "dark art", and that the right actor for the job would just "pop into my head".

"You don't cast for any other reason than for passion and for aesthetics. It's not a political decision, it's an aesthetic decision and will always be."

That's fine when the mind of the creator is a prejudice-free blank slate. That's not something Moffat, who once complained that he'd almost had to cast a chubby girl in the companion role once, until the svelte Coleman came along and saved him from that odious fate, could ever claim. 

But now Moffat's out, and the very wonderful Chris Chibnall is in. 

Chibnall wrote the moving police drama Broadchurch, the third season of which dealt so sensitively and realistically with sexual assault, while delivering some very poignant character moments and not a few good laughs. He has previously written some Who, including fan favourite 42, which cut through the high-sci-fi with some very grounded, realistic character moments.

And he's said he always wanted to write a female Doctor

I can't help thinking the fact Jodie Whittaker is the person who popped into his head speaks very highly of him. 

They're going to be a good team, she is going to be a great Doctor, and I can't wait to see what adventures 13 gets up to. 

Doctor Who airs on Prime in New Zealand. 






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