By Georgina Auton
Monday’s announcement that Jodie Whittaker will play Doctor Who has raised an impassioned, yet familiar discussion about whether roles originally written for men should be played by women.
Whovians around the world were quick to weigh in on the BBC’s casting decision that will see Whittaker become the first female to land the lead role since the show started 54 years ago.
At each Doctor’s regeneration — a phrase which describes the Doctor’s transition into a new personality — fans are always dubious.
Why isn’t the doctor ginger yet? Why is he old? Young? Sounds like he’s from the north?
At the beginning of each new season, the Doctor — whoever they may be — always has something to prove.
So why is the announcement of a female lead so surprising?
Self-professed Whovian Scott Black has watched every available episode, online short, he has read the books and engaged in the fan culture surrounding the hit show.
He said Whittaker’s appointment to the role was a “well-needed shot in the arm”.
“It’s a very interesting institution when you become a fan of Doctor Who because you’re in this huge indoctrine of this very long-running organisation,” Mr Black said.
“It’s a very big fandom. They needed to take it in a more creative direction and I think it’s a very exciting time to be a Whovian.”
Why we should have expected this
@jfmouthonlegs: Dinosaurs have 50 years’ worth of male Dr Whos to watch in their basements. The rest of us want 2 embrace the future. It’s SF after all. Doh
ABC Radio presenter Kelly Higgins-Divine — who watches the show with her teenage daughter — is another massive Doctor Who fan who said the announcement was fantastic news.
She said when her teenage daughter heard the news this morning, her “first words were ‘YES!'”.
“It’s been touted for so long — since the days of Tom Baker — and it’s one of those things where you think, ‘Why not?'”
@OhNoSheTwitnt: I think what straight white men don’t get is how much it means to kids to have heroes who look like them.
“Doctor Who is alien to start off with and we’re living in a land of fantasy,” she said.
“Girls now expect to see themselves in positions of authority as superheroes and in fantasy worlds where we create as leaders and not just followers.
“When it happens, they notice these things in a way we didn’t when I was growing up.”
@DWTheFanShow: ICYMI (how could miss it???): We react loudly to the thirteenth doctor reveal
Female casting a bid to attract new Whovians
Mr Black said the change in the show’s direction would also see a change in the show’s fan base.
His daughter is five years old and was never interested in Doctor Who before.
“You always want to pass your nerd-love on to your kids,” he said.
“When I showed her the trailer this morning and said, ‘The Doctor’s going to be a girl’, she said ‘About time!'”
As for those who ask why women have to have everything?
“Because we’re 50 per cent of the population!” Higgins-Divine said.
Naysayers ‘not true fans’
Just like the Doctors who have gone before her, Whittaker will need to earn her chops to win fans over.
“Often, writing makes a big difference, so as well as a new Doctor, I’m also looking forward to fresh writing and a fresh aspect,” Higgins-Divine said.
Mr Black said true fans would appreciate the announcement.
“If people don’t like this announcement of Jodie taking over the role then they’re not true fans of the show because the show has always been about acceptance, loving everyone and that the human race can work together to be amazing and that the universe is beautiful,” he said.
“If they’re against this just because she’s a woman, then they’ve missed the entire point of the show and the morals that it teaches.”
@nicolasturgeon: Lovely day with my niece on her 11th birthday. This was one of her pressies – girls can be anything – even Dr Who!