Media Production Team
Doctor Who is a cultural phenomenon that has been around since the first incarnation of the series on the BBC in 1963. Tales of the time and space traveling humanoid alien, the Doctor, and his human companions have managed to captivate expansive audiences for generations. The show brings a new and unpredictable quality to television that nothing else can quite match.
The titular and principal character, the Doctor, is unlike main characters from other hit series. When the Doctor dies, he regenerates into a whole new person: new appearance, new personality, new mannerisms, new everything. This process has allowed for different actors to demonstrate a different take on the character each season. So far, throughout the first incarnation of the series that ran from 1963 to 1989 and the revival that started in 2005, there have been twelve different Doctors. BBC just announced The Thirteenth Doctor, the first version of the Doctor to ever be played by a woman.
It was announced on July 16, 2017, that Jodie Whittaker would take her turn as the Doctor in the hit British sci-fi series; a fandom frenzy resulted. Support skyrocketed for this progressive turn from tradition, yet some backlash still ensued. On the BBC video announcing the casting, “likes” and “dislikes” stood at a two to one ratio: around 40,000 likes and 20,000 dislikes. Some fans took to Twitter to express their discontent, describing it as “the worst decision ever” and claiming that Doctor Who “sold out” to the politically correct.
However, the responses to Whittaker taking the helm as the British hero were not only negative. Past Doctors including Matt Smith, David Tennant, and Peter Capaldi have publicly voiced their support of Whittaker’s casting. Fans present in front of those who don’t support Whittaker’s casting the argument that the Doctor has never officially defined himself as a gender; due to his regenerations, the Doctor never knows what person he or she may end up becoming. Whittaker, freshly labeled a feminist icon by some in the face of this news, shared her opinions on the news by saying, “The rules went out the window.”
Through this change of tradition, BBC has taken a more progressive move forward. By switching things up in one of the network’s most popular shows and most beloved, the BBC has taken a risk in the name of bringing in a new era. After all, the Doctor is a time traveler; it should be no surprise that the network itself is taking a step into the future.
(Sources: LA Times, NY Daily News, Rolling Stone)