Since practically the very second it was announced that Matt Smith was leaving Doctor Who< for good, and that the long running British sci-fi drama would need to find a 12th incarnation of the Time Lord, there has been speculation about who his replacement might be. Everyone seems to have an opinion about who should the Doctor should regenerate into. The show has recently come under a degree of scrutiny for only casting white men in the lead role. One former star of the series thinks it’s about time for a different look, and suggested that maybe this time around the Doctor should be, gasp, a woman.
Talking to ITV’s Daybreak, John Barrowman said, “We’ve had great guys playing the role. The character of River Song was so popular in the last part of the series and it was such an impact, why shouldn’t we have a female doctor.”
Barrowman played Captain Jack Harkness, a time traveler from the 51st century, on Doctor Who, and the spinoff Torchwood, and he’s far from the first person to make such remarks. Helen Mirren said, “a gay, black female Doctor Who would be the best of all.”
Sometimes fans can be, let’s just say resistant to change, that sounds better than mean. Remember the recent racist backlash when The Hunger Games adaptation cast a young African American girl as Rue (even though the character is described in the book very clearly as having dark skin). But it’s change that has allowed Doctor Who to continue to evolve and adapt over its five decade long run. What other show has the option of replacing the lead on occasion when it becomes necessary, or to breathe new life into the franchise?
Despite some claims to the contrary, Doctor Who has always seemed like a pretty damn inclusive show, never afraid to cast people of all races and genders in important roles. So that raises the question, why not extend this to the Doctor? Of any hardcore, obsessive fan base I can think of, it’s maybe the easiest to imagine Whovians welcoming such a dramatic turn of events. There would most certainly be some resistance to a female Time Lord, but there’s always an opposition that refuses to accept the fact that things can’t always stay the same.
And Barrowman goes on to make what is the most important point in this argument, one that puts Doctor Who in an extremely unique position. Any change they make, is, by definition, far from permanent. He said, “Give it a whirl, if it doesn’t work she can always regenerate, she can always regenerate back to a man—I’ve been there, I’ve watched them do it.”
We’ve all watched them do it, Captain Jack. And since Smith is out the door regardless, showrunner Stephen Moffat and company have to make a damn big change anyway, so why not at least make the most interesting one you can?
What do you think? Would you like to something different from Doctor Who, or would you like to see them stay the course? Are there any particular actors—male, female, black, white, or otherwise—that you would like to see as the new Doctor?