“For Your Consideration” | 2018 SoCal Journalism Awards. Categories: H9. ENTERTAINMENT NEWS/FEATURE and M9. STUDENT MEDIA – REPORTING
Drum Roll Please!
It was the moment Whovians had all been waiting for, the announcement of who would be portraying the Thirteenth Doctor. The BBC and BBC America both thrilled, and shocked, fans when they revealed that Jodie Whittaker would be making television history by becoming the Thirteenth Time Lord and the first female to ever play the role!
Many names had been floating around and last minute rumors were beginning to spread like wildfire. Besides Whittaker, some of the names that were being thrown about were Kris Marshall (Love Actually), Pheobe Waller-Bridge (Broadchurch), Olivia Colman (Broadchurch), Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), Andrew Scott (Sherlock), and more.
Personally, after listening to the rumors, I thought Kris Marshall would have been a great choice for the Doctor. I pictured him as goofy Doctor, like the Sixth and Eleventh Doctors, and bringing more lightness to the show. Also, he was ginger, so it was destiny!
Many of us believed that we would all be waiting until this Christmas to finally meet the new Doctor. That’s eternity to a Whovian! Thankfully, Doctor Who posted a teaser on Twitter, which left us all screaming and holding onto each other, with the promise to “Meet the 13th Doctor after the Wimbledon Men’s Final”. This was posted July 14th, just two days before the news we’d all been yearning to know would be broadcasted around the world!
Instead of biting their fingernails or counting the stars in the sky, fans reacted in true Doctor Who fashion by investigating the teaser in depth, creating flow charts, elaborate diagrams, and color coated bar graphs. Sure enough, many Whovians had found clues to a female Doctor within the teaser. For example, the teaser showed The Statue of Liberty (who is female), the Sahara Desert (“Sahara” – a feminine name), an iPhone (which everyone connected to Siri, who was originally voiced by a woman), and the Prime Minister’s door (who is currently female). Whovians began to theorize that the next Doctor would in fact be a woman!
Of course, Whovians have a Yoda-like intuition when it comes to Doctor Who and so few were surprised when, on July 16, BBC cleverly announced the Thirteenth Doctor through a video. In it, a person, wearing a dark hood over their head, walks through a forest and holds out the Tardis key in their hand. The person takes off their hood and it was revealed in 0.5 seconds that the Doctor will be portrayed by Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to play this iconic role in fifty-four years of Doctor Who history! The newly cast actress sees her Tardis in the distance and walks towards it with a genuine smile on her face. From that moment, the Thirteenth Doctor departs on her journey to change the course of Doctor Who forever.
WATCH the “big reveal” here:
It’s a Girl! How Do We Feel?
Millions of jaws simultaneously dropped on the ground at the moment of unveiling. While this can be seen as a positive reaction, there were still variations of “shock” in the Whoniverse. Believe it or not, there had been mixed feelings with making the Doctor a woman. Some believe that making the Doctor a woman will change the show’s focus and lose its traditional adventurous feel. Others believe that Jodie Whittaker, a phenomenal actress, will bring a creative and intriguing Doctor to the table, so therefore gender does not matter.
Tweets were immediately shot back and forth, contrasting opinions clashing against each other, and battles were beginning to form. Many people don’t like change. It always takes a bit of adjusting to shift to a new Doctor – no matter the gender – especially after you have been attached to the current one for such a long time, but this case is different. We have been used to a traditionally male Doctor for over 50 years and now fans have been thrown a curve ball and must adapt to a female Doctor. So what has the fan reaction been?
Some fans have welcomed Whittaker with open arms!
Others aren’t exactly shedding tears of joy.
In the midst of this war between Ms. Who, Mr. Who, and Gender fluid Who – Doctor Who alumni have already tweeted their congratulations to Whittaker with great positive energy!
Doctor Who actors have got each other’s backs. It’s like they’re inviting a new member to the family and I love that!
I was thrilled to get to chat with some classic Doctors: Peter Davison (5th Doctor) and Colin Baker (6th Doctor) and Sophie Alred (Companion to 7th Doctor) who gave me their thoughts on our new female Doctor:
and NO better endorsement can be given to Ms. Whittaker than the seal of approval that came from Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss:
My Thoughts on the Matter
I have put much thought into the whole idea of a female Doctor long before Whittaker’s casting was announced. Here is what I believed beforehand. Word had been going around that the next Doctor might be a woman. And a female Doctor would be no surprise due to all the winks and nudges throughout season ten. In truthfulness, I thought a female Doctor wasn’t necessary. There had already been a great amount of female representation in the series through the Doctor’s memorable companions. One may argue that companions are viewed as the Doctor’s “assistants” and thus relegated to the status of “side-kick”, I beg to differ. From Martha Jones to Donna Noble to Clara Oswald, the show has shown female strength in a multitude of ways. Companions have reigned in the Doctor, confronted him, steered him toward correct decision-making, and have shown great independence with the decision to leave him. Not only are these women female, they are human, too. The show proves that even a human female can be stronger and wiser than an alien male.
However, I’ve always been open to the idea of a woman Doctor as well. After all, it is 2017 and women have proven that they can carry a film or television series to great box office or ratings success. It’s time for Doctor Who to change a bit, too, unless you want the same storylines reoccurring over and over again. Doctor regenerates, Doctor finds a normal Earth girl, Doctor travels with Earth girl, Doctor may fall in love with Earth Girl or just be great friends with Earth Girl, Doctor loses Earth girl, Doctor wallows. However, that’s getting a bit old, isn’t it? Personally, I am ready to embark on this journey with Whittaker at the helm of the TARDIS.
In an interview with BBC, Whittaker answered thirteen questions with one of them being, “What do you want to tell the fans?” She answers with, “I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender. Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.”
Many little boys have grown up with Doctors like David Tennant and Matt Smith and strive to grow up to be like them. Maybe with a female Doctor, little girls will now look up to Whittaker and her interpretation of The Doctor and possibly produce more female Doctors in the future.
I conclude with this simple opinion (and maybe even suggestion). I respect everyone’s opinions, but I’ve seen some comments on Twitter that have really jumped to conclusions. We haven’t even seen Whittaker’s first episode, so to judge so quickly and harshly is pretty unkind. This is such an amazing opportunity for her, and we should be supporting her through this next year before Capaldi officially gives her the Tardis key. Let’s give Whittaker a chance, because if you have seen the television show Broadchurch (which starred David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor), you know she is a phenomenal actress.
Chris Chibnall, former Broadchurch show runner and new Head Writer and Executive Producer for Doctor Who says: “After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice. Her audition for The Doctor simply blew us all away. Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The Thirteenth Doctor is on her way.”
And what does the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi have to say about Whittaker’s casting? “Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker’s work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm. She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She’s going to be a fantastic Doctor.”
No matter what gender, as long as the actor or actress that portrays the Doctor is committed, passionate, and loyal to the character, I am always satisfied. I am very sure that Whittaker will bring all of those characteristics to the role.
Congratulations, Jodie Whittaker! Welcome to the Whoniverse! I wish you the best of luck during your stay, and I cannot wait to see you in season 11!
I’ll be at San Diego Comic-Con interviewing some of the Doctor Who cast. No word yet on whether Jodie Whittaker will surprise us with an appearance! Keep your eyes on this space and I’ll let you know!
Juliette Boland is a two-time Los Angeles Press Club, National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award-winning Jr. Journalist and hosts the Timey Wimey Fandom Show. Check out her other videos on her webpage here: Juliette’s Timey Wimey Fandom Show