Jodie Whitaker, star of Attack the Block and Broadchurch, is the 13th Doctor. She’s the first ever woman in the role and we are so excited this article originally consisted solely of gifs of Kermit waving his arms. She’s an amazing choice and it’s a thrilling time for the show and you’re going to read a lot of analysis of what it means over the next few months. We know, we’ll be writing some of it. But for now, let’s have some fun. Let’s talk about what we’d like to see in her first series in the role.
A common factor in the past has been regeneration being a traumatic experience. It’s not been the case for everyone but, by and large, when a Doctor goes out they go out hard, fast and often painfully. In some cases that’s down to damage or wounds, in others it’s based on circumstance.
But wouldn’t it be great if this was one of the time that didn’t happen?
Think about the transition between The War Doctor and 9? Or better still between 9 and 10? Wouldn’t it be great if instead of baking in the gender change as an excuse for added drama, the series viewed it as something…refreshing? As a relief even? That’s not intended as a drag on Capaldi either, we’ve loved his turn as he’s grown into the role. But look at this:
Those final moments are a curtain call. That’s an exuberant, joyous last moment of triumph, a Time Lord leaving the stage, their life well lived and their enemies thoroughly shamed.
Wouldn’t that be GREAT?
Not just because Capaldi deserves such a send-off or because his own first appearance was so sudden but because of the message it sends. This is still the Doctor. This is the Doctor at peace with a choice you may not be expecting. That’s an immensely powerful message for the show to send to its fans and an even more powerful one to send to its transgender fans and their families. Change is good. The character is still the character. Your child is still your child. It’s a chance to do something massive and powerful and good that’s absolutely within the bounds of the show’s format and style and sends a message that only the people who need it will hear.
There will, inevitably, be jokes about the first female Doctor redecorating the TARDIS. These jokes will conveniently ignore how many of the modern Doctors have changed the TARDIS desktop pattern. We’d love to see something a little old school, which is likely given the First Doctor’s role in the Christmas Special, but we’re really looking forward to what 13 brings to the TARDIS.
Plural. It’s time. One of the most common criticisms of the show since its return in 2005 (although Mickey Smith and Rory would disagree) is the way that the dynamic has almost always been ‘Doctor plus female companion.’ While both Donna and Bill have took tremendous steps away from the lazier elements of that trope, the show has still orbited that particular star.
A male companion to reverse the dynamic would be great fun. A female companion would lead to a Bechdel-proof TARDIS that would shine so brightly you could read by it. A combination? Even better. This is the start of the show clearing the board and trying something truly new. Don’t let it be the end. Multiple companions ahoy.
We know there’s going to be a Dalek story because everyone gets one. We’re pretty confident the Cybermen won’t be back for a while given their prominent role this series. It would be great to see 13 interact with some new monsters and some of her direct predecessor’s best episodes were focused entirely on new monsters. So, plenty of that please.
But maybe throw in a couple of the oldies but goodies too. Given this is (probably) our first Northern Doctor since 9, the return of the Autons would be lovely. Maybe the Krynoids too? Their combination of biomech nastiness and body horror is very New Who. Regardless, a smattering of the old and lots of the new please.
And speaking of the old? PATERNOSTER GANG PLEASE! We are honestly giddy at the thought of 13 dropping in on Strax, Vastra and Jenny. Likewise any scene with any established female supporting character is going to have a very different energy to it now and that means basically every female character still alive would make for a great guest star. We’d especially love to see a UNIT story, if nothing else for Osgood and Kate’s reactions to 13.
Also if Whitaker keeps her Yorkshire accent then we desperately hope her first multi-Doctor story will be with Christopher Eccleston’s 9. The cross Pennine trash talk will be EPIC. Eccleston would need to be persauded first, mind…
This is, far and away, the most important one. The show has, finally, irrevocably, taken a step into territory it’s never entered before now. That’s brilliant and laudable and cannot under any circumstances be the end of the journey. The Doctor is an idea and ideas, as V once put it, are bulletproof.
The 13th Doctor is the first step towards the show realising that and she opens the door, finally and publicly to everyone else. The Doctor can be a woman. The doctor can be a person of colour. The Doctor can be non-binary. The Doctor can be disabled. This idea, this glorious, decades-old idea of a brilliant, compassionate eccentric in a box is, at long last, undeniably open to everyone.
And that means everyone needs to be given the opportunity to play.
That’s going to make a lot of established fandom incredibly angry. It already has and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. But we can’t think of a better way to address their fears, and move past them, than the words of Jodie Whitaker herself in an interview with BBC America:
“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.”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. The Doctor is in, everyone.