Sunday, 16 July 2017

Doctor Who has lost me as a viewer

A few days ago I sent a letter to Doctor Who Magazine about the subject of a woman taking over the lead role Doctor Who.  A day later it was announced that the new Doctor would be revealed after the Men’s Final at Wimbledon and, today, the announcement was made – the new Doctor will be a woman.

In my opinion, this is a gigantic mistake and one that means that the show I loved will lose me as a viewer following the Christmas special that sees Peter Capaldi leave the role.

The letter below, reproduced in full, should make my feelings on the error of casting a female Doctor clear but, in case it doesn’t, I’ll spell it out here.  I am a feminist who has wanted to see as many strong female lead roles as possible on TV and in the cinema.  I also want to see more women in high positions in government and business.  The role of The Doctor in Doctor Who is a strong male character and male role model so just changing the casting from a man to a woman doesn’t make it a strong female role or female role model.  I would prefer, as a feminist, that writers create strong female characters for female actors that can grow into strong female role models, not just appropriate a male character and role model for what can only be publicity’s sake.  It does nothing to advance the argument for strong female characters and role models on TV and cinema and may well harm such arguments.

Every time there’s a regeneration in the offing the subject of a female Doctor is raised.  I have been, and always will be, against this not because I’m a misogynist but because I think it cheapens the campaign for more strong female characters on TV.  Giving a traditionally male character a female face is not creating a strong female character, it is merely giving the illusion of creating that strong female character.

If the New Series era has taught us anything it is that spin-offs are a successful possibility, not all but then nothing is 100% guaranteed.  Why then can’t a better alternative to the illusory strong female Doctor myth be a spin-off centred on a female Time Lord?

It has been established in the New Series that some Time Lords were resurrected to fight in the Time War so it is not outside the realm of possibility that Romana, former companion to the Doctor and, as established in the novels and audios, former President of Gallifrey, be important enough to resurrect.

Given this possibility and her former association with the Doctor (which would have given her a similar outlook to him), wouldn’t Romana be fired up enough to want to redeem the Time Lords in the eyes of the Universe and want to fix some of the damage caused by the Time War?  Perhaps even enough to steal a TARDIS, find a new planet as a base and, with some idealistic young post-Time War Time Lords, try to build a new Time Lord society, one without the taint of the Time War?

The above scenario would give the widest range of adventure types with Doctor-type stories and Gallifrey audio series type stories too as well as giving the series a definite mission that Doctor Who doesn’t have.  It would also give women a strong female role model that is written specifically for them and female actors a strong female character role rather than the illusion of one that a female Doctor would be.

I’m sure I have just pissed off a large number of women and/or Doctor Who fans but not by as much as the BBC and the new show-runners have pissed me off.

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