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October 12, 2010 2:54 AM   Subscribe

Back in the 80s when Doctor Who was mired in a creative and ratings slump, the programme's creator Sydney Newman was asked how to revive it. His answer - regenerate the Doctor as a woman.

Actresses suggested included Frances de la Tour, Dawn French and Joanna Lumley (who sort of did play the Doctor eventually in 'The Curse Of The Fatal Death' (1, 2)

Back in 2008, when David Tennent left the series the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology suggested that "making a high profile sci-fi character with a following like Doctor Who female would help to raise the profile of women in science".
posted by fearfulsymmetry (102 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah, Dawn French as the Doctor would be sweeeeet.

I suspect Fred Phelps would suddenly become a sci-fi fan, though.
posted by sonascope at 3:29 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, yeah, yeah. You could sit around all day and think of counterintuitive casting with a pseudo socially uplifting theme. "What about a 300 pound Doctor? It would help raise the self-esteem of the morbidly obese." "What about a Doctor in a wheelchair, to show the handicapped that they can do anything?" "How about a Doctor who is HIV positive ... " I personally welcomed the prospect of a black Doctor after David Tennet, or a south or East Asian Doctor with distinctly British characteristics. But the current producers decided upon a retrenchment, with a splendidly sexy companion. So be it. A female Doctor would simply be self-parody, the last ploy of desperately out-of-ideas screenwriters.
posted by Faze at 4:15 AM on October 12, 2010


His answer - regenerate the Doctor as a woman.

Instead we ended up with Colin Baker, which was arguably far worse than any female Doctor would have been.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:20 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


That sounds surprisingly like the rhetoric used to dismiss Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck, and she was actually one of the best parts of the BSG reboot. As it turns out, and BSG taught us well, it's the writing that matters. A "gimmick" is only a gimmick if there's no solid writing and planning behind it.

Also, telling us for 4 seasons in the opening that the Cylons have a plan doesn't mean the writers do.
posted by explosion at 4:24 AM on October 12, 2010 [29 favorites]


Oh wait, I misread the article... it says they considered replacing Baker with a woman, and went with McCoy instead. A wise choice. McCoy was one of my favorite Doctors, ranking only behind Baker in those days.

I mean, I have no idea if Lumley or whoever would have been any better or worse, but McCoys Doctor, who actually used his ability to travel through time to his advantage (only to ensure he defeated evil in any given adventure natch), was a lot of fun to watch.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:28 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gina Bellman for Doctor. That is all.
posted by vhsiv at 4:31 AM on October 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


Unfortunately Michael Grade's well documented hatred of Doctor Who and his willingness to destroy the franchise prevailed.

Or fortunately. I love New Who, and I think it needed those sixteen years in the wilderness to come back as good as it did.
posted by seanyboy at 4:31 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah! A chain smoking, Stoli swigging Doctor, staggering out of the TARDIS with her hair all messed up would totally reignite my interest in the show!
posted by Scoo at 4:32 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suspect Fred Phelps would suddenly become a sci-fi fan, though.
What?
posted by delmoi at 4:37 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, making the Doctor a woman today, in this arguably more enlightened age, could be interesting. When Matt Smith eventually goes, if they made the Twelfth Doctor a woman, it would be interesting to see how the Doctor approaches his own gender identity.

Think about it. To us humans we live in a dual gender world where someone is either a man or a woman, a him or a her, which is why many of us have trouble dealing with the idea of people who are transgender. But if Time Lords have the ability to change gender when they regenerate, you would have to imagine that they would have an entirely more enlightened attitude towards gender identity.

The series might then reveal the Doctor has always considered herself to be female, despite the fact that eleven of her past selves were outwardly male. Or does the Doctor simply accept this change in gender, saying s/he expected that it had to happen eventually, perhaps expressing surprise that it took so long. Would Time Lords even have a concept of He and She, given that Time Lord society would have had to deal with people changing genders on a regular basis (before the planet was destroyed, of course)? Perhaps such concepts of He and She would be laughably archaic to Time Lords, and another reason the Doctor finds humans so fascinating. Perhaps all Time Lords are like Norrie, with their birth certificates or equivalent document stating that they have no specific sex?

Or, more likely, this new female Doctor would just go back to regularly thwarting Daleks, Cybermen and the occasional Sontaran. Hell, either way is good.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:51 AM on October 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


A female Doctor, you say?
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:00 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lumley works, because there's something about her that's a bit weird.

You know who would be brilliant? The sadly now too famous Tilda Swinton. Or maybe Tamsin Grieg.

If the Rani makes a return both of them would be great for that as well.

(of course the Rani is this fan wank favorite who more people have read about on Wikipedia than actually seen on the show, so the chances of that might be slim)
posted by Artw at 5:02 AM on October 12, 2010


But if Time Lords have the ability to change gender when they regenerate, you would have to imagine that they would have an entirely more enlightened attitude towards gender identity.

One of the awesome things I've loved about the revival Doctor is the way he keeps running into GLB characters and treats them like every other interesting alien race. It's the reactions of the companions that sometimes embarrass him.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:08 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Neil Innes as Dr. Who [sly].
posted by eccnineten at 5:14 AM on October 12, 2010


They had a good opportunity in The Two Doctors - Jacqueline Pearce could have got into the Sontaran pseudo-TARDIS, intoned Maximum Power and the rest writes itself - Shockeye butchers Colin Baker, Peri gets an eyepatch etc.
posted by hawthorne at 5:21 AM on October 12, 2010


Hmm. TBH the prospect of he whole show stopping to become Gender Identity Who makes it sound like a terrible idea to me - stick to Who being a slightly distant weirdo who fights aliens via the power of finding out what they want, being willing to push for compromise and then finding sneaky ways to exterminate them when it doesn't quite work out.
posted by Artw at 5:21 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


A lead female in any sci-fi franchise back then would have been groundbreaking. Sadly, I don't think Doctor Who has really kept pace with US sci-fi. A bisexual doctor was a good move but all the backpeddling since Christopher Ecclestone undermines it. We have been given glimpses of strong female companions but they all still essentially boil down to love tourists. It hasn't really changed in concept since the sixties, which is probably part of its appeal but also part of its failing.
posted by londonmark at 5:31 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm expecting Matt Smith to be replaced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Decidedly unfeminine, that one.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:32 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, Donna Noble wasn't a love tourist.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:33 AM on October 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


(of course the Rani is this fan wank favorite who more people have read about on Wikipedia than actually seen on the show, so the chances of that might be slim)

Oh my god, you CANNOT replace Kate O'Mara!
posted by londonmark at 5:34 AM on October 12, 2010


Hey, Donna Noble wasn't a love tourist.

Well, she was in love with the doctor...
posted by londonmark at 5:34 AM on October 12, 2010


...what?! I so don't see that...
posted by Hildegarde at 5:35 AM on October 12, 2010


Rose? Yes, Martha? Absolutely. Donna? I don't think so. You think Donna was in love with the doctor? Why on earth?
posted by Hildegarde at 5:38 AM on October 12, 2010


...what?! I so don't see that...

Apparently neither do the authors of her Wikipedia entry. Just me then, sorry :)
posted by londonmark at 5:38 AM on October 12, 2010


Lumley works, because there's something about her that's a bit weird.

This is true — after watching Absolutely Fabulous at an impressionable age, seeing her play a non-drunk character would be extremely eerie to me. I would be thoroughly eered.

Or she could just play to type. "Pass me my screwdriver, will you? No, not the sonic one, sweetie."
posted by No-sword at 5:42 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh god, Rose. Rose, Rose, Rose. Weep weep weep for Rose.

(c) Any RTD script 2005-2009
posted by Artw at 5:43 AM on October 12, 2010 [18 favorites]


I was hoping the new Torchwood might feature Martha prominently, since she kicks ass and was largely wasted on Who as the mooning temp companion. I thought she was a lot of fun on Torchwood, and Jack keeps tempting her with a job, I thought she might finally take him up on it. But now I hear Torchwood is going all American, so perhaps not. :/
posted by Hildegarde at 5:48 AM on October 12, 2010


Martha is off in the UK Law and Order now. Or if you like she's hooked up with Mickey to become a freelance alien hunter.
posted by Artw at 5:50 AM on October 12, 2010


I'm expecting Matt Smith to be replaced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Decidedly unfeminine, that one.

God, I hope you're wrong. I want Matt to be the Doctor for as long as possible, and I want Benedict to be Sherlock for as long as possible.
posted by jbickers at 5:54 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Frances de la Tour would have been an inspired choice.
posted by Decani at 5:54 AM on October 12, 2010


Dude, they totally have to have a female Doctor now because AMY WOULD STILL HIT THAT.

(Oh Amy and Rory and the Doctor, you are my polyamorous dream one-true-threesome...)
posted by Katemonkey at 5:55 AM on October 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Or maybe Tamsin Grieg.

The Doctor all blanking the Companion, who is in the midst of doing their "Belly Savalss" impression. "I do deal with a lot of wank, don't I?" the Doctor says as she lights another cigarette.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:02 AM on October 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


I've always thought of the Time Lords as being a bit like Culture citizens in that respect: if they feel like they'd rather be another sex, all they need do is sit and meditate for a while, and then next time they regenerate they will be. I don't see the need to make the Doctor a woman -- I would much rather see the producers pick a black or asian Doctor, and before Matt Smith was cast I'd been hoping for the guy who played the Agent in Serenity -- but I do agree that Who in general needs stronger female characters, who can stand alone from the Doctor and argue back at him effectively. Donna and Pond are both steps in the right direction there.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:14 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Chiwetel Ejiofor - yeah, he would've been good. Probably like Tilda Swinton he's a bit too famous/expensive now.
posted by Artw at 6:18 AM on October 12, 2010


Rule 63 hell yeah!
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:26 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


That sounds surprisingly like the rhetoric used to dismiss Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck, and she was actually one of the best parts of the BSG reboot.

The black doctor/female doctor arguments around New Who have been fascinating to a great extent for their insights into fan psychology. A Time Lord can, in New Who, absorb fatal quantities of radiation and channel it safely through their foot, but to many viewers the idea that they might regenerate across race/gender is a) physically impossible and b) would make the show immediately into some sort of issue-of-the-week exercise in political correctness.
posted by DNye at 6:28 AM on October 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


Oh god, Rose. Rose, Rose, Rose. Weep weep weep for Rose.

And hey! Hi Mickey and Rose's Mom!
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:33 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Chiwetel Ejiofor was being bandied around as a name before Matt Smith was cast, but I'm not sure whether that was a fan rumor that took on a life of its own, whether he was in early consideration, or if he auditioned.
posted by bettafish at 6:35 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was rooting for Chiwetel Ejiofor as well. And throughout the first Matt Smith epsiode I was hoping he'd go back to right his wrong and take little Amelia Pond with him instead. (I have nothing against Karen Gillan--unfortunately! hurf durf--but the chemistry between Smith's Doctor and young Amelia was just too great.)

My backup choice was Ben Whishaw, aka Grenouille, Dylan, and poor beleaguered Pingu.
posted by Ian A.T. at 6:45 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure whether that was a fan rumor that took on a life of its own, whether he was in early consideration, or if he auditioned.

I think mostly the former. Paterson Joseph may have been more seriously in the running.
posted by Artw at 6:45 AM on October 12, 2010


Ian A.T.: I wish we could see more of young Amelia. I rank that entire scene as my favorite of the Dr. Who revival.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:51 AM on October 12, 2010


Being female is an affliction comparable to being crippled or morbidly obese? Really?
posted by ook at 6:52 AM on October 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


Shh! Spoilers!
posted by Artw at 6:52 AM on October 12, 2010


The idea of a female doctor has frequently been the butt of jokes, particularly with regard to his relationship with the other recurring characters.
posted by schmod at 6:56 AM on October 12, 2010


Doctor Who Vs. Nixon
posted by Artw at 7:03 AM on October 12, 2010


I think Ejiofor and Joseph were both named as the next Doctor on Outpost Gallifrey, then picked up by bookies, who tend to send out press releases around the time a new Doctor is being selected because it's a big payday for them. At which point journalists ask the actors how they feel about being linked to the role, and they say that it's a great part, a great series and so on because they are professionals, and the rumour's on. Patterson Joseph was considered a more credible rumour, because he was appearing in Steven Moffat's Hyde at the time, and a co-star in Survivors named him as the new Doctor Who in an interview, before correcting himself to add "potentially". At the time, that sounded like he had accidentally let slip secret knowledge, but he might just have been reading the papers.
posted by DNye at 7:08 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


A female Doctor would simply be self-parody, the last ploy of desperately out-of-ideas screenwriters.--Faze

...or it could be, well, just a female Doctor. It doesn't have to be the end of the world (or "the last ploy"). I guess it depends on your perspective.
posted by eye of newt at 7:52 AM on October 12, 2010


My wife has fought for 7 years to get English paper pushers to recognize that a woman can be Doctor and use her title. Unfortunately, it is like inserting text into a word document that has other people's formatting styles.

They can make the Doctor a woman but I predict by episode three it will show up in the iPlayer as Misses Who and nobody will know why.
posted by srboisvert at 7:53 AM on October 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


b) would make the show immediately into some sort of issue-of-the-week exercise in political correctness.

As a fan, I'd be far more concerned about this than I would be about the physical impossibility of the Doctor appearing to be of a different race. I trust that a lot more now after seeing how Martha was handled in the Shakespeare ep, to the point that I was rooting for Chiwetel Eijiofor until I saw Matt Smith. If RTD could do it well, I think Moffat can handle it. The fact that many of us in the US audience fear it turning into an Afterschool Special sort of thing is a reflection of our experiences with our own TV.

I'm still not keen on a female Doctor, but the right actress and the right showrunner could do it.

We have been given glimpses of strong female companions but they all still essentially boil down to love tourists.

One of my big complaints about Nu Who has been RTD's casting of all the female companions (including the retrofit of Sarah Jane Smith) into this role. I'm an old skool Whovian and have been since the 1970s, when I was watching Tom Baker on PBS, and my core concept of the Doctor does not include him pining after his companions, nor vice versa.

I used to be all "the only ship in Doctor Who is the TARDIS", but I'm OK with hanky-panky on board now that it's a married couple getting up to it.
posted by immlass at 8:00 AM on October 12, 2010


This is my favorite FPP in ages! Somehow I had never see The Curse of the Fatal Death, so thanks for that, fearfulsymmetry.

I would have no problem at all with a female Doctor, nor would I fear it would turn into "some sort of issue-of-the-week exercise in political correctness." However, I don't think Steven Moffat is the correct show-runner to deal with a female Doctor, so it would have to be in the future.

> I want Benedict to be Sherlock for as long as possible.

Oh god, yes. Four and half hours wasn't nearly enough. I did just find a video clip from this past summer of Cumberbatch hinting he wouldn't be interested in appearing in Doctor Who for "just an episode" and looking sly, which did make me curious.

I like John Simm a lot but his OTT screaming take on The Master was really a bore. It might be interesting to see a more subtle take, and I bet Cumberbatch could pull off something good there.

Also ran across a reference to Matt Smith auditioning for the role of John Watson in Sherlock, which ended up going to Martin Freeman. I can't quite wrap my head around that!
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:06 AM on October 12, 2010


Oh! And fans of classic Who will no doubt remember Benedict Cumberbatch's mother, Wanda Ventham, as the Fendahl.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:11 AM on October 12, 2010


It's just as well that they didn't waste this idea on that miserable era of television production. I wouldn't mind seeing this idea come to pass now that there's a production team capable of handling it. But in the late 80s? Would a female doctor, trapped in a quarry with a synthesizer, fare any better than the men?
posted by bicyclefish at 8:39 AM on October 12, 2010


For some reason, I'd picture a female Doctor as being either Joanna Lumley or a British version of Judy Greer.

The biggest problem with a female Doctor would be the fact that, if her season was anything less than monumentally wonderful, then people would swiftly blame the series' "decline" on the fact that the Doctor is now a woman. Run as fast as you can to stay in place and twice as fast as that to get anywhere at all.

Me, I'm mostly sad that they'll won't cast someone over 45. Richard E. Grant and Bill Nighy would both make excellent Doctors.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:50 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


A female Doctor would be pretty awesome -- what else could more powerfully demonstrate the Doctor's alienness than the ability to effortlessly change gender? But characters like Doctor Who who can do practically anything and are slightly distant from the world around them tend to be white males because it's difficult for a lot of people to imagine anyone else having that level of... well, privilege.

What's interesting is that they're more relatable than they would be in real life because they treat their world like it's fictional -- which their world is. Their lack of empathy in many situations mirrors ours. (See also House.)
posted by speicus at 9:19 AM on October 12, 2010


I like John Simm a lot but his OTT screaming take on The Master was really a bore. It might be interesting to see a more subtle take, and I bet Cumberbatch could pull off something good there.

Man would I love to see Kim Newman do this story:

Q5: How would you like to write Dr Who? Could you tell us about 'Time and Relative,'?

KN: I'd certainly consider it. Time and Relative is a novella, published by Telos Books - who briefly had a license to do Dr Who-related fiction outside the BBC's franchise envelope.

It's set before the first episode of the series in 1963, during the long cold winter of 1962-3 (which I dimly remember), and is narrated by Susan, the Doctor's granddaughter (Carole Anne Ford on the show). Like a lot of Who characters over the years, she had a great introduction and a lot of potential but wasn't especially well used in later stories (she was the first of the many women who wound up screaming a lot).

So I got to go back and rethink her a bit, and do a story about an alien teenager in London. It has a monster - living snowmen from a pre-human ice intelligence (they come back in my novella Cold Snap in Secret Files of the Diogenes Club) - and a save-the-world plot, but I was as interested in the viewpoint. It was reasonably well-received.

It was the first of the Telos line, and I did a very rough outline for a later novella (Dimensions in Space, of course) which would do for the last (it was to be a memoir by the Master - which is why he's set up as a presence in Time and Relative). As it happened, the BBC took back the license when the show was revived, so I didn't get to write it. I might not have done anyway: when something is well-liked, there's a temptation to do more but also a worry that you did your best the first time out and shouldn't try to repeat it for fear of disappointment.

posted by Artw at 9:35 AM on October 12, 2010


1. I'm still clinging fast to my fanwank interpretation of Donna as her being the Doctor's mother. Eventually. Wibbly wobbly etc.

2. I'd love a female Doctor, and I loved when Matt Smith grabbed himself by the hair during regeneration and shouted "I'M A GIRL!" and then felt himself up a bit and realized it wasn't so. That certainly seemed to suggest it might be possible.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:38 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


A female Doctor would be pretty awesome -- what else could more powerfully demonstrate the Doctor's alienness than the ability to effortlessly change gender? But characters like Doctor Who who can do practically anything and are slightly distant from the world around them tend to be white males because it's difficult for a lot of people to imagine anyone else having that level of... well, privilege.

What's interesting is that they're more relatable than they would be in real life because they treat their world like it's fictional -- which their world is. Their lack of empathy in many situations mirrors ours. (See also House.)


Incidentally: an interesting version of the above-it-all hero character, except as a female, was in Veronica Mars.

Before the beginning of the first episode, she's already a rape survivor whose best friend has been murdered and whose father has been wrongfully driven from his post. The problems she has survived by the age of 17 already eclipse those of most of her peers. She spends the rest of the series in a detached ironic haze. Her perspective explains why she is a snarky gumshoe character, but the show also plays with how angry and arrogant she can become with others as a result of not taking others seriously. When done well, it was great pop writing.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:46 AM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mark Gatiss interview
posted by Artw at 9:59 AM on October 12, 2010


Nthing that I don't trust the current showrunner, who has done a lot of nothing with Amy, to handle a female Doctor well.

And all those "I'd rather a black/Asian/whatever first"--um, you do know there are women who fit that description also? Why so either/or?

I'm not sure the current meh-level of writing could handle such a being, but there's no reason she couldn't exist. If the Doctor can prance around ancient Rome in a tweed suit without anybody seeming to notice/care, I don't see why a Doctor of any color or gender couldn't get away with same.

(OMG, Dawn French? I would not be able to contain my squeeing).
posted by emjaybee at 10:06 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always wished it had been Romana who got a spin-off, not Sarah Jane K9.
posted by egypturnash at 10:10 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nthing that I don't trust the current showrunner, who has done a lot of nothing with Amy, to handle a female Doctor well.

Amy's been blah, but River Song is fantastic, and a Moffat creation through and through.

I trust in the Moff.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:13 AM on October 12, 2010


(Also, Amy has been pretty much an improvement on the Rose model. Not only has she been allowed to have a healthy relationship outside the Doctor, but now that time's been rewound, she's no longer damaged! Awesome! I can't wait to see what happens next season with her.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:14 AM on October 12, 2010


And all those "I'd rather a black/Asian/whatever first"--um, you do know there are women who fit that description also? Why so either/or?

Well speaking as someone both female and whatever, I'm just optimistic enough to daydream about a future Doctor who's either not white or not male, but not quite optimistic enough to daydream for a future Doctor who's neither. I would love to be proven wrong, though!
posted by bettafish at 10:17 AM on October 12, 2010


It's not so much Doctor Who that makes me doubt the Moff's ability to handle a female Doctor - although I do think the diversity of character types (both main and one-off) has dropped markedly from the RTD era, and that's speaking as a huge fan of the Eleven/Amy/Rory/River team - as Sherlock.
posted by bettafish at 10:24 AM on October 12, 2010


I'd rather the show dispense with yet another gimmick.

That said, it would be great if the next Master is played by Russel T. Davies. Destroyer of good narratives and sourer of the new Who.
posted by juiceCake at 11:27 AM on October 12, 2010


With enough retconning, River Song could be the next regeneration of the Doctor. I was already convinced that she was going to be, because I didn't pay enough attention to her first appearance when her consciousness was uploaded into a computer. Though, that's not the sort of continuity that's a challenge to Doctor Who writers.
posted by stavrogin at 11:30 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I spent my childhood wanting to grow up to be the first female Doctor. I had no other career aspirations whatsoever.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:36 AM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


With enough retconning, River Song could be the next regeneration of the Doctor.

I married myself
I'm very happy together
I married myself
I'm very happy together
I married myself
I'm very happy together
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:40 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If Doctor Song is a future incarnation of the Doctor and the big secret is that she killed an incarnation of the Doctor, does that make it a crime of passion or auto-erotic suicide?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:16 PM on October 12, 2010


This is true — after watching Absolutely Fabulous at an impressionable age, seeing her play a non-drunk character would be extremely eerie to me. I would be thoroughly eered.

Three words for you. Sapphire. And. Steel.

On the other hand, it would be amusing, at least to me, if the doctor turns out to only have twelve regenerations as a male, and the reason the Master is so dead keen to gain extra regens is that he's a sexist prat.
posted by Sparx at 1:02 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know how they would retcon this into working, but I think a female Valeyard would be a spiffy idea.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:04 PM on October 12, 2010




Doctor Who is now immortal, reveals the BBC

That's rubbish. I'm not one to stress about this kind of thing but I'm a bit annoyed by that. Like it would'nt have been a piece of piss to hand-wave a new cycle of regenerations.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:02 PM on October 12, 2010


I dunno, I kind of admire the complete and utter arbitrariness of not even bothering with "I fell through a time crack" or anything like that.
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on October 12, 2010


Okay, yes, I want to see many decades of Sherlock too. Benedict Cumberbatch may only be the Doctor if he doesn't stop being Sherlock. That would be a double batch of Cumberbatch. A banner year all around, surely.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:45 PM on October 12, 2010


This whole conversation supposes that at one point, Matt Smith will stop being the Doctor. This I refuse to consider.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:39 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Though, that's not the sort of continuity that's a challenge to Doctor Who writers.

Ok, I'm a fairly new viewer and haven't gone back to watch the old series, but even I can tell that there is no sort of continuity that's a challenge to Doctor Who writers...not even within the same freaking episode.

Once I tie up and silence the part of my brain that asks inconvenient questions and stuff it into the closet for an hour, I can happily watch an episode. If I don't, the whole experience goes down in flames.

Which is why the latest season isn't working for me. I miss Tennant and especially Eccleston. Not a Smith fan. He's nice enough, just...eh. Without a Doctor that really engages you, it's harder to ignore the gaping plot holes.
posted by emjaybee at 6:56 PM on October 12, 2010


The Doctor being suddenly immortal feels unearned, especially since it apparently will be thrown out in passing in a Sarah Jane episode written by RTD. I assume it's with Moffat's blessing. It seems a wasted opportunity to wring some tension out of Thirteen.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:23 PM on October 12, 2010


Doctor Who is now immortal, reveals the BBC

In the 5 Doctors the Master is offered new generations beyond his 12 so they could easily have taken this, rolled something out of RTD's ridiculous Time War and be done with it.
posted by juiceCake at 8:38 PM on October 12, 2010


The Doctor should serve his full 12 and then be done with it. He should die with finality. He should have a funeral fit for the final Time Lord. A eulogy. His companions should mourn him. Even the Daleks will be sad to see their enemy go.

The camera should angle on a crotchety old woman in the crowd. "I don't look forward to that," she'll say to a young boy, her grandchild, "but it's a long time yet," and they'll both walk off to their blue police box, ready to head to a new parallel universe.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:20 PM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ha, I'm happy they're doing away with the limit like that. They were going to have to invent something stupid to overwrite it eventually, and this does away with the stupid.

He's still not immortal. He can die without regenerating.
posted by painquale at 10:21 PM on October 12, 2010


That's rubbish. I'm not one to stress about this kind of thing but I'm a bit annoyed by that. Like it would'nt have been a piece of piss to hand-wave a new cycle of regenerations.

Or even a good end of season finale - and far better than a Bigger-Is-Better RTD finale. (Honestly, that man's writing quality seemed inversely proportional to his budget).
posted by Francis at 1:14 AM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


As pissed as I am at the idea that the Doctor is now immortal, what I think is interesting is that they're raising this now? Is Matt Smith planning a departure, I wonder?
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:50 AM on October 13, 2010


They could have had the Doctor's daughter take over for him.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:59 AM on October 13, 2010


I dislike retcons in general, but having an expiration date seems a bit arbitrary and bad writing to me.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:58 AM on October 13, 2010


[Casting a woman] would make the show immediately into some sort of issue-of-the-week exercise in political correctness.

Oh good lord, REALLY?

Also, casting a woman is "gimmicky"?

To be clear for the clueless, this is--I can't even--you are--er. Oh, just keep on being you, sunshine.
posted by hought20 at 10:28 AM on October 13, 2010


I think you might want a closer reading of the comment you're quoting there, hought20.
posted by Artw at 10:42 AM on October 13, 2010


Also, casting a woman is "gimmicky"?

In general, no. But you know, there is some context here. Casting Wonder Woman as a man would be just as gimmicky. Saying so doesn't beg the question, casting a man is gimmicky.
posted by juiceCake at 12:09 PM on October 13, 2010


Casting Wonder Woman as a man would be just as gimmicky.

To be fair, WW is assertively conceived as a female empowerment character, whereas the Doctor is a being who changes his body whenever he "dies." It's not *that* much of a reach to have the Doctor be a lady, although it would require some writerly finesse to pull off the transformation.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:17 PM on October 13, 2010


I have mixed feelings about it, largely because the last two Doctors read strongly to me as heterosexual (if open-minded), male-identified, and looking for love in all the wrong eras, especially if spoiler. On top of Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose you had Madame du Pompador, a temper tantrum over Joan Redfern, River Song, repeated hints regarding Elizabeth I, even a bit of flirtation with Rosana Calveri, and a passive-aggressive competition with Rory. And there's so many ways that you can go wrong with a body-switch plotline.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:47 PM on October 13, 2010


IIRC They did Wonder Woman as a man around about the time of the Amazons Attack storyline. I didn't read it so I can't comment of the level of gimmickness.
posted by Artw at 1:05 PM on October 13, 2010


It's not *that* much of a reach to have the Doctor be a lady...

Completely disagree. I've seen about 90% of all the episodes ever broadcast and it would be a rather huge stretch to have the Doctor be a lady. There is no indication I can recall of where a Timelord regenerates into another sex. Romana remained a female. The Master remained a male. In the Brain of Morbius all the images of the Doctor are male. Is his middle name Tireas? Is he part Trill?

Writerly finesse you say. That is the sort of "finesse" we got from RTD. Long may he never touch the show again.
posted by juiceCake at 1:12 PM on October 13, 2010


True, Artw, and I realized it soon after I posted. I'll redirect my ire at fans who believe that, instead.
posted by hought20 at 2:52 PM on October 13, 2010


Oh good lord, REALLY?

I'm afraid so - I mean, you can see it in Faze's comment, above, but at the time arguments advanced included that it would be the BBC bowing to pressure groups, that it would be impossible for the Doctor to have the necessary authority if he were not a white man (no, really) and, a personal favourite, that it was clearly traumatic to change from one white man to another, and that it would be so much more traumatic to develop the extra melanin.

A more reasonable criticism would be that the idea of the next Doctor being a woman or not white was used as a cynical ploy to get attention, playing precisely on that sort of fan response, dangled by the bookies to stir up some excitement before the announcement of another white man.

juicecake: The problem with the canon-based arguments you're advancing is that old Who has no necessary impact on New Who canon. It looks like the 12 reincarnations is going to be thrown out, for example. Old Who provides context, character and mood, but it clearly isn't intended to be canonical in the American sense. If you want to handwave that, it's because of the impact of the Time War on recorded history, I guess. Which is lucky, because old Who frequently contradicts itself anyway. Romana runs through four regenerations in quick succession, one of which is clearly not a human body.

Even in new Who, Nine suggests that his new body might have two heads, or no head. Nine and Ten both check their features and bodies after regeneration. Eleven thinks that he might have regenerated as a woman, IIRC, when he feels his hair. It's perfectly possible within the rules of the text for the Doctor to regenerate as a woman, or in a non-human form. The rules that stipulate that he be a white man originate and are applied outside the text.
posted by DNye at 3:13 PM on October 13, 2010


DNye: My objection isn't that it's impossible, because if you can wish the Doctor back into existence anything is possible.

It's that I don't trust most writers to deal with gender-swap stories given the big controversies around gender identity. The worst case is that it gets treated as a bunch of comic pratfalls. Possibly better would be to say that there's continuity of identity between incarnations, in which case you have a transgender or genderqueer Doctor which requires a whole different set of careful writing, or you can say that the new Doctor is a cisgendered woman which is a can of worms of biology and identity.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:27 PM on October 13, 2010


That's a very interesting point, KJS. That said, the fear of mishandling transgender and gender identity issues (and this is broader than Doctor Who, obviously), like the fear of mishandling gay and lesbian themes before it, risks giving the writers an easy out to avoid handling it at all. Better no treatment than a poor treatment, the logic goes, but invisibility is still invisibility.

Possibly Doctor Who would be able to get around the complexities with the sort of applied stupidity that you can get away with in children's stories - he was a man, now she's a woman, here are some Daleks, RUN IN HEELS! But it's probably academic, because I can't imagine Doctor Who being played by a female actor in any res more extensa than a body-swapping one-off or a comedy skit.
posted by DNye at 6:06 PM on October 13, 2010


Since you mention Gina Bellman, Leverage had a couple of Doctor Who references. Digging around in the same Wikipedia article on Doctor Who spoofs reveals a never aired French & Saunders sketch, as well as one Doctor Who ripoff porno with a female Doctor (I'm rolling my eyes, but Rule 34, what did I expect.)
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:59 PM on October 13, 2010


*vhsiv mentions* rather than *you mention*
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:00 PM on October 13, 2010


If the Doctor regenerated into a woman but said he still felt like a man inside so wore his hair short and togged around in the kind of suits that Tennant wore then I would shit bricks of pure joy because that would be awesome and sexy.

RUN IN HEELS!

The Doctor twisted her ankle! Beefcake companion Randy to the rescue!

I now have a mental image of woman Doctor drawn in Kate Beaton style reading a copy of BROODING HUNX
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:42 AM on October 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Bah, Jacqueline Pearce could run through a quarry in high heels AND an evening dress without twisting her ankle
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:48 AM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Servalan > Simm!Master any day of the week. If we're regenerating formerly male Who characters into women, I'll take a Servalan-style Master played by Jacqueline Pearce, kthx.
posted by immlass at 4:49 PM on October 14, 2010


Tangentially, you can sort of see Servalan as a Doctor Who villain in Dark Season - written by RTD, and featuring a strangely omniscient oddball and her two young companions battling a young, blond villain intend on ending the world. Pearce plays a turbanned neo-Nazi (having refused to bleach her hair).
posted by DNye at 8:51 AM on October 17, 2010


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