Thursday, 6 June 2013

Feature Article: Should The Next Doctor Be A Woman?

OK everyone, let's get this out of the way before I continue. The idea of the Doctor being a woman is a touchy subject these days and there are many sides to every story. However, I will be bold (ducks away from flying objects) and say this: The character of The Doctor in our (both male & female readers included) much loved Doctor Who, is male and should continue to be so.

Please don't leave just yet. I really hope to get a point across, by actually providing a balanced look at things unlike a bloke I heard on the radio today saying:
 'It's Doctor Who, not Nurse Who'! 
That summarises some poor misguided views from certain 'fans'. However, this 'man' was very mistaken in his approach to the argument, an 'old school' view that needs to be taken away from the modern discussion. So what valid points can I draw on? Well the prime argument I have seen this past week has been this:
“Well you wouldn't change Cat Woman to Cat Man, Superman to Superwoman (technically they have) or Batman into Batwoman/girl (see last brackets)”
The answer to these statements have been basically followed along these lines:
“Yea, but those characters don't have the ability to regenerate into somebody else, man or woman”
I can see both sides, however both points above are for me completely invalid. What? You mean you're arguing the case against and you think the first ones wrong? Yes, yes I do and here's why. Lets replace the top argument with this:
“Well you wouldn't change Cat Woman to Cat Man? Yes because she began as Cat Woman, part of an already successful Batman comics series, she became a character in her own right. Superman and Batman, spawned female characters on the exact same basis”.
If we want to move away from the comic theme, Miss Marple is known as the original female sleuth in her own right. Did Agatha Christie ever think: “This is terrible I've been writing these books for all these years and I've never introduced Marple as a man, the exact same thoughts that ITV had when casting new Miss Marple’s all these years? I think not.

Now for the re-imagining of the counter argument:
“But even Miss Marple doesn't have the ability to regenerate into another body and possibly a change of gender whilst there.”
Indeed she doesn't, however (and for those of a staunch pro-gender approach, please hear me out) The role of The Doctor has been portrayed by a man for the past fifty years. This has been the ongoing theme for all that time and to reach it's fifty year Anniversary without a female lead seems to have worked quite well, The Doctor and his companion(s) through all of time and space exploring the galaxy’s and having a bloody great time whilst doing so.

Am I a sexist? Oh incredibly so... I have a wife who has brought me unlimited happiness since we first met, an utterly wonderful, talented and loving woman, who I admire as someone who I would one day like to emulate. The point here is not: 'WOMEN, tssscc!' it's the fact that The Doctor has always been portrayed by a male and why change now? The show is reaching countries far and wide like never before, this is nothing to do with a male leading the show, but the fact that a successful/proven format has worked for fans all over the world.

I'm a regular user of Twitter and the amount of female followers and those who just like their views to be known, say to me: 'I love it as it is, please don't change it' is phenomenal.

I feel personally that somewhat this argument is very rarely touched upon by the female fans of Doctor Who, but by those who feel they must have an opinion on something they don't actually have an opinion on in the long run. I've heard a few radio interviews today from female hosts seething at the attitude of Doctor Who fans (both male & female) saying The Doctors a man: please let it stay that way. For my money, the wider audience has no view on the show, but decide that the time is now right to demand change on something they feel is a moral issue rather than a creative one. 

As I say, I'm a massive sexist, who abhors the role of woman in everyday life. My favourite actor/actress is the sublime Dame Helen Mirren, my wife is my role model and my daughter is becoming a 'right little lady'. Do I care what gender they are? Nope, I value them for what they are. Actress' are what drive TV forward. Take Olivier Coleman, wonderful. Is she next in line for The Doctor Who role? Nope and nor should she, not because of a lack of talent, because she is a woman and Chris Chibnall wouldn't cast Olivia’s part in Broadchurch to Matt Smith. Just like Miss Marple’s not a man. Stick to what works and what has been the norm since day 1. In 1963, we began a journey, lets not make a wrong turn because 'the commentators' say so.

I completely understand that in writing this article may ignite a heated debate and that is fantastic. I really can't wait to talk to you all. One request, please keep comments civil and clean. See you soon.

Written by Graeme Bentzen for The Gallifrey Times
(These are the opinions of myself and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Gallifrey Times)