Actor William Hartnell debuted as the very first Doctor in the 1963 pilot for the BBC TV show Doctor Who. 49 years later, the sci-fi staple is still trucking along, the Doctor zipping through time and space in his flying phone booth, the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), and saving the day week to week. Thanks to a mythology loophole that gives the Doctor the power to resurrect into a new being, showrunners have been able to keep Doctor Who alive and fresh for 11 different incarnations, with current Doctor Matt Smith continuing to reinterpret the character for the audience of 2012.
Smith began the show in 2010 and won quickly won over audiences, pleasing diehard Who fans with a mix of the super serious ninth doctor Christopher Eccleston and the goofy, hipster madness of the 10th doctor, David Tennant. But as with every sci-fi show with rapid devotees, Who is as much for the "what's next?" speculation as it is within the moment. So it's no surprise that two years into the Smith-era, lead Who writer Steven Moffat is already letting details slip for what could come next. His recent tease is a doozy: According to Moffat, the next Doctor could be a woman.
The Sun quotes Moffat responding the possibility of a female Doctor. "It is a part of Time Lord lore that it can happen. Who knows, the more often it is talked about the more likely it is to happen some day.” Moffat, Smith, and costar Karen Gillan were in New York City attending the premiere of the first episode of the seventh series, "Asylum of the Daleks," set to premiere in the states on September 1 on BBC America. Moffat followed his comments on the future of Who by ensuring fans that the show won't be going anywhere anytime soon. "“The TV show is the mothership of Doctor Who and it will go on forever.”
Fans with 49 years worth of Who ingrained in their memories may point to specific references from the show's dense canon as to why a women could never play the Doctor, but on the show's modern course, there's no reason it couldn't happen. In fact, it's time the seminal series recruited a female lead. There is so much weirdness to love in Doctor Who from the aliens to the mishaps with historical figures to the genius balance of comedy and drama nurtured by its continually rotating cast. It's like nothing on television — in the UK or US. But one of the stranger elements of Doctor Who has been the "companion" role. The second lead is generally a regular joe from Earth who stumbles into the Doctor's cross-universal adventures. Since all of the official TV Doctors have been male, the main companions have typically been female. There is always romantic tension — how could someone not be enamored by a guy who wields a do-anything "sonic screwdriver" and can jump from 1596 to the 31st century in a matter of seconds?
Totally reasonable, but as Doctor Who continues to boldly stride forward past its half-century mark, the show would be wise to establish a female doctor. There is even precedence: In the 1999 TV movie The Curse of Fatal Death, actress Joanna Lumley briefly appeared as a version of the titular hero. Great actresses have stood alongside The Doctor and helped define the female voice of the show — Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, and now Gillan as Amy Pond — but none have been able to play with the malleable fabric of the Doctor, to be empowered and stand alongside their own companion.
Maybe in the 32nd century?
[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures, Yellow Mountain Imports]
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