On Sunday, many cries of joy were heard across the Whoniverse when “Broadchurch” actress Jodie Whittaker was cast as the very first female Doctor in the long-running BBC science fiction series “Doctor Who.”
The groundbreaking decision was the next logical step for the evolution of the alien character, but not unusual for the show itself, which had already established that Time Lords could switch genders. It was also long overdue. The series started over 50 years ago and has always featured a straight, white male in the starring role through 12 different incarnations (13, if you count the “Hurt Doctor” or “War Doctor” John Hurt).
But for every advancement comes resistance from those who want to go back to the status quo. Critics of the casting immediately began airing their grievances, and on Twitter, the hashtags #NotMyDoctor and, even more insultingly, #NurseWho were born. Apparently, some of these objections actually made it to the BBC, which responded as part of its complaints department policy:
“BBC One, Doctor Who casting announcement, 16 July 2017
Some viewers contacted us unhappy that Jodie Whittaker has been cast as the new Doctor.
Since the first Doctor regenerated back in 1966, the concept of the Doctor as a constantly evolving being has been central to the programme. The continual input of fresh ideas and new voices across the cast and the writing and production teams has been key to the longevity of the series.
The Doctor is an alien from the planet Gallifrey and it has been established in the show that Time Lords can switch gender.
As the Controller of BBC Drama has said, Jodie is not just a talented actor but she has a bold and brilliant vision for her Doctor. She aced it in her audition both technically and with the powerful female life force she brings to the role. She is destined to be an utterly iconic Doctor.
We hope viewers will enjoy what we have in store for the continuation of the story.”
The BBC didn’t indicate what the volume of complaints that came in was, but as a trust, it is required to respond to each grumble of dissatisfaction, no matter how big or small.
This past season of “Doctor Who” had already started making some headway into becoming more diverse with the addition of Bill (played by Pearl Mackie), the first openly gay companion in the series. While the show didn’t overplay her sexuality, it didn’t ignore it either and discussed her love interests, dating, preferences and societal views on sexuality in ancient Rome (as one does when on a time-travel TV show).
Peter Capaldi plays the current Doctor and will leave the series the annual Christmas special when the character will regenerate and pass the mantle to the 13th incarnation, played by Whittaker. Until then, he will appear at the Comic-Con panel for the show in San Diego on Sunday. In the US, “Doctor Who” airs on BBC America.