The 13th Doctor of Doctor Who could be played by Michaela Coel, which would make her the first female and first Black Doctor. Doctor Who returned to the small screen this month for a tenth season – and one filled with goodbyes. Star Peter Capaldi, the 12th Doctor is on his way out after season 10, as is long-time showrunner Steven Moffat. Big changes are afoot, and this has sparked all kinds of speculation over who might be replacing Capaldi, and if the 13th Doctor could shake things up for the franchise.
Rumors about who may join the show as the new star have been swirling for months, although the BBC has stated that no casting has taken place as yet. Some favorites for the role have included Kris Marshall, Tilda Swinton, and Ben Whishaw, although multiple other names have been put forward. Now, new sources claim that it is none of these (or any other name mentioned so far), but a totally different actress who would mean not one, but two firsts for the show.
According to Nerdist, the actress reportedly close to landing the role is Chewing Gum‘s Michaela Coel. This has yet to be confirmed by the BBC, but comes from “sources close to the production” according to the latest episode of Nerdist News.
If this is true, Coel would not only be the first female Doctor in the show’s history, she would be the first Black Doctor as well. This wouldn’t be the only first for the series this year, either. The newest companion, Bill (Pearl Mackie) has been declared to be the series’ first openly gay companion. Coel would also be a huge change for the series due to her age, as the 29-year-old would be one of the youngest Doctors to appear in the series. She would not, however, be the youngest ever, as that honor goes to Matt Smith, who made his 11th Doctor debut at only 27, edging out 5th Doctor Peter Davison who joined the show at 29.
Although this would be a massive shake-up for the series, it would not necessarily be an unwelcome one. Past Doctor David Tennant supported the idea of a female 13th, as does current Doctor Capaldi. Another Doctor Who alum, Karen Gillan, also recently spoke about the need for “more diversity in the TARDIS” while promoting her upcoming film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. For fans who agree with her, seeing a Black female Doctor with a Black female Companion would be absolutely incredible – though it’s unclear whether Bill will continue on past season 10.
Of course, others may not be happy about this casting choice, as every suggestion of a female Doctor so far has been met with an outcry that the Doctor has always been white and male (and a regenerating alien, of course). For purists, the idea of a young, female, Black Doctor could be too much to handle. Before getting too worked up with excitement or anger, however, it’s important to remember that this is still an unconfirmed rumor, and that until the BBC makes an official announcement, nothing is guaranteed.
Doctor Who continues with ‘Smile’ on Saturday, April 22nd on BBC1 and BBC America.