It seems like a new name falls off the Doctor Who rumor wagon on a daily basis, replacing the last and giving us all someone new to ponder and parse. Yesterday, the Internet was all a flutter over the prospect of Rory Kinnear and before that it was Dominic Cooper – but Dame Helen Mirren’s name always seems to keep coming back around, and she has something to say about it.
Speaking about the prospect of playing the the Time Lord for the first time since she said that she would be interested back in 2011, Mirren opened up about not just the likelihood of her getting the part, but also her desire to see a Time Lady, and her seeming displeasure over the continued swing toward convention with regards to Doctor Who.
Said Mirren, before adding that she would “put much longer odds” on her winning the role than the stated 25 to 1 line that has been circulated:
“I think it’s absolutely time for a female Doctor Who. I’m so sick of that man with his girl sidekick. I could name at least 10 wonderful British actresses who would absolutely kill in that role.”
While Mirren doesn’t think that she’ll get a chance to pilot the TARDIS, her remarks do add fuel to a debate that has been raging for years: is it time for a woman to play The Doctor?
Now, obviously, the question is one that polarizes, and both sides have a pocket full of valid points to throw at each other with regard to both the Doctor’s long history as a man and the characters worldly, evolved views that would seemingly team up with his mostly asexual nature to inoculate him from the existence a gender preference. Those views would also seem to make a change in the Doctor’s race or ethnicity completely viable as well.
With that said, though, this is not a purely intellectual (and emotional) debate between fans and critics. Commerce weighs heavily on these decisions, and while the show and showrunner Steven Moffat could use both an influx of buzz and a new field of available story options to mine, the existing formula of a white male Doctor remains proven while a change is likely perceived as risky and untested… because, to some, the time never quite seems right to test it.
So, when will that change and when will the BBC roll the dice and bank on both an influx of new fans and the acceptance of a majority of current fans over the likely loud outrage of other fans? Time Lord only knows, but until then, the Whovian gender debate’s very own Time War continues.
Doctor Who returns with the 50th Anniversary Special in November.