Doctor Who veteran Karen Gillan has joined the chorus of fans hoping to see more diversity on the show, when it comes to casting the next Doctor. Season 10 of the revived Doctor Who TV series is now underway, with Peter Capaldi playing the waylaid Time Lord known as The Doctor for a third and final time, before the character undergoes their next regeneration. Rumors about Capaldi’s replacement on Doctor Who having already been found aside, the question of who will be piloting the Tardis in season 11 remains unanswered for the time being.
With Steven Moffat also stepping down as Doctor Who‘s showrunner after this season (having served in that position since season 5), the ongoing call from fans for the next Doctor to be played by someone other than a white male actor, is as loud (if not louder) than ever before. Regardless of whether a female and/or non-caucasian Doctor for season 11 is actually in the cards, people are continuing to weigh in with their thoughts on the matter – including, veterans of the show, like Gillan.
Screen Rant interviewed Gillan – who played the Doctor’s companion Amelia “Amy” Pond for two and a half seasons during Matt Smith’s run on Doctor Who – during the press junket for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; wherein Gillan reprises her role from the first Guardians movie as Nebula. Here is what Gillan had to offer, with regard to the casting of the next Doctor:
Screen Rant: Would you like to see the Doctor have a different race or a different gender?
Karen Gillan: Both. Let’s go with both. We need some diversity in the TARDIS. That would be great, and also a female could absolutely play the Doctor. You know, some people question it, and I’m like, you’re crazy. Of course, a female can play that role. There are so many actresses that could do that and I’d love to see that.
Doctor Who has become generally more inclusive with its casting choices and human characters in recent years, with the newly-introduced Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) – the first openly gay Doctor Who companion – being one such example. However, the show has yet to mix things up when it comes to the casting of the Doctor character; with a straight, white, actor having occupied the role ever since it was created more than fifty years ago now. When it comes to the matter of gender in particular, some fans have long argued that the traditional male Doctor and female primary companion (as the Doctor has had male secondary companions, most famously Captain Jack Harkness) dichotomy is even essential to the show.
At the same time, those calling for a female Doctor have only increased in number with every passing year; with many agreeing with Gillan that it’s just as important that the Doctor be played by a non-white actor at some point, as it is that the character be female in the future. Doctor Who the TV show has now firmly established that Time Lords can change genders between regenerations (see Missy, the current female iteration of the villainous Master), so even the series itself is setting the stage for things to change on that front. Whether or not the incoming Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall heeds that call, remains to be seen.
Doctor Who continues with ‘Smile’ on Saturday, April 22nd on BBC1 and BBC America.