The BBC has issued a response to criticisms about Jodie Whittaker's casting as the new lead on Doctor Who. Every few years, the BBC has to recast one of their most popular characters. The Doctor from Doctor Who is a Time Lord, an alien who upon dying regenerates into a new body. Since the first time The Doctor regenerated - in 1966 - there have been 13 actors who have had a turn playing the role. Now the fourteenth has been announced. Starting this year with the annual Christmas Special, Jodie Whittaker will be the first woman to take on the coveted role.
There has been talk for years about the possibility of The Doctor regenerating as a woman. When the 4th Doctor Tom Baker announced that he was leaving the role, he said "I wish the next Doctor, whoever he — or she — might be, the very best of luck." Baker may have meant it as a joke, but ever since there have always been a few female names tossed around or rumored whenever a Doctor steps down. In the last 12 years since the show has been revived, some of those names have included Helen Mirren, Tilda Swinton, and Whittaker's Broadchurch co-star Olivia Coleman.
Now it is officially happening, Whittaker is taking over the part. While many fans - and several actors from previous seasons of Doctor Who - have been supportive of Whittaker and praised the concept of The Doctor being a woman, there are a few who do not want to see the character so greatly changed. In response to the fans who have reached out to express their disappointment, the BBC has released an official response:
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 idea that Time Lords can change gender being established in the show has been most clearly demonstrated through the character of Missy - aka The Mistress. She is the regenerated version of The Master - one of The Doctor's oldest enemies. The Master had previously been played by seven different male actors before regenerating as Missy - a role played by Michelle Gomez for the last three years.
There have never been a whole lot of rules present as to what form The Doctor will take when he regenerates. They become younger and older, taller and shorter. Their eye and hair color has changed - though they have never been ginger. And the change is not only in appearance. While it is always the same character with the same memories, everything from personality to taste in clothing to catch phrases has been affected. Even the accent has shifted with certain performances. Each person who plays The Doctor has numerous opportunities to make the role their own and add their personal touch.
Virtually nothing is known yet about what the newest version of The Doctor will be like. Even the outfit worn by Whittaker in the casting announcement is not the final costume. Until we see her in the part, it's impossible to judge how she will be. And with this statement, it is clear that the BBC is behind her, no matter what complaints they might hear. After all, the people in charge of Whittaker's casting knew there would be controversy and chose her anyway.
The Doctor Who Christmas special will air on the BBC December 25, 2017.