It’s about time. After 54 years, 36 seasons and 12 incarnations, the Doctor will finally regenerate as a woman. Doctor Who is particularly well set up for switching genders, since the show gets a new actor every few years and it is established that Time Lords can regenerate as the opposite gender. The Master became Missy when played by Michelle Gomez in 2014. It was established in 2011 in “The Doctor’s Wife” that Time Lords could change gender. The only obstacle to the Doctor becoming a female is the courage of the people running the show.
Jodie Whittaker is the 13th Doctor and the first female Doctor. You may only know her from Broadchurch, where she did a terrific job, but she has a long resume. She repelled an alien invasion with John Boyega in Attack the Block. She has starred in movies and been in several TV series.
Also coming from Broadchurch is Chris Chibnall, who will be the new showrunner. He’s written for Doctor Who and for Torchwood, so he is experienced in the Whoniverse. He has gotten nominations and won the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain Award for Doctor Who, along with other writers.
“Anyone who has seen Jodie Whittaker’s work will know that she is a wonderful actress of great individuality and charm,” Peter Capaldi said about his replacement.“She has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She’s going to be a fantastic Doctor.”
Because of the nature of the series, fans of Doctor Who go through a cycle of grief and acceptance every time there’s a new Doctor. It’s not easy. Who could forget David Tennant’s insistence that he didn’t want to go? We didn’t want him to go either. But sooner or later we let go of the old Doctor and embrace the new one. In this case, we will also have to let go of the Doctor’s gender identity and embrace a new one.
The Doctor will have a lot more to get used to than just new teeth, but Doctor Who hasn’t overcome all barriers. The Doctor still isn’t ginger.
Transformation is expected to take place in this year’s Christmas Special.