A question that’s been around for nearly as long as the show itself. The subject was first discussed seriously when Tom Baker wished his successor good luck whoever he or she might be. At the time not too much was made of it but it got people talking. Could a female actually take on the role as the Doctor?
Anybody who has watched some of the show would be foolish to deny that yes, it is entirely feasible that the Doctor could in theory regenerate into a woman. We’ve seen his arch nemesis the Master go from John Simm et al. to Michelle Gomez. In “Hell Bent” we also saw the General regenerate from a man to a woman. So we know it can happen. But should it? It’s a question that splits the fan base and my opinion is no, the Doctor should not change gender. Now before you close the page and start typing abuse, that’s not because I’m sexist in anyway. There should always be a female travelling in the TARDIS. In fact after series nine, Michelle Gomez is one of my favourite incarnations of the Master, something I never thought I’d say when her identity was first revealed. But the Doctor changing gender is just a step too far. You wouldn’t get any three blokes in to play Monica, Rachel and Pheobe in a remake of Friends or Daniel Craig to play Princess Leia in the next Star Wars movie. Admittedly the Doctor’s gender switch would be easier to work into the plot but the show has had tremendous success with its current formula for over half a century. So why fix something that isn’t broken?
What would it mean for the show if an actress was cast as the Doctor? Would the companion go to prodominantly being male rather than female? Would there be more than one female Doctor? Would people still watch the show? All need to be considered before making such a bold decision. And what sort of woman would you bring in? Olivia Colman has been touted for the role but what Doctoresque qualities would she bring? She’s never been overly energetic, nerdy, heroic or charismatic in any of her previous roles that I’ve seen her in. A female actor would surely need to be tenacious, charming, swish and likeable. And again, without at all being sexist, there are more actors out there who fit those characteristics than actresses. Steven Moffat has teased us with the prospect of a female Doctor but that’s looking like it won’t happen within his era. Changing the Master to a female was a brave and risky move and some still can’t accept that she is the same person. Even more would disapprove of a female Doctor though. It was slightly easier to change the Master as although he was key in the show’s history, the character wasn’t making weekly appearances, so the change didn’t do too much to harm the overall dynamic of the show. It’s not as if the Doctor is running out of personality switches as a male anyway. Already in the modern era we’ve met five new and all very different Doctors, all bringing different traits and quirks along with them. The character shows no sign of stalling or losing the enigma that surrounds him. In fact since series seven, I think the Doctor has been at his most intriguing in the modern era. There’s a mystery about his past and I think it’d only be right that as we find out more about the history of the main character, he continues to be male so that what we find out is far more believable and continuity is maintained.
If a female was cast to replace Peter Capaldi I would be disappointed. By no means would I stop watching the show, of course any new Doctor has to be given a fair chance, but I think the show would lose some of its appeal and charm. The successful, mad old man in a box picking up people and showing them the universe formula, has been so successful and entertaining, so to drastically change that now while the show remains very good would be a hugely risky and mad decision. If the show was desperately running low on ideas and we’d struggled through a couple of less popular Doctors, then yes maybe a drastic change is what would be needed. But for now, I don’t think there’s any reason at all to change the Doctor’s gender.