Some news you have probably already heard: Matt Smith is hanging up his bow tie for good sometime soon and ceasing being the Doctor. And you know that means? Regeneration and plenty of press speculation about who will be the next Doctor. The question being asked by many is will the Doctor have a sex change and be played by a female. I’ve had some thoughts and have decided to share them with you all today.
When I was little “my” Doctor was Sylvester McCoy.
He was the doctor from 1987–89 and came back to show his regeneration into Paul McGann after the series was cancelled and the movie was made. He was something of a bumbling idiot at first, making pratfalls and basically being a bit of a loser, but still kept the Doctors intelligence and knowledge. I don’t really remember him having been born 2 twos prior to the start of his tenure, but my parents watched repeats a lot so I did see my fair share of him. To be honest I was not overly bothered by the Doctor. He seemed like a grown up and as a small child I didn’t identify with that. I did get a desire for the Doctor to come and find me, invite me on the TARDIS and take me travelling through space and time. I still dream about it now.
So the Doctor was to me like the fun uncle who comes to collect you to take you on the adventures your parents wouldn’t, in which case the companion was the one I identified with. For me that was this girl…
This companion was aptly named, for she was truly ace! From her Wikipedia entry: “Ace is a 16-year-old who first appears in the 1987 serial Dragonfire, where she is working as a waitress in the frozen food retail complex of Iceworld on the planet Svartos. She had been a troubled teen on Earth, having been expelled from school for blowing up the art room as a “creative statement”. Gifted in chemistry (despite failing it for her A-levels), she was in her room experimenting with the extraction of nitroglycerin from gelignite when a time storm swept her up and transported her to Iceworld, and far in her future. There, she meets the Doctor and his companion Mel. When Mel leaves the Doctor at the conclusion of the serial, he offers to take Ace with him in the TARDIS, and she happily accepts.”
Ok, did you read that? Read it again! She was doing chemistry experiments in her room when she was whisked away in a time storm until the Doctor met her. She’s proper tough-girl nerd! She was great to watch as a young girl and she and the 7th Doctor had a relationship not unlike Harry and Dumbledore; the Doctor used the opportunity of her travelling with him to educate her about the universe and the history of earth, yet their friendship was strained at times by his manipulation of people and events. There was no love story, just an old man and his friend travelling the universe.
My point is that the Doctor has never been a role model to young women and girls. He’s a man. He can be something we aspire to find in the opposite sex, but we will never be like him. We can aspire to be like the companions at the moment, but the offering so far has been paltry. Rose Tyler loved the Doctor, Martha Jones loved the Doctor unrequitedly, Donna Noble did some amazing things as the Doctors friend and companion but had to have her memory erased rendering everything null and void. Amy Pond loved Rory and was best friends with her Raggedy Man, which was nice, but her storylines involved marriage and pregnancy. Granted perhaps Clara might be better, but I found the series flagged so badly at the end of Amy and Rorys run that I couldn’t be bothered with the next. I’d like to watch it again and watch it with my children and I’d like for there to be a good female role model for my daughter. It would be nice if the Doctor could be a woman so that my girl can look up and see herself wielding the sonic screwdriver and, well I was going to say steering the TARDIS, but you know what I mean. Failing that can we maybe have a companion who isn’t gaga over the Doctor. Maybe one of an age closer to Donna or River Song? Maybe one who can be clever and quick, but not equally vapid and girly to counteract it. Can we maybe have a male companion who is not a tag along boyfriend of the primary companion? There have been male companions in the past who have been much beloved and very successful. Love stories, while they have their place in the world, can be kind of boring. Certainly they are boring to children my daughters age. Lets have some mates bombing around the universe with the Doctor, preferably an old and grumpy one rather than the current young, manic and sexy ones. A female Doctor would be nice. A Doctor of colour would be pretty good, too.
Basically it would be nice to see a change of pace to liven up a somewhat stagnant formula.
And more Neil Gaiman penned episodes. In fact, lets just replace Stephen “sexist jokes are always funny, right?” Moffat with Neil.
I’m not going to Gavel! today because I’m in two minds about it. I think I’d be happy with either and I’m certainly going to be watching to see who appears out of Elevens regeneration. I’m going to put it to you Discussers instead: do you think we should have a female Doctor or another male?