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Doctor Who Thread of Space and Time: Discussing Twice Upon A Time (SPOILERS)


I think what gets lost in this kind of discussion amid internut sturm and drang is the difference between female supporting and female lead roles in popular franchises / high profile stories - there haven’t been that many - it’s partly why Rey made a big impact in TFA when it came out. It’s easy to say oh but what about Leia or Hermione - there’s no argument they’re great characters but, in the films they’re known for, it’s not their story, in the sense they’re not the lead. Who is? In the OT it’s a toss-up between Luke and Han, far more Luke for me, whereas in Harry Potter the answer’s in the title.

This all ties into representation and the messages popular media sends by that - which is, it’s fine for girls to be in supporting roles, to help and enable - but lead? To invoke Mr Chlomondeley-Warner: “Look, this pretty little thing wants to drive a car, it won’t end well.” There are predecessors for the likes of Rey, but they’re few, you can probably count them on one hand across 40 years of films. But more important is the message that girls can be the lead.

Where this all goes pear-shaped is UK society, perhaps US society has it too in different form, really mixes up the messages where boys are concerned. On the one hand boys will try anything and are dead confident, however, this gets countered by an attitude that they’re trouble, irredeemable violent little bastards and incapable of developing. It’s all very ‘what are little boys and girls made of’ bollocks, harmful bollocks too for both genders, it doesn’t help anyone. It’s a safe bet that any mother with boys will have got ‘aren’t they trouble?’ line at some point. The problem is those doing this crap-stirring hide behind the idea of boys being more confident to excuse their own antics: “They won’t care about this” but that’s probably crap too. (Also linked to the ‘hapless dad’ stereotype.)

At the same time I could see the general point being made by some blokes as to being: Can’t we have something that’s ours? That’s it’s been ‘theirs’ for years isn’t going to cut much ice against the feeling that it’s being taken away, like everything else was. Again, this is a failing of both politics and society in not encouraging a sense of security in blokes’ sense of identity in the world as it is now.

Both issues are neither the fault nor the responsibility of Doctor Who to fix, but I can see why they come up in this kind of discussion.


You yourself have posted your uncertainty about Chibnall. All I’ve said is I don’t know if she can pull off the role. There’s a big difference between that and everythings shit and I hate this company.

Whittaker might be this amazing Dr, but Eccleston was a great established actor, Tennant are clearly incredibly talented character actors, and Capaldi is a journeyman. Whittaker feels like just a standard BBC actress that could have come from a dozen bog standard BBC dramas. Her getting the role has been a shock for everyone, and most fans have that ‘we’ll see’ approach rather than ‘she was amazing in this role, she’ll be a fantastic Dr’. Like I said before, all the excitement seems to be that she’s a woman, not that she’s this incredibly accomplished and talented actress.

You don’t know who the next Dr is going to be. But much like Marvel have faced, now that diversity is on the table we’ll get internet warriors wondering about a black Dr, or an Asian Dr, or a gay Dr, or a trans Dr, or a dwarf Dr, or a disabled Dr. That’s just the conversations that come next when introducing diversity comes into play. I’m not saying they’re right, but you know they’ll happen too. They’ve been happening over the companions for years and the series has dutifully ticked most of the boxes.


Why does a story have to have one lead? Who’s the lead in Game of Thrones? Star Wars is Luke and Leia’s story. Harry Potter, is Harry, Ron and Hermonie. I think there’s a real splitting hairs situation if you’re dismissing those characters as not being alpha++ as a means to bypass that Dr Who didn’t need to make this change.

I think this might have been true a decade ago but not so much these days.


There’s a whole lot Doc Who didn’t need to do on that basis then - Bill didn’t need to be a lesbian, Jack certainly shouldn’t have been tri-sexual either.

The response to Rey in TFA from girls and women says different. Whatever I may think of TFA when I see it, that aspect can’t be denied. If it was really a standard thing, that response would not have happened

Plus, if the last few years have demonstrated anything, it’s that there hasn’t been as much progress as people would like to think.


I think the argument is less that Doctor Who needed to make the change, and more that there was no reason for it not to.

Clearly Chibnall has a female-Doctor take that he thinks will work. Given that the BBC wanted him (and badly enough to put the show on hold for a year to accommodate him) and are on board with his take, the argument becomes: is there any good reason why we shouldn’t go ahead with this plan?

And yes, you can argue that a bad actress, a bad showrunner or bad story ideas might all be valid reasons to not go ahead with the plan - and we’ll see whether those concerns are borne out. But I don’t think “the Doctor can’t be a woman” is a good reason not to do it, even if I can understand some of the reasons why people might think that.


We’ve had people talking about back or asian Doctors before this. And I am sure it’ll happen, too - another thing I don’t see a problem with.

Trans is kinda superfluous, what with regenerating into a different gender. A dwarf Doctor… now that you mention it, I’d kill to see Peter Dinklage in that role. He’d be so awesome! (Yes, okay, not British, slight problem there. But I am sure we can make that work!)


I think Disney might have been happy to see that narrative pushed on the web, but we’re just off the Hunger Games and Twilight making huge money. Studios win over the internet fans by playing the progressive card (certainly it’s helped Wonder Woman) but it rarely matches up with the actual casting history.

For the detractors they have their reasons why they though they shouldn’t have done this. And as I’ve pointed out, their points get lost in the ‘lol sexists’ reactions to their pushbacks. Like anything there’s valid points made on either side. No need to pretend otherwise.

I agree that the casting didn’t matter either way, but it’d be a lie to suggest the BBC didn’t do this in part because of the anticipated reaction. This will be a ratings boon, at least initially.


There’s a cynical element I’m sure. This offers something new for the show in a way that a safer casting choice wouldn’t.

I don’t think anyone is pretending otherwise. Like a lot of things, this largely boils down to a matter of opinion.

I agree that it’s easy to lose track of those more well-reasoned discussion points in among the hyperbole though.


Possibly because geek girls were not a thing when the original was around?


Geek girls were absolutely a thing the first time the show was around. I was chatting with a friend of mine earlier who lost track of the show back in 83 when she moved to an area that didn’t have BBC


That ship sailed in 1970 though. Doctor Who’s writers have openly and outspokenly supported a progressive agenda ever since the Jon Pertwee era, when they had openly feminist companions (even if Jo didn’t live up to the promise of her introduction), and did stories that were commentaries on British social issues of the day.


I challenge the suggestion that she identified herself as a “geek girl” in 1983.


Which says everything you need to know about those dark times.


I haven’t watched Doctor Who since… Some of Matt Smiths episodes.

I think I’ll keep an eye on this though.


The Beeb has not been in my cable package for a couple of years. I saw The Hobbit and was glad Radagast was given time off the show!

(Joke. I left mid-Tennant.)


All of a sudden, this exchange has acquired new relevance:


Yes, there was quite a bit of stuff in The Doctor Falls that pointed towards a female Doctor. Bill’s ‘I like girls’ reminder was another.


It will be just like geek girls with David Tennant.



Apparently the original word in that headline was “evil”, but their lawyers talked them out of it.