Doctor Who?

I awaited the announcement of the new Doctor this week with excitement.  I've loved Doctor Who ever since I was a little girl, thanks to my Dad's obsession with the Time Lord, documented in my poem Bloodlines.

When I was a teenager I also loved Queer as Folk, particularly the Doctor Who references, I got every one.  When Russell T Davies resurrected Doctor Who in 2005 I was super excited to see how it would work.

I can list all of the previous Doctors in date order; William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davidson, Colin Baker, Sylvestor McCoy, Paul McCann - he wasn't a proper Doctor!- then the revivals; Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi.  That was from memory although I got Peter Davidson and Colin Baker the wrong way round!  Tom Baker was my favourite old school Who, David Tennant my favourite of the modern Doctors, I have loved Peter Capaldi though.  Sure I've earned my girl geek credentials there.

This week has brought a new name - and gender -into the mix; Jodie Whittaker.  It's kind of crazy that it's taken over fifty years for this to happen.  Although there are many Who fans like me who are happy and excited about the decision, there's been a sadly predictable wave of people unhappy with the decision to cast a female Doctor.

The tabloids were unsurprisingly sensationalist with their coverage, with headlines including 'Dr Nude' and 'Dalektable', referring to scenes of Whittaker scantily clad or naked in her screen work.  Well that was for several parts she played.  Acting is her job and if the role calls for nudity and it's not gratuitous then why not?

So is this sexism?  I like to think of myself as a feminist and there's part of me which says it is.  When I saw the TV announcement - done very well BBC!- one of my first thoughts was, 'an amazing actress' having seen Whittaker in Broadchurch.  Did a little part of me say 'wow, a female Dr.' I have to admit it did.
In a world where men and women are supposedly equal, it still seems a huge achievement to have a female Dr Who.  I am lucky enough to live in the UK, a country where I can work, drive, and vote without a second thought.  But I never take those things for granted.  I know there are countries where women are treated as second class citizens, and are forbidden from having these rights.

But has the world really changed over time?  Centuries have passed, wars have been fought and won, and technology has changed our world more than we ever thought possible.  So how can a female Dr Who still be headline news.  Surely if we were as radical as we think, the reaction would be 'a new Dr - cool' not 'a female Dr' followed by endless debate.

Have we really achieved equality when the first Black president of the USA becomes headline news for his skin colour before his ideas?  I recently read 'Small Great Things' by Jodi Picoult - review coming soon over on -and it really made me think about race, a subject which has always fascinated me.

So maybe it's time to look beyond the headlines and cut to the crux of it.  Aren't we all humans - in Dr Who's case a Time Lord, or should it now be Time Lady!- trying our hardest to do our best in a pretty terrifying at times world.  Who are we to judge?


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