Imagine you schemed up a joke on April Fool's Day, then woke up the day after to find it slowly coming true. That's what seems to be happening in the world of Doctor Who fandom, where a harmless phony news story has suddenly morphed into a slightly credible rumor that the Doctor will gender-swap for the first time in his 50-year history.
It all started Sunday, when the popular Who fansite Doctor Who TV put a story up as an April Fool's prank claiming that new season-seven companion Jenna-Louse Coleman is actually lined up to be the show's first female Doctor. The claim was that Matt Smith's 11th Doctor would regenerate at some point during the Christmas special, and that Coleman would take the reins from there.
Everyone had their laugh and moved on, but then an actual news story appeared a day later on the U.K. paper Daily Express' website that made very similar claims. According to a "mole" inside Doctor Who, the Doctor will be regenerating into a female soon. But it won't happen during the Christmas special. Instead, the big gender swap is allegedly planned for the series' 50th-anniversary celebration in 2013.
"The 50th anniversary series will end with a very big twist," the mole claimed. "The Doctor becoming a woman will give the show a new lease of life."
As for who might embody this hypothetical 12th Doctor, the Express' mole says it won't be Coleman, but it very well could be Lara Pulver, who played Irene Adler in season two of Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat's other hit series, Sherlock.
"Lara has already been mentioned as a real contender for the role," the mole said.
Now, before you go off mourning the impending loss of Matt Smith, help yourself to the biggest grain of salt you can find. This is, after all, coming from a celebrity gossip column in a U.K. paper, and they're not exactly known for their ironclad sourcing. Still, even if it's a completely false claim, the idea is at least a little intriguing. Many fans have been clamoring for a female Doctor for years, and if Moffat were going to make the swap, it would seem very Moffat-y indeed to pull it out of his hat during the show's 50th-anniversary storyline, with the whole world of fandom watching.
What do you think: credible theory or pointless rumor? And either way, would you want to see it?