When Jodie Whittaker was announced as the 13th Doctor last summer, it marked the first time in Doctor Who's five-decade history that a woman would be playing the alien from Gallifrey. The news was immediately met with massive enthusiasm by fans everywhere, and proved to be a bold choice from new showrunner Chris Chibnall.
Still, the idea of a female Doctor certainly gave pause to some fans who were worried about the drastic change their beloved Time Lord had undertaken on the BBC series, which is something former showrunner Russell T Davies knows a little bit about since he once was skeptical of the idea himself. However, in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine (via Radio Times), Davies admitted that he’s now changed his mind about casting a woman in the role because he has “grown up.”
“OK, look, I know, some of us might be worried about the changes to come,” Davies wrote. “I worried, out loud, in print, once or twice, back in the old days, about the reaction to a female Doctor. But d’you know what? That was 13 years ago. Thirteen long years. I’ve grown up, and learnt, and I hope I know better, and the world has grown up too.”
Back in 2008, Davies gave an interview to The Guardian, in which he mentioned that the Doctor should not be a woman. Why? Because even though he thought younger audiences would have no problem with a female Doctor, he felt parents would be in a bind when trying to explain to their children the complexities of sex changes, ultimately leading to some embarrassments.
We’ve come a long way since then, and switching genders (or races, for that matter) for an established character is no longer something new. In 2016’s Doctor Strange, Tilda Swinton controversially played The Ancient One, a character that was male — and Asian — in the Marvel comics. Then there's Dr. Smith from Lost in Space; the character was played by Jonathan Harris in the original 1965-1968 series, by Gary Oldman in the 1998 movie, and will now be played by Parker Posey in the Netflix reboot, set to stream on April 13.
Davies ended on a promising note by saying that the ongoing series will end up melting away their fears. “Consider now; if you have problems, or fears, or doubts about the future, then Doctor Who will come to you, and make you laugh, and give you a thrill, and take those terrors away,” he wrote. “The programme will do what the lead character does. No wonder it’s lasted for 55 years.”