Since it first premiered nearly 56 years ago, only a handful of women have gotten the chance to write or direct episodes of Doctor Who. Shockingly, even the modern series has been overwhelmingly white and male. Since 2005, only four women have penned episodes — Sarah Dollard, Rona Munro, Helen Raynor, and Catherine Tregenna — and five women have directed — Sheree Folkson, Hettie MacDonald, Catherine Morshead, Rachel Talalay, and Alice Troughton. None were women of color. In fact, both Russell T. Davies' and Steven Moffatt's runs each featured at least two full seasons with zero women either writing or directing.
But the Thirteenth Doctor era under showrunner Chris Chibnall has sought to change that. In its 11th season, the 10 episodes were directed by just four directors, and two were women — Sallie Aprahamian and Jennifer Perrott. The episode "Rosa" was a historic one. Malorie Blackman was the first Black person ever to write an episode of Doctor Who. Yes, it took 55 years.
And the upcoming 12th season shows no signs of slowing down. The BBC yesterday announced its slate of new and returning writers and new directors. All three new writers are women: Nina Metivier, Maxine Alderton, and Charlene James. Like last season, Season 12 will be directed by four individuals, and, also like last season, of the four directors, two — Nida Manzoor and Emma Sullivan — are women. Let's do more math! That's five new women, including a Black writer (James) and a Muslim director (Manzoor).
"We’re thrilled that Doctor Who continues to attract some of the most exciting and dynamic talent working in television," said Chibnall in a statement. "Along with our returning faces, we’re excited to welcome new members to the Doctor Who family. The Doctor Who team is crammed with British television’s brightest writers and directors: we’ve adored working with them, and can’t wait to show you the explosive stuff they’ve created!”
While there is always a long, long way to go and it remains shocking and sad it's taken this long to get even here, we are very pleased about the behind-the-scenes representation happening at Doctor Who. Bring on 2020.