It’s a debate that’s been raging for years, and now the man who is in charge of Doctor Who has chimed in again on exactly how a female Doctor could fit into the canon.
While speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour, showrunner Steven Moffat was asked to offer his take on how and if (and when) a female Doctor could potentially fit within the construct of the series. We’ve already seen The Master regenerate into a woman (Michelle Gomez), and Moffat said that obviously sets the stage for The Doctor to potentially make the same change in the future.
So why hasn’t it happened yet? According to Moffat, it’s all about finding the right actress to take on the role. Be it male or female, Moffat said there are very few actors/actresses with the presence, versatility and edge to encompass the character of The Doctor. For a female Doctor to succeed, he said they have to find an actress “carved out of solid star” to pull it off.
Here’s an excerpt from his comments on the topic:
“I think it’s necessary to expand what the show can do all the time, because that’s why it’s alive. I’m not making it inevitable and I’m not preventing it; I’m just saying ‘it’s possible,'” he explains to a small group of reporters. “The key thing about changing The Master to Missy is that The Doctor doesn’t react to it at all. He just carries on talking. He is shocked that she’s there; he doesn’t say anything about the fact she’s a woman, so clearly that’s a very big statement. That’s just a thing that happens.
In my head, rationally, it seems to me — you know how human beings are never completely male or female; you’re mostly a woman, I’m mostly a man? — that maybe a male Time Lord is someone most of whose regenerations are male,” Moffat continues. “Maybe he’ll have a couple of female ones. The science fiction of that would make sense to me. Otherwise I think life might be a little bit complicated on Gallifrey — or would it? I don’t think they’d care.
It’s not an impossibility to have a lady Doctor. It is not a lock either. There is no guarantee. I wish sometimes that the politics of that would take a backseat and we’d just talk about the art, because it’s not really about that. It’s just about ‘would it work?’ The day it will work is when somebody says, ‘That person would be amazing,’ and the most conservative, most traditional member of the audience says, ‘Oh god, yes. I would hate the idea of a lady Doctor, but that one would be great.'”
Moffat makes an excellent point about the casting being important — even moreso if it's the first female in the role. But, there are actresses out there who can do it. The question is, are they actually looking? We'll be curious to see which direction they take the series when Peter Capaldi's version eventually heads off into the Big Blue Box in the sky. (And don't miss Moffat's Comic-Con statement to us about the gender switch)
Other tidbits of note:
Not on the big screen: Moffat once again touched on why he’s not a huge fan of making a Doctor Who movie at this point in the game, because he feels like it’d dilute the product of the TV series. If they did it with a different actor, it’d screw up the canon, and if they tried to use the same creative team, you’d basically be spending the time you’d use to make a season to make a movie. Moffat didn’t mince words, saying it could be “incredibly damning to the franchise.”
Who is Maisie playing?: One of the most interesting additions to the cast this year is Game of Thrones alum Maisie Williams, and though we still don’t know who she is playing, Moffat did offer some solid hints. First up: “She is not playing a returning character,” so you can shut down those River Song conspiracy theories right now. He went on to tease the rise is “significant,” and represents a “clever idea” that should be a lot of fun this season.
Clara has a new outlook on life: Clara’s evolution has been fascinating to follow the past few years, and it sounds like she has finally embraced her place in the TARDIS. Jenna Coleman said Clara is “no longer divided between Earth life and TARDIS life,” adding there’s a “fearlessness and reckless abandon” as she becomes a true partner in The Doctor’s adventures.