John Barrowman defends new Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker: “Sit down and give it a chance”

“When she took that hood off, I thought, ‘Oh okay, Captain Jack might like you'”

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After donning a sparkly Tardis tutu (yes, really) at San Diego Comic-con, former Doctor Who and Torchwood star John Barrowman has launched into a defence of newly-cast Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker, whose reveal as the first female version of the Time Lord received some negative responses from a minority of fans (though the majority, as a RadioTimes.com poll revealed, seem happy about the casting).

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“What I love is it caused a bit of controversy,” Barrowman told the crowd at his Anything Goes panel, noting that certain fans’ resistance to Whittaker’s casting reminded him of the uproar over the casting of now-popular Tenth Doctor David Tennant back in 2005. 

“When we did the first regeneration from Christopher [Eccleston] into David [Tennant], people weren’t happy about it,” he said. “Seriously. There was a lot of upset, a lot of ‘This is ridiculous!’ because David at that time was younger. We all had to accept everybody loving it and everybody hating it.” 

And Barrowman (who played immortal companion Captain Jack Harkness in the sci-fi series) went on to point out that within series lore it’s perfectly possible for the Doctor’s species to regenerate between genders, as has been shown in recent years with various Time Lords including Michelle Gomez’ Missy – so why shouldn’t it happen at some point?

“If we buy into the world of Doctor Who – which we do, those of us who love it – we buy into it, we commit to it, we go where that TARDIS takes us,” Barrowman said.

“It doesn’t say that he will be a he all the time. We don’t know who he’ll regenerate into, so it could conceivably happen. If we forget the producers who are making the decision, if believe it as that world – I’m getting really geeky and nerdy right here – it could possibly happen, it could be a girl. Right?

“The other thing is, we all get on that TARDIS, as I did, or you get in the TARDIS with the Doctor, whoever that may be, and we go in that TARDIS for the journey, and the experience, and the stories.”

“Now, I love Doctor Who, I have since I was 4 or 5 and can remember my first experience with Doctor Who,” Barrowman continued.

“However, we have to wait and see what happens. So the people who are the critics at the moment, they have a right to be critical, but let’s all give it a chance. How about that? Just sit down and give it a chance. When she took that hood off, I thought, ‘Oh okay, Captain Jack might like you.’”

When asked whether this meant he thought the new Doctor’s companion could be a man, he added: “Perfect.

“Give the Doctor a transgender companion, give him a boy, give him a girl, give him a little boy or little girl; we could have many different combinations. It can be open to a lot.”

And who knows? Maybe she could even find room for a dashing pansexual space Captain in that Tardis, eh John? 

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Doctor Who returns to BBC1 this Christmas