Doctor Who: A woman will eventually play the Doctor says Steven Moffat

"You cast a person," says the Doctor Who showrunner, "you don't cast the gender"

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The question of whether a woman will ever play the lead role in Doctor Who has raged around the show in recent years, with every regeneration stoking the fires anew. Showrunner Steven Moffat, however, has said that it will happen eventually – but he’s waiting for the right woman for the role. 

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“We’ve been laying the possibility for an awfully long time, but you don’t cast that way,” he said. “I know I’m going to get in trouble for saying that – you cast a person, you don’t cast the gender.”

Speaking, fittingly, at the Sky Women in Television and Film Awards, Moffat also went on to say that the recent twist of the Master – traditionally a man – regenerating into a woman played by Michelle Gomez was a huge step forward for the idea. 

“We did just make the female Master, she turns up and the Doctor doesn’t say anything about it, he doesn’t react at all, he thinks that’s perfectly normal,” he told BANG Showbiz. “It’s not impossible, no, it is entirely down to who the best person is.”

Commenting on his decision not to cast Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor as a woman, Moffat said last year: “It didn’t feel right to me, right now. I didn’t feel enough people wanted it […] Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it – and I know I’ll get into trouble for saying this – were women. [They were] saying, ‘No, no, don’t make him a woman!’”

One woman who did want the Doctor to be either “gay, black or female” was actor Helen Mirren, a comment Moffat mocked on 50th anniversary show Doctor Who Live with: “I like that Helen Mirren has been saying the next Doctor should be a woman. I would like to go on record and say that the Queen [in reference to her role in 2006 film The Queen] should be played by a man.”

Moffat went on to say that, in addition to the possibilty that the Doctor could be cast as a woman, more women are getting involved behind the scenes of the show. 

“We’ve had two female directors last year and I can honestly say that [Dark Water / Death In Heaven director] Rachel Talalay gave us the most macho Doctor Who we had ever had. There was a load of explosions and soldiers and shouting. They bring their brilliance whatever their individual brilliance is.”

Since Doctor Who’s revival in 2005, there has only been one writer on the show – Helen Raynor – out of 22 men. Moffat has stated in the past, however, that he has been trying to get more women to write for the show but keeps on being turned down. “I don’t know why,” he told Trinity College, Dublin. “I chase both sexes. There are many [female writers]. I think a female voice would be fantastic. But we’re getting no luck there. I have a folder of women. They all said no!”

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It could be that Moffat’s luck has since changed, though. Catherine Tregenna, previously a writer on Torchwood, has been rumoured for series nine, which would make her the first woman to write for the show since 2008.