The question of whether a woman will ever play the lead role in Doctor Who has been asked many times in recent years. Yesterday showrunner Steven Moffat said that it’s possible — and added that he doesn’t see The Doctor’s gender as fixed.
“I’m not making it inevitable and I’m not preventing it; I’m just saying ‘it’s possible,’” Moffat said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Friday. “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 continued. “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.”
Moffat went on to say that “very, very few people” can play The Doctor and it’s about finding the right actor, regardless of sex.
“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.’”
Asked what qualities an actor, male or female, needs to be considered for the role, Moffat replied: “Sheer carved out of solid star. Someone who you can’t take your eyes off, not because they’re beautiful — usually they’re not quite beautiful — somebody whose face is so fascinating.”
Last December Moffat said that he cast Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor rather than a woman because “It didn’t feel right to me, right now” – and that lots of female fans had told him they felt the same way.
Peter Capaldi, Steven Moffat and executive producer Brian Minchin will talk Time Lords, Daleks and Cybermen on Friday 25th September at the Radio Times Festival at The Green at Hampton Court. You can buy tickets here.