The big news for Doctor Who last year was the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, marking the first time that the face-changing alien has been played by a woman in over 50 years of broadcasting (with recent incarnations of the Time Lord played by Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith and David Tennant).
And while Doctor Who insiders past and present were almost universally delighted by the move, former showrunner Russell T Davies has now acknowledged that he once took pause at the idea of a female Doctor, and so could empathise with fans uncertain about Whittaker’s casting.
“Okay, look, I know, some of us might be worried about the changes to come,” Davies wrote in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine.
“I worried, out loud, in print, once or twice, back in the old days, about the reaction to a female Doctor.
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“But d’you know what? That was 13 years ago. 13 long years. I’ve grown up, and learnt, and I hope I know better, and the world has grown up too.”
One such time Davies demurred the idea of the female Doctor came a decade ago in 2008, when he was asked by the Guardian if then-star David Tennant should be succeeded by a woman.
“I am often tempted to say yes to that to placate everyone but, while I think kids will not have a problem with [a female Doctor], I think fathers will have a problem with it because they will then imagine they will have to describe sex changes to their children,” he said at the time.
“I think fathers can describe sex changes to their children and I think they should and it’s part of the world, but I think it would simply introduce genitalia into family viewing. You’re not talking about actresses or style, you’re talking about genitalia, and a lot of parents would get embarrassed.”
Now, though, Davies says he knows better, and promises fans that the continuing series will eventually melt away their fears to nothing.
“Consider now; if you have problems, or fears, or doubts about the future, then Doctor Who will come to you, and make you laugh, and give you a thrill, and take those terrors away,” he wrote.
“The programme will do what the lead character does. No wonder it’s lasted for 55 years.”
Later in the piece, he concluded: “The next 13 years are glittering ahead like a sky full of stars.”
We can hardly wait to see them.
Doctor Who returns to BBC1 this autumn