Doctor Who is the longest running Sci-Fi television show in history.
Its debut was on the BBC on November 23, 1963, and has been more or less running in continuity ever since. The secret to its longevity? The brilliant writers came up with a way to continue the show’s lead character whenever it was needed, by recasting the role. This recasting is planned and addressed within the program itself. The character of the Doctor – actually an alien known as a “Time Lord”- “regenerates” into a new body when mortally wounded. The Doctor typically retains character personality traits and most memories, but his physical form is changed. This one little bit of writing has allowed the show to continue for over 50 years and can conceivably go on as long as there is media for humans to consume.
Traditionally, the Doctor has been played by a white male from the United Kingdom.
It was just announced that the next regeneration will be a female. Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block, Broadchurch) will be the next Doctor.
For fans, this should be non-news. The past few seasons of the show featured the Doctor’s arch-nemesis and fellow Time Lord, the Master, as a female when he was previously male in the series. It was even hinted at quite heavily in the last season itself that the Doctor and Time Lords, in general, had no hangups about gender. So if you are shocked by this news, I hate to say you just weren’t paying attention.
What will this mean for the show?
Doctor Who has literally survived for over 50 years by changing. It is what keeps the series fresh after all these years. If the show isn’t changing, then there is a problem. The series’ showrunner will be changing from Stephen Moffat to Chris Chibnall, who previously helmed the BBC show Broadchurch. Whittaker has previously worked with Chibnall on that show, so I’m assuming that there is some rapport there between the two. It also sounds like most of the previous Doctor Who crew will be moving on and Chibnall will be bringing in a mostly new crew. This will definitely help make the show feel fresh again.
I am a HUGE fan of the last Doctor. I think Peter Capaldi just crushed in the role. I am sad to see him go.
As a side note, I was volunteering at Wizard World in Minneapolis and I got to see him in person. He really seemed to love being “Doctor Who”. He even gave me, a lowly volunteer, a wave and a smile.
Steven from the Doctor Who podcast Radio Free Skaro put it best.
No man could ever replace Peter Capaldi.
— Steven Schapansky (@Legopolis) July 16, 2017
I feel the exact same way. Capaldi gave us the penultimate “white guy” Doctor.
Time for something new.