The idea that a female Doctor Who could pilot the TARDIS is a decades old debate, and one with which Peter Davison doesn’t agree, according to ABC Online. Davison may not have a say in the matter since the show’s producer, Steven Moffat, confirmed that a woman Doctor is likely to appear in an upcoming season.
Better known for playing the fifth Doctor Who from 1981 until 1984, Davison believes that it would be a mistake to cast a female in the role of the Doctor.
The modern series depicts the current role of the Doctor as an emotionally needy man supported by a strong female counterpart. Davison says the following of a reversed situation.
“If you have an uncertain, fallible female Doctor with a really strong male companion, you’ve got more of a stereotype than anything else.”
He elaborated on this opinion, making sure to note that it was indeed his opinion and not that of the network or the producers.
This is not the first time Davison made it clear he did not like the idea of the Doctor getting a sex change. When Matt Smith announced in 2013 that he would take his leave of the show, the woman doctor debate began again. According to DailyMail, Davison likened a lady Doctor to “a female James Bond,” and said it would be “odd.”
Maybe not as odd as Davison thought at the time. Whovians have recently seen a male Time Lord change into a female. The show finally revealed that Missy from Season 8, played by Michelle Gomez, is in fact the Doctor’s long-time rival, The Master. Although it has not yet been explained how the sex change happened, The Master has – until now – always been male.
This debate goes back all the way to the show’s creator Sydney Newman, who died in 1997, when he suggested the very same idea as a way to revive Doctor Who ratings after BBC One asked him for advice in 1986, according to a 2010 report from the Telegraph.
Revealed in a documentary titled The Last Chance Saloon, Newman pitched the idea of a female Doctor in a letter to BBC One’s then-controller, Michael Grade. In it, Newman called the series a “populist, dumbed-down drift.”
The idea was to replace then-Doctor Colin Baker with a reprise of Patrick Troughton, temporarily. Newman wrote the following.
“Don’t you agree that this is considerably more worthy of the BBC than Doctor Who‘s presently largely socially valueless, escapist schlock!”
He then suggested the network consider Dawn French, Frances de la Tour, or Joanna Lumley for the role, as well as making him executive director to “ensure the concept is properly executed,” along with the proper closing credits and a paycheck.
The Telegraph article also notes that Grade decided that a woman Doctor was too drastic, so instead of listening to Newman, he replaced Baker with Sylvester McCoy, a “children’s entertainer.” As fans know, BBC pulled Doctor Who three years later, “permanently,” for 17 years.
Davison disagrees with the notion that the show went off the air because of falling ratings and said, to Daily Mail, instead that the “powers that be” simply didn’t like it any longer. He also claimed that BBC didn’t want to bring the show back in 2005, with or without a female Doctor Who.
Moffat said in April 2013 when he spoke with Digital Spy that most of those who were against a female in the role “were women,” and that he “didn’t feel right” casting a female at the time. He’s since changed his mind as of December 2014, when he finally confirmed to the Daily Mail that a female Doctor Who is “not impossible,” and that the best person would play the part, no matter the gender.
Do you think a Lady Doctor is possible?