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Why “Doctor Who’s” New Doctor Should Be A Woman Of Color

Why “Doctor Who’s” New Doctor Should Be A Woman Of Color

For those who lack representation, the phrase “representation matters” is a rallying cry. It is a mantra that calls for more inclusive faces in entertainment media, of the material, and behind the scenes. However, it seems like some people don’t seem to stop and consider who needs representation. This seems to be the case with the speculation surrounding who will be the next Doctor on the British sci-fi television series Doctor Who.

When it was recently confirmed that the current Doctor, actor Peter Capaldi, would be leaving the show after Season 10, people started to make suggestions about who should play the next one. Some have suggested people such as Haley Atwell and Idris Elba. As of last week, Tilda Swinton is currently the fan favorite to play what will be the 13th Doctor of the series.

As a black woman who has loved Doctor Who for two years, I don’t want Tilda Swinton to be the next Doctor. I don’t want Haley Atwell or Idris Elba either. Instead, I want a black woman or another woman of color to be the next Doctor.

Doctor Who is centered on an alien with a human appearance called The Doctor, who travels through time and space using a time machine called The TARDIS. When mortally wounded, The Doctor can regenerate, changing their face and personality while healing their body to avoid death. This has allowed many actors to play The Doctor throughout the series.

The Doctor(s) of Doctor Who Source: Radio Times

In the fifty-plus years, the show has been airing, all of The Doctors have been played by straight, cisgender, white men. Naturally, people think that the next Doctor should be played by a woman or a person of color, particularly as it has been shown Time Lords can regenerate into them. However, there are issues with the current casting suggestions, especially the one for Tilda Swinton.

The problem lies in how people think of women and people of color. To some, the phrase “people of color” means men of color and “women” means white women. In America, black men are playing lead roles in superhero franchises, and white women have lead roles in the “Star Wars” film franchises. Meanwhile, women of color are being left out because some people think gender is more important than race or vice versa.

The issue I have with Tilda Swinton possibly being cast as The Doctor is that she has invalidated the opinions of women of color. After backlash had arisen from her playing the role of The Ancient One in the superhero film Doctor Strange, she attempted to discuss the issue with actress Margaret Cho, stating that the casting director wanted to avoid making the character the Asian stereotype known as “the Dragon Lady.” To add insult to injury, she also stated that Scottish women her age hardly get themselves on screen.

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In America, white women have been on screen in lead live-action roles for decades, yet people still consider casting one to be a progressive move. In the UK, people have been asking for more black female leads. Although we’ve had one black female lead in Doctor Who and will have one in the upcoming season, their role as companions to The Doctor causes their plots to revolve around the character.

Pearl Mackie as the newest Doctor Who companion “Bill” Source: BBC.com

By having a black female Doctor or another woman of color play the role, she will have more agency and add a compelling perspective. In the Doctor Who episodes “Human Nature” and “Family of Blood,” we see Martha Jones having to protect the Doctor’s temporary human self in the 18th while facing discrimination due to her class, gender, and race. Having a woman of color Doctor face these experiences while having adventures will keep The Doctor as the complex, heroic protagonist the character is while reflecting the real-life experiences of women of color.

It is high time people realized that women of color want to see themselves in on-screen fantasy and sci-fi works as the hero and not just the companion, love-interest, or secondary character. As one of the most popular British shows and sci-fi franchises, the show has no legitimate excuse for not making The Doctor a woman of color, especially since there are plenty of actresses that could play the role.

Caroline Chizoke as a Cyberwoman in “Torchwood” Source: Blogspot

For a black female Doctor alone, there are many British female actresses to choose from. One example is Corrine Skinner-Carter, a veteran actress best known for her role in the drama EastEnders. There is also pioneering veteran actress Carmen Munroe, known for the British sitcom Desmond. For a younger Doctor, there is Antonia Thomas, Nikki Amuka Bird, and Caroline Chizeke. While Thomas has starred in the hit sci-fi drama Misfits, both Bird and Chizeke have played roles in the Doctor Who spinoff series Torchwood.

A character as iconic as The Doctor shouldn’t be exclusive to white men, white women, and men of color. Women of color should be able to travel through time and space as their person, not just as The Doctor’s companion. Since we’ve existed beyond the British and American slave years, there is no limit to the stories a black woman Doctor or any other woman of color Doctor could tell.

 

 

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View Comments (19)
  • ” In the Doctor Who episodes “Human Nature” and “Family of Blood,” we see Martha Jones having to protect the Doctor’s temporary human self in the 18th”. Those episodes are set just before WWI in the 20th century.

    As for the discussion, I imagine the BBC will have a female Doctor *or* a POC Doctor before they have one who is both. Be cool if they did, but I imagine they’d be thinking “one step at a time….” I’d be very surprised if Swinton gets it – too big a name – but Hayley Atwell is available now her latest show has been cancelled and she’s expressed an interest in the role in the past, so….

  • I think it’s pretty inevitable at this point that the new doctor will be female. The great and the good who write the show and virtue signal to each other won’t give a damn about what the audience want. I must say it’s quite funny at this point how many articles I’ve read proclaiming that The fans want a female Doctor!!! yet the comments beneath, are from fans (male and female alike) saying “Actually… No Thanks.”

    I would have no problem at all with a strong female character like Ellen Ripley or Sarah Connor or the Bride from Kill Bill. But Instead I’m expecting Hermione Granger or any of the witches from Charmed or the women from Grey’s Anatomy.

    I would however be everything feminists claim men to be if I didn’t give the new female doctor a fair shout and that will absolutely not do.

    So I have thought up some rules to make a sort of fun game out of giving it a fair shot. Here they are laid out before the first episode airs and I invite others to play along!.

    I will watch each episode, from the beginning until the new lady doctor suggests that men are bad or stupid or deficient in some way simply for the way they were born, then I switch it off.
    I will tune in to the following week’s episode and start again.

    If this happens in two consecutive episodes I stop watching the series.

    I will also skip an episode for every Three Articles I find on google OR for every ONE article I find on my facebook feed That says something like:
    “You WILL watch and enjoy the new female Doctor Who, or you’re a disgusting misogynist!!!”
    You know the kind I mean, There were plenty of them before Ghostbusters(2016) came out.

    I just can’t stand being told what to like and what to put up with. Women would not be treated in such a way and I really don’t care if you have a problem with me standing up for myself in the same way. If I skip 3 episodes due to such articles I will skip the rest of the series AND forever refer to the show as Nurse Who until a male Doctor returns.

  • No no no it’s an iconic character role designed for a male, everyone needs to stop being politically correct ang just get over it .there are plenty of other shows that have female lead character’s . everyone needs to stop thinking about pissing someone of color or gender roles in movies some movies and shows have iconic character roles for a reason and should stay that way . ugh people need to stop and just leave well enough alone if you don’t like the fact that it is a male Dr ,don’t watch it and don’t ruin it for the rest of us who think it should be the same

  • I think it’s time finally to have a woman of color as the Doctor. Yet, I know that it is something that is very far off and the BBC would have to risk a lot of the fans losing their minds because they have a certain idea of what the Doctor looks like. I would be thrilled to see this happen, heck I’d even twitter and vlog about every single episode. I crave that representation and really dislike that “if you don’t like this don’t watch it” isn’t that exclusion in itself? It’s not that hard to bring representation. I would like to see a woman of color in such a powerful role not Tilda Swinton………

  • This show has become a joke . The current doctor is too old and uninteresting for me .
    I watch the show to have a great time not to be politically corect . And I’m sorry but I’d much rather enjoy someone young and attractive. I miss the times where Doctor Who was actually about having a great time not politics . Tennant and Smith were great .
    Why can’t BBC use someone like them again ?

  • This feminist trend is just stupid .
    Let’s make Batman and Sherlock a black women next because why not right ?
    Don’t get me wrong. Black wemen deserve roles too . For example Jessica Pierson was great for Suits .
    But that DOES NOT mean we have to modify iconic characters just fit them in .

  • If you wanted to cast another doctor who’d already been in the show, Sophie Okonedo would be perfect.

  • The author of this opined:

    “… the show has no legitimate excuse for not making The Doctor a woman of color…”

    I can come up with at lest one reason…
    Don’t you suppose that The Doctos’s wife might not want to be married to a woman?

    Awkward!!!

  • When you have a good thing going, why do a major change to the theme in order to pacify a bunch of whining PC zealots and risk losing a bunch of viewers? I have no problem with having a female version of Doctor Who, but why not have it as a separate show?

    They could create a spin-off with Clara when she left with a Tardis accompanied by Ashildr at the end of Hell Bent. Granted, Clara isn’t a time lord and can’t regenerate if mortally wounded, but she doesn’t really need to since she is, basically, already dead. Ashildr would be an ideal companion since she will live forever.

    If they want a female Time Lord, why not a spin-off with Jenny, The Doctor’s “daughter” from the episode The Doctors’s Daughter?

  • While I like all of your suggestions, –I too wish they had done something with the Doctor’s daughter– you really could have kept the rudeness right at the top of the comment. Speaking of whining and zealotry, anyone who gets aggressive over fan casting opinions should probably check for that ever important self awareness.

  • Having a Doctor of color (male of female) is long overdue, especially looking back on the Doctor’s rather ignorant response to Martha when she expresses her concerns about race relations and slavery in The Shakespeare Code:
    Martha: Oh, but hold on. Am I all right? I’m not going to get carted off as a slave, am I?
    Doctor: Why would they do that?
    Martha: Not exactly white, in case you haven’t noticed.
    Doctor: I’m not even human. Just walk about like you own the place. Works for me.

    Martha could’ve told the Doctor to check his privilege, but the fact that the unique format of the show actually allows for him to literally walk in someone else’s shoes and experience the world behind new eyes, is fantastic and could make for so many more interesting layers, if they would only take advantage of it. Here’s to hoping we soon see a Doctor of color making the trip back in time to casually bump into their younger self and maybe hit him where it hurts when he makes that asinine declaration.

  • River’s been married to at least one woman canonically as of The Husbands of River Song, so….

  • Having a Doctor of color (male or female) is long overdue, especially looking back on the Doctor’s rather ignorant response to Martha when she expressed her concerns about race relations and slavery in The Shakespeare Code:
    Martha: Oh, but hold on. Am I all right? I’m not going to get carted off as a slave, am I?
    Doctor: Why would they do that?
    Martha: Not exactly white, in case you haven’t noticed.
    Doctor: I’m not even human. Just walk about like you own the place. Works for me.
    Martha could’ve told the Doctor to check his privilege, but the fact that the unique format of the show actually allows for him to literally walk in someone else’s shoes and experience the world behind new eyes, is fantastic and could make for so many more interesting layers, if they would only take advantage of it. Here’s to hoping we soon see a Doctor of color making the trip back in time to casually bump into their younger self and maybe hit him where it hurts when he makes that asinine declaration.

  • But guess what, Jodie Whittaker is already cast as the Thirteenth Doctor, and plus, the Doctor is an alien, who the doctor can be anyone or anything he or she wants to be, white or black, asian or latina(o), male or woman, young or old.

  • But guess what, the 13th Doctor is already female, Jodie Whittaker. And also, the Doctor is an alien, so that means he or she can be whatever, or whoever they want to be, black or white, asian or latina(o), or middle eastern, or pacific islander. Male or now, female.

    So the Doctor can be a black woman if the doctor wanted to.

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