Talk about an identity crisis: Less than a week after Doctor Who’s 13th Doctor was announced as female, the 5th Doctor criticized BBC’s choice to swap the gender of the titular Time Lord during an appearance at San Diego Comic-Con — and the 6th Doctor was there to forcefully and quickly disagree.
Following the announcement that actress Jodie Whittaker would assume the role of the 13th Doctor, many fans loudly complained across the internet. Peter Davison, who played the 5th Doctor from 1981 to 1984, also spoke of his worries during a press event at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday before a BritBox panel, saying, “If I feel any doubts, it’s the loss of a role model for boys who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for. So I feel a bit sad about that, but I understand the argument that you need to open it up.”
Colin Baker, who took over from Davison on Doctor Who as the 6th Doctor in 1984, bluntly disagreed. Baker called Davison’s remarks “absolute rubbish,” remarking that the fans have “had 50 years of having a [male] role model.” Which is to say nothing of the myriad of male heroes — both super and otherwise — in various other shows, movies, and comics.
Baker also pointed out, “You don’t have to be of a gender of someone to be a role model. Can’t you be a role model as people?” Women have been admiring the Doctor as a male hero for more than half a century. Perhaps it’s about time men learned to do just the same for a female Doctor.
“I’m really excited,” Baker also said. “I’ve got four daughters, and it’s time girls have a real role model in the TARDIS, not just a companion.”
Baker also told Digital Spy today that the 59-year-old Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor wasn’t well-received by fans “because they’d been conditioned to want eye candy.” Especially between Matt Smith’s oddly charming 11th Doctor and David Tennant’s gallant 10th, it’s hard to agree with that:
The oldest surviving actor to play the Doctor, Tom Baker, had different response to the new Doctor Who casting. In a supposed interview with the Daily Star, he said, “I think it might be quite nice to have a woman” but also added, “You just test it. If the audience doesn’t like it, then just kill her off.” Harsh.
Of all the previous Doctors, the 66-year-old Peter Davison, aka 5th Doctor, might have had the most negative reaction, but he did follow his comments at Comic-Con with an admission that his views might be antiquated: “As a viewer, I kind of like the idea of the Doctor as a boy but then maybe I’m an old fashioned dinosaur, who knows?” He also called the actor behind the incoming Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, a “terrific actress” that will do a “wonderful job.”
No matter what fans or previous Doctors have to say about it, the future is definitely “all girl.”
Jodie Whittaker will make her debut as the 13th Doctor by the end of the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special on December 25.