Friday, 13 November 2015


Don’t worry, it’s not what you think.

This article doesn’t deal with should Doctor Who eventually adopt a female Doctor (yes, I know the character is called The Doctor and not Doctor Who) or what the fandom thinks or any of that flame war starting flint. Instead, ask yourself this: Is it possible that we’ve already seen what a female Doctor would be like? Now the obvious response is to yell “NO” and “of course we haven’t”, but that wouldn’t be true.

Over the 52 years of Doctor Who, we have indeed been visited by the notion of a female Doctor within the show’s illustrious history.

The first and most obvious example would be Romana, more specifically Romana II, played by Lalla Ward alongside Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor. In many respects, Lalla’s Time Lady really feels like a female version of the Doctor. I mean Romana II's most famous attire was a variation of the Fourth Doctor’s look. And Romana II also possessed her very own Sonic Screwdriver and she was incredibly eccentric, just like the Doctor. She could also fly the TARDIS, a trait all Doctors possess.

In hindsight, doesn’t Romana feel like an attempt at doing a female Doctor without doing a female Doctor?
Next we journey to Big Finish and ask the question of “What If”. What if the Second Doctor regenerated into a woman and based herself on earth? This particular story makes up Big Finish’s Doctor Who Unbound series. These stories tell “what if” scenarios and Exile deals with what if the Second Doctor escaped the Time Lords at the end of The War Games and turned female.
Now if Lalla Ward’s example counts as an argument for a female Doctor, then this one counts against it. The Doctor is actually female in this story, but it doesn’t even remotely feel like Doctor Who. The Doctor works in a grocery store, is a booze hound, no TARDIS, no Sonic and she doesn’t possess even an ounce of the Doctor’s wit, charm or eccentricity. Exile is a rather dull story that tries to tell a unique story in the most mundane way possible.

Like Rose Tyler, Amy Pond and Clara Oswald, the fandom is split when it comes to River Song. However, in her defense, River Song is another excellent example of a female Doctor. Think about it, she has regenerations, can fly the TARDIS, is very enigmatic, has her own Sonic Screwdriver, is one of the few companions that actually understands he complexities of time travel. Whether you like her or not, she definitely has a lot of the characteristics that make up our loving Time Lord.

What I can see people taking offense at is the way River Song is written and people might not necessarily want their Doctor to be written this way. While I love River Song (in my top 5), I can understand how this would irritate fans. But what if you keep all the traits, but removed the flirtatious nature and the innuendos?

Back to Big Finish, and more specifically the audio story The Widow’s Assassin, we have the Sixth Doctor and Peri Brown switching bodies with one another. Not don’t be scared off. There is none of that freaky Friday crap “mile in your show” nonsense going on. It’s treated as a crisis and it gives Nicola Bryant the chance to do her best imitation of the Sixth Doctor and give fans a good look at what a female Doctor would look like. In this story, it’s still all the Sixth Doctor at work, it’s just that his body is currently that of a buxom American. Accent is still British and his attitude is unchanged. Would that work? This story features a lot of techno babble, but I rather enjoyed the Doctor/Companion body swap.

Looking back, we’ve had a couple of creative looks at what a female Doctor on the show would be like. Let’s say for a moment that the next incarnation of the Doctor is going to be female and propose for a moment that you had creative control over the writing for this new Doctor (save for his gender), how would you want this new Doctor to behave?

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