Ever wondered what it would be like if the Twelfth Doctor (or indeed, any subsequent Doctor) was a woman (all those who’ve seen the non-canon spoof The Curse Of Fatal Death, you can keep your hands down)? Well, former omnisexual time agent John Barrowman has also expressed an interest in the matter and he already has someone in mind for the role – Catherine Tate, as it turns out. (Based on his character’s comments in Journey’s End, he’s had that in mind for a while.)
In my personal opinion, Catherine Tate wouldn’t work as the Twelfth Doctor because we’ve already seen her as Donna Noble in Series 4 of the RTD-era, so she’s very closely tied with the Tenth Doctor’s era. While a Time Lord taking the appearance of a person they’ve met before does have precedent (see Commander Maxil and Princess Astra), I suspect that the time to take her appearance has since passed and that now it would just be a throwback to a different era of the show. Although, as a side thought, that would make her the Doctor Donna all over again.
It’s been confirmed by a throwaway line about the Corsair in Neil Gaiman’s episode The Doctor’s Wife that it is possible to change gender with regeneration, and the Eleventh Doctor’s post-regeneration dialogue suggested it was possible before that, so was all that foreshadowing for a potential Sexy Valeyard? We’ve already seen from the Doctor “507 lives” controversy that fans don’t like new parts of the Whoniverse not being set up in advance, so it’s certainly possible.
In the article, Barrowman (shakes fist) says,
“Listen, if Captain Jack can be an omni-sexual time agent and an assistant to The Doctor, why can’t we have a female Doctor?”
Captain Jack’s current lack of omnisexuality aside, I feel that while diversity and change is an admirable thing, and things shouldn’t become stagnant, you shouldn’t mess with a character who’s been male as we understand it for 47 years just because you can or to tick boxes in some production document somewhere. And another thing, changing gender is something that seems quite difficult to do by choice and as we’ve seen with the Doctor, he never knows what he’s going to end up with. So the odds of him changing gender would be astronomically high.