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Published on September 14th, 2011 | by Scott Varnham

The 12th Doctor a Woman? Surely Not…

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.

Who do you think would make a good female Doctor? Do you think Catherine Tate would work well in the role? Or, like me, do you think the Doctor should stay male?


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About the Author


In his spare time, Scott writes for Kasterborous, his personal blog at WordPress and the revived Starburst Magazine. He’s also on Twitter (as @Scott_V_Writer) where he tries to be interesting and verbose in 140 characters.

22 Responses to The 12th Doctor a Woman? Surely Not…

  1. avatar Bob James says:

    Haven’t we gone over this stupid territory before? Wasn’t it old a long time ago? Aren’t there better whimsical things to speculate about in the big world of Doctor Who?

    • avatar Dan says:

      I thought Tamsin Grieg would be good. Also Jessica Hynes. Doctor Who can be anything it wants to.

  2. avatar Justin says:

    I love the male Doctor and I can’t picture anyone in the role as a woman, aside from, perhaps Dame Judi Dench, but she would only work had she come right after William Hartnell. The only other actress I can think of who could come close would be Tamsin Greig.

    As much as I grew to like Tate as her role as a companion, I don’t think she had the depth to be the Doctor.

    With that said, if the Doctor were to regenerate as a woman, it would make the make-out scenes with River MUCH more fun to watch.

    • avatar Bazza says:

      Oh, I wasn’t feeling the female doctor much at this stage until I went to look at some Tamsin Grieg at your behest and now I got to say Ho Yus! Im going to be disappointed if she’s not the next doctor, now.

  3. avatar Michael Lee says:

    Forget a female Doctor – I’d like to see the Doctor finally get to be Ginger. Know any suitable ranga actors that could fill the role?

    • avatar Paul says:

      Julian Rhind-Tutt.

      He could pull it off, I think. And he’s played a doctor before (in Green Wing).

  4. avatar Tori says:

    Yeah, I agree with you. I think it’d be….too strange if the Doctor went female. I can’t even imagine it…Haha.

  5. avatar Cathryn Moz says:

    The Doctor is male. End of! Please!

  6. avatar kevin merchant says:

    This tedious idea was old even when Tom Baker started it in 1978!

  7. avatar Simon says:

    I never liked that concept; I realise that it was done for charity, but I agree it’t really strange considering The Doctor has been male for most of his incarnations. The fact that some can control their regenerations and others like him can’t should be left alone. That was a comedy novelty, nothing more.

  8. avatar Mab says:

    John Barrowman is making these noises to get a place in the 50th Anniversary episode. He’s decided he’s a Dr Who authority and he’s just an actor. A bad one too and he should stop trying to stick his finger in the pie.

    They’ll look at it to extend the Dr beyond 13 lives, I’m sure. In the Big Finish Unbound series the Dr “pulled that old suicide, change of sex trick”, killing himself to become a female to avoid detection.

    I wouldnt mind if it was done tastefully, I dont see why he cant be a woman. But it’s the same as why isnt he black, specially now Mels/River was black, why isnt he chinese? Why ISNT he ginger?
    Well, he just isnt.

  9. avatar Andrew says:

    The only people this would please would be feminazis who have no understanding of creativity.

    The Doctor is male. End of.

  10. avatar The Valeyard says:

    “so was all that foreshadowing for a potential Sexy Valeyard?”

    Oh the indignity.

  11. avatar Leo says:

    Barrowman talking out of his time vortex again.

  12. avatar Cdnbob says:

    This really is an old old old (!) tired bit of tat. The Doctor can not and should not ever become a woman. The character is male and that’s it.

  13. avatar Mugen Pharoah says:

    One day it will happen. Get used to the idea..

    Sydney Newman also suggested a future incarnation should be female, and it’s fair to say he sort of was sort of an authority on our venerable Time Lord…considering it was all sort of his idea….amongst others of course….

  14. avatar Alex says:

    There’s a reason why it won’t happen, regardless of whether it’s happened to other Time Lords or not. First, those who are in love with David Tennant or Matt Smith or any of the others need to accept that the Doctor could one day look like Roseanne Barr. On the other side of the coin Romana fans would need to accept that one day a regeneration could leave Romana looking like Brian Blessed.

    I could see a female regeneration for the Doctor occurring as a temporary thing as the result of interference. Or let’s say a regeneration goes wrong, the TARDIS has to intervene, and we end up with a “half and half” incarnation played by Suranne Jones. But the character has simply been established as male for too long. OTHER Time Lords like the Corsair are free to sex change if they want to, but the Doctor needs to stay put. (He’s more likely to change color anyway.) If the hankering is there to give us a female Time Lord, bring back Romana or Jenny or a regenerated Susan, or create a new character. (Actually, in a sense, they already did this – her name is River Song.)

  15. avatar SteveA says:

    I tend to take Moffat’s view on this (I think he mentioned it in some interview last year). Whenever a new Doctor is cast you have to imagine “is this actor playing the same part as Hartnell?” To a certain extent you can say that about all actors who’ve played the part over the years.

    Even for a show that can supposedly “go anywhere and do anything” I’m happy for it to have limits. In all of his incarnations, the Doctor has always been cast as a man with a British accent. The TARDIS has always been a blue Police Box (apart from that one time…) The Cybermen have always had handles on the sides of their heads. The Daleks have always been pepperpots. The show has always had self-imposed, unwritten limitations and has worked within them.

    I agree with Alex, we can have other strong, prominent Time Lord characters who are female (Romana, River, Susan etc), but is there even any need for the Doctor to gender-swap?

    Something that always gets mentioned is “why don’t we do a story where the something goes wrong with the regeneration and the Doctor becomes female”. I’m not sure this would be a good idea – it just sends out the message that the only way a woman can be cast in the role is for a negative reason. And I don’t think the Doctor should ever be recast as a woman just because “it’s bound to happen one day” or “it’s about time”.

    Also, on a more flippant note – I can just imagine millions of kids up and down the land all saying, “Daddy, does this mean the Doctor doesn’t have a anymore?”

    That said, if a particularly brilliant (and brave) writer comes along, maybe we could change our minds?

    • avatar SteveA says:

      Oops, an important word got left out of the second-to-last paragraph there. But anyway, you can imagine the sort of questions kids will ask… ;-)

  16. avatar paul blume says:

    Though, yes, this IS an old chestnut that keeps getting dredged up whenever there isn’t anything more interesting to talk about and though, yes, this IS Barrowman angling for a part in the ‘Silver Jubilee’ and though, yes, I’ve said it before (just, perhaps, not HERE), YES, let’s have a female Doctor. The Timelords are a pretty epicene race, according to the mythology, after all, and the Doctor is staunchly asexual, anyway, at least in terms of activity ~ ‘gender neutral’, as it were. Can the actor/tress handle the rigours of the role should be the only question. As a writer, the possibilities, both comic and dramatic, offered by a female regeneration are ENDLESS. Also, if not handled as a pure gimmick, a female ‘incarnation’ could provide a strong role model to girls (and young women) in the sciences and maths.

  17. avatar vodkashot21 says:

    The closest thing to a female doctor is Georgia Moffett as Jenny in the Doctor’s Daughter. Generated straight from his DNA, she is him. Could bring her back as the twelfth doctor’s companion.

  18. avatar Jan Bos says:

    What about Jenny ?, the Doctors daughter ?
    Let the Doctor die and continue with his daughter.

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