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Published on October 3rd, 2013 | by Rebecca Crockett

Moffat: Casting Doctor Who Lead Not a ‘Gender Thing’

While there are always many opinions on who should be cast as the next star of Doctor Who, according to showrunner Steven Moffat, the casting choice should not be about “casting a gender.”

Since the character has always been portrayed by a man, the thought that a woman could one day occupy the role is a divisive topic in the fanbase.

In a now much-quoted interview with YouTube channel Nerd³, among such topics as how many viewers the show really has with the use of DVRs and downloads and when we might see the Weeping Angels again, Moffat was asked his thoughts on the possibility that the Doctor would ever be female.

One day I’m reasonably confident somebody in this role – whether it’s me or someone else – will say not, ‘Let’s cast a woman’, they’ll say, ‘That person, that’s the one who could the be the Doctor’.

You’re just casting someone that you think will set that role on fire. I think for now that is Peter – I thought it was Matt before – it’s not about the gender thing.

To know that someone so important to the life of the show thinks there will come a time when the right person for the role is female is an exciting thought. Changing the gender of a main character that has historically been portrayed as specifically male would be a major step in the life and history of the show as well as the whole television landscape. Is the fandom, or the world even, ready for such a monumental step? Only time will tell.

A shame we can’t just hop in the TARDIS and find out the answer!


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About the Author


Rebecca is new to the Who world, having only recently watched the entire new series in a span of 8 days. She is no stranger to sci-fi though, being a life long Trekkie and has vague memories of seeing the 4th Doctor on US television as a child. When not watching, reading, blogging, or talking about Doctor Who, she is a fan of pop culture and loves movies and books so much she has to keep a list of both so she doesn't forget any of them. She also likes to make attempts at various forms of art including photography and painting. Rebecca is currently working her way through as many classic serials and as many books related to the show that she can find and wishes she could have been with the Doctor and Amy when they met Van Gogh.

31 Responses to Moffat: Casting Doctor Who Lead Not a ‘Gender Thing’

  1. avatar TonyS says:

    For once I am in complete agreement with Mr Moff.

  2. avatar Ranger says:

    I am so bored with this argument. They can never point at an actress and say she is right as the Doctor, because it will never be right to have a woman as the Doctor. QED.

    Waits for inevitable backlash…

  3. avatar Juliet says:

    That’s great Moffat, I agree with you. But my question to you is, how many women did you audition?

    • avatar TonyS says:

      I think he is on record as having said that he didn’t audition anyone this time- male or female.

    • avatar Bob James says:

      None. Because all the women were previously engaged auditioning for the title role in the next series of Luther. Maybe next time.

  4. avatar John Miller says:

    Why stop there? Let’s cast Hamlet as a woman! Or Jane Eyre as a man! How about Roots with Kunta Kinte as an Asian woman! And how about Pride and Prejudice with David Tennant as Jane Bennett! That would be a major step in the history of the world. Maybe they can get Emma Watson to be Othello in a new movie! I’m so excited at how brave that would be! I want Jason Statham to portray Little Nell in a new version of the Old Curiosity Shop! I want…

  5. I’m more frustrated at the lack of male/alien/robot (etc.) assistants than having a female Doctor.

  6. Why specifically a sex change for the Doctor? Would 007 sound better as ” The names Bond,… Jessica Bond!” ? Or perhaps Wonder Woman needs a penis?

  7. avatar Al says:

    When someone does a fan film in which Howard Stern is cast as Romana, then I might start thinking about a sex change for the Doctor.

  8. avatar TonyS says:

    Have you read what he is quoted as saying? He is saying “cast the perfect actor for the role”. He doesn’t say “cast a woman”. Mind you, he doesn’t say “never cast a woman”. Do you people not know the Moff better by now?

  9. avatar TimeChaser says:

    I’m sure Moffat is leaving the question open for that contingent of fans that think “why not?”. But again, you can create strong female characters for the series without having to make the token gesture of altering the main character’s gender to do it.

  10. avatar Lozzer says:

    Not this again, please…. Can we just enjoy the 50th and the (hopefully) long reign of Peter Capadli, before the Time Lord castrators rear their ugly heads again…

  11. avatar Bob James says:

    I know, I know. Can’t we just please stop this for just a little while? Please? My God, I wish I had a Tardis just to get away from this damned ridiculous, seemingly endless discourse. Give it up already. Put it away. They chose a man again, and they will next time as well. For at least as long as Capaldi stays, for God’s sake, just let it rest. It’s like a gnat that you can’t swat away. One can’t even celebrate half a century of Doctor Who without a minority driven trivial issue attempting to wet the paper for us. Enough. Enough.

  12. avatar Rebecca Crockett says:

    I found it interesting being the woman on staff here that I was the one to write this, given that I personally don’t think the character should be a woman – I like that the Doctor is male. I would love to see someone one get “Doctored” like Donna did and be able to keep this new info or to see Jenny again, or have someone else like River – someone hoping across time, born in the TARDIS or some other way they have that ability to regen or have Time Lord abilities. But not specifically the character of the Doctor. I would much rather he change race than gender. I think a race change is way more believable. I also really want to see more male companions come on board the TARDIS. Are we so wary of any male bonding or friendships that we think any suggestion of them will end up with some sort of homosexual undertone? In this case, I don’t think its fair to judge having a male companion with the likes of Capt Jack – Jack would have sex with anything that had a pulse, given the chance. Mickey and Rory weren’t usually given the chance to shine beyond their generally hapless selves and there wasn’t any hint that either relationship was anything more than what we saw. (Not to mention why is the thought of having a main male character be attracted to another male such a bad thing anymore? Yes I know this is still technically a kids show but they’ve had no problem being male/female suggestive so why is anything else seemingly off limits? No one says they need to go all Jack/Ianto…)

    However, the idea of flipping P&P with a woman as a Ms Darcy? Or a female who is bent on revenge like Hamlet? THAT I wouldn’t mind seeing. It would take some creative writing to make the story believable with the gender swap and if done correctly it would probably go down as one of the better adaptations of a classic.

    • To be honest, when I was designating the articles, you got it because you were next in the list.

      Then, I deliberated for a while as I thought it would be trite. But then I thought I was perhaps overthinking it :)

      Couldn’t agree more on the race and companions thing though.

      • avatar Bob James says:

        Absolutely agreement on the person of color issue. I remember some of the horrible things I came across being said when it had appeared that Patterson Joseph was taking over from David Tennant. Scratch the surface, and that ugliness is still there in some people. And further, we have now seen Time Lords of different color, so the show has shaken the stigma of “whites only” that some have leveled at it. As for male companions, I just want substantive companions, and other than Adam in Series 1, I haven’t really thought them getting it wrong.

        • avatar Jonah says:

          I think John Leguizamo would make an awesome first non-British Doctor.

  13. avatar iank says:

    The man’s an idiot. The day they cast a woman Doctor is the day they finally sell what little remains of the show’s integrity fully down the river.

  14. avatar Ranger says:

    Well said, iank!

  15. avatar brian mattocks says:

    why not have a female tazan…….or female sherlock holmes? Because these charicters are men is why. U can’t have a female dr as he is a man. He always was, when will we let this go? It also messes with past continuity, how will David Cope when Susan turns into a man? How will Leela cope when Aldred turns into a woman? W know Gallerfrey has a marriage, how does that work if they can all keep changing sex’s….its daft. Lave the charicter alone, if its not broke why fix it?

  16. avatar john says:

    It’s been established that Time Lords can change sexes when regenerating. There is nothing saying The Doctor must be male. I like Mr. Capaldi fine as an actor but he is just too safe of a choice! Look at it – white British-European male not too old to do action or romance but old enough to be patriarchal. There are so many amazing British actors why do you need to go ‘ho-hum’ with the casting? I for one would have loved to have seen Emma Thompson or Idris Elba get the keys to the TARDIS!

    • In a show that has had increasingly younger Doctors since 2005, that appeals to a worldwide market, how on earth was the casting of a 55 year old Scot “safe”?

      Please show your working out.

      • avatar brian mattocks says:

        and its not fully been established time lords can change sex, only that ONE has. One we have never seen. John……do u really want dr who to be silly and end? Why not see if a male Rani and a female master would work first as then we will know how daft it will be.

        • avatar john says:

          Not fully established? Watch Smith’s regen scene… I believe he said ,” Hair… I’m a girl!”

        • There is far more solid evidence that Time Lords can influence the outcome of a regeneration by manipulating DNA. I’m thinking primarily of Lungbarrow but also The Stolen Earth to some extent with the Doctor’s hand.

          Perhaps this is what the Corsair did, in which case it isn’t a standard part of regeneration.

      • avatar john says:

        Plain average white guy a little older not very old (55 is far from an old man these days! He’s far ‘younger’ than Hartnell at that age). It just smacks of the safe choice. And since when has Doctor Who ever worried about being ‘silly’? Given that it’s at heart a kid’s show you would think they would embrace some high quality diversity at the BBC

        • avatar Bob James says:

          John, or john, as you present yourself, they cast who they chose to cast. They didn’t take a fan poll, or pander to the minority of a misguided sense of equality or political correctness, that’s not how they do it. They chose the actor they believed was best for the role. You rant on but it’s done. And the next Doctor they cast will also be a male. Whether he is of a didn’t color or mixed ethnicity will come down to whether whoever is responsible for casting next time decides a particular actor of color or mixed ethnicity is the right choice for the role.

        • No. After Tennant and Smith, the “safe” choice would have been another 30ish actor with an English accent.

          This is what safe means: keeping things the same.

          • There. That’s how “safe” the casting was.

          • avatar brian mattocks says:


  17. avatar brian mattocks says:

    in the confusion of a regeneration he said this, he also said he has over 500 lives in sarah jane adventures remember too…..Also dr who IS NOT a kids show, its NOT made by the childrens dept, it was and always was a family show. Making the Doctor female would kill the show…..if its not broke why fix it?

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