Published on January 31st, 2014 | by Andrew Reynolds

Colin Baker: I’ll Have Sex Change To Be First Female Doctor Who

Gender is again on the agenda again after Colin Baker branded the BBC ‘too timid’ to cast a female Doctor.

Speaking at the Radio Times cover party, the Sixth Doctor quipped:

There should [be a female Doctor]. It won’t happen because they are too timid but there should be. First female Doctor? I will have a sex change and do it. I am in touch with my feminine side.

This isn’t the first time that apparent voices of dissent at the Beeb have been cited by someone involved in the show.

Shortly after Peter Capaldi was announced as the Twelfth Doctor, Steven Moffat, who bore the brunt of most of the criticism for not breaking with the white British male monopoly on the role, commented that:

It didn’t feel right to me, right now. I didn’t feel enough people wanted it [...] Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it – and I know I’ll get into trouble for saying this – were women [...] [They were] saying, ‘No, no, don’t make him a woman!’

Ignoring the gender of those dissenters, the suggestion here is that despite quite a vocal presence in both the media and online urging those that be to break with that tradition; there were still those in the BBC – after all who’s opinions would Moffat value more – that were firmly against the idea.

The problem being is that as Moffat himself argued at the time, you don’t cast a man, you cast a particular man; it’s all about the qualities the performer brings to the role not the particular gender or race of that person.

While tradition would dictate that the person would be a man – with the unique caveat that unlike a James Bond or a Sherlock Holmes, where, like the Doctor the role was specifically written to be a man, the Doctor does possess the ability to regenerate as a woman, the reluctance of the Beeb does at least admonish Moffat from some of more barbed criticism he received at the time.

Although, if we are to believe Moffat, who said that Capaldi was the only choice for the role; does this mean that there are no actresses on either the BBC’s or Moffat’s radar that could be the Doctor?

Do you think we’ll ever see a Female Doctor? Do you think the Beeb got cold feet over casting an actress in the role, or was it genuinely not on the cards?


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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

19 Responses to Colin Baker: I’ll Have Sex Change To Be First Female Doctor Who

  1. avatar TonyS says:

    Okay Andrew, I hope you have your tin hat on. This could get bumpy!

  2. avatar Paddy says:

    I personally don’t think there should be.
    Narratively, there is no reason there couldn’t be.
    It’s entirely possible that one day there might be.
    Some people seem to feel there MUST be to make some kind of point about equality.
    Others say that there must never be.
    The majority seem open to the idea, but I’ve yet to hear a single casting suggestion that sounds any good.
    However for now we know there isn’t one, so it’s all rather academic.

  3. avatar CapaldiLordVictorious6 says:

    In my opinion Im sorry but a female Doctor just would not work it would alienate viewers of both genders and simply be stupid ….I say bring a female timelord into the series fine and dandy and give her the same amount of screen time as the Doctor if you want even but dont make the Doctor himself a woman its pointless! infact only point I could see it make is….seeee Moffat and or the BBC isnt a sexist!! seeee!!! I for one would switch off if a female was announced we dont want it to take another dip into the wilderness do we?? if anything it wouldnt empower women it would hinder them the Doctor should be male but as I said I would gladly accept with open arms another Timelord of the Female gender even in a spin off of something!

  4. avatar DonnaM says:

    If we should ever reach a stage where there’s no actor capable of doing the job admirably, by all means turn the Doctor into a woman. Until then – why?

    It wouldn’t be a serious narrative move; it would be a gimmick. This particular woman would definitely be in the camp Mr Moffat referred to – don’t even go there! if something isn’t broken, why make some cack-handed attempt to “fix” it?

    Of course in this day and age it’s almost impossible to for some people to accept that sometimes the best man for a job might actually turn out to be… a man!

  5. avatar Ranger says:

    As a fellow woman Donna I agree – in fact it annoys me even more to have people say it should be a woman because of some idiot sense of equality – positive affirmation is just sexism against men. Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favour of equality – if you do the same job as a man you should be paid the same for instance, but in this case it is a very mistaken attempt at equality and in my mind is insulting to both men and women. To paraphrase the recent bus advert: The Doctor is a Man – Get Over It!

    • avatar Dawn says:

      Having equality is sexist towards men? Ok…thats a new one. Care to explain?

      “The Doctor is a man – get over it!”

      I think that is just as insulting as saying the next Doctor must be a woman no matter what.

      I must be odd. I want the right person for the job, colour or sex be fanned.

      • avatar Dawn says:

        Damned. Not fanned.

        Dont ask me how that happened.

        • avatar DonnaM says:

          When Capaldi was announced as the Twelfth Doctor there was an opinion piece in The Guardian describing him as “the perfect choice – if we must have another white male.” What, I wonder, is wrong with being a white male?

          The character has been played by a man for 50 years. In my personal opinion to change something so fundamental now would look like (and would probably be) a gimmick rather than a genuine step forward in the greater cause. Let’s sort out equal pay and working conditions in the real world before we start faffing about with fiction.

          Still, I agree wholeheartedly with your key point, Dawn – the right person for any job, irrespective of race, creed, gender or colour. In the case of this particular job, I believe Moffat and co have got it spot-on!

      • avatar John Miller says:

        But it’s the Doctor. We’re not discussing the new Regional Manager. If someone is discriminated against for a promotion because of their gender, of course that is reprehensible and illegal.

        But this is about recasting the role of a man called ‘The Doctor’. I wouldn’t want a male Romana or Rani. It’s not about casting a role. It’s about recasting a role that has already had more than a dozed people(all men) playing it.

        If Doctor Who was totally rebooted, a female Doctor would work. But after 50 years of an ongoing show, it wouldn’t work.

        it’s like in James Bond. When the male M left, there was nothing at all wrong with getting Judi Dench to be the new M, as that was a position not a character, and Dame Judi was the best person for the role. However, they never recast Bond himself as a woman, as he is a man.

        The problem is some people think that we have an issue with strong, positive leading women, which is absolute rubbish. What we have a problem with is characters who are well established as being one gender suddenly being changed during a show. Again, if somebody wants to ‘reimagine’ Doctor Who as a wholly new show with a female lead, I would be there watching like a flash. However, THIS Doctor is and must always be a man.

  6. avatar John Miller says:

    As the old saying goes…

    “If Time Lords were able to change gender when they regenerate, David Campbell and Leela are in for a huge surprise”.

  7. avatar TonyS says:

    Don’t get me wrong. I have huge amounts of admiration for Baker C. He is a thoroughly lovely chap and a great ambassador for the programme. But does anyone else think that these comments (his and Mr Moff’s) smack of “I’m-all-for-it-it’s-the-rest-of-them-that-won’t-buy-it”?

  8. avatar FramcoPabloDiablo says:

    I can just imagine Susan running up to a future incarnation of the Doctor and calling him Grandma!?!?! What a load of tripe! To all you militant feminists, there are much more worthy causes for you to fight! Leave the Doctor alone. Why not at least campaign to bring back Susan or Romana, or another female time lord altogether! The fickle tabloid media don’t help matters of course!

  9. avatar Christine says:

    The point is of course not so much that we need a female Doctor (although I won’t be averse) but that we would like women to be good characters in the show. Not just plot devices. The same applies to the notion of a black Doctor. I would love that to happen but the truth is – again – we just need good characterisation. RTD was sometimes accused of having a gay agenda. Just because he integrated the fact that in real life we often meet gay people and it would be strange if that was not reflected in the Whoniverse. To me that isn’t a particular agenda, just good writing. If Capaldi’s turn shows real people, strong women as well as weak, people with character whatever gender, colour or sexuality, I don’t care that the Doctor himself is again a standard white male. And please no more cardboard plot devices. Let’s hope Clara can finally come into her own! The Time of the Doctor really was promising in that tespect.

  10. avatar Christine says:

    Respect, not tespect. Sorry.

  11. avatar Ian says:

    I really am sick to the back teeth of this ridiculous PC horseshit. Very disappointed to see Colin joining in with this unhinged nonsense.

  12. avatar Mario Rossi says:

    I think it would be cool. But it doesn’t NEED to happen. Also, as with the male roles, they should reallly find a good fit. If a writer feels he could tell interesting stories with a female doctor, I’m all for it.

  13. I think they will probably make the next Doctor a woman, how ever I believe that this particular Doctor HAD to be an older male to get the series back on track and to bring it back to its roots. It is something that people can not put into words but the perfect doctor for this regeneration was an slightly older man. The time for a female doctor will be his next regeneration.

  14. avatar Geoff says:

    I’m not a fan if the idea of a female Doctor at all but there’s no reason they couldn’t cast one. Arguments about Sherlock Holnes and James Bond are meaningless. Neither of those characters are aliens Whi can regenerate their physical forms within the narrative of their world. If for example we are to believe Daniel Craigs Bond is the same man who had Connerys adventures then it’s with a sense of artist licence that we quietly accept the actor is different even though the character is meant to be the same. Doctor Who actively embraces that change of actor and makes it part of the story in a way Bond and Sherlock never can. So that said in my view there’s no reason we shouldn’t accept that Timelord gender doesn’t work in the same way as ours and therefore why shoukd we rule out the idea of ever casting a female Doctor.
    However despite all that I’m an old reactionary and I want The Doctor to stay a man Thankyou very much!

  15. avatar Ermac says:

    In a way? I hope the next Doctor after Capaldi is a woman. That way it’ll be the death knell for the show where hopefully it’ll go back into hibernation for the next 16 years or so. I’m so sick of the left wing liberal agenda creeping into Doctor Who, it doesn’t belong there, no media biased agenda belongs there. It was a simple show about a time traveler who went along having adventures and trying to make the Universe a nicer place, but now? It’s gotten way too preachy for it’s own good.

    “Akhaten” had the moral that you’re an idiot if you believe in God and faith is bad (God Complex), unless of course if you’re Muslim (again, God Complex) because that’s okay.
    Just about every episode showcases that men are idiotic goofballs (The Doctor, Rory, Craig), while every woman is an invincible hero who can kick anything’s butt (Amy, River, Rose, Donna, etc).
    Gays are always presented as uber-cool and heroic (Jack Harkness, Vastra).
    A soldier is represented as one of the worse things you can be (Day of the Doctor)

    I could go on, but I believe I made my point. I have no doubt The Doctor will become a woman one day and it’ll be seen as the ultimate triumph by some. As for me? Doctor Who ended in 1989, when all that was required was an adventure and not media brain-washing.

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