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WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 09:30:01 on 02/09/2015 - Programme Name: Doctor Who   - TX: 02/09/2015 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: THE DOCTOR AND RIVER SONG REUNITE FOR A SPECTACULAR CHRISTMAS River Song (ALEX KINGSTON) - (C) BBC   - Photographer: Jon Hall

Alex Kingston: “The Doctor Has to be a Guy”

As The General regenerated in Hell Bent so too did the debate on whether there could be a female Doctor.

Regardless of your opinion on The Generals change from male to female in a Doctor induced bout of face changing (That’s a whole other debate in itself) – personally, it worked right up to the point where Moffat threw in a couple of jokey lines: surely this must have happened in at least once in the whole of the Time Lords existence? Why would they still be shocked about it? Surely a simple ‘Sir…Madam’ line to cover the initial shock (and let’s face it, the Time Lords are both masters of time and decorum – they wouldn’t get flustered on principle) would have sufficed – but, anyway, it’s another sign that the issue isn’t going to go away.

One person who isn’t keen on changing the gender of the Doctor is Alex Kingston.

“It’s difficult – I would imagine that, if anything, the [next] Doctor might be of a different race than gender,” she told Digital Spy. “I can’t imagine, myself personally, the Doctor being a different gender. I just think that too many men have played that role.”

Elaborating, she added that: “if one goes back historically, ​Doctor Who ​has been a little boys’ show.”

“Women are going to hate me for this!” she laughed. “But I do think the Doctor has to be a guy – I do. Though it might be very interesting for River if it was a woman!”

As much as one can gender as show, Doctor Who has skewered more towards male audience members but gender is a lot more fluid than demographics suggest – as much as you may tailor a show towards a specific gender, it doesn’t follow that they’ll be the sole viewer, so it doesn’t really hold any water to site historical precedent of a ‘boy only’ club – and in fact, I’m not even sure this is true any more – to keep a male lead.

It’s a little beyond our and Alex’s remit to decide whether young boys can identify more or less with a female lead – if we are sticking with the idea that the show is mostly for young boys – but it’s an interesting idea to explore.

It’s just going to take someone with a hell of a lot of chutzpah to start experimenting with gender in hero worship on a prime time, historically viable Saturday night show – that’s not to say it won’t happen, but you can understand the trepidation.

That said, Doctor Who is nothing if not fearless…

One idea perhaps not up for exploration is the race of the Doctor – if she was worried about the ire of female Doctor Who fans, it’s probably not best to start throwing canon destroying words around for a lark – although, it’s probably not fair to ask a prominent guest star to wade into such a delicate debate and to make her contribution as entertaining as possible at the same time, but such is the nature of the beast.

River will return this Christmas in The Husbands of River Song – pairing her and Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor together for the first time – on Christmas Day at 5.15pm on BBC One.



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.

Please note that responses to this post are subject to our comments policy.
  • Dave Slater

    Presumably the reference to race is not whether the Doctor is Gallifreyan (although there was a hint of ‘half human’ rearing its head again in the finale) so much as his ‘apparent’ race or the ethnicity of the actor: (British) Caucasian thus far, with a bit of accent variation – might Alex be suggesting Afro-Carribean, Asian, First Nation,… (whether legally British or any other nationality) actors be considered? And hasn’t this been mooted before?

  • FrancoPabloDiablo

    Good on Alex for just saying what she thinks and not pandering to the small sections of fandom that are actively militant towards anybody that thinks the Doctor should stay male – almost to the point of extremism. It is alright for people to have different views and opinions regarding this subject. Sadly there are some (I’ve been having an… interesting exchange with someone on the Tell Us What You Thought Of Hell Bent post) who simply insist that anybody who feels the Doctor should remain male is purely a sexist, misogynist, bigoted hater of women who is also anti-transgender and has deep underlying emotional issues – seriously, that is what some people think! If you want a male Doctor – fine! If you want a female Doctor – fine! If you are indifferent – fine! It is a shame that even Alex senses she’s going to be hated by some for her perfectly entitled views and opinion. Respect to Alex and everybody else!

    • Will

      You’re such a liar. I don’t think there’s a single post you can put up which doesn’t twist everything that anyone says who disagrees with you. A bully and a liar.

      • TheLazyWomble

        Can you two draw a line under this now, please? It has descended into abuse!

      • FrancoPabloDiablo

        A bully and a liar eh? More name calling I see. Tell me where I lie and I will happily correct you with a list of things you have said and called people, and mainly myself, who don’t bow down to your views.

        • Will

          “who simply insist that anybody who feels the Doctor should remain male is purely a sexist, misogynist, bigoted hater of women who is also anti-transgender and has deep underlying emotional issues ”

          I never say any of that and you know it. It’s defamation and libel.

          • TheLazyWomble

            Will you two pack it in?!

          • FrancoPabloDiablo

            Will, to quote your original post that started this:

            “Oh, the mysogynist fan-bigots will be spitting blood at that regeneration”

            On my simple preference for a male Doctor you wrote:

            “In this case I suspect it’s because you feel fear or anxiety on an easily accessible level that sex-change in someone you look up to or who you feel is your superior (in this case in a ‘parental’/’role mofel’ (sic.) sense) is too threatening. After an upbringing in a country, or indeed a world, with a culture that is riddled with sexism and prescribed gender roles – a deeply patriarchal (sic.) and, yes, misogynist culture – I can understand the psychology that creates your feeling of being threatened. The patriarchal male is always fearful of his castration and loss of privilege, and will also be afraid of the female who attains his privilege, especially if she actually gets the male genitals too”

            Need I go on?

            These are your EXACT words. No twisting needed on my part! Don’t dare call me a liar or a bully, these are just more words for you to throw about and it is not on.

          • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/987772274628116/ Nikolai Illias Peter Tagaroulias

            Franco Owned you m8

          • Will

            ““who simply insist that anybody who feels the Doctor should remain male is purely a sexist, misogynist, bigoted hater of women who is also anti-transgender and has deep underlying emotional issues ””

            Yes, the misogynists fan bigots were spitting blood. I never said ANYBODY who feels he should remain male is any of the things you said. I said that SOME would be. It’s hardly a subtle difference. If I’d been bigoted enough myself to want to say what you claim I say, I would have said “all people who don’t want the doctor to be female were spitting blood”.

            This is what you do…you twist. You don’t even READ what people write! You see a post and look at the words, twist it to fit whatever you want and then spout you lies as though they’re truth.

            Thinking that very basic Freudian psychology which applies to ALL people is a “deep underlying emotional issue” is another twist, or just incredible ignorance, or given your track record, it appears it is both.

            And anti-transgender? That is a deliberate lie and you should apologise for that libel.

          • FrancoPabloDiablo

            Will, THESE WERE YOUR WORDS! I CANNOT TWIST THEM! Am seriously getting bored with you and your continuing desperate attempts to justify your own words now. Having looked through both our comments it seems pretty clear where the general consensus lies. On that note, I shall take heed of Lazywomble’s plea for us to draw a line under this. And when I say I’m done I mean it so go ahead and take this opportunity to spit out your dummy one last time to cry foul and call me all the names you want to – I won’t react, promise! You have been… entertaining if nothing else.

          • TheLazyWomble

            Will somebody from admin please stop these two?

          • FrancoPabloDiablo

            LAZYWOMBLE, apologies! Read my last comment. I’m done with him now and am taking your advice. I’ve made my points. It was getting tiresome even for me.

          • TheLazyWomble

            Thanks, Franco.

        • Philip Bates

          Right. Sorry, folks. Admin’s stretched a bit thin at the moment, so I’ve not managed to follow all the comment threads, but this has got out of hand. Thanks to Franco for drawing a line under it. I’m gonna sidestep all this ‘libel’ talk because honestly, this is a comments section for people who love Doctor Who but naturally have varying points of view. We need some perspective,

          Things can get heated but we need to remember that we’re all in this together. People we’re never going to meet in a million years are going to upset a few of us accidentally. But we can all live by the Doctor’s sentiments and be at least civil.

          By the way, I’d hate if the Doctor became female, just as I think a lot of fans would, but that’s beside the point.

          • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/100000559070073/ Norman Walker

            Iv’e watched Doctor who since the first show. Yes way back when black grey and white were our “colour” TV and the sets wobbled lol. Okay then, a female Docker Who? I like it. Why the hell not. It would be an interesting new dynamic….if Mr M wanted to hedge his bets he could have a brief “glitch” reincarnation…just to see what happens.

    • http://gravatar.com/justsusanmarie justsusanmarie

      It’s as if some women think that in order to be equal every pie has to have a woman’s thumb print baked into it! I believe it’s wonderful to have some feminine things, some masculine things, things that are made of both, and things that have neither!

      • WolfMarshalClaw

        YES Finally, someone said it! Thank you!

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/1037941173/ Roderick Tracy Long

    “Skewed.” Not “skewered.”

  • claws-on

    I think Alex Kingston is spot on that it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference what race the actor playing the Doctor was but that changing gender would be a whole other kettle of fish. That said, I have no doubt that the right actor would be able to pull off the role (Tamsin Grieg, I’m looking at you), the question is whether a mainstream audience would go along with it.

    • Will

      I had an idea about an Xmas episode…where the Doctor becomes “unstable” and keeps changing…and there could be half a dozen different actors playing him/her for a few minutes each. Maybe that way, they could ger some big names who would never consider playing the role full time but who’d be up for a one-off that only took a day of filimng. Maggie Smith would top my list, and Idris Elba a close second…

      • Jamie

        Have you seen “Curse of the fatal death.”?

      • TheLazyWomble

        Like The Curse of Fatal death?

        • Will

          Yes, a bit…but done properly!

  • TheLazyWomble

    “One idea perhaps not up for exploration is the race of the Doctor – if she was worried about the ire of female Doctor Who fans, it’s probably not best to start throwing canon destroying words around for a lark ”

    Andrew, would you clarify what you mean by this, please?

  • http://gravatar.com/hyncharas hyncharas

    Fortunately it’s not up to the fans to decide whether The Doctor is a he.

    • BrittlePacker

      Thank goodness it’s not up to the fans to decide anything at all! We probably wouldn’t get agreement on what day of the week it is, never mind anything more controversial.

  • BrittlePacker

    For what little it may be worth, this woman is in agreement with Alex. The Doctor has been a man for 50-odd years. There is one reason, and one only, that would lead me to believe a change of gender might, possibly, be a good thing.

    If there’s no male actor with the talent, charisma and presence to play the role, then fine – give it to a woman. However, I don’t believe there’s such a dearth out there and for my own part (others are free to have a different opinion – please do, your feelings don’t affect me and there’s no reason why mine should bother you) I see no narrative reason for a change.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If we need more strong female role models on television, encourage writers across the spectrum to create them. I see no reason why Peter should be robbed to pay Paula :-)

    • FrancoPabloDiablo

      Brilliantly put! So much more elegant than my defence of differing views and opinions! :)

  • http://gravatar.com/magilove21 magilove21

    I believe that The Doctor should stay as a man. Whether he be young or old, The Doctor is The Doctor and really, with all that knowledge and power, as a woman, and I’m not saying all women, just me and some others, if The Doctor was a woman, I’m pretty sure that she would kind of stay The Time Lord Victorious. Where as, with The Doctor being a man, a mortal woman can always come in as a companion and keep his ego in check. But that’s just my two sense.

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