With Capaldi announcing he’s leaving the series, the speculation about a new Doctor has started up again and arguments for a female Doctor are back.
Initially I was opposed to the idea, and in some ways I still am, however I still think it could be done as long as there is a reason for it, it has to be written well, not just shrugged off as a “He just regenerated into a woman.”
I have several reasons for this qualification:
1) Time Lord Society
Most depictions of Gallifrey and their society come from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, and as a result of this, reflect the attitudes of those times. Gallifrey is a fairly sexist place, with a grand total of one woman on the High Council shown and one Inquisitor. Everyone else shown has been a man in a position of power. In “The Deadly Assassin” we see the Time Lords convene for an important presidential ceremony. There’s not a single woman present. In fact, from memory, I don’t think there’s a single woman in the entire episode.
This is also reflected in the Doctor’s attitudes to women in his earlier incarnations. This is a product of the times, yes, and if the series were rebooted, neither of these things would be the case unless they were trying to portray something else relevant about Time Lord society:
Time Lords have immense power, but they’re also VERY conservative and set in their ways as a society. Their technology is archaic (Also mentioned in Deadly Assassin). They’ve become stagnant, relying on their dominance of time to protect them from anything hostile or technologically superior and retain their isolationism.
So I ask the question: If the most powerful men in your society can suddenly change into women, are they going to set up their society in such a way that they lose power for that, when they would otherwise retain it if they were a man in their next incarnation?
It doesn’t make sense.
So the conclusion I draw is that Time Lords do not change genders when they regenerate, or if they do, it only happens very rarely.
2) “But he said ‘I’m a girl!'”, “What about Missy?”, “What about the Commander?” etc
There is nothing to indicate that any of these are normal occurrances. We also know for the first point, that Time Lords are erratic and confused when first regenerating, so anything said in a regeneration episode can pretty much be dismissed.
The Master spent most of the 80’s and 90’s in stolen bodies. The fact that The Master now has a female body tells us nothing of how or why.
As for the Commander regenerating into a woman, changing into a man is mentioned that it was her only male incarnation and for all we know it was induced, like in “Night of the Doctor” where Ohila offers the Doctor a variety of choices. They could make it just happen, make it normal, but I don’t think that would be very good writing for the reasons listed above.
3) It could still be done other ways
With all sorts of interference, things going wrong, the circumstances of death and regeneration, there’s plenty of ways the could write it into the story. Personally, I think when the Time Lords gave him a new set of regenerations, that was the perfect opportunity, but it’s a missed one now. Interference is still a big option, like with meta crisis Doctor and Donna, the regeneration could be interfered with in some way that turns him into a woman. There’s plenty of other ways that it could be done too with some interesting writing. If they do it well, then I think it could be good.
I prefer the classic series, so to me the Doctor is a pretty asexual character, so their gender doesn’t have any real impact on the dynamics of the show. A woman can play that role just as well as a man and hit all the right feelings that they are The Doctor. So I have 2 men and 2 women I think would do a great job.
Joanna Lumley – She’s played the role brtiefly in “The curse of Fatal Death” comedy relief sketch and I think she’d do the role justice. She’s quirky enough, with an air of dignity and authority that would make for an interesting choice.
Hayley Atwell – Like Lumley, she has the ability to show the sort of dignity and authority the role needs (The Doctor tends to walk in and take charge of situations), while being younger she can fulfil many of the things Matt Smith and Peter Davison brought to the role.
Charles Dance – For me, he’d make an excellent choice of a darker Doctor, something like McCoy’s master plans, with all the authority Dance brings to any role. He’d allow the show to go in new directions and I think would do an amazing job.
Eddie Redmayne – He wants the role, he’d do a great job of it. I don’t really feel he needs much justification. Only problem is it wouldn’t fit his schedule so he’s likely out of the question.