The First Female Lead In “Doctor Who” Isn’t As Progressive As It Could Be

Actress Jodie Whittaker Will Play the 13th Doctor / TVLine

Doctor Who has been running for 52 combined years. That means that there are 52 years of different episodes and storylines – 52 years of Doctors travelling through time and space to save the world, time and time again.

You’d think that after so many years, the show would have grown more progressive as it adapts to increasingly tolerant generations. Of course, in some ways it has; this year, the Doctor was introduced to his first openly gay companion. However, apart from better visuals and different storylines, the show hasn’t changed nearly as much as you’d expect.

One of the things Doctor Who has lacked for the past 52 years is a racially diverse cast. Though the Doctor has had a handful of non-white companions, the lead character has been played by 12 different white men. That’s right – the Doctor, an alien capable of reincarnation, has come back as a white guy 12 separate times.

Today, it was announced that for the first time in the show’s history, its long chain of white male leads will finally be broken; Jodie Whittaker will be taking on the 13th reincarnation of the Doctor. While it is exciting to see the show taking a step in the right direction, many fans are arguing that this change isn’t as progressive as it could be. Again, the Doctor is literally an alien that regenerates into new forms; is it really so hard for at least one of those to be a person of colour?

This sentiment was perfectly expressed by Canadian writer Sarah Hagi, who tweeted that “a white woman as the doctor feels the exact same as a white man 2 me… a poc regardless of gender would have been 100% more progressive”.

In a recent interview with the Guardian, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat explains that they almost cast a black Doctor before choosing Whittaker for the role. Moffat promises that, in the future, the cast will feature more ethnic minorities: “It’s hugely important, and it’s not good when we fail on that. We must do better.”

Here’s to hoping that in the future we see some POC stepping into the role of the Doctor – and for now, here’s to celebrating that at least the Doctor isn’t a white man for the 13th time in a row.


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