These are uncharted waters for the long-running BBC series.
After much speculation, the news is out: Jodie Whittaker will be the first woman to play The Doctor on BBC’s “Doctor Who.”
This news was a welcome relief to Whovians, many of whom have been clamoring to see a woman pick up the mantle of The Doctor for years. To others, casting a woman in the role of a regenerating, time-traveling alien was an outrage. The role had been played by a dozen men before her and was always meant to be played by a man, they insisted.
A letter written by “Doctor Who” creator Sydney Newman to BBC One management in the mid-1980s offering up some suggestions on what to do with the character he’d created more than 20 years prior, however, suggests those outraged voices haven’t done their research:
“At a later stage, [The Doctor] would be metamorphosed into a woman. This requires some considerable thought — mainly because I want to avoid a flashy Hollywood ‘Wonder Woman’ because this kind of hero(ine) has no flaws — and a character with no flaws is a bore.”
While “Doctor Who’s” many years on air have been a pretty mixed bag when it comes to bucking sexist stereotypes (in fact, sometimes it was just flat out bad at this), there are a still plenty of quotes from the show that prove women (and men and aliens and everyone in between) can be whatever they want — which seems to now include the role of The Doctor as well.
Here are 10 “Doctor Who” quotes that anyone who says The Doctor can’t be a woman should remember:
1. In “The Idiot’s Lantern” (2006), David Tennant’s iteration of The Doctor takes on gender roles, delivering a royal comeback:
The Doctor: Hold on a minute. You’ve got hands, Mr. Connolly. Two big hands. So why’s that your wife’s job?
Eddie: Well, it’s housework, isn’t it?
The Doctor: And that’s a woman’s job?
Eddie: Course it is!
The Doctor: Mr. Connolly, what gender is the Queen?
Eddie: She’s a female.
The Doctor: And are you suggesting the Queen does the housework?
Eddie: No! No, not at all.
The Doctor: Then get busy!
2. During “Empress of Mars” (2017), companion Bill calls out the sexist views about what jobs women can do while stranded on Mars with a few accidental travelers.
Bill: What, you can deal with big green Martians and, and, and rocket ships, but you can’t deal with us being the police?
Godsacre: No, no, no, no, no. It’s just such a fanciful notion. A woman in the police force.
Bill: Listen, yeah? I’m going to make allowances for your Victorian attitudes because, well, you actually are Victorian.
3. Bill made history as The Doctor’s first lesbian companion, but “The Eaters of Light” (2017) saw sexual politics turned on its head when she met up with a group of soldiers from ancient Rome.
Bill: There’s, um, something I should explain — this is probably just a really difficult idea. I don’t like men … that way.
Lucius: What, not ever?
Bill: No. Not ever. Only women.
Lucius: Oh. All right, yeah, I got it. You’re like Vitus, then.
Lucius: He only likes men.
Vitus: Some men. Better-looking men than you, Lucius.
Lucius: I don’t think it’s narrow-minded. I think it’s fine. You know what you like.
Bill: And you like … both?
Lucius: I’m just ordinary. I like men and women.
Bill: Well, isn’t this all very … modern.
Lucius: Hey, not everybody has to be modern. I think it’s really sweet that you’re so … restricted.
4. Back in 1968’s “The Web of Fear,” companion Anne took a stand for women and girls who want to be scientists everywhere.
Capt. Knight: What’s a girl like you doing in a job like this?
Anne Travers: Well, when I was a little girl, I thought I’d like to be a scientist … so I became a scientist.
5. The first on-screen mention of a Time Lord being able to jump from male to female and back came during “The Doctor’s Wife” (2011), when The Doctor talked about The Corsair.
Amy: Doctor, what is it?
The Doctor: I’ve got mail. Time Lord emergency messaging system. In an emergency, we’d wrap up thoughts in psychic containers and send them through time and space. Anyway, there’s a living Time Lord still out there, and it’s one of the good ones.
Rory: You said there weren’t any other Time Lords left.
The Doctor: There are no Time Lords left anywhere in the universe. But the universe isn’t where we’re going. See that snake? The mark of The Corsair. Fantastic bloke. He had that snake as a tattoo in every regeneration. Didn’t feel like himself unless he had the tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times. Ooo, she was a bad girl.
Rory: Oh, what is happening?
6. Bill and The Doctor have a chat about Missy, The Doctor’s gender-swapping nemesis, and society’s focus on the concept in “World Enough and Time” (2017).
The Doctor: She was my first friend, always so brilliant, from the first day at the academy. So fast, so funny. She was my man crush.
Bill: I’m sorry?
The Doctor: Yeah, I think she was a man back then. I’m fairly sure that I was, too. It was a long time ago, though.
Bill: So, the Time Lords, bit flexible on the whole man-woman thing, then, yeah?
The Doctor: We’re the most civilized civilization in the universe. We’re billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes.
Bill: But you still call yourselves Time Lords?
The Doctor: Yeah. Shut up.
7. When Martha Jones meets The Doctor in “Smith and Jones” (2007), she makes it clear that she’s the doctor in this pairing.
Martha: I promise you, Mr. Smith. We will find a way out. If we can travel to the moon, then we can travel back. There’s got to be a way.
The Doctor: It’s not Smith. That’s not my real name.
Martha: Who are you then?
The Doctor: I’m The Doctor.
Martha: Me too, if I ever pass my tests. What is it then, Dr. Smith?
The Doctor: Just The Doctor.
Martha: How d’you mean, just The Doctor?
The Doctor: Just. The Doctor.
Martha: What, people call you The Doctor?
The Doctor: Yeah.
Martha: Well, I’m not. As far as I’m concerned you’ve gotta earn that title.
The Doctor: Well, I better have a start then.
8. In part two of “The End of Time” (2010), we learn that former companions Mickey and Martha are now married. And we also learn that Martha isn’t the type to sit things out simply because of that.
Mickey: Yeah, but — we’re being fired at by a Sontoran. A dumpling with a gun. And this is no place for a married woman.
Martha: Well, then, you shouldn’t have married me.
9. In “The Ark of Space” (1975), fan-favorite companion Sarah Jane Smith stands up to some condescending language in an awesome way.
Harry: She’s coming round. Steady, steady on, old girl, steady on.
Sarah: [dazed] Harry?
Harry: Yes, I’m here, I’m here.
Sarah: Call me old girl again … and I’ll spit in your eye.
10. That time Donna Noble, aka the best temp in Cheswick, absorbed The Doctor’s knowledge and became The Doctor Donna, a highlight of her time on the show in “Journey’s End” (2008).
The Doctor: How did you work that out? You’re —Time Lord. Part Time Lord.
Donna: Part human. Oh yes. That was a two-way biological meta-crisis. Half-Doctor Half-Donna.
The Doctor: The Doctor Donna!