The next Time Lord has to be a Lady

Fans call it 'heresy', but if Doctor Who is to become even better, says Ben Walsh, the show should consider a sex change

The Doctor Who special, A Christmas Carol, was a hoot – much better than the Kylie Minogue-starring hogwash three years ago – but can the BBC's wonderfully inventive sci-fi series retain such heady standards? Is a radical change needed? Should the next regeneration of the Doctor, the 12th, be... wait for it... a woman?

In fact, didn't the current Who guru, Stephen Moffat (the extremely capable replacement for Russell T Davies), feel the time was ripe for Helen Mirren, Emma Thompson or Catherine Zeta-Jones to play the Time Lord? Matt Smith has been an energetic, smart and towards the end of the last series rather terrific Doctor – more eccentric Tom Baker or creepy Jon Pertwee than prickly buffoon Colin Baker – but wouldn't an actress reinvigorate the series? Moffat, perhaps, could devise a couple of episodes in which the Doctor becomes a woman, Boy Meets Girl-style. This might ease worried Whovians around to the idea. Moffat could then unleash two full series with a female lead and a dishy young male assistant. Andrew Garfield of The Social Network or Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire, maybe?

It may be fanciful to suggest that thespian heavyweights like Thompson or Mirren would take on a role that was once filled by Sylvester McCoy (last spotted in Casualty), but as American television has demonstrated, the best roles for women are on the small screen. Think of Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife, Glenn Close in Damages, Anna Paquin in True Blood and all the female leads – Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), Joan (Christina Hendricks) and Betty (January Jones) – in Mad Men. Whovians (and I apologise for not being one, just a fairly regular watcher since the days of Pertwee) may baulk at the thought of the next regeneration going from male to female. But Doctor Who has not been frightened to do some pretty silly things in the past – flying buses, paving-stone girlfriends, K9 – so why should a gender change be preposterous? This is sci-fi, after all, and as Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer (a clear influence on the writing and storytelling of Moffat's series) and its offshoot Angel proved, anything goes in science fiction.

A brief peek at a Doctor Who internet forum, however, shows that Whovians are not awfully keen – comments such as "unacceptable", "PC nonsense" and "I don't want a woman" feature prominently. One fan maintains that Time Lords are born male or female and it is ludicrous to suggest that they can change sex when regenerating. It is heresy, etc. And illogical.

However, there has been some pretty weighty support for the idea of a female Doctor. The UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering & Technology (UKRC) has argued that the next Doctor should be a woman, in order to raise the profile of "female scientists in the media". At the time of writing the Facebook page "The Next Doctor Who Should Be Female" has 31 members and "Make the Next Doctor Who a Female!" has 16. If they joined forces, there would be a giddy 47-strong army for change. It's a start.

Sydney Newman, then the BBC's head of drama, broached the subject in 1986. "At a later stage Doctor Who should be metamorphosed into a woman," he argued. Joanna Lumley was touted but the powers that be plumped for McCoy. Dawn French, Frances de la Tour and Judi Dench have also cropped up as candidates. Russell T Davies went as far as to say that "Catherine Zeta-Jones would be great".

For me, though, the first female Doctor has to be Emma Thompson. The British actress has the wit, intelligence, charisma, gravitas and energy to pull it off. She wouldn't let anyone down and I suspect that even the most zealous Whovian would accept her after a while.

As long as Moffat is in charge, the storylines are consistently strong and the dialogue is perky and droll, does it matter whether the Doctor is female or male?

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam