Jodie Whittaker has been announced as the first female Doctor for the first time in the series 54-year history. Some are calling this move from the BBC as audacious, but are nonetheless, praising them for their decision.
Whittaker, is the 13th Doctor and will be the Time Lady. The BBC have broken the glass ceiling and have responded to those who called for the Doctor’s regeneration to involve a change in gender, as well as actor. This decision by the BBC is significant and seeks to break down the barriers surrounding the belief that certain roles are gender specific. The quest for equality is one that many people are still searching for. It is about time that genre television, comic books and the like, started reflecting the diversity of its fans. The news that Whittaker will now play a very important role as the Doctor is a huge step in the right direction.
Jonathan Cohen – Amobee principal brand analyst released a statement that said “More diversity in casting is a great way to energise a fan base, and…genre entertainment audience can actually expand its audience through representation.”
Doctor Who was first shown way back in 1963 and often explores multiple alternative universes. The show relaunched in 2005 and had around 10 million viewers. In recent years, the ratings for the show has dropped to around half of that (5 million viewers). Today, the decision to cast Whittaker as the 13th Doctor, has created a fresh buzz and offers exciting new possibilities.
The Backlash That Never Came
Many Doctor Who fans feared that, upon hearing the news, there would be a significant social media backlash. However, the opposite is in fact true. Jonathan Cohen stated that “based on real-time reaction, there’s little question that the Doctor Who Christmas special is going to be attracting far more viewers, now that they know they will be tuning in to see the first female Doctor on the Tardis.” 770,000 tweets were counted upon the announcement of the female regeneration and 39% of the social media buzz was positive, 55% was neutral and only 6% of the posts and interactions were in fact negative.
Cohen concluded that “in other words, there was so much more backlash to the backlash than people actually expressing displeasure with the idea of a female Doctor Who, that it’s very likely in many cases people were assuming there were complaints about there being a woman Doctor, as opposed to actually seeing these complaints for themselves.” It is understandable that some fans may be resistant to change and would much prefer a 13th male regeneration, however, as Cohen as suggested, there are great benefits for media companies that break the mold.