Masterlist of Doctor Who Cast & Crew that advocate a female Doctor

doctor who new dawn jodie whittaker female doctor masterlist chris chibnall steven moffat

Note in 2018: I need to go back and edit this a fair bit, because it’s a bit messy in a couple of places – I can’t imagine that’ll be much of a problem though, since this isn’t exactly the most vital and up to date piece these days anyway.

I am becoming more and more involved in… “heated debates”, we shall say, about the prospect of a female Doctor. My own thoughts on the matter are here and here, but a quick tl;dr is, essentially, that I think it’d be a pretty good idea. (I even made a trailer!) As a result of this, I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with the number of people who will just completely dismiss this idea, because they think it’s just a “PR stunt”, or it’s to “appeal to SJWs”. (I got a clarification on that one: SJWs are people “who insists on forcing diversity everywhere, even where it’s not needed”, as if diversity is somehow a bad thing.) I even got accused of being in a cult, actually, which made me laugh. Anyone who wants to join the cult is welcome to do so; I’ll try to make sure there’s biscuits.

So I figured it might be useful to have this. ‘Tis a list! The opinions of all the myriad Doctor Who cast and crew members who have, at some stage or another, advocated or been accepting of a female Doctor. (I have stretched the definition of cast and crew somewhat.) Obviously their opinions aren’t in any way more or less valid than those of the viewers, but they do go a fair way to dismiss the suggestion that the idea of a female Doctor is something that only five tumblr bloggers want. Hopefully this will be useful to a variety of people in a variety of situations.

[It is worth pointing out, of course, that biased though I may be, there are a great number of entirely reasonable people who aren’t a fan of this idea. For every piece of abuse lobbed in my direction, I’ve had an entirely civil and pleasant debate with someone who didn’t share my views. Whilst I’ve never been convinced by any of the arguments I’ve come across, I wouldn’t want to lump everyone who disagrees into one homogenous group!]

In the interests of fairness, I’ll include a short list at the end of cast and crew members who don’t support the idea. They are the minority. If I haven’t mentioned someone, then assume that I simply haven’t been able to source any quotes from them. Please do reblog this list with additions, if I’ve missed anything; people like Andrew Cartmel, Gareth Roberts, Chris Chibnall, and a sizable chunk of the companions, like Janet Fielding, all stood out as notable omissions to me. (If anyone on this list happens to see it and would rather not be included, they can ask to be removed)

Note: As of 2017, this list is now brilliantly out of date. The Chibnall comment above now seems almost portentous. In any case, though, I don’t anticipate updating this list further – the argument, at this stage, is essentially concluded.

I’ve been researching this for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve compiled a pretty comprehensive list, including both text and video interviews, with some pretty far reaching (even obscure) sources, and a grand total of 77 different individuals; I’d really appreciate it, then, if people would share this link around, so as many people as possible can see the post. I also look forward to being accused of having made these up, so please do follow the links included to see actual literal proof of these things. It’s probably worth checking them out anyway though, because they’re often very small quotes that are part of much larger, rather interesting, interviews. (If you’re on mobile: literally every quote has a link going back to the original source.)

And thus we begin with…

The Doctors

Patrick Troughton (The Second Doctor)

“What a good idea.”

Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor)

“There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be a woman.”

Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor)

“There should [be a female Doctor]. It won’t happen because they are too timid but there should be.”

He does make a bit of a joke there (your mileage on how funny it is may vary) but the important thing is, of course, that Colin is for a female Doctor. Per 2017, vocally so.

Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor)

“We need more equality among the sexes because it isn’t there yet. We don’t give women enough credit. Women can be heroic in science fiction and can be intelligent, complex characters, of course. [..] It’d be interesting and they should try it.”

Sylvester does appear to have changed his mind more recently though. (Note: Per 2017, he changed it back again. Go figure.)

Paul McGann (The Eighth Doctor)

“[The producers] missed a trick [by not casting a female Doctor]”

This one is fairly well documented. He was quite a fan of the idea of Tilda Swinton playing the role. McGann has been a proponent of this idea for a long time – here’s another quote from him from back in 2003.

David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor)

“Why not? It’s one of those parts that any actor could bring something valid to, because it can be anything and it’s a sort of blank canvas every time.The fact is that the difference is a virtue with each Doctor. […] It can be anything.”

Matt Smith (The Eleventh Doctor)

[Asked what the ideal death for his character would be]  “golden light would pour out of me then I’d turn into a woman!”

Peter Capaldi (The Twelfth Doctor)

“I would expect so at some point, I think why not? Absolutely. I would expect it at any moment. If you turn around right now I might suddenly transform.”

To the best of my knowledge, Hartnell, Pertwee and Eccleston have never commented on the possibility of a female Doctor, but I’ll edit the post if anyone can source quotes.

The Companions

Carole Anne Ford (Susan)

“I suppose you get used to anything, I mean, you think “a woman?!” Well, why not, I suppose?”

Peter Purves (Steven Taylor)

“What would be so wrong with having a woman in the role? It’s already an alien who changes shape and has a brain we can’t really understand. Just as long as she still acts like the Doctor.”

The book referenced can be purchased here. (Note: Per 2017, Purves has apparently gone back on this opinion, though this is not from a reputable source.)

Louise Jameson (Leela)

“I think there could be one. […] There’s no reason why it couldn’t be a woman”

Bonnie Langford (Mel)

“The role of the companion has developed over the years; I don’t think young people today are prepared to accept that women are doormats. It would be great to have a female Doctor. The Queen or Helen Mirren would be good, or Joanna Lumley could bring a bit of Patsy to it. Patsy meets Doctor Who: yes!”

Lisa Bowerman (Bernice Summerfield)

“I don’t think there’s a good reason the Doctor can’t be a woman. I don’t think we should fixate on it, either. We shouldn’t cast someone just to have a woman Doctor or a black Doctor or an Asian Doctor. If it works well dramatically and it’s the right person, then, yes, why not cast that person? If it’s a woman that time, cast a woman.”

Daphne Ashbrook (Dr. Grace Holloway)

“The Doctor has come a long way over the years, and I think it would be an easy change, as far as the storyline goes, to see him regenerated into a female body. Everybody I know disagrees with me, but I can see a female Doctor being really cool.”

John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness)

“I think that maybe they should go out on a limb next time and try it. That always stirs things up a little bit and makes things exciting and it’s nice to see different things and challenges happen like that.”

Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones)

“The companions today are there to challenge the Doctor, to contribute. They are intelligent, gutsy, strong, positive role models. Do I think there is room to change further? Yes. I’d love to see the Doctor be a woman one day, or a different ethnicity. It’s one of the major strengths of the show. The Doctor can be anything”.

Catherine Tate (Donna Noble)

“It would be nice to see a woman Doctor, but only when it’s the right one. They shouldn’t make the Doctor a woman just for the sake of it, and I think Peter Capaldi will be amazing.”

Karen Gillan (Amy Pond)

“I’m open to the Doctor being a woman…but also PETER CAPALDI! C’MON! That’s great!”

Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams)

“I suppose it could be a woman. I don’t know. I think it is a male part, though I think it’s just about the person. I’d love to see Dame Helen do it – best of luck to whoever gets it, though.”

Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald)

“I think it’s absolutely possible. There’s no reason why not.”

TV Writers

Ben Aaronovitch (Writer)

“….female Doctor…Wumni Mosaku, Nina Sosanya, Jocelyn Jee Esien, Gina Yashere – would be my choices.”

Paul Cornell (Writer of various episodes, novels, comics, and a few audios)

“I think [Capaldi]’s a great choice! I would’ve preferred a woman though… I got really annoyed at lots of my friends in the Doctor Who fandom, I’d no idea they’d react so conservatively and negatively to [the idea of a female Doctor]. They seemed to think it was okay to say an awful lot of s***.”

Mark Gatiss (Writer, likely future head writer)

“And I have absolutely no objection to it being a woman. I think it would be brilliant to have a female Doctor one day. But it should be just because the right person comes along, not because anyone thinks, ‘Oh, we’ve got to do it. I’ve got to tick this box.’ That’s desperate. You should do it because someone walks in, you just go ‘Gosh you’d be amazing.’”

Steven Moffat (Current head writer and executive producer)

“There easily could be a female Doctor. I think the next time might be a female Doctor. I don’t see why not. I think it’s good to do that.”

Also worth pointing out: Moffat has demonstrably done more than anyone to set up and make the idea of a female Doctor acceptable. Potential issues with Moffat’s writing of female characters aside (because that is not a discussion I am really prepared for) he should be given due credit for having made these steps.

Just for fun, though, here’s another Moffat quote, from back in 1998:

“Well, it has been proposed many times that the Doctor could gender swap, and I think maybe they should have done it in the series.”

Neil Gaiman (Writer of The Doctor’s Wife and Nightmare in Silver)

“[Casting a female Doctor] would absolutely be on my list of things to do in the following regeneration. (I was the one who wrote the line about the Corsair changing gender on regeneration, in “The Doctor’s Wife” after all, and made it canon that Time Lords can absolutely change gender when they regenerate.)”

Sarah Dollard (Writer of an upcoming Series 9 episode)

“Yes.”

[Source added 4/10/15. Wonderfully succinct, isn’t it? Dollard has also suggested Anna Chancellor and Tilda Swinton as being good candidates for the role.]

EU Writers

Kate Orman (Novelist)

It sounds like [Moffat] didn’t audition actresses, which is a shame – he might’ve been surprised as hell by someone, just as he was by Matt. Wasted opportunity there.”

Lawrence Miles (Novelist of Faction Paradox fame)

“However, if we’re talking about the possibility of a bluestocking Doctor, then… I’d like to propose a rank outsider of my own. Billie Piper.

(It is possible that I’ve misunderstood what Miles is getting at, but the basic meaning I’ve taken from this is that he is okay with the idea of a female Doctor. If anyone has any other quotes that suggest otherwise, or prove this better, please let me know)

Alan Barnes (EU Writer, comics and Big Finish)

“Only, in order to distinguish ourselves from a certain series of fan audios being produced in the Southampton area, we decided that we were going to have a very special sort of Doctor. A female Doctor.”

Notably, other DWM staff, such as current assistant editor Peter Ware (fun fact: his sister used to be my optician) worked with Barnes on this female Doctor project, so that’s another one to add to the list.

Jacqueline Rayner (EU Writer, DWM Columnist)

I’d be perfectly happy with a female Doctor. Asking *should* the next Doctor be female is a different question, though. Of course opening out such an iconic character to women is great from a feminist point of view. I’m also trying to look at it as a mother of two boys, though. I think it’s extremely important to have a male role model who isn’t all about guns and machismo. Would the same messages come through if a woman was in the role? I’ve no idea. My children loved Sarah Jane, so I hope it would be the case. But I’d like to have a psychologist’s opinion before I came down on one side or the other!”

Una McCormack (Novelist)

“It seems so obvious to me that the Doctor might one day turn into a woman that I was surprised to discover the depth of feeling against the idea.”

This quote was from Doctor Who Magazine issue 463, however McCormack does talk more about a female Doctor here.

Jenny Colgan (Novelist & BFA writer)

[When asked who she would like to see as the Twelfth Doctor] “I would have liked Ben Whishaw, Idris Elba, Sue Perkins or Ben Miller. If it is Peter Capaldi I will be utterly rejoicing, as he is a distant cousin of mine (compare the noses).”

Malorie Blackman (Novelist, has written Doctor Who short story)

“I love the idea of a black Doctor, or a female Doctor, so a black, female Doctor would be ideal!”

Naomi Alderman (Novelist)

There are many wonderful female actors to consider, but if I were casting the show, I’d be on the phone to Williams right now, asking her to read for it.”

Kim Newman (Journalist, critic, writer, fan)

“So long as it’s an eccentric middle aged character actor, it’s gonna work.”

Producers (and similar)

Sydney Newman (One of the creators of Doctor Who)

“At a later stage Doctor Who should be metamorphosed into a woman. This requires some considerable thought – mainly because I want to avoid a flashy, Hollywood Wonder Women because this kind of heroine with no flaws is a bore.”

Christopher H Bidmead (80s Script Editor and Writer)

This site has also repeated the rumours of a female Doctor, promoting former script editors Christopher H Bidmead’s view that singer KD Lang would make a good Doctor.

There was no direct quote available, so I tweeted him. Here’s the response.

John Nathan-Turner (Long term 80s producer)

“I explained that as far as I was concerned, it was feasible to have a
female Doctor, but no firm decision had been taken.”

The book referred to can be purchased here.

Philip Segal (TV Movie Producer)

 

“Just thinking about a female doctor takes my breath away. I would love it! However, I’m not entirely sure the world is ready for that. Let’s see what happens to the one we’ve got. 🙂 Speculation was never my strong suit.”

The full Q&A can be found here.

Jane Tranter (Former BBC Controller of Fiction; instrumental in the ‘05 revival)

Jane Tranter also fancied Judi Dench (who in those days was M in the James Bond series) in the TARDIS as a female incarnation.

Charlotte Moore (BBC One Controller, 2015)

 

“Peter Capaldi is a fantastic Doctor, and he’s broken the mould. But I’d never put a bar on that. The great thing about Doctor Who is that anything is possible.”

 

[Source added 29/9/15, courtesy of whovianfeminism.]

Directors

Waris Hussein (The first Doctor Who director)

Well, they tried it with Star Trek. But doesn’t it make it into something else, then? Maybe he could turn into a woman, and then back into a man!”

John Ainsworth (Big Finish Director and Producer)

“I’m not sure that everyone would say the Doctor has to be played by a man…”

Rachel Talalay (Dark Water/Death in Heaven, series 9 episodes)

“I would embrace that absolutely, but I don’t think it needs to happen. I think it has to be true to who’s right to be the Doctor at that point.”

 

Tie-in Publications

Dr. Matthew Sweet (Doctor Who Expert, DWM reviewer)

“Doctor Who is for girls. There is no gender divide”

Dr. Elizabeth Sandifer (Writer of TARDIS Eruditorum)

“If I were involved in the casting of the next Doctor, I’d suggest at the first meeting ‘let’s brainstorm with the constraint of ‘no white men’ and see what list we get, and then we can start considering white men in comparison with our favorites from that list.’”

Professor Matt Hills (Aberystwyth University, writer)

And given this year’s debate over a female Doctor, I’d be happy to see Andrea Riseborough, Jessica Raine or Romola Garai as the Doctor.”

Tom Spilsbury (DWM Editor)

A female doctor would have to be led by the plot rather than tokenism or novelty. If you come up with a good storyline, that’s a good reason to do it. But ‘Why not?’ isn’t really enough in itself. The very important thing with the Doctor is that you are trying to convince the audience that it is, literally, the same person each time. You want to have someone who’s a bit different, but not so radically different. I’m not saying it couldn’t work but you’re making it tougher for the audience.”

Chris Johnson (DWM columnist, Time Team)

[When listing potential Twelfth Doctors] “Helena Bonham Carter”

Paul Hanley (Comics artist)

Just for fun, I thought I’d go a step further and do a full-blown design for my pick. And to be 100% honest, maybe… just maybe, to get her name in the running.”

Actors

Helen Mirren (Actress)

“I think it’s absolutely time for a female Doctor Who. I’m so sick of that man with his girl sidekick. I could name at least 10 wonderful British actresses who would absolutely kill in that role.”

Emma Thompson (Actress)

 

“I would have said yes, I’d have loved to have played Doctor Who.”

Lara Pulver (Actress)

[When asked whether she would want to play the Doctor] “Yes and no. Not if it meant the end of the Doctor Who franchise, because the fans aren’t keen on it.”

Heather Peace (Actress)

“I want to be the first female Doctor Who”

Rufus Hound (Comedian, fan, series 9 guest star)

[The first female Doctor]’d need a companion”

Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi!)

This is how I’ll look when I’m the next Doctor.” 

Hayley Atwell (Actress; has appeared in several BFAs)

“I’d like to BE Doctor Who.”

Brian Blessed (Actor; played King Yrcanos)

 

“I think they need to re-examine his surname – ‘Who’ is very oriental. It’s about time they had an Asian actor as the Doctor. And a female one.”

 

Miscellaneous

Dr. Stephen Hawking (Physicist, fan)

It would be a change if the next Doctor was a woman, with a male companion.”

Meg from Northamptonshire (Fan)

I think a woman should be the next Doctor or maybe an unknown actor.”

Dick Fiddy (TV Historian, fan; searches for missing episodes)

“I think it would be healthy. I think it would be interesting, intriguing, fascinating.”

Rachel Wallace (Whovian, 6th Doctor cosplayer)

“I think there can be a female Doctor, because as Colin has said in the past, there’s aspects of the female gene in every man.”

And, as I said, those against:

We have Peter Davison, Toby Whithouse, Terrance Dicks, Michelle Gomez (for now), Katy Manning, Sophie Aldred, Deborah Watling, Billie Piper, Ian Levine (predictably), Ben Cook (as far as I understand), Nick Briggs (note that this was over ten years ago; his views are likely to have changed by now), novelist AL Kennedy, Telos publisher David Howse, writer Mark Campbell, and, indeed, quite a few aggressive “fans” on internet messageboards.

Note: Since then, Ben Cook, Katy Manning, Sophie Aldred, Michelle Gomez and Billie Piper have all chnged their minds, and are in favour of it. The same could well be true of some of the others listed (although not, obviously, Terrance Dicks or Ian Levine).

Bonus!

It’s worth presenting Russell T Davies slightly separately though. He’s said here that he thinks that various female actresses could do a good job, and that whilst children would accept it, the potential backlash would mean that it was unlikely to ever happen. This was, I imagine, coming from the level of backlash he got from Queer as Folk, and all the ‘gay agenda’ nonsense that’s hurled his way because of it. It should, however, be remembered that RTD has always been committed to increasing diversity in the television he makes, and the landscape of media now is a different place to when he made the original comment; I think 2015 RTD would be more supportive of the idea than 2008 RTD was.

(Here’s another article from a few months later, wherein he appears more receptive of the idea.)

Note: Per 2017, RTD is a firm supporter of the idea.

In any case, though, that concludes this little list. Sure, some of the links I made were a little tenuous, but with such a breadth of people supporting the idea of a female Doctor, I don’t think it really matters whether you can pick out a couple that might not count. (By the way, to save you the effort of counting, it’s 63 against 14.) Once again, if anyone can provide me with more accounts, I’ll edit them in. That goes both for people who are for or against a female Doctor; biased though I may be, never let it be said that I am unfair.

To those of you who’ve linked to this article, in the hopes of demonstrating your point: I hope it’s proved useful, and that you’ll share it with others, so that they can find it useful too.

To those who had this article sent to them, because they were arguing against a female Doctor: why so? I am curious to hear your proposition, and I’m particularly hopeful that it might be one I haven’t heard before. I doubt it, though. (If you see this and feel the need to send hate mail, please do send it to me directly, rather than anyone who’s happened to reblog the list, or indeed is on the list. Thanks. Your consideration in the matter of hate mail is appreciated.)

As a closing note, I remind you all of the words of the Doctor himself: Life depends upon change and renewal”.

Something to think about, isn’t it?

With thanks to every website sourced, without whom this level of detail would have been impossible. Doctor Who archivists are a wonderful breed! I’d also like to give a shoutout to /u/Cleops from reddit, who gave me some wonderful help with resources whilst I was compiling this post.

If you’re interested in seeing more posts of mine about Doctor Who, there’s a rather handy list of them compiled here.

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