Baz is a-buzz - and much more than usual, given the vats of coffee we manage to drink here at Baz HQ - but our caffeinated buzz has been way overtaken by the news of the weekend. Doctor Who number 13 is a woman - and Jodie Whittaker to be precise. We are chuffed to something not mentionable before the watershed about such an important and well-loved character graduating, especially for the yoof, playing in the garden with their figurines as per usual, the only difference being the narration of “and then she runs back into the TARDIS…” and it’s surely for that image alone that we must embark on a spotlight for Jodie, the Doctor, and her Doctor. Warp thrusters are a go, people…
Yes, we here at Baz have *those* among us, those that consume tales of space and time travel like catnip, as well as the natural high that comes with any announcement of a woman cast in such a high-status role, huge swathes of us bazzers are pleased by unifying and unique reasons. At a basic level it signals a great new direction for TV casting in general - precious few are led by one woman alone, let alone in such a powerful role with the exception of the fantastic Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag - long live the 50/50 Era movement James Nesbitt championed at this past year’s BAFTA awards before presenting one to Sarah Lancashire- but in a much larger scope, this casting, it’s kind of genius. As Doctor Who fans we should be delighted with the new opportunities, new conversations this will bring to a show that’s been running for 50 years.
Firstly, let’s get this straight - Jodie is not cast in this role because she’s a woman - Chris Chibnall cast her in the role because she encapsulated his vision the best - and that’s it. That just happens to be a fact alongside the long-held view the sky is blue. It has no impact on her ability to act, take on a role, or lead a show, so ‘Woman Doctor’- no thank you very much. New Actor Takes On Iconic Role, we’ll take that. Of course the media showed us its mucky, putrid underbelly with the usual suspects being implausible and yet predictably vile in its rags/chip paper - safe and snug in their 15th century attitudes, with males taking to their keyboards to wail about “ruined childhoods” that ended, presumably officially, 30 years ago. But hey. Imagination. Sometimes it evades sci-fi fans. For the rest of us, very exciting days ahead (and way back, to the side, in a different galaxy) await.
Secondly, we’ll have to dip into the archives (oh no, really, etc - ok then) to see it’s not that surprising - despite the 12 male actors that have claimed the main role down the years, they have been outnumbered by far more women over its 50 years playing important and groundbreaking roles - you’re just as likely to see women in a blonde wig and union jack shirt, as Billie Piper’s Rose as a long coat and tie at Dr Who conventions. From the forward thinking, no nonsense, feminist companions of the 70s in Lis Sladen and Katy Manning, to the 80s counterpart, Sophie Aldred’s Tomboyish punk, Ace, to the modern women who’ve joined the often flawed alien on his travels, Billie Piper, Freema Agyeman, Catherine Tate and most recently, Pearl Mackie - all teaching the Doctor a little something themselves about modern lives and progressive attitudes. Of course, alongside the portrayal of strong willed and minded women aboard the TARDIS (for those not in the know, the Doctor’s spaceship of sorts) there’s been some excellent casting along the way with representation happening across the board - so a change like this was certainly in the offing.
So what about the 13th Doctor herself? What do we know about Jodie Whittaker, and what are the plans for her takeover? Well, we can’t predict the second part - and it’s fantastic to, for once, be excited to tune in on Saturdays, and see something you have certainly not seen before (oop, but our Dr Who Nerdy senses are tingling and getting us to add that Joanna Lumley once briefly played a memorable version of the Doctor in a Stephen Moffat-penned sketch of ‘99 for Comic Relief) but we do know Jodie is an incredible talent - and we notice looking back on her previous work: from her first role, a film straight out of Guildhall School Of Music and Drama, with Vanessa Redgrave and Peter O’Toole, through to various stage roles: a memorable Antigone at the National, an innocent bystander and fighter in monster film with a difference Attack The Block and most recently in Broadchurch as the grieving mother in Chris Chibnall, new Who showrunner’s hit. We notice that she has an incredible ability to get you on her side, a kind of everywoman you side for and instantly like, on top of some standout, gutful performances. And alongside a lot of our favourite actresses, comes from the school of powerful, top-notch actresses of the North: from the likes Sarah Lancashire and Vicky McClure. And what else could you ask of your new hero, we ask you now - a likeable, talented, passionate human being. What else indeed. Oh and she’s a fan of house music and mashups - after listening to her recent Front Row interview she recommended the album co-produced by The Heritage Orchestra and Pete Tong, compete with live string plucking to the dance classic Insomnia, and we literally. Cannot. Stop. Dancing at our desk. So you know, that’s another big tick.
But lastly - we ask you, out there who are not sure, some even afraid of the change and what this means for the franchise - give it a chance, a whole chance and nothing but a chance- this truly was a long time coming, perhaps written in the stars. As 8th doctor Colin Baker tweeted “Change, my dears. And not a moment too soon.” Has this appointment been marred by negativity and name calling? Yes. Would that have happened if another WASP had been cast in the role - for once, possibly - as there was the strange phenomenon of public pressure on the Beeb to get its arse out of the 50s and, wielding their wand, fairy godmother that business and give us a Doctor for the 21st century we deserve.
Congratulations Jodie, history made.
With much love and support,
P.S As per Jodie’s request, we attach the instant party starter- the hugely popular Ibiza Prom back in 2015. Rave on. x