Will the Doctor become a woman? Last week the Radio Times put this question to BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore and her response was intriguing:
“I’d never put a bar on that. The great thing about Doctor Who is that anything is possible.”A non-committal response then. Well, I suppose it’s not up to her. The point is that eventually this will happen, there’s no getting around that, so the question to ask is not whether it will happen but whether it even can. Let’s take a look at the evidence. (Almost all of this evidence comes from the revived series. Make of that what you will.)
The Curse of Fatal Death
You may want to argue against including this here but hear me out. The 1999 comic relief parody The Curse Of Fatal Death was made when Doctor Who was dead, so what its writer Steven Moffat (the very same) did with it was quickly cycle throughout all the remaining possible incarnations of the Doctor, meaning this was the legitimate end to the series until we got 2003’s Shalka Doctor and then 2005’s Ninth Doctor. The last of the Fatal Death Doctor's is the 13th Doctor, and this incarnation is female. As his – no – her companion Emma puts it “You’re just not the man I fell in love with.”
This is a legitimate version of the Doctor in a timeline where the 8th Doctor did not become the War Doctor but instead became a Blackadder-ish individual. (If you don’t think it’s canon then watch this space) What we should remember for this one is that the change in gender is played for laughs as the punchline to the joke because it seemed so ridiculous. It doesn’t seem so ridiculous now though. How times change!
This is an extremely interesting case. Asking the question “What if the Doctor had escaped the justice of the Time Lords at the end of The War Games?” this audio drama from Big Finish’s Doctor Who Unbound series from 2003 introduces us to a female Third Doctor that goes into exile (hence the title) hiding from the Time Lords on Earth.
She gets a job in a supermarket, under the pseudonym of Susan Foreman, and goes to the pub where she frequently has too much to drink. And the means through which the gender swap occurs? Suicide. Does that confirm how a Time Lord switches gender? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. The very premise behind the Unbound range is that the stories therein are non-canon.
The Parting of the Ways
Let us consider the final words of the Ninth Doctor:
“I might never make sense again. I might have two heads, or no head. Imagine me with no head. And don't say that's an improvement. But it's a bit dodgy, this process. You never know what you're going to end up with.”If we take this literally than we must accept that the Doctor having either zero or two heads is a real possibility. The idea of the Doctor having no head is ridiculous, the Doctor having two is even worse. The Doctor having two X-chromosomes is not as daft as that, is it?
The Doctor’s Daughter
It's worth noting that Jenny comes from the DNA of the Doctor, and only the Doctor, so it can be argued that the potential is in his genes for him to be female. Does it count as evidence? Honestly, I’m not sure but you could make a compelling case for it. So sue me, I’m including it here.
The Tenth Doctor regenerates and keeps his face by using enough of his regeneration energy to heal himself and then shooting the rest into his spare hand. This was a bit silly really and to this day I don’t know what Russell T Davies was thinking when he came up with it, probably just an excuse to give us a second 10th Doctor (although personally I think one is more than enough). The end result of this happening was the creation of three Doctors from one: The 10th Doctor, the Meta-Crisis (10.5th?) Doctor and the DoctorDonna.
Donna Noble absorbed some of the Doctor’s regeneration energy and DNA from the hand and all she needs is to be zapped by electricity (cue Davros) and she becomes part Human part Time Lord. Donna keeps all her human characteristics but with the added benefit of everything Time Lord that the she gets from the Doctor. While not strictly an incarnation of the Doctor what we have with the DoctorDonna is a picture of what a female Doctor could be like if done properly.
The End of Time
In his very first scene as showrunner Steven Moffat introduces us to the 11th Doctor. Let’s take a look at the first words he says as he examines his new body:
“Legs. I've still got legs. Good. Arms. Hands. Ooo, fingers. Lots of fingers. Ears, yes. Eyes, two. Nose, I've had worse. Chin, blimey. Hair. I'm a girl! No. No. I'm not a girl! And still not ginger!”So there we go. The 11th Doctor initially believed he was female when he realised that his hair is longer than that of his predecessor. With that we have definitive confirmation that the Doctor can become a woman.
The Doctor’s Wife
The Doctor receives a Time Lord distress cube and recognises it to be from a Time Lord known as the Corsair. He knows that’s who it comes from because on it he can see...
“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.”Since the episode was broadcast its writer Neil Gaiman has confirmed that the Corsiar had 9 incarnations before meeting his death in a pocket universe. The 4th, 8th and 9th Corsairs were male and the 5th and 7th were female but the gender of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th remain unspecified. Russell T Davies even hinted that the Shopkeeper in SJA: Lost in Time could be one of the male incarnations which would also make that incarnation one of only two known black Time Lords (See also: The Sound Of Drums). If the Corsair can do it then why can’t the Doctor?
The Night of the Doctor
When facing his choice on Karn about what he should become to end the Time War one of the choices the Sisterhood offer the 8th Doctor is “Man or Woman?” So does that mean the War Doctor could have been female? Yes. Yes it does.
Probably the most prominent example of them all is the current incarnation of the Master. Now called Missy for some reason, as if women can’t have a master’s degree, the character has taken on a life as the opposite gender. Anyone who still denied that the Doctor could ever be a woman, as if the evidence already discussed wasn’t convincing enough, suddenly had to back down and accept that this sort of change is possible. It’s irrefutably confirmed, 100%, no arguments, deal with it. The Master (I’m not calling her Missy, I just can’t) has done what the Corsair had definitely done and what the Doctor had once mistakenly thought he’d done and changed his gender. There’s simply no getting around it now.
So: Could the Doctor become female?
Yes. There’s no doubt to be had about that. The Doctor can change genders and become a woman. One day, like it or not, he will.
But should he? That’s another question entirely! If it can be done in a way that doesn’t come across as stunt casting, in a way that doesn’t lead to sexist writing for the WomanDoctor, in a way that doesn’t pander to the ultra-PC feminazis (is that a word? It should be) then, if the best person to audition were female, I can see no reason not to go for it. What do you think?
When he's not obsessing about Doctor Who whilst having I Am The Doctor play in his head, Dr. Moo can usually be found reading up on the latest in Quantum Physics. As you do when you're a physicist.