As you’re probably aware, Christmas is coming, but what you might not be aware of is that every year on Christmas, Doctor Who releases a Christmas special. These specials aren’t just goofy Christmas specials like many other franchises might create, but are part of the continuity of the series. In this particular special, we will see the 12th Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, regenerate into the 13th Doctor who will be played by Jodie Whitaker.
Whitaker will play the first female Doctor in this show’s 54 year run. There is some controversy over it, but there is also precedent with other Time Lords (the Doctor’s race) becoming Time Ladies upon regeneration. It’s really not a big deal. I promise. Or at least it shouldn’t be.
The fact that it shouldn’t be a big deal, is actually what I want to see with this show. If Whitaker follows the trend she’ll be on for about 3 seasons (other than the 9th Doctor Christopher Eccleston, all modern Doctors have had 3). I’m hoping that while the writers are making the character female, and can introduce elements of the female experience, I hope they don’t change fundamentals of the show’s structure in order to pander.
Doctor Who has romance in many of its storylines, but ultimately the Doctor him/herself is not inherently romantic or driven by these stories. David Tennant’s tenth Doctor was in love with Rose, and with it came heartbreak and all of those things that romance comes with, but the Doctor stayed focused on saving the world. Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor had something of a romance with River Song, (spoiler alert she’s his wife) but again, it was secondary to his main story of saving the world.
I will not mind them having flirtations, or even a genuine love story in the 13th Doctor’s story, but the character cannot be defined by any relationship. There seems to be a tendency in fiction, and perhaps in non-fiction to define people by their relationships, and the Doctor whether he’s a he, or she’s a she, should not be defined by an individual relationship, but rather his or her love for life, and the living. We get to see the Doctor over the last 10 seasons breaking down as severely over loss of friendship as loss of romantic love, and just as deeply at the loss off a species as that of the loss of a single life. This is the Doctor’s strength as a character, and there isn’t anything inherently male or female about that (although if written well a female Doctor may shine brighter in this way).
Lastly, sexuality. The doctor has mostly been portrayed as heterosexual, but I would argue that this doesn’t seem like a very strict rule at all. I don’t care, in the inevitable romances that will occur (hopefully in small doses) whether or not the character is engaged in straight or lesbian relationships, as long as it’s about character, and not sticking with continuity, or sending a message. The companions are where sexual orientation seems to be best displayed, having had some of each, and the Doctor seems to be beyond that. So I hope that will remain the case when it comes to the 13th Doctor.