Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Must the Doctor be a white male?

The short answer is “no”.  In “The War Games” (1969) the Doctor, obliged to regenerate, turns down several new bodies offered to him by the Time Lords including  - seemingly - that of a black man; “The Doctor’s Wife” (2011) confirms that Time Lords can change gender when they regenerate.  Yet, come the new Doctor Who season, the new Doctor will be another in the solid phalanx of (admittedly talented) white males who have ruled the roost in the console room since 1963.

Potential Doctor: Sophie Okonedo, one of the country's most magnificent
actors.  Deserves to be a Dame, or better still, the Doctor!
Yet the excuse that a white male actor is “so talented” is wearing a bit thin.  It ignores the fact that this tiny, damp little island is awash with outstanding female and ethnic minority actors who could pilot the Tardis with quite as much acting prowess as their white male counterparts.  Three of this blogger’s favourites for stints as the Doctor would be Sophie Okonedo, Suranne Jones and Sacha Dhawan, and here they are looking marvellous in old-fashioned, Doctor-style get-up.  And they are far from being the only British non-white and women thespians who could wield the sonic screwdriver with panache.

Potential Doctor: Sacha Dhawan looks dashing in wing collar and bow tie -
so shouldn't he be dashing down a corridor, on a spaceship?

So why another white man?     If we see the Doctor as a political leader, as he surely is, then the conservatism of the show runner and production team in casting the new incumbent reflects the cultural politics of British society.  Thus women form the majority of the population yet only one in five legislators in the United Kingdom Parliament is a woman.  Some 18% of British subjects are non-white but only 4% of MPs.  The Cabinet is 18 men and 3 women: only one is ethnic-minority.   And the discrimination in British politics is mirrored in British society as a whole.  White men run the country so white men run the Tardis.

Yet in the population at large, white men are decidedly in the minority.  Thus the unwritten rule banning women and ethnic minorities from playing the Doctor is increasingly undermining the show’s aim of representing Britishness.  It may be too late this time around, but breaking the white-male monopoly on portraying the Doctor would serve as a splendid demonstration of the inclusivity of British national identity.

Potential Doctor: Being offbeat and quirky is second nature to Suranne
Jones.  Could this be  her as the Doctor in a remake of "The War Games"? 


  1. I think River Song could of been a good Doctor but I know that can't happen.

  2. Ohh my God Sophie O. is already my dream women. If she was the doctor on top of that I don't think I could handle it. Don't know the other two. But I am a dumb American.

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