July 2017, I was sat by my TV waiting excitedly (and a little impatiently) for the announcement of the next Doctor.
As soon as Peter Capaldi had revealed he was departing from the role, the rumour mill began churning various actors who were front runners to be the Doctor.
Jodie Whittaker’s name was never mentioned.
Well in July 2017 that all changed.
Whittaker pulled down the black hood which had been concealing her identity, I was floored.
The Doctor was a woman, a Northern woman.
I’d never considered that the Time Lord could be anything other than a man, let alone someone like me.
Growing up watching Doctor Who I had imagined myself as a companion, said if I could have any job in the world it would be that.
The Doctor could never be someone who was like me.
I was ecstatic at the announcement, I was already a huge fan of Jodie and Doctor Who so it was the perfect combination.
She was my Doctor instantly.
Although I was happy it was a bittersweet moment.
My perspective of the show changed completely, I could see myself as the Doctor at last and it felt amazing.
I only wish that I could’ve grown up with a female Doctor.
The Fans Reaction
The reveal of Jodie as the Doctor sent the fandom into complete shock.
The majority were excited to see what direction this would take the show in.
One fan I spoke to said they were “impressed that Doctor Who had made such a good choice”.
Another said they felt “so much happiness” and that “the possibilities seemed endless”.
Most of the fans welcomed Jodie with open arms, ready to go on this journey with her.
One fan reflected on how this changed her perspective of the Doctor Who “growing up with Doctor Who I always thought of myself as the companion role, coming second.
To see a woman as the hero means the world”.
The Emergence Of “Not My Doctors”
The announcement of any Doctor is controversial. You can never please everyone.
However, the reaction to Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor led to an outpouring of hate, I had ever seen within the fandom.
The BBC was accused of ruining the show forever.
Fans were insistent that a female Doctor would never work, it didn’t fit with the show.
The Doctor, a Time Lord with two hearts could never be a woman.
That is what made the show unbelievable.
Doctor Who was accused of bending to the “political correctness Gods” and ruining the show for life long fans.
I do wonder if the fans who said it was impossible for the Doctor to regenerate into a woman had watched the Master regenerate into Missy (with an outstanding performance by Michelle Gomez).
For me, the Master becoming a woman meant that it was only a matter of time until the titular character was always a woman.
The Doctor being a woman isn’t making the show too politically correct.
It’s the show evolving, experimenting, pushing the boundaries. Something I always associated with Doctor Who.
The Evolution of “Not My Doctors”
I had hoped (and so other fans) that by the time Jodie’s first series aired, people would have become more open to the idea of a female Doctor.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Supposed fans of the show have dedicated Twitter and Youtube accounts purely to spout hate against Jodie, her fans and this era of Doctor Who.
It’s deeply upsetting to see a show that I have loved my whole life to be subject to this much hate, which started with the casting of a female Doctor.
I love the Doctor Who fandom.
It always felt like a safe space to be myself in.
Sadly that is no longer the case.
‘Not My Doctors’ police the fandom, ridiculing the fans who have joined because of Jodie.
Calling new fans “fake fans” because they’ve not watched all of Doctor Who.
That’s over 50 years of television that they seem to expect all fans to be familiar with.
One fan said that “the fandom is definitely a lot more toxic recently”.
This isn’t Jodie’s fault, the showrunner’s (Chris Chibnall) fault.
It’s the inability to accept that the Doctor can be a female.
The Viewing Figures
In spite of some fans claiming they will never watch the show due to the Doctor now being a female, Jodie’s first episode “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” had a total of 10.96 million views.
This figure makes It is the highest series premiere for Doctor Who in the history of the show.
The rest of the ratings for series 11 were good.
The average viewing figure was 7.9 million.
The graph above created by George Sheard (@acecreeptwo on Twitter) shows that Jodie’s first season matches the viewing figures set by Christopher Eccelston when Doctor Who came back in 2005.
However, series 12 has the lowest viewing figures since the show came back, which doesn’t look great for the future of the show.
The figures also show a decrease from 2014 (series 8) onwards. This has nothing to do with Jodie Whittaker or Chris Chibnall.
It instead shows how the TV landscape has changed.
Fewer young people are watching BBC shows. That audience is been drawn to the big-budget productions on the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime.
During David Tennant’s tenure as the Doctor, we watched TV in a different way.
Streaming and catch-up services weren’t as popular.
It’s also worth noting that when ratings soared during the Tennant era there was a new series each year.
This allowed anticipation to build up for the next series but not enough time to pass that audiences lost interest.
There was a buzz, a momentum around Doctor Who at that time.
For Jodie, there were two years between series 11 and 12.
Anticipation was built up but then allowed to disappear.
For two years there wasn’t a lot of buzz or conversation around the new series.
This was a huge mistake on the BBCs part and was definitely felt in series 12.
The Future of Doctor Who
As much as the ‘Not My Doctors’ would like to believe that Jodie will bring an end to Doctor Who, that a female Doctor won’t work. I can’t believe that.
A recent poll by Radio Times voted David Tennant as the nations favourite Doctor.
Jodie Whittaker came second by just 100 votes.
She is clearly loved by the fans.
All the other Doctors have the advantage of nostalgia.
Personally, I love to go back and re-watch all of Russel T. Davis’ era of Doctor Who as that is what I grew up with.
Jodie doesn’t have that (yet!) and is already doing really well.
Doctor Who is still going strong, it is still popular.
The future is bright for the show.
It’s also worth remembering that no matter how loud they are, the ‘Not My Doctors’ are a minority.
As one fan said, “For every Not My Doctor there are five little girls who feel so powerful because of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor”.
Another said, “Change is difficult to accept, but if you can’t see progression towards equality as a good thing then Doctor Who is most certainly not the show for you”
The Doctor will always be a symbol of good, hope, of fighting against evil no matter how impossible it seems.
Of embracing the wonderful, the silly, of being kind.
The Doctor, no matter what gender will always be a Time Lord with a blue box and I love that.
What do you make of this feature?
Are you a fan of Jodie Whittaker’s take on the popular Time Lord?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.