‘Doctor Who’ creator was keen for the Doctor to become female

Doctor Who David Tennant regeneration

The creator of Doctor Who suggested that the Doctor should regenerate as a woman in the mid-’80s.

In a letter to BBC One controller Michael Grade in October 1986 detailing how he would reinvigorate the show, Sydney Newman wrote: “At a later stage, Dr Who would be metamorphosed into a woman.”

He added: “This requires some considerable thought – mainly because I want to avoid a flashy Hollywood ‘Wonder Woman’ because this kind of hero(ine) has no flaws – and a character with no flaws is a bore.”

> Take a look at our five plausible candidates for a female Doctor.

Newman devised the show in 1963 alongside producer Verity Lambert, as dramatised in 2013’s An Adventure in Space and Time.

The letter was sent during the second season of Colin Baker’s era, which Newman described as “largely socially valueless, escapist schlock”.


Discussing the possibility of a female Doctor, current showrunner Steven Moffat commented last year: “It will not happen that somebody sits down and says we must turn the Doctor into a woman … A person will pop into the showrunner’s head and they’ll think. ‘Oh my God, what if it was that person?’ And when that person is a woman, that’s the day it will happen.”

Do you think there should be a female Doctor? Let us know below…

  • K Doctor Who News

    Does Doctor Who need re-invigorating? More than likely not. But there’s a far safer way of doing it: by introducing a new showrunner.

    • MurrayFutterman

      And this is why I stopped visiting the Kasterbourous website. You’re like a broken record.

      • K Doctor Who News

        The “broken record” features the endless cries for needless change. It’s your record.

        You stopped visiting a website because it disagrees with your ideal? You’re that afraid of opposing views that you can’t cope with hearing them?

        Are you 5?

        • Dr. Moo

          Don’t stoop to that level. Be professional. Be the bigger man.

        • Nelson

          Shots fired

    • Aaron Stormageddon

      This is a joke, right? Changing showrunners is literally the most unsafe decision in television.

  • Dr. Moo

    The Doctor becoming female? What a horrible idea!!! If they were to do that it would be a clear sign that the BBC no longer believed in the show and wanted to kill it with kindness instead of a flat-out cancellation.

  • Alternate 13th Doctor

    It should happen. It already has in fact! Twice! Joanna Lumley’s alternate 13th Doctor in The Curse of Fatal Death and Arabella Weir in Unbound:Exile. Both are proof it can happen as are the Master and the Corsair as well as 11’s first words and references in The Night of the Doctor. A female Doctor would be a great idea!

    • Dr. Moo

      Lumley is written as a joke. The punchline is the Doctor going female because it’s such a ridiculous and daft idea. If you take that seriously then you’ve missed the point entirely. As for Weir, she descends into awful stereotypes — and worse — so as to provide a very compelling argument against regenderation. Your argument falls apart.

    • ThePurpleFrockCoat

      Peter Davison pointed out the trouble with a female Doctor if she is played and written the same way as the fallible character we know of now the stereotyping will come out. He does have a point.

  • Whis

    Amanda Abbington for The Doctor!

    • James Vaughan

      Why? She is a terrible actress

  • Barry

    I saw an interview with Newman around that time. He wanted to bring back Patrick Troughton initially, then have him regenerate into a woman. He also wanted a brother and sister aged 12 and 10 as companions. Jonathan Powell dismissed the suggestions. At least he go that right.

  • Knightwing19

    With the climate that SJWs have created today in sci-fi I don’t think a woman could be Doctor Who. The Doctor deals with situations that today’s culture vultures would be overly sensitive to and attack, writers, actors, studios, etc.,

    Until we as the sci-fi community tell these people to get lost I don’t think gender swapping this character is worth it for anyone.

    • Perilous

      Anyone who uses the term SJW outs themselves as a member of the MRA movement, and that automatically disqualifies them from either having a valid opinion, being worth listening to on any topic whatsoever, and being a worthwhile human being.

      Go fuck yourself, pissbaby.

      • Knightwing19

        No they don’t only immature, ignorant people think like that. Also it’s invalidate my opinion at all in fact people like you that say nonsense like that just further proves my point.

        Maybe you should stop defending or being one of these SJW, bottom feeding culture vultures and try being a decent human being.

        Time to wake to reality.

  • Bob Redmund Bro

    It definitely needs to happen at some point. Not until it’s more acceptable to the fans though, if it were anytime soon it’d be awful. Luckily though they’ve at least confirmed the possibility, and we have a female master who is incredible.

  • I don’t think it should happen. It just would feel like a cashgrab, a jump the shark idea, it seems like a lame resort to get people more interested, when it will probably just make us fans disinterested. I’m not like against predominate female roles in TV, I think that’s awesome, but the Doctor is such a classic character and making him a woman would be a bit unfortunate.

  • Kenn Peterson

    I’m neither for it or against it. My feeling is the same as Moffit’s when the right actress comes along and the time is right it will happen. It’s not something that “should” happen or “needs” to happen but something that happens because it feels right for the show at the time. So much of the Doctor’s personality has been because of the actors that have played him that it’s not something that should be forced just because you can, it should be driven because it will be time for a change and because the right actress comes along that fits the part perfectly. She’ll have to the right personality with the right look and energy and she’s going to need want to do the part for the right reasons. After we see her as the Doctor you shouldn’t be able to think of her as anyone else. Like Hartnel, Baker, Troughton, Pertwee, MCoy, Tennant, Smith, and Capladi all of them are truly unique and “were” made to play the Doctor. (not meaning to leave the others out but each of these to me had unique “Doctor” only qualities) Capaldi is doing a great job and we should be enjoying the moment rather than wondering who the next doctor should be, the best next Doctor will be the one we haven’t thought of yet because we don’t wan to see this Doctor leave.

  • Myrodinn

    If the Doctor ever became female, Jack would never leave her alone lol.

    • WWKnight

      What makes you say that, I wonder? Isn’t it obvious that Jack is bi-sexual, and enjoys both men and women? (And one would argue, due to screen time given to his paramours, prefers men?)

      • Anubis2705

        Yes, but jack would stay ather side until the next anniversary which means: multi-Doctor-episode with male and female Doctor.

        • muad’dib

          you stole muh logo

  • von Wer

    Let’s bring back Romana and make her male. Ditto the Rani. The Master could become The Mistress…oh, wait.

  • Shawsy

    I dont understand how we need a female doctor a female master was bad enough I know the show changes all the time but if you change the main things in the show like Time lords & Time ladies (Tiemladies being able to choose their appearance, Romane & The Rani both said) I think its more to do with people not bringing forward any good ideas for female heroes & role models its the same in the comic book world now female Thor & others, I really cant see me watching it.

  • James Vaughan

    IMHO would be great to see Carey Mulligan (as Sally Sparrow) become the Doctor. Could explain that she was a future version of the Doctor during BLINK but as she is after the RESET of the additional regeneration cycle, she and the 10th Doctor could not sense each other as timelords

  • Chris Canning

    I think Doctor Who would be fantastic with Tilda Swinton at the helm of the TARDIS for a few years. Lets face it, most Doctors only last 3 years and nobody is ever happy with whomever becomes The Doctor anyway. Everyone bitched about Matt (ew, he’s too young), they’re bitching about Peter (ew, he’s too old), why not give everyone something fresh to bitch about? Nobody’s ever going to be satisfied so they might as well do something to keep things interesting. If that means having a female Doctor that’s great, if it means doing something else, well that’s great too.

    • Nelson

      Well I’ve been really happy with all of the 21st century Doctors. Please don’t generalise.

      • George

        So, one fan out of millions hasn’t complained about a Doctor and I’M generalizing? Heh, pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

        Read any comment section on any Doctor Who page, Facebook page, fansite whatever and then come back and tell me that Doctor Who fans don’t bitch about whoever the Doctor is… and don’t get me started on people bitching about the companions. Oy vey!

        • Simon Lock

          I’ve been happy with the Doctors and companions, so please don’t generalise.

  • John Moscato

    It’s all about the right person for the part. If the right person happens to be a woman, then I’m there! Personally I think it should be Emma Thompson…

  • Joe Cogan

    I’m all for the right woman as The Doctor, but I want to see Idris Elba first.

  • RoseByAnyOtherName

    Personally, I think they should give it a trial run. Have some alien technology turn the doctor into a woman for a two or three parter with her chasing down the alien to change him back As for a full time one, it will happen someday, because someday the perfect actress will come along, and it will be brilliant iand and fantastic and the only ones who protest will be people not willing to give her a chance, or of course some of the few true sexist people in the world…and the misogynists. Also, someday we will have a non-caucasian Doctor. It’s just part of the show’s evolution. If the doctor is always going to be played by Bristish actors, they may as well have made him a British man, not a Time Lord. And I think the doctor needs to hit a few other countries to visit too, not just other planets.

    • Myckaal

      A bunch of them are Scots … unless you’re calling them English, too.

      Aside from that, that scenario would be a passable introduction.

      • RoseByAnyOtherName

        Are Scots not considered British? I never actually said “English.” I was under the impression that Ireland and Scotland were considered part of Great Britain. If not I apologize.

  • Nathaniel Moschkin

    According to the history of the show I’ve read, so far, it should already have happened.

  • Perilous

    Yes, there fucking well needs to be a female Doctor. It’s been FIFTY YEARS. Do you mean to tell me that men are so fragile and delicate that they cannot face having a woman Doctor even after having FIFTY YEARS of male Doctors?

    And if that’s the case, why are we even listening to guys like this?

    The fact is that Stephen Moffat is a misogynistic asshole, and he’s ruined Dr. Who for any serious fan. Reading the comments of this thread proves that even more conclusively than watching the show. He’s so weak-minded that he can’t even tolerate the thought of a female Doctor. You can see how misogynistic he is simply by watching any show he’s an executive of – they all treat every woman in every episode exactly the same way.

    Moffat is a hero to MRAs everywhere because he validates their extreme fear and loathing of female strength and independence. Until he’s removed from the show, Dr. Who will continue to be a mockery of what it’s supposed to be. And this lifelong fan will have nothing to do with it until he’s been disposed of.

    All y’all weak-minded imbeciles can enjoy it. It’s the best you can do, and your’e so fucking ignorant that you wouldn’t understand what you were missing even if you had the capacity to realize it.

    • Dr. Moo

      He’s the man who the Master a woman. Your argument is not supported by little things like, say, the facts.

  • Roger Wilco

    It would be good if they introduced another character, but not “change” the Doctor.

  • scp2

    “This requires some considerable thought – mainly because I want to avoid a flashy Hollywood ‘Wonder Woman’ because this kind of hero(ine) has no flaws – and a character with no flaws is a bore.”

    Yes, let’s have a female Doctor with flaws, because I’m tired of listening to people whine about there not being a female Doctor; I’m ready to listen to people whine about the negative portrayal of a flawed female Doctor.

  • Timothy Klein Jr

    Well, Professor Doctor River Song is a Woman and Jenny (The Doctor’s Daughter (who in real life is the 5th Doctor’s Daughter as well as the 10th Doctor’s Wife)) regenerated so…

  • Greg Walton

    So that’s why Maisie Williams is in the new series – there is a precedent for starring actors to be guests first.

  • Dylan Robert Montgomery

    I don’t want a female doctor. I grew up watching a male doctor and don’t want that changed. Females have different attributes than men, a female doctor is one I would not watch.

  • Nelson

    Surely there needs to be a non-Anglo Doctor first..

    • coolarrow

      Why? Why does there “need” to be one?

  • Smegtasticus

    By and large, the Doctor is an asexual alien being who is more eccentric, mysterious, and weird than overtly masculine. I don’t see any reason why a woman couldn’t play the Doctor one day.

    Some, like Sylvester McCoy, claim that it will change the dynamic between the Doctor and the companions. To that I say so what? This show has a long history of switching around its dynamics and trying out new things. I don’t think the series would have endured as it has had it stuck to the Hartnell era formula. Change is good.

  • muad’dib

    only if there are huge bewbs. otherwise, why bother.

  • Mat Greenfield

    It probably would alienate a lot of fans but, honestly, f*ck ’em if their idea of what makes a good Doctor is hinged entirely on whether or not the actor has a penis. It betrays a lack of imagination to think that shape-shifting aliens travelling through time in a phone box is fine but the idea that they might have more flexible concepts of gender identity is too bizarre.

  • Andrew Howard-Williams

    As there is now a female Master no doubt at some point a female Doctor is a possibility.

    Also may I add a Gay Dr Who being as we have a Bisexual Character in Captain Jack (played by Gay John Barrowman).

  • I am against the idea of having a female actor play The Doctor.