Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Lucky number 13

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For the first time in 55 years, "Doctor Who," a series about an extraterrestrial adventurer traveling through time and space, will feature a woman in its title role. Jodie Whittaker will play the 13th doctor in Season 11, which starts later this year.

Doctor Who has been portrayed by over a dozen different actors, all white and male, but the character is always the same person. The show's explanation for the Doctor's different faces is the concept of regeneration, a process which allows the Doctor to change his form to circumvent death. Over the years, each incarnation of the Doctor have become known by the order in which they appear (excluding the out-of-sequence War Doctor). Audiences got a brief look at the 13th Doctor during last year's Christmas special.

In 2013 speculation first rose about a person of color being cast as the 12th Doctor. Steven Moffat, the showrunner, cast a black actor, but the offer fell through and Peter Capaldi got the role. During Capaldi's run, the episode "Hell Bent" showed a character named "The General" regenerate into a black woman. It was the first time a change in gender happened on screen.

Thirteen will endure extra scrutiny because Whittaker is a woman. Fans want a woman Doctor who doesn't play into gender stereotypes and maintains the core tenets of the character's personality. The show has been using more women writers of late, and women may have their own writers' room this season. The Doctor's female form opens up the opportunity to tackle new themes. Viewers will get an honest depiction of what it is like to fight for justice and equality for marginalized people while being a person who faces those same issues because of gender. Seeing the world through the beloved Doctor's eyes may help many of the show's (mostly male) viewers understand the battle women fight just to exist and be respected.

Tai Gooden is a freelance writer who has written for The Guardian, SyFy Fangrrls, BlackGirlNerds and Vice.

Jodie Whittaker will play the 13th doctor in Season 11 of "Doctor Who."

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  • APA 6th ed.: Gooden, Tai (2018-01-22). Lucky number 13. America p. 57.
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  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Lucky number 13 | url= | work=America | pages=57 | date=2018-01-22 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 February 2024 }}</ref>
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