Making 'Doctor Who' Female Was Condition of Showrunner for Taking Role

The new Time Lord was always going to female, claims the show's exec producer.
BBC Studios
Jodie Whittaker in 'Doctor Who'

When Peter Capaldi revealed in 2017 that he was handing over the keys to the TARDIS and stepping down from Doctor Who, the gender of the next Time Lord was never in doubt, according to the show's executive producer.

"Once Peter had decided he was leaving, the next Doctor was always going to be a female Doctor," said Matt Strevens.

Speaking to Digital Spy, Strevens also noted that the change was something incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall had also supported, with a female Doctor Who being "part of his conditions of doing the job."

"We knew in our gut it was about time, and it felt like the right decision, and the character is non-gender specific in any way, really," said Strevens. "If ever there was a character that was never defined by gender, it's the Doctor. The Doctor is gender fluid in that sense."

Chibnall added that the decision didn't feel controversial. "It's very hard to think of many examples in its 55-year history where the Doctor takes a decision based upon gender."

As for the response, while there was predictably amounts of outrage from some corners of the Doctor Who universe, Strevens claimed that the vast majority was positive. 

"We have all these number-crunchers at the BBC who come and feed us figures about overnights and how social media's hit and all those kinds of stuff," he said. "We had a board meeting and they did this thing with global social media, and they'd come up with something like 81 percent positive hits on social media they'd scanned in terms of reaction to it."

The 11th season of Doctor Who starts on BBC America on Oct. 7