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The BBC’s Sunday announcement that Jodie Whittaker would take over the lead role in hit series Doctor Who has been met with a mix of praise for the actress and criticism of the decision to cast a female Time Lord.
“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman,” Chris Chibnall, the show’s new head writer and executive producer, said Sunday. “We’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice.”
On Sunday, Whittaker herself had urged fans “not to be scared by my gender.”
Colin Baker, who played the sixth Doctor, was among those who lauded the decision, tweeting that “the BBC really did do the right thing and let the Doctor be in touch with her feminine side.” He added: “As a father of daughters — result!” He later also wrote: “Change my dears and not a moment too soon — she IS the Doctor whether you like it or not!”
Tracy-Ann Oberman, who has appeared in Doctor Who in the past, wrote: “A generation of young Whovians who will now know that as a female in the Universe you don’t have to be the assistant.”
They joined other positive reviews for the casting decision, which included such tweets as “Jodie Whittaker is an awesome choice” and “The Dr. is the Dr., regardless of gender. #JodieWhittaker.”
But others criticized the BBC for casting a female lead, suggesting the decision was made out of political correctness. “Nope, ta-ra Doctor Who. Just ruined the character for the sake of political correctness,” said one critical fan on Twitter.
“That can’t be right, it’s #DoctorWho not Nurse Who,” another user tweeted. “No offense to women but doctor who is always a man, just like James Bond,” said a third.
Sebastian J. Brook, editor of Doctor Who Online, tweeted Monday: “Whether you agree/disagree with the BBC’s decision, there is no place in fandom for hate speech! #Respect”
In an online post about the casting news, he had written: “As I was watching the reveal on BBC One, I was genuinely shocked when Jodie Whittaker was revealed to be our first-ever female Doctor in Doctor Who. I’ve always been of the opinion that The Doctor is male, and, perhaps, always should be — it has clearly been his preference for 12 (ok 13) incarnations, but maybe now really is the time for a whole new take on the role?”
He added: “We live in a time of equality and representation, and TV is an important platform to portray this. The sad reality is that it has taken so long for these issues to start being reflected realistically, and even now there’s still a long way to go.”
He added: “I do not believe this is an ‘experiment’ or ‘stunt casting’ — or even an attempt to ‘boost ratings,’ which, by the way, are still excellent. I think this is the BBC, and Chris Chibnall saying ‘the time is right!’.”
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