The BBC’s TV chief kicked off the annual Edinburgh TV Festival Thursday by revealing that he wanted there to be a female lead on hit show Doctor Who in the near future. When asked if he could envisage seeing the first female time lord, he said: “I hope so.”
He didn’t say how soon the show could feature a female lead.
Danny Cohen’s comments came just before the new season of the hit sci-fi show debuts this weekend with Peter Capaldi in the title role for the first time. Cohen, who was named director of BBC Television after stints as the head of BBC One and BBC Three, added that, were he to be to be offered a part on the program, he would like to be Doctor Who’s sidekick, a role currently occupied by Jenna Coleman.
Cohen on Thursday also compared the production budgets available to the BBC to those in the U.S., saying he was impressed with the money made available by the likes of Netflix, while praising the U.K. public broadcaster’s spending efficiency.
“For the price of two [seasons] of House of Cards, we made 14 drama series for BBC One and BBC Two,” he said. “What we do with our money is extraordinary.”
He also hit back at suggestions that U.K. drama, which he said was experiencing a “golden age,” was falling short compared with U.S. productions.
“When you go to America, they tell you how extraordinary British drama is,” Cohen said. “Often here you’re told: ‘Why aren’t you doing drama like the Americans?’ It can get irritating. But it’s not about whether one is better than the other.”
Among the most controversial issues Cohen has had to contend with of late has been the controversy surrounding Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson, recently accused of racism and the subject of an internal BBC inquiry. Cohen was cautious with his comments, saying that like in soccer, “no one is bigger than the team.” The BBC decided to keep Clarkson as the show’s host, but gave him a stern warning.
Cohen also said Thursday in Edinburgh that the BBC would soon broadcast the U.K.’s first-ever transgender comedy series.
Boy Meets Girl will air on BBC Two and be set and filmed in and around Manchester. The network has ordered six half-hour episodes.
A BBC Two description of the show says: “Leo’s had a bad day. He’s been fired (again), is being given a hard time by his mum and, to cap it all, his blind date fails to show up. But then he bumps into Judy and finds himself deeply attracted to this surprising and beguiling woman.”