It's taken over fifty years, but Dr Who will finally be played by a woman - Jodie Whittaker. While it was assumed the BBC would again play safe and opt for another male Dr Who, the selection of Whittaker suggests that the sensibilities of the iconic television series remain firmly left field.

IN AN AGE WHEN THE POLITICAL CENTRE is collapsing, is it a coincidence that the BBC has decided its time that the role of  Dr Who should be played by a woman? It has taken over fifty years to arrive at this point but we're finally here.

The demands for a female Dr Who have grown ever louder ever since Tom Baker graced our television screens in the 1980s but such demands have always fallen on deaf ears. Last week the general consensus seemed to be that the BBC would play safe and opt for another male actor, with Kris Marshall (Death In Paradise) being the warm favourite to take the coveted role.

But, in the end, the BBC went for the accomplished Jodie Whittaker. She will be most familiar to New Zealand television viewers as Beth Latimer in the crime drama Broadchurch - which, ironically, starred David Tennant, a former Dr Who.

The reaction to the announcement seems to be overwhelmingly positive although the choice of a female lead has its critics. Some Who fans have tweeted darkly of "political madness gone mad" and accused the BBC of "having a typical left agenda."

Whittaker has responded to the criticisms in a BBC interview : ""I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender, because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that's exciting about change."

While the writers  have often imagined the end of the universe as we know it, it is probably too much to expect Dr Who, originally conceived as a children's show, to imagine the end of capitalism as well. But Dr Who has often had a political edge to it and the choice of Jodie Whittaker as the thirteenth doctor suggests that Dr Who will continue to be a science fiction series of possibilities and of different worlds, with the Doctor fighting oppression throughout the universe. We can look forward to it not pitching safely for the centre, jostling with the mediocrity of reality shows and cooking contests. Dr Who is better than this. It will remain, as ever, left field.


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