I have been a fan of the BBC television science fiction series “Doctor Who” for 40 years. Living in America, that is quite a statement because I can remember hearing about the show through friends who were interested in science fiction. Several friends from places like Chicago told me about this great show that was available on their local PBS station. I lived too far away to see the program, but their descriptions fascinated me. An alien who traveled through time and space in a phone booth. I quickly learned that it was a police box, something that Americans never really had as a part of our daily lives.
I was fascinated by the idea that the character could be portrayed by different actors through the years. It was a brilliant idea to keep the series alive when the stars grew ill, or wanted to pursue other acting opportunities. It added an infinite level of possibilities to the concept that the program was built around. I doubt that American TV would ever have come up with such an idea because American TV was built on stars and their followings more than on continuous storylines that spanned multiple seasons and were less dependent on an individual to carry the program.
It was not until the mid-1980s that I saw the program for the first time. I was not disappointed. The special effects were cheesy, but that it because the BBC operated on a budget that American TV was unfamiliar with. I thought that the brilliant part was the stories that carried the program. It didn’t need special effects to make it interesting to me. Access to the show was still spotty at best because American PBS stations operate independently of one another, and when Doctor Who was available in one city, there was no guarantee that it would be available in other cities with different PBS stations. Now, I thought that PBS made a huge mistake in not making Doctor Who available nationwide as they did with a handful of other BBC programs such as Masterpiece Theater, or Mystery.
I was sad when the show was canceled unexpectedly in the early 1990s. It seemed that it was gone and would never return. Being in the States meant that it wasn’t perceived as important at all, as opposed to what the people in Britain must have felt. I remember the 1996 movie with Paul McGann playing the lead and hoped that it would lead to a revival of the series. I was somewhat surprised that the BBC didn’t begin with a new series at that time. Once again Doctor Who faded away until 2005.
The new series was fabulous and it has been on ever since. We have gone through Christopher Eccelston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. When Capaldi announced that he was stepping down, the search for a new Doctor began. I was totally surprised when Jodie Whittaker was announced as the new Doctor. I have never seen her act, but I am really looking forward to it.
Immediately, the trolls began to attack the choice of a woman playing the part of the Doctor. For the life of me, I cannot understand the uproar. I look forward to the new Doctor and her adventures. Her gender isn’t an issue to me at all. The armchair comedians have tried to use this new Doctor as an excuse to try out their dated and tired sexist jokes, I understand that because it is only human nature. The thing that was the most annoying to me was that apparently a British newspaper has released photos of Whittaker that would never have been released if she were a man. The double standard for women still exists. Apparently, Jodie Whittaker must be both a sex symbol and an actress. The release of the photos also shows that the objectification of women is still a major problem that we need to address.
The double standard is that a woman is supposed to allow herself to be exploited to a degree to succeed in ways that male actors are not. Leave her alone and enjoy her portrayal of the Doctor!