Author: Gareth

I'm in my very early thirties and I don't blog half as much as I'd like to. I'm constantly working on fixing this, though nothing ever bloody comes of it. Let's just see how we go...

Doctor Who?

jodie-whittaker-doctor-who

The dust has just about settled around the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor and I think I’ve just about worked out what I think of the casting, the reaction to the casting and my reaction to that reaction to the casting. I won’t keep you long and I’ll try not to preach. Here’s it is, as I see it.

Most of those complaining about the casting of a woman as the Doctor aren’t – I think, I hope – being outright sexist. Many are claiming that, since the Doctor is a historically male character, changing gender now seems a bit much. Unfortunately for those people, usually classic series fans over the age of 40, the show isn’t made by them, or even for them. The showrunners have, in recent years, made crystal clear that Time Lords have no fixed gender, across regenerations. We’ve seen and heard of many Gallifreyans who were once one thing, then another. As far back as The Doctor’s Wife (series 6), the seed has been sown that there is no reason at all, in the universe of ‘Doctor Who’, that our hero should remain a male after regeneration. That he has done so far says less about the genetic regulations of Gallifreyans and more about the successive restricted thinking of otherwise wildly imaginative production teams. That our hero – who has had the ability to change every single thing about himself – has remained male for 2000 years is a signifier of the times. Time’s Change.

Since my wife and I are both huge ‘Doctor Who’ fans, our son will grow up with the show. When he’s old enough to (hopefully) enjoy the show for himself, he won’t know anything different: The Doctor is able to regenerate into anyone, black or white, young or old, man or woman. He’ll grow up not caring whether the Doctor is a he or she, just that the Doctor is someone amazing, a role model. It won’t even cross the minds of kids my son’s age that it’s unusual for the Doctor to be played by a woman. For the most part, I think, it doesn’t cross the minds of kids now. It appears that the only ones with any real issue with the casting choice for 13 are (for the most part) adult males. Surely these men know enough about TV to understand that, just because the Doctor is now female, the last 54 years of ‘Doctor Who’ is still available (again, for the most part. I’m not getting into missing episodes).

Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor (a man), has said today that turning the Doctor into a woman means that “little boys have lost a role model”, as though women cannot be role models to little boys! It’s an unforgivable notion, in my opinion, and one that needs to be challenged publicly. Luckily, Colin Baker, the sixth Doctor (a man), has been nothing but supportive of Jodie’s casting and there are plenty of people giving Peter’s opinion the bashing it deserves.

It’s heartening that the future of ‘Doctor Who’ is now so open to exciting change. Whereas before our lists of potential Doctors were 100% male, now the door is open for literally anyone at all to be cast in the role, as long as they can be trusted with the part. By all accounts, Jodie Whittaker blew new showrunner Chris Chibnall away with her interpretation of the Doctor in her audition. I cannot wait to see what she’s got for us! Jodie is a wonderful actor and a name I would never have even thought of as a potential Doctor, mainly due to the perceived constraint that the Doctor can only be male.

When I told a friend that I was very happy indeed with the casting, he said to me “You’ve changed your tune! You always said it would be a risky idea!” and he’s absolutely correct. I do think it’s a risk. But not because of some hangup about the Doctor being absolutely a male. My concern was the reaction such an announcement would get from the (shall we say) less progressive members of fandom and the downright disgusting (and predictable) tabloid coverage. I have been vindicated on both counts. I’m ashamed of some people I share this fandom with. I’ve never heard more thinly-veiled misogyny coming from some people out there. If I hear another lecture about how the genetic makeup of a Time Lord is incompatible with gender variation, or whatever, I will punch someone. My reply will always be the same: IT. ISN’T. REAL! It is a television show. And the makers of this show have dictated, with precedent, that this is all fine.

As for the papers, already we’ve had “Doctor Who Naked! Pictures Inside!” and “Where oh where have all the male TV heroes gone?” I have no time for either. The bottom line is, whether you like it or not – whether you think a 2000-year-old time travelling alien who can change appearance completely and zips around the universe past, present and future having adventures changing gender is “totally unrealistic” – Jodie Whittaker IS the Thirteenth Doctor and that’s that. Suck it up. She’s going to be amazing.

And before she is, there’s Christmas to enjoy! The first and last Doctors, side by side. What’s that?! The first Doctor is played by someone else entirely?! It’s an outrage, said nobody ever. Still think the backlash to thirteen is about realism? Nah, nor me.

Jodie Whittaker Cast As The 13th Doctor

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The BBC has announced that Jodie Whittaker will play the Thirteenth Doctor when Doctor Who returns for its eleventh series. New showrunner Chris Chibnall had promised to shake the show up with “radical changes” and this casting seems to be doing the job at the moment. Most fans seem over the moon at the news that the next Doctor has been cast, while some are still a little unsure about it being a woman.

As for my own opinion: Jodie is a fine actor and, I’m sure, will make a wonderful Doctor. This is the biggest real change the show has undergone since its return in 2015 and I’m incredibly excited to see where we’ll be taken. Here we go!

More from me on this topic SOON!

General Election Breakdown (Part One)

MAY

“Who knew Jeremy Corbyn was such a good campaigner?!” asks countless commentators. “He’s exceeded everyone’s expectations!” they say. Well, some of us never doubted Corbyn’s ability to attract votes specifically because he was clearly a brilliant campaigner. Some of us were just waiting for the chance for him to show the naysayers how much they were underestimating him and his team.

That’s not to say, of course, that Labour won this election. It absolutely did not. Much of the excitement around Labour’s performance is an expression of surprise at a result many thought impossible. The truth is that nobody won this election, by the ground rules of the FPTP system. Neither of the two main parties won a majority that would give them a clear mandate to govern. It simply isn’t that clear-cut.

The Conservatives got the most votes and won the most parliamentary seats. Labour made the biggest gains. Under the present system, the largest party is given a crack at forming a government (more on this another time). But it should not be forgotten that Theresa May called the election in order to increase her majority and ended up pissing it away completely. The Tories lost 13 seats. Labour, on the other hand, gained 30.

What we’re left with is a government in turmoil, headed by a zombie Prime Minister despised even by her own party, with no majority and no mandate to pursue the draconian policies that lost her the slim majority she did have. So bad are things, in fact, that the only hope for the Conservative party (apparently so proud of their record on LGBT+ rights) is to attempt to crawl into bed with the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.

Ah, the DUP; a party that is anti-LGBT+ and anti-abortion, that has proven and lasting links with UDA paramilitaries. It’s a tired irony already, but the very same Tory party that attacked the idea of a Labour government as being “a coalition of chaos, propped up by terrorist sympathisers” is now wholly reliant on the very same configuration if they hope to pass a single thing in their manifesto.

CORBYN

So where from here? Well, I would put money on there being another general election within 12 months. I’ve predicted it’ll be sooner than many think; my guess is we’ll go to the polls again on October 5th this year. May is, to borrow a phrase from George Osborne, a dead woman walking. She simply cannot last as PM. Polling shows that there isn’t anyone in her party in a strong enough position to replace her.

It really has been an extraordinary weekend, politically. Labour appears stronger than ever and has overtaken the Conservative party in the polls for the first time in I don’t know how long. Conversely, the Tories are a mess. They announced a confidence and supply deal with the DUP, only for the DUP to issue a statement that no such deal had yet been agreed. Then, a first, it was announced that the Queen’s Speech was to be delayed.

On top of that, there has been talk of Brexit negotiation delays, public criticism of the party leadership by Conservative ministers and a tangible shift in tone from news organisations – even those who cheered for a Tory win – which can no longer ignore the fact that May and her party are proving themselves incompetent, ignorant and unwilling to accept reality. Indeed, it took May a whole day to even reference the election result!

I haven’t been able to concisely sum up this election because the story is developing every minute. I planned a neat conclusion to a messy election and have resigned myself to the fact that this post is Part One of many to come. By the time you read this, things may well be very different. Who knows? Maybe we have a Labour minority government now (again, I’ll talk about this another time). Maybe we’ll have PM Boris at No10.

So until we know more I can say little more about the result. Of the campaign, however, I can say that Labour played a blinder and the Tories were left looking not only shambolic but the complete opposite of what they were asking us to believe: They were not and are not Strong or Stable. This, I believe, is to be their downfall. A desperate deal with the DUP will not be enough to save the Tories from the reckoning ahead.