‘Doctor Who’ exec Moffat on casting a female Doctor

Steven Moffat

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has revealed that the casting of a female Doctor will not be “a political decision”.

Speaking at a Q&A session at the Hay Festival, Moffat joked: “I don’t know why I’m the one who gets the grief for this. I’m the one who put the dialogue into the show to say it can happen.”

He explained: “Do you know how it will happen? It will not happen that somebody sits down and says we must turn the Doctor into a woman. That is not how you cast the Doctor. A person will pop into the showrunner’s head and they’ll think. ‘Oh my God, what if it was that person?’ And when that person is a woman, that’s the day it will happen.”

The writer added: “Casting is the dark arts of television. It is everything. That decision is central and absolute to everything you do. It’s the difference between a television programme and a sensation. So you don’t mess around with that; you don’t cast for any other reason than for passion and for aesthetics. It’s not a political decision, it’s an aesthetic decision and will always be.”

> Take a look at our five plausible candidates for a female Doctor.

Asked about the possibility of the Doctor’s companion being something other than a “[21st] century female”, Moffat commented: “I would consider that. I very nearly did it last time [with Clara].”

Doctor Who Clara TARDIS

The showrunner also revealed at the festival that the BBC considered ending Doctor Who following David Tennant’s departure.

Series 8 is currently filming in Cardiff and will begin on BBC One in August.

> Here’s everything we know about Series 8 so far.

Who would you like to play a female Doctor? Let us know below!

  • Christopher Allan Smith

    Meh if it is a female then let it be . i reckon tamsin is a good choise but id love to see Jane Lynch as the doc ! but first tom hiddleston!

    • PitchBlack


      • dozr

        next thing you are going to say is you wouldnt want the king of england to be american, a bit racist dont you think?

    • Cygnus X-1

      FFS can we give Peter Capaldi a chance before you propose anyone else? As PitchBlack exclaimed, NO AMERICANS!

      • Christopher Allan Smith

        why? bit racist =/

  • He’s absolutely right that it should not be a political decision, because it could backfire if they decided to do it without thinking things through. There are many female actors that could play the part well, but I think that the Doctor’s changed gender should be treated like any other regeneration and that (s)he shouldn’t suddenly start to act stereotypically feminine, or otherwise bring too much attention to the change. The Doctor should still feel like the Doctor and for that they need to find an actress who can pull of the Doctor’s many quirks and characteristics common to all incarnations.

  • PitchBlack

    Sick of established characters having sex and race changes. Here, have our cast-offs as appeasement. If you want a female timelord doctor create one… an African-descended Bond, create a new character that is his own. Why must we alter established characters? If it was me, I want my own heroes my own characters. I don’t want some crusty white guy made African American just so producers can feel like they are appeasing me. You want to appease me? Make strong female and african-descended charaters with their own histories and triumphs.

    • Jorah

      You’re a complete idiot if you think the Doctor is an established character.

      Jesus. The show’s central theme is “change”. Moffat said casting a female doctor would and could be done if it were the right actress.

      This show’s entire success is built around the idea of change. THAT is the only established thing in the show. You have no idea how much your stupid ass way of thinking is holding back the show. Sure, David Tennant and Matt Smith brought tons of attention to Doctor Who in America, but an American being cast as the Doctor would bring even more. And why not want the show to be AS SUCCESSFUL AS POSSIBLE?! WHY HOLD IT BACK?! The fact of the matter is, if you stopped watching the show, or went against the show for a reason as fucking retarded as “THEY CAST SOMEONE THAT ISN’T BRITISH AS THE DOCTOR!”, then you’re fucking useless. Like, for real. It’s not that big a deal. The show is based around change, and when the time comes, it just might change in THAT direction. You won’t have any control over it, either. It’ll fucking just happen.

      No one is trying “appease you” with a female doctor or a black doctor, or any other race for that matter.
      If they were cast, they’d be cast for their acting, and for the story. The never ending tale of a time traveler saving the universe.

      The Doctor can be anything. Doctor Who can be ANYTHING. That’s the beauty of the show. Stop holding it the fuck back, and get used to change, asshole.

      • Cygnus X-1

        If there’s one character that is established in DOCTOR Who, then it is the DOCTOR, regardless of who plays that character. I believe you are a very confused individual. Good luck in life.

        • GoldenOldies

          No, YOU are the confused individual. What Jorah is saying is that the Doctor, as a whole, is the furthest thing from established. And he’s correct. Each regeneration…be it the 4th Doctor, the 10th, or 7th…THEY are all established characters. They are all different. They all have different mindsets and different quirks…THAT BEING SAID, the Doctor can become ANYTHING as Jorah was saying…each time the Doctor regenerates. Stop thinking of the Doctor as a “he”, and think of the regenerations as “he”…think of the Doctor, as a whole…as an “it”. Because it’s been established in CANON, mind you…that the Doctor can become a female…or a creature with no head. As said by the 9th Doctor before his regeneration. So what is to stop the Doctor from regenerating into a black person, a Japanese person, or even a Mexican someday? Nothing. It could happen, and someday, if the actor or actress is the right fit, it probably WILL happen, as Jorah was saying.

          Good luck in YOUR goddamn life, you fucking idiot.
          As someone who’s been watching since the 3rd Doctor, you really don’t seem to understand what makes the show so special. I’m glad Jorah does. It makes me think others might as well.

          • Cygnus X-1

            Yes, each incarnation of the DOCTOR, in other words, THE DOCTOR. The one established character in the whole series. That character could be played by anyone (except an american).

          • The scotsman who flies

            you are missing the point, Pitch wasn’t just talking about the doctor Pitch was talking about all of television, you often get shows that people yell “MAKE —— BLACK/ASIAN?FEMALE” just because as the often problem that I see with common day equality debates is that those seeking equality are not going for equality they are going for special right as in the blacks being able to say (and I apologize for my foul mouth here) nigger and white people not being able to say it then white people being called “crackers” and other offensive things. so in short Pitch wasn’t just talking about the doctor which I agree is a flexible character but over all TV as a whole.

      • Sci_Fi_Junky

        Speaking as an American, I NEVER want to see an American Doctor. Ever. American companion? Fine. But The Doctor is first and foremost, UK (I don’t want to say British because there’ve been a few Scotsmen).

        • Valentina.

          I just want to tell you that you can say “British” because all of them are British. Scotland is still part of Britain. David Tennant, sylvester mccoy and Peter Capaldi are british. They aren’t English people, but they are british. 🙂

          • Kevin Bernard

            As are Wales and Northern Ireland, for those who don’t know what British means.

          • Lee

            Sorry to be pedantic, but Northern Ireland isn’t British, as in “The United Kingdom Of Great Britain AND Northern Ireland”

        • Cygnus X-1

          OK, I almost agreed with you there. Hopefully you already realise your mistakes through other comments on here

        • Phillip Bauer

          what about a aussie?

        • Rosemary Hall

          There already is an American companion. Peri Brown – 5th & 6th Doctor’s Companion

          • Sci_Fi_Junky

            I know! She is one of my favorites (I was teenage boy when she showed up, so….) That is why I said I am fine with American companions 🙂

      • nobody_xiii

        Your response is as trite as it is rude and insulting and your language is indicative of every stereotypical social justice Tumblr rant I have ever seen (they’re all the same). In fact I wish I could dislike your comment more than once.

        Surprise, surprise, 50 years of storytelling and marketing have given an audience a fairly precise picture of the Doctor. Is the theme of change in Doctor Who to the degree that he is not in ANY way confined to the reality within the show’s own canon OR what audiences find most endearing about the chemistry of his character?

        The theme of change isn’t so broad and all-consuming that it makes audience members “assholes” if they don’t accept uncharacteristic changes. Don’t attempt to homogenize origins and genders to the point that the character is ridiculously interchangeable. The Doctor is as quintessentially British as he is male. Like it or not, characters are imbued with personality traits that are heightened by the quirks of being either a specific gender or nationality. In no way does it make an actor “superior” to others because he so embodies British-isms and because his past decisions and course of history. He simply IS male and British; tell me why in our insane attempts at making everything so gray-zone politically correct that we cannot accept that these two traits are just as much a part of his character as any other aspect?

        And sure, you’ll say, but the show is ABOUT change! Changing of what? The Doctor’s regeneration, the diversity of the companions that have traveled with the Doctor, his various adventures and the myriad of planets he has visited, his roles on Earth and in space, and even the tone of the show (from campy to dramatic to dark, to all at once). You are right, there is beauty in the change and in the possibilities, but there is JUST as much beauty in the consistencies and “rules” of the show that have made it so beloved.

        In fact, in a fairly recent poll taken by Doctor Who Magazine, both male AND female readers voted that the Doctor should irrevocably remain male. Telling people “tough luck” and “get over” it or calling them assholes for “holding the show back,” or whatever, is childish. In the real world, and especially in the world based on visual media, fans enjoy certain consistencies (I said CERTAIN consistencies, this is not a blanket statement that means rigidity) and these consistencies thrive and personify, even glorify, the show.

        I’m with PitchBlack 100%. Impress me with gorgeously written new characters that do not depend on the name and legacy of older characters to make a name for their race or gender. New characters that I will love and have earned their own legacies. This is the same argument with the comic book industry and sudden random changes of a hero or villain to a different race and gender for the sake of diversity. Do not say that the years of history of these characters and that their previous races or genders were nothing, that their personalities and traits were never made up of their original origins.

        No one is fooled by the “the Doctor will be female if we have the right person for the right part.” No one is so dense in believing that she wouldn’t bring aspects to the Doctor that many would find unwelcome, NEVER because being female is inferior (as is the argument certain types would love to make), but because it’s such an unnecessary shift in what the Doctor simply IS.

        Please, don’t bother responding with rude language.

        “Like, for real.”

  • Corey Hutton

    Just give River her own show, that will shut up all the idiots who want a female Doctor and see the show come to an END.

    • Ian Cook

      I think they should give The Doctor’s daughter her own show.

    • Rosemary Hall

      Or what about Romana’s own show, when Gallifrey comes back? Or Susan? They could regenerate to a new face. I hope the Doctor sees Susan soon!

  • CybexAl

    Brilliant answer @pitchblack your contribution should win an award. You are absolutely correct.

  • Matt

    The thing which bothers me far more is them just getting companions from modern day London. Of all of time and space, surely they could find somewhere else?

  • Gary Stewart QC

    On the fields of Trenzlore, at the fall of the eleventh day every month, when no living creature can speak falsely
    or fail to answer correctly at this time of…month…a question will be asked, a question that must never,
    ever be answered without having your head bitten off for no reason.

    This question was the first question, the oldest question in the Universe, that must never be answered, hidden in plain sight, cause you have to be attentive.
    Nurse Who?….Nurse Who? Nurse Who? No….Nooooooooo!

    • Brody

      Women can be doctors too in real life.
      This way of thinking is awfully misogynistic.

      And this is coming from a man, by the way.
      Like, don’t be a dick about it.
      Women can be Doctors both in real life and in this show.
      Just because it’s a girl doesn’t mean it would be a nurse.

  • andrea martinez garcia

    Christina de Souza is like female doctor

  • Ceara

    Physical sex does not equal gender. The sooner everyone realizes that, the sooner this stupid idea will go away. To put a mentally male character in a female body is cruel and fucked up. And he IS mentally male because he referred to himself as a father and a grandfather multiple times. He would not use gender-specific terms if he did not see himself as one gender or the other. Don’t change his sex, Moffat. And no one else ever needs to change it. Change his race, nationality, hair color, sexual orientation, etc. all you want but, for god’s sake, leave his sex alone.

    • Cygnus X-1

      Physical sex DOES equal gender.

      • Ceara

        No it doesn’t. Take a class in Human Sexuality and you’ll learn something. If physical sex always equaled gender, there wouldn’t be so many transgender people in the world paying thousands upon thousands of dollars to make their bodies match their minds. You can be born physically male and yet be mentally female and vice versa. Sex is biological and gender is mental. That’s why making The Doctor a female is a bad idea. He’ll be a man trapped in a woman’s body, which would be utterly devastating.

    • Tom

      I agree with you that the Doctor is a “man”, but I don’t think he need always be male. I think making the Doctor a transman could be a really good way of raising awareness of trans issues, even if it isn’t preachy.

      My ideal storyline for the next few years:
      1) Capaldi tries to find Gallifrey. After a few years and weekly distractions, he achieves it, but in doing so triggers a regeneration into Idriss Elba (who was my choice for both 11 and 12)
      2) Elba deals with the return of the Time Lords to the universe. At the end of his first series, he discovers that they’ve forced the Master to regenerate into a female body in an attempt to cure his insanity. He busts his old enemy out of his asylum and they go on the run (again). Unlike most Time Lords who transition upon regeneration, The Master is not willing to waste a regeneration to transition back, so Elba deliberately triggers a regeneration of his own to try and understand The Master’s perspective.
      3) Someone with a background in either Doctor Who or Sci Fi generally, or else an utterly world class actor who would be a total coup, takes over. I think Carey Mulligan or Suranne Jones would get an easy ride thanks to their excellent one-shot characters. Whoever it is, their Doctor is continually insistent that he is a man (though he always acknowledge his anatomy when pushed), and he is neither a stereotypical woman nor a stereotypical transman.

      • Ceara

        I guess I would be okay with that, but only if there was no psychological damage done to the Doctor and as long as the writer is competent. A sub par writer would completely ruin it.

    • you_sheep

      9th Doctor showed slight signs of being Bi(once or twice when Jack was around)

  • Chelbelle

    Me!!! Lol

  • TheMadWhovian

    I personally believe if Moffat wants a female actor or is willing to have one then let it be…..but don’t put politics into it…because that is where it gets complicated and annoying….i want doctor who to stay awesome and with Moffat doing what he wants…because we all have to admit…he is awesome at what he does and also i just wanted to point out that having a female would be quite nice…for a change but i would stick with males…in my opinion. Though it is quite stupid to think that females cant have a main role. Not as in companions but as in doctors them selves because as the doctor revealed in ‘The Doctor Wife’ that you can have male and female time lords regenerating into the different sex/gender……….

  • Ed

    A female doctor would just ruin the feel of the
    show for me. The doctor has been many different characters throughout his many
    lives, but all of them were distinctively male. Throughout his many
    regenerations he has been a mad genius, a quirky uncle, a father figure, a
    clever boy, and on and on, but nothing remotely feminine and I like him the way
    he is. Changing up his sex just for the sake of change will ruin what the show
    is about..and to me it about companions learning about who they are with the
    help of a crazy old grandfather-like alien. Don’t get me wrong, grandmothers
    can teach you a lot, but who can forget what are wacky but wise grandfather
    taught us.

  • Susan Lawn

    I don’t think that I would like a female Doctor. Men do eccentric much better and the Doctor is an eccentric, always has been 🙂 But then I didn’t like the idea of David Tennant taking over from Christopher Ecclestone at first. The only thing I had seen him in was ‘Casanova’, which I hated. Now I think David has been the best Doctor ever ! 🙂

  • Gavrilitsa Andromeda Peloponna

    marina sirtis. she’s an awesome actress.

  • Samuel

    Look – yes Doctor Who is about change. But The Doctor is a male Time Lord, and that’s how his consciousness is. That, in my opinion, should not be changed. It would change the dynamic too drastically. Here’s my solution –
    If a woman wants to play a Time Lord, then bring back Susan, and have her regenerate, just like The Doctor does. Then, when the actress for Susan decides to leave, they can replace her with another woman, just as they have replaced The Doctor with another man.
    Also – There is no way that it’s 50/50 or anything even close to that. The Doctor has been male 13 different times in a row. That’s way more than just luck-of-the-draw.
    I may sound sexist here, but I really do strongly believe that The Doctor should always remain male.

    • SarahLouise21

      I’m a female and I am not exactly fond of a female doctor, it wouldn’t feel right at this moment in time especially if it feels like they have been forced to hire one because of political correctness.

    • Jennifer Schillig

      Right. The thing is, we don’t know the circumstances in which a Time Lord might change gender. It may be that it’s only if the TL really WANTS to and has a means of controlling it. (IOW, a built-in alternative to gender reassignment surgery.) The fact that every TL we’ve seen has remained the gender they were born to, and the Doctor’s shock at the idea that he might have spontaneously changed over, could support this theory.

  • SarahLouise21

    I feel if there was a female Doctor right now it would ruin the show and therefore viewing figures down leading to cancellation.

  • Vanessa Gytha Marples

    Me. I would looovvvveeee to be the female Doctor. Omg. A lifetime ambition. Top role on my wish list.

  • Vanessa Gytha Marples

    Don’t know if my previous post went up. But meeeeeee. I want to be the female Doctor. Lifelong ambition. I would love to be the Doctor.

  • CosmicHavok

    Blah blah ranty rant blah blah sexism misogyny blah blah politics blah blah trolls blah CAST JAIME MURRAY!

  • Ryan

    Black Doctor? Fine.

  • Jami

    Patricia Routledge or Dame Judi Dench are the only two women I would consider for a female Doctor. They’re the only female actresses worthy of being the Doctor. All others are not good enough.

    Now for another male I’d like either Rufus Sewell, Alan Rickman, Michael Crawford, or Patrick Stewart.

  • Ian Bibby

    Personally I don’t care who the Doctor becomes next time, BUT I WANT IT TO BE A SURPRISE!!!.
    What is it with all the spoilers, why have an entire programme to discuss who would make a great doctor and then tell us it’s Peter Capaldi?
    In the same way as I don’t want to know someone wins a million on a quiz in advance, or that my favourite drama character is going to get killed, I don’t want to know who the doctor is until his / her / it’s face appears at the regeneration of the previous one.