Whoopi Goldberg spoke to to David Tennant, who played the tenth Doctor on Doctor Who, during the second episode of his new podcast. During the podcast, she revealed that she pitched the idea of an American version of Doctor Who with herself as the lead.
“I don’t know if I told you this last time, how I wanted to be the first female Doctor Who. And the American version of Doctor Who ends up in New York and is me. Because to me, we don’t have a Doctor Who. We [Americans] don’t have that character who is traveling through dimension and time…”
…the idea of that just so made me happy but they were like, ‘Um, no.’” So it’s like, ‘Okay. I’m cool. I understand.’”
Goldberg, a science fiction fan since childhood, retold her story to to David Tennant about how seeing Nichelle Nichols play Lt. Uhura on Star Trek was both a revelation and inspiration.
“You see this show , and if you are a movie buff, you suddenly think, ‘Oh! she looks really great. She’s the communications officer on this starship. Are we in the future anywhere else?’ And you start thinking about all of the sci-fi and, up until ‘63, we weren’t represented in science fiction. We were not in sci-fi movies. We weren’t there. So that was the first clue that we would be in the future.”
That became the impetus for her to request a role on Star Trek: The Next Generation and the show’s creator Gene Roddenberry wrote for her the role of Guinan, the wise El-Aurian bartender on the starship Enterprise, who could provide invaluable counsel to anyone who needed advice.
Goldberg spoke to LeVar Burton, who play Geordi La Forge on the show and he gave her Roddenberry’s phone number. Roddenberry, who didn’t believe at first that a movie star would want a role in his show, arranged a meeting with her.
“I come and he said, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ and I said, ‘Because, do you not know that, before Lt. Uhura, there were no black people in the future?’ He said, ‘What?!’ I said, ‘I’m telling you, before this character, there was no representation of a person of color in the future!’”
“For me it was one of the best gigs ever because Star Trek was to me a really meaningful show.”
Current Doctor Who lead Jodie Whittaker recorded a session of David Tennant Does a Podcast with… which will be available available on February 11.