Time for a change?

Peter Capaldi recently announced that he will leave his role as the 12th Doctor after the 2017 Christmas special. Source: Gage Skidmore via flickr

By Mélissa M Azombo

Whovians (fans of the hit, longest running sci-fi series Doctor Who) worldwide have expressed their disappointment at Peter Capaldi’s announced departure.

A few weeks ago, on BBC Radio 2, he told Jo Whiley it would be his last season, stating “I’ve never been in the same job for 3 years,” with his last episode planned for Christmas 2017, Christopher Eccleston style.

This news came just a few days after the devastating news that Sir John Hurt had passed away. During his incredible career playing Olivander in the Harry Potter films and featuring in Alien, he played The War Doctor in 50th Anniversary special ‘The Day Of The Doctor’. This was where Peter Capaldi made a surprise first appearance. Three years later, Peter Capaldi has called time on playing the Time Lord.

During his tenure, he delivered the inspiring speech from episode ‘The Zygon Inversion’, from Series 9, proving his acting chops and fitting for the time (being around the time of the Paris attacks of 13th November 2015). This was alongside companion Clara played by Jenna Coleman, who herself had a go at a type of portrayal of The Doctor, in Series 8 episode Flatline. This was to be taken as Moffat hint number 1.

Steven Moffat has been the showrunner of Doctor Who since Russell T Davies’ departure in 2010. He announced last year that he would be stepping down from this role with Broadchurch’s Chris Chibnall set to take over. While still writing away, Moffat introduced Doctor Who to a newly regenerated Master in the form of Missy, “short for Mistress”. The Master, last seen as John Simm, had regenerated into a woman played by Michelle Gomez. The general in Series 8 finale ‘Hell Bent’ also regenerated into a woman, who was black.

Mr Moffat has dropped all the hints. Is it time for a woman or someone of a different race to play The Doctor? All 13 other Doctors have been white men. Will series 11 bring such a change?

Ratings for the show have notably dropped since David Tennant left as The 10th Doctor. Chris Chibnall may have this in mind when he takes over and may want to change things up to try and improve this. However, viewing behaviours have changed over time, with more people delaying viewing with the introduction of BBC iPlayer. Furthermore, BBC iPlayer views are not counted in the overnight figures. Less and less people are watching television now. So, in actual fact, ratings may not affect who is cast as The Doctor (or hypothetically the next companion).

If race or gender was to be disregarded when casting the Next Doctor, who could it be?

Helena Bonham Carter has played many roles, including Bellatrix Lestrange in ‘Harry Potter’. She no doubt has the skills to portray the wondrous character of The Doctor. Eddie Redmayne has been a popular choice but he will be busy with the next four ‘Fantastic Beasts’ films for many years to come, so perhaps he could play the 20th Doctor? Richard Ayoade has also appeared on the list of possible Doctors in the past. The geeky character Moss he played in ‘The IT Crowd’ shows he could fit right into the role of The Doctor.

So, what’s stopping from the BBC? Ultimately, fans want The Doctor to be The Doctor. They want the actor to feel like the right actor. However, if casting director Andy Pryor goes by what the fans want when casting, the show may not change, as some do not want the show to move on from the 60s, commenting it’s always been a white male Doctor, so it should always stay that way. A minute on Twitter or the Doctor Who Facebook groups will show you that. Some even think it would ruin the show if a female Doctor was cast. So, what can we expect for the casting of the next Doctor?

Amidst all the speculation, rest assured Peter Capaldi is not leaving our screens for another 11 months. So, as Series 10 is set to start on 15th April, watch this space (and time) for further updates.

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