Once more. TimeLORD.
And yet, here it is again, the question that has regenerated more than the last child of Gallifrey himself.
What if the next Doctor was a woman?
Apparently sci-fi fans reckon that Helena Bonham Carter would be the perfect choice because, to (almost) quote from the last series of the sci-fi show "if she had any more taudry quirks, she could open a taudry quirk shop."
Well, they're wrong. I'll tell you who the perfect choice for the first female Doctor is.
Can you imagine the last series if David Tennant had morphed into Helena? Or anyone else for that matter?
"What are those on your feet?" "Sling-backs. I wear sling-backs now. Sling-backs are cool."
And sorry, but I don't see the Doctor being able to force his way through a locked door using sonic GHDs, let alone park the Tardis (or the "It's blue, don't ask me what make and model") in a small space.
And the Doctor doesn't just regenerate when he is "killed". He can also regenerate because of old age. Surely a woman would want to regenerate at the first sign of a grey hair or bags under the eyes?
Of course I'm being deliberately provocative. The above are not my views of women (I borrowed them from a guy in the office. Shall I post his mobile number?). No, my objections to the nonsense that the next Doctor, or the next next Doctor, should be a woman are a lot more simple.
Again for emphasis: TimeLORD.
I may have some truck with the calls for a female Doctor if it were not for the fact - well established to anyone who has actually follows the series - that there are TimeLADIES. Or at least there were. Til the Doctor went and killed them all. "Timeladies, eh? Can't live with 'em, can't kill 'em. Well you can. But you have to do it 14 times. Unless you wipe them out in a Time War."
For goodness' sake the Doctor even travelled with a Timelady. Romana was companion to the fourth Doctor. She even got to do the cool Gallifrey thing. Yep, she regenerated. Contract disputes in most workplaces don't end that brilliantly.
Can you imagine how complicated life on Gallifrey would have been if Timelords could become women and Timeladies could become men? One minute you're happily married, the next minute your wife trips over a Tonka toy, falls down the stairs, breaks her neck, goes all glowy and suddenly you're facing a rather large lifestyle choice. Or forced to throw yourself down said stairs in the hope you'll get lucky.
The latest to flag-up the female Doctor is sci-fi magazine SFX, responsible for the poll which put HBC top. But they're not the first. When news that Tennant was leaving the show emerged, the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science Engineering and Technology - or the catchy UKRCWSC (a cousin of Davros, I believe) – said the next Doctor should be a woman to raise the profile of females in science.
Well thank you for being so patronising. Because of course a TV character can only be a good role model if it's the lead role, right?
The truth is, there are a lot of strong female role-models in Doctor Who. Jo Grant worked for UNIT, Sarah-Jane Smith was an investigative journalist (don't mention the sonic lipstick), Peri was a botany student (excuse me UKRCWSC, botany is science, isn't it?). More recently, Martha Jones was, oh what was it now? Oh yeah, a female doctor(!)
Let's look at the reboot companions, shall we? Rose: Kid from a council estate. Saves the Doctor and the world. Martha: Saves the Doctor and the world. Donna: the woman with no self confidence who, hold on, saves the Doctor and the UNIVERSE.
And then there's the mysterious River Song (played gleefully by Alex Kingston) who's been popping up since David Tennant was flying around in the blue box. In the new series we apparently find out who she is - and the internet is alive with speculation that she is, in fact, a Timelady, The Doctor's wife? The Doctor's mother? The Doctor's daughter? Could be.
The point being female roles in Doctor Who are good roles. I don't care about the Doctor's skin colour. I don't care about the Doctor's hair colour ("Tell me: Am. I. Ginger?"). I don't care about the Doctor's age. I do care about the Doctor being male. The Doc is the nutty professor, the eccentric old grandfather, even in a young man's body. And ever should he remain.
At least someone seems to be talking sense. At the launch of the latest series Kingston said of the idea that a woman Doctor could need to pop to space M&S to have a Bradis fitted: "I think the Doctor will always stay a male. I can't imagine it."
Amen to that, River. If that is, in fact, your real name...