Jodie Whittaker makes history as the first female doctor on ‘Doctor Who’

Courtesy of BBC

Jodie Whittaker has made television history by becoming the world’s first female Doctor Who. Whittaker took over for Peter Capaldi, who played the doctor in “Doctor Who” during its 12th incarnation in 2014.

The popular classic science-fiction program is able to reboot with new actors in the lead role because of the fictional doctor’s ability to evolve his or her biology and appear as many different people throughout the series.

When the British Broadcasting Corporation announced in late 2017 that Whittaker would be playing the next version of the lead character in “Doctor Who” in season 11 in late 2017, the public’ reaction was mixed.

However, the pilot episode drew 8.2 million viewers when it aired in the United Kingdom and attracted 40.1 percent of British television viewers, a huge success for any television episode.

Michael Eaton, professor of film studies and production, said BBC is the latest major network to be more intentional about female leads.

“Female leads are all the rage at the moment with Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel,” Eaton said. “It’s really about the BBC jumping on the Marvel bandwagon of female leads in TV and movies.”

Aviel Mavila, sophomore biomedical sciences major, has been devoted to “Doctor Who” for five years and said he is excited for the newest season.

“I have seen five different actors’ portrayal of Doctor Who,” Mavila said. “Doctor Who is unique because of how each actor has the opportunity to make the doctor his or her own.”

Regarding the changes to the new season, Mavila said the change to a female lead was timely.

“It should be really interesting to see Doctor Who as a woman because the show has always been about history,” Mavila said. “Equality and women’s rights have been a significant part of this time, which will one day be history.”

The television industry has not always been so intentional about casting female leads.

“Older actresses will tell you that a female star as the top-billed talent in television was rare just a decade ago, and the star score is still dominated by men,” Eaton said. “However, Hollywood is working hard to fix the problem.”

James Ustick, sophomore mechanical engineering major, said he has watched all the seasons of “Doctor Who” multiple times. Though he likes the moral themes of each episode and the science-fiction aspects, Ustick said he is choosing not to watch the newest season.

“The show has veered away from its roots, removing the clever, know-all (original) doctor who is powerful and fears no man with a doctor who fears any slightly sexist remark or statement that is not politically correct,” Ustick said.

“It would have been interesting to see a woman doctor but the approach the show has taken with the added character is too politically loaded for me to enjoy.”

Despite the mixed reactions, the newest season of “Doctor Who,” which aired Oct. 7, was certified “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, scoring a rating of 95 percent from the professional critics.

New episodes of “Doctor Who” starring Jodie Whittaker air on BBC America on Sunday at 8 p.m.

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