Doctor Who: Can a Time Lord regenerate into a Time Lady?
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
As Peter Capaldi prepares to bid farewell to the TARDIS, he is joined by friends and enemies, old and new, in his final series as the Twelfth Doctor.
Following his most recent adventure, battling zombified space suits in the terrifying 'Oxygen', Whovians were given a sneak peek of the next episode, Extremis.
The Time Lord, along with companions Bill and Nardole, will face an audience with the Pope as the Vatican calls for help against undead monks on the prowl.
The trailer teased the return of Missy, the villainous Time Lady, played by Michelle Gomez. Missy was formerly known as The Master, a character played by Roger Delgado, Anthony Ainley and John Simm in previous series.
The current incarnation of The Doctor's foe proves that a Time Lord can be flexible when it comes to gender during regeneration.
Head writer Steven Moffat added further confirmation about the switch between sexes during the Series 9 finale, Hell Bent, where the male General regenerated into a woman onscreen.
With no casting confirmed for Peter Capaldi's replacement, various names have been linked with the role in the long running sci-fi series: from Ben Whishaw to Rory Kinnear, Kris Marshall to even Eastenders actor Danny Dyer.
Joining the bookies' favourites have been potential female replacements, including Tilda Swinton, Olivia Colman and Fleabag actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
As Newsweek notes, the role of The Doctor, like fellow cultural institution James Bond, has been the reserve of white, male actors. During an interview with Peter Capaldi, the actor said when he hands over his sonic screwdriver, his replacement should be a reflection of society.
He said: “I think it’s important the show reflects the times. The world’s in a tough place at the moment and the Doctor is a hero for all times.
"So I think he, or she, or it - because he’s not a human being - should reflect the times. But it also has to be somebody who works within the creative hub of the show.”
Metro uses the example of getting your teeth pulled when it comes to appointing a female Doctor Who:
"For many people, a female Doctor is like having a tooth pulled. It probably won’t be as bad as we think, but our heads are buzzing with a dozen nightmare scenarios. And the longer we put it off, the worse it gets, and the harder it is to accept that things might be better afterwards."
Doctor Who has not shied away from politics in its 54-year history, covering gay rights, racism and in the previous episode, capitalism. As the actors change over time, so do the attitudes. A female Doctor Who is no more improbable than the Time Lord's thousand-year age, travel through time and space in a police box, and the alien races the Gallifreyan encounters along the way.
Doctor Who returns in Extremis on BBC One this Saturday.