Print Edition - 2017-02-02  |  Life & Style

Doctor Who fans call for black or female actor as new Time Lord

- The guardian, London

Feb 2, 2017-

Doctor Who fans have called on the programme’s new lead writer to seize the opportunity to appoint a black or female actor as the 13th incarnation of the Time Lord, following the announcement that Peter Capaldi is leaving.

The current Doctor will regenerate in this year’s Christmas special, with Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall, who will take over the reins in 2018, being urged by some viewers to take the programme in a new direction.

A formal decision by Chibnall and the BBC is not due for months, but online speculation has focused on Homeland and Supergirl actor David Harewood, the IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade, Olivia Colman—who starred in Broadchurch, and Ben Whishaw— who plays Q in the James Bond films.

It is not the first time that the subject of Doctor Who and diversity has been aired. Current writer Steven Moffat said the role was previously offered to a black actor but “for various reasons, it didn’t work out”. Pearl Mackie, whose father is from the West Indies, has been cast as the Doctor’s companion, and Moffat said it would be “amazing” for the show to have two non-white leads.

Harriet Harman, the former Labour deputy leader and prominent women’s rights campaigner, said Capaldi had been an excellent Doctor. “Of course there should be a female Doctor Who, but what we need is a man as her assistant,” Harman added. “She has got to tell him what to do. He will need that leadership.”

Boyd Hilton, entertainment director of heat magazine and TV and film reviewer for BBC Radio 5, said: “I would be absolutely delighted if it was a black or female actor. All of the doctors since the revival have been first-class actors.

The Guardian’s critic Mark Lawson said that Chibnall had an “obvious opportunity” to do something different at a time of urgent debate in British TV about diversity. “It seems likely that Charlotte Moore, BBC TV’s director of content, will at least want a conversation about whether the gender and race of the character played by a dozen white men so far is written in stone tablets somewhere in the galaxy,” Lawson wrote.

Chibnall will be taking over Doctor Who at a time when ratings have fallen dramatically. The show’s last series pulled in about 6 million viewers on average—far below the average of 8 to 12 million that had become the norm since Russell T Davies’s 2005 reboot of the show. Capaldi has attributed this loss to the BBC’s decision to air the family-focused show at a later time.

Published: 02-02-2017 09:05

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