For those of you who don’t know, the BBC announced the casting of the 13th Doctor this afternoon. Because of work travel, I still haven’t seen the end of this season, but it’s been magnificent so far. Ever since the beginning of this Doctor’s run, I knew we were watching something special.
I’m still “relatively” new to Doctor Who, having only started watching 5 years ago. I’ve been trying to keep up with New Who while also watching Classic Who – to varying degrees of success. Because Jon Pertwee is my favorite Classic Doctor, it’s no surprise to me that I have loved every moment of Peter Capaldi’s turn at the helm of the Tardis.
In any case, for those of you who do not know me well, I have three daughters – triplets actually – who just turned 13. They’ve been watching Doctor Who with me ever since I started. I’ve seen them grow up with Who in the background – ensuring that episodes that were “too scary” weren’t on while they were watching. One out of the three still doesn’t want to see any episodes with the Weeping Angels – she (rightly) thinks they’re too frightening.
I’ve got one daughter who dotes on the 10th and another who loves Matt Smith as 11. I even have one daughter who – due to a stubborn anti-conformity streak – still orders shirts with the 9th Doctor whenever we buy new gear.
Regardless of the fact that we haven’t finished the new season, we all knew that this was Capaldi’s last season and have been talking about his replacement. Because my daughters are huge Harry Potter fans, we’ve been mostly talking about what it would be like if the various actors from that series took on the mantle of the Doctor.
Tonight, it started to “get real” because we knew we were going to see the announcement. Each of my girls started to get her hopes up for what type of Doctor number 13 would be. Old or young? Funny or serious? And, it even came up – boy or girl?
Let me interrupt my own self to give my position on the casting of the 13th Doctor. I watched live for the casting of Capaldi as the 12th Doctor. There was a lot of online vitriol at that time about casting “another white male” as the Doctor.
To be candid, my position tonight when watching the casting news was the same as it was 3 years ago. I just wanted – and I still want – whatever is best for the story. I’ve been a firm believer that – no matter who is cast as The Doctor – all that matters is whether it’s an awesome space-time adventure.
Watching the reveal, I had goosebumps. Walking through the forest / meadow, obviously wearing the 12th Doctor’s clothes, we all knew we were on the verge of a tremendous reveal. Like everyone, we wanted to know who would inherit the key to the Tardis.
When the Doctor pulled back the hood and revealed Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor, my youngest daughter (by 90 seconds, they are triplets after all) jumped out of her seat and shouted “Yes!”
“YES!” Her emotion hit me right in my heart. She was so overjoyed to see the new Doctor.
It was at that moment that I understood how much it meant to her that this character – one that she adored as much as I did – was going to be a strong, female lead for a show we both love. This is a show that has “hit me straight in the feels” multiple times through the Tennant / Smith eras. But this time, it wasn’t just about the show and how it affected me. I could see how much it made a difference for my own daughter and how much happiness she had that the Doctor was just like her.
And, at that moment, I pulled the classic dad move – I pretended I had something in my eye and then proceeded to the bedroom to cry my eyes out. Even typing this now and thinking back on the exact moment, I’m crying like a little baby.
So, while I was ambivalent before the casting, I am thankful that my three daughters are so excited that the Doctor – a character who can literally be any race or gender – is finally a woman.
Good luck to the new creative team. You have high expectations to live up to. Your stories have to be as good – or better than – the previous run. My girls have high expectations of the new Doctor. Please don’t let us down.
For now, I’m planning to watch the Christmas Special with my three girls – and a box of tissues nearby for all the tears of joy I’ll be crying.
Thank you once again Doctor Who, for opening my eyes to the wonders of the universe – and to the emotions in my own home.