The Main Reason Why Doctor Who Chose A Female Lead For Season 11

The Doctor Jodie Whittaker Doctor Who BBC America

Much has been said about Jodie Whittaker's casting as Doctor Who's first female Doctor. We've learned how Whittaker got the job and what various actors from the beloved franchise think of her inclusion, but there hasn't been much of a full story behind the show's decision to cast a female Time Lord. Apparently, that's because there was never really much of a discussion about it, as executive producer Matt Strevens revealed the main reason we're getting a female Doctor Who lead is that it was a requirement new showrunner Chris Chibnall had before he accepted the position. In Stevens' words:

Once Peter had decided he was leaving, the next Doctor was always going to be a female Doctor. That's what Chris wanted, that was part of his conditions of doing the job.

Chris Chibnall knew from the start that he wanted a female Doctor, and he that wouldn't be replacing Steven Moffat as Doctor Who showrunner unless that demand was met. It was a bold ask, considering a gender switch of The Doctor had never officially happened in the TV show's long history, but Matt Strevens said all the decision-makers that be knew the time had come to finally get behind a female lead. As Strevens added to Digital Spy, the character of The Doctor was never defined by a gender, and the Gallifreyan might be the very definition of a gender fluid character.

Chris Chibnall got his wish, and the rest of the Doctor Who staff soon saw the show change in many ways once the new boss got comfortable leading the chaos. In short, the show will look far removed from the Steven Moffat years when it makes its Season 11 debut, to the point that Chibnall has teased an almost completely lack of familiar villains. Chibnall may have been dead-set on having a woman play The Doctor, but one could also speculate the showrunner was just as interested in doing whatever he could to shake up the series as much as possible to give new viewers a chance to get onboard.

The verdict is out on whether those changes will be well-received by the Doctor Who fanbase when the season premieres, but many of the show's alumni are confident in Chris Chibnall casting Jodie Whittaker. The actress has the stamp of approval from several of the show's former cast, including the show's past three former Doctors Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, and David Tennant. (The latter of whom was Whittaker's co-star in Broadchurch.) All seem to agree the actress' energy and emotion will be the greatest trait she brings to the Doctor, and footage from the upcoming season appears to back that up.

Doctor Who Season 11 premieres on BBC America and the BBC on Sunday, October 7. For a look at what is coming to television around that time, be sure to visit CinemaBlend's fall premiere guide.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.