The Main Problem With Modern Doctor Who, According To Sylvester McCoy

Sylvester McCoy Doctor Who BBC America

Doctor Who stars of the past are often willing to talk about the current state of the franchise, which is a good thing because they're often asked about it. Such was the case when Seventh Doctor actor Sylvester McCoy recently spoke about the state of modern Doctor Who and the qualm he's had with it.

McCoy spoke to Radio Times about the franchise, and the actor shared the qualms he has with it. Surprisingly, it's not the thing many others have voiced about Jodie Whittaker, but rather how the show handles a particular gadget.

They use the sonic screwdriver too much. It’s a bit of a crutch. I never had one. The producer decided that I shouldn’t have one because he said it was too easy for the writers to get The Doctor out of trouble. I managed to save the universe every Saturday – and without a sonic screwdriver, [so] I’m slightly critical. I don’t think they should use it all the time if you can manage without, like me – and my umbrella!

I would argue that Jodie Whittaker's Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver much less than the more recent Doctors before her, but the point is taken all the same. The gadget is often used as a convenient plot device for The Doctor to fix whatever impossible situation he/she has gotten into. As mentioned, McCoy didn't have a sonic screwdriver when he played The Doctor, but rather an umbrella that, while more useful than the average umbrella, was not quite a technological achievement.

Sylvester McCoy admitted that beyond that, he did initially have his reservations about Jodie Whittaker becoming the first female Doctor. The actor added that despite those reservations, Whittaker's performance changed his mind.

I’ve seen bits of it. I watched the opening [episode] – because one has to, you know – and I was initially kind of uncertain about it. It was stupid sexism, really, because, after 10 minutes, she was the Doctor – it didn’t make any sense even to think that one could doubt it. I sent her a message. I said, ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for womankind.

The actor may not be too keen on sonic screwdriver usage, but Sylvester McCoy does appear to be a fan of Jodie Whittaker from whenever he's checked the show out during her run. Unfortunately for Whittaker fans, however, that there are rumors Season 13 will be Whittaker's last season as The Doctor.

For now, those reports are unconfirmed, though that may be because it will be some time before Season 13 even premieres. We can only wait and see how the situation develops and perhaps get more of McCoy's opinion on how he thinks the franchise can be better.

Those looking to binge Doctor Who will have no problem doing so on HBO Max. Do you think the series uses the sonic screwdriver too much? Share your thoughts in our poll, and read up on who John Barrowman thinks should be the next Doctor.

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Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.