Doctor Who made waves when Jodie Whittaker was cast as the Thirteenth Doctor, the first time an actress had played the face-changing Time Lord in 50 years of the sci-fi institution. As expected, this started a conversation about opening the door for other iconic male roles being recast with a woman, too.
The obvious comparison is that other 50-something year old British hero, James Bond. While the part of the super secret agent is much more traditionally masculine than the Doctor, there’s still a lot of talk about it happening. In fact, longtime series producer Barbara Broccoli has even said that it’s entirely possible the role could be played by a black actor or actress next time.
While speaking with Variety at San Diego Comic-Con, one of the new Doctor Who cast gave their support to the idea of a female James Bond. The interviewer asked the Who crew which other characters they would like to see gender-swapped, and Mandip Gill – who plays the Doctor’s new friend Yasmin Khan – suggested: “What about a Jane Bond?”
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Of course, not everyone agrees with the idea of gender-swapping and, interestingly, it seems that Jodie Whittaker herself isn’t overly fond of the idea. When she was asked to choose a character, the new Doctor explained that she would prefer it if most roles were simply opened up to both genders rather than specifically targeting just one.
“I think if we just cast who we think is right for the job. Just start there. And then every door is open to everyone and then we don’t have to be defined by the “box-tick” bits. If we treated every role… obviously some are gender-specific, that’s not something to shy away from… But, in regards to diversity or anything like that, just audition an actor and say “who’s the best person for the role?” It should be that simple and it kind of slightly blows our minds that it sometimes isn’t that simple.”
That’s a reasonable argument from Whittaker, though ironically, it’s not exactly how she came to be the cast as the Thirteenth Doctor. Having decided that he wanted the part to be taken on next by a woman, new Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall’s said that he only auditioned actresses, of which Whittaker proved to be the standout. Perhaps for the Fourteenth Doctor and beyond, then, the casting process will become truly gender-neutral.