Jodie Whittaker Isn’t Really Doctor Who’s First Female Lead, And Here’s Why

Admittedly, this will be the first time that a female actor has been given the formal title of The Doctor, but we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t see that the show has mostly been led by its female characters since the 2005 revival. Doctor Who would not be the series it is today were it not for a slew of impressive female stars leading the narrative through all manner of twists and turns.

True, the Companion characters have most often been female ever since the show’s origin, but the depth of that role is far more significant in the modern iterations. Nowadays, having a female character adventuring with the Doctor is less about an on-the-nose appearance of balance and more about actual, evolving relationships.

Think back to the re-introduction, now more than a decade ago, where Billie Piper brought Rose Tyler to life alongside Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor. Rose’s story was one that ran through the title character’s regeneration into David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and the relationship between the two, though admittedly romantic at the end, was the crucial driver of events in these episodes.

Rose’s human compassion and empathic approach to problem solving often jarred against the Doctor’s alien mindset, with this being especially apparent between Rose and Nine. The relationship between the two is eventually what forces the Doctor to regenerate for the first time in the revival as he sacrifices his ninth form to save her from dying.

Rose also provided the first helpful hint that the companion character had become far more of a leading light in Doctor Who since the series returned. When Sarah Jane Smith reappears in the Doctor’s life and refers to Rose as his “assistant” in conversation, she’s immediately agitated and rebuffs the assertion. The assistant was formerly a standard address for the Doctor’s travelling companion, but the clear abandonment of the term in 2006 was intended to show viewers that the Doctor is not the sole star anymore in the new Who.