The excellent Doctor Who season 11 premiere seems to have exceeded fan expectations, with even the grumpiest traditionalist Whovians grudgingly admitting that the debut of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor was pretty good. Despite the season being billed as a soft reboot and a change of direction under new showrunner Chris Chibnall, arriving with the choice to avoid delving deep into the series’ tangled lore, there was one line from the premiere that’s driving fans crazy.
It comes at the end of the episode, when the Doctor’s searching for a new outfit. She’s been wearing the increasingly grungy remains of Peter Capaldi’s costume all episode, so heads into a charity shop to put together her new look. As she does so, she says “it’s been a long time since I’ve bought women’s clothing.” On the surface, it’s an innocuous line, but it might have ramifications that could shake up the foundation of the show.
One interpretation of this comment is that Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor isn’t the first female Doctor, meaning that William Hartnell wasn’t the ‘first’ Doctor at all. If true, it’d mean that there’s suddenly a whole swathe of potential ‘lost’ regenerations that the show has never previously considered. I think by the time we get to Whittaker, the character claims they’re about 2200 years old, so saying “it’s been a long time” could indicate a great deal.
The alternative take is that the Doctor has simply bought some women’s clothes for whatever reason in the past. I’m not combing through the vast history of the show, but there has to be a point where the character needed to procure a disguise for a female companion, or perhaps simply felt like getting in touch with his feminine side for a bit.
It is a notably strange line though, and it may end up having big implications as season 11 of Doctor Who continues. As such, you’d be wise to watch this space for more.