Who’s Laughing Now

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It is 1983. I am a HUGE Dr Who fan. I persuade my parents to drive me to Longleat for the ‘Twenty Years of a Timelord’ Event and this, frankly, is the moment when being a fan stops being a trivial pursuit and morphs into a full-life obsession. When Who got its much championed reboot, I watched religiously. After David Tennant arrived, I became aware however of a subtle shift in affiliation. In fact, the Christmas Day episode of 2005 was a bit of a watershed. Don’t get me wrong, I love the direction that’s been taken in the last 12 years. There is so much good to be seen and found across Nine, Ten, Eleven. It is only with Peter Capaldi’s arrival that I’ve felt a real disconnect. I’ve not watched any of the last season, choosing instead to keep up with the incoming regeneration via the Guardian’s excellent catchups on Sunday… and I know why. This is the same fundamental shift that has taken place with Bond in the last couple of years, and has nothing at all with either franchise.

All the change is within me.

Dr Who is a man. He’s been that way for decades and despite the sexual revolution that has occurred around him, that canon now establishes that John Simm can regenerate into Michelle Gomez? Nope, not gonna happen. I have as much chance of a female 007 in my lifetime as I do getting a Woman to become 13, and right now those odds are pretty fucking long. It is particularly irksome watching the Marvel and DC Universe embrace the diversity with open arms, but (of course) even that is a version of reality that’s not 100% true. It has taken this long for a female superhero to get a movie all to herself. There’s still a phenomenal amount of prejudice and stigma around what constitutes equal pay or fair treatment not simply of women, but anyone of colour other than white, or anybody with sexuality that can’t be measures in a binary fashion.

Television is the place where, across the decades, stigma has been challenged and broken. A black President in 24 was reality long before that reality ever happened. For every event that tries to paint anything other than a white man as wrong, there are countless examples of how diversity matters more than the need to maintain the artistic canon of books, TV shows or cinematic outings. Yet still, bastions of CIS masculinity remain. A decade ago I had no idea of what that term meant. Now I am better educated it becomes amusing (and at times disturbing) to watch how that definition is thrown about by different groups to justify the current state of society.

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Ah, yes, ‘normal people’ look at people like me who suggest that Dr Who could be a woman and immediately assume I’m broken, deranged and irredeemable. Heaven forbid that, after 50 plus years it might be great to stretch the dramatic reach of the character and give it to an actress or a person of colour. Nah, ‘normal’ is what we need to make sure that bad stuff stops happening and that everybody lives in harmony under God. Yeah, I get it. Nobody wants to be the person who rocks the boat, yet for a decade it has been everything else allowable and encouraged, right up to the point where we have (sorry, had) an openly gay companion. Sexual diversity is fine, but you can’t give a woman the top billing because, you know, ALWAYS A BLOKE IN CHARGE. If the upcoming regeneration brings another white actor into the TARDIS I’m outta here. An almost 45 year love affair is done and dusted.

It was great while it lasted, but it is time to move on.