Entering the (Galli)Fray over Dr Who!

Jodie_Whittaker_on_becoming_the_first_female_Doctor_Who___I_m_beyond_excited_It is now official, the long awaited news for fans of the cult TV series, Doctor Who, the new Doctor is to be played by Jodie Whittaker.  She will be the first woman to play the role and it is creating a stir – both for and against.  So a few thoughts into the (Galli)fray.

Firstly, the Doctor is an alien with two hearts. I don’t know what gender identity means on Gallifrey, but it is becoming an expanding concept on earth, broader than the binary notions I grew up with – some of which were rather restricted to say the least.

Secondly, the Doctor can regenerate. This involves the rearranging of atoms and since each successive form has looked different and displayed a few quirky characteristics, I guess the DNA may be a bit altered too.  From there chromosomes are not looking so fixed either.  Whatever the outcome here, human beings remain human beings whatever their gender – though of course the Doctor is not human.

Thirdly, the Doctor appears with a different wardrobe each time too.  Here the stereotypes start to have fun – Tardis needing room for the shoes, sonic screwdriver at the bottom of the bag along with who knows what else.  One friend said that episodes will be shorter now because a woman will fix things quicker than a man. To which her husband replied that it will take her longer to get out of the Tardis… Glad we’ve got that over with.

Fourthly, and most important of all, it’s fiction! It’s all made up. The best drama of course helps us to play with reality.  We can try things out and see where they take us.  Gender identity is a contemporary debate – how fixed it is, how binary it is.  It would be interesting to see the House of Bishops include a chapter on Doctor Who in its report on sexuality and gender identity, when it eventually sees the light of day.

So I am looking forward to what Jodie does with the part and may just ponder a few of the more serious issues above – not the shoes.



About Revd Canon Ian Black

Ian is Vicar of Peterborough, Canon Residentiary of Peterborough Cathedral and Rural Dean of Peterborough. He previously served for 10 years in Leeds, as Vicar of Whitkirk and as a member of the Chapter of Ripon Cathedral. He has also worked in Kent in Maidstone and as priest-in-charge of a group of parishes 10 miles north west of Canterbury. He was a Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, a prison chaplain and Assistant Director of Post-Ordination Training for the Diocese of Canterbury. Prior to ordination Ian had a career in tax, both with the Inland Revenue as a PAYE Auditor and a firm of Chartered Accountants as a Tax Accountant. Ian is married with two sons. He is the author of three books of prayers: Prayers for all occasions (SPCK 2011), Intercessions for Years A, B & C (SPCK 2009) and Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days (SPCK 2005). His latest book is 'Follow me: living the sayings of Jesus (Sacristy Press 2017). He has been writing online since the mid 1990s.
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