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Jodie Who-ttaker? The Doctor is in

Thirteen? Thirteen? The Doctor Who fans will see you now

The timelord of Doctor Who, a man since 1963, will be portrayed by a woman – actress Jodie Whittaker – for the first time.

Peter Capaldi, Doctor number 12, will regenerate after four years in the BBC's Christmas 2017 special to take on his new, female form. We last saw Capaldi's Doctor fighting his regeneration in Series 10, Episode 12 – "The Fall of the Doctor".

Whittaker will regenerate as Doctor number 13 – unlucky for some.

Unless you've watched ITV's Broadchurch, or are a dedicated Whittaker career-watcher, you'll probably not be familiar with the West Yorkshire-born actor.

Whittaker played the doomed and dark mother Beth Latimer in Broadchurch, jointly helmed by Doctor number 10 David Tennant.

Whittaker's career dates back to 2005 with serious acting roles including Antigone at the National Theatre in 2012.

Inevitably, the decision by the creative team behind Who to cast a woman to portray a national treasure on the BBC has caused upset among certain sections of the media and Twitter, who view this as a further "concession" to political correctness.

Some fans have inevitably vowed never to watch Doctor Who again.

This produced one Mail Online headline that saw Whittaker pleading with Who snowflakers not to be "scared" of her agenda.

The reaction is all rather reminiscent of James Bond fans put out that Daniel Craig had blond hair rather than sporting the trademark black/brown thatch. Or when Dilbert went from black-and-white to colour.

Frankly, though, if you couldn't see this coming, you clearly weren't paying attention.

In the same way those in charge hunt for the next 007, each regeneration of the Doctor has been accompanied by the intense speculation about the race, gender, creed and orientation of the next Bond/Doctor: surely, now is the time for a black Bond/doctor, gay Bond/doctor, female Bond/doctor.

And why not in the case of Doctor Who? Science fiction has the freedom to challenge perceptions because of its setting outside the traditional societal confines.

Finally, at least one of those boxes been ticked and we can move on.

Moreover, the signs of what was coming were there in the penultimate episode of series 10, when The Doctor's nemesis, The Master, was confronted by his own female incarnation, Missy – played with delicious skill by Michelle Gomez.

"Will the future be all girl?" reflected John Simm's Master in a rare moment of calm. "We can only hope," mused Capaldi's Doctor. Ah.

Gomez was a brilliant move: Simm turned the silly 1980s Master into a dark and stormy hothead; Gomez turned that boy into a calculating Mary Poppins minus a conscience but armed with a wicked stream of put-downs.

Hopefully, Whittaker's casting as The Doctor will provide similar opportunity to re-examine the nation's favourite timelord. Isn't it time to depart from recent years' deep analysis of the Doctor – whether "he" is a "good" or "bad" man – and return to real spirit of Doctor Who: adventure, fun and the examination of big moral issues.

Hopefully for Whittaker and the fans, 13 is a lucky number. ®

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