Peter Capaldi’s announcement that he would be handing on his key to the TARDIS at the end of the year has of course begun the speculation of who will be the next incarnation. But what qualities might incoming show-runner Chris Chibnall be looking for?
Since the announcement from Peter Capaldi that the 2017 Christmas Special would be his last debate has raged about potential replacements. Curiously many of the names being thrown around include bona fide movie stars such as Eddie Redmayne, Rupert Grint and Helena Bonham Carter. But fear not. This is not one of those articles. What we are more interested in pondering is what kind of Doctor might number 13 be?
The Gender Question
With a new Doctor comes the renewed debate over whether or not the gender of the Doctor should be changed or not. Many favour it. Others are more sceptical. It is not a new debate. The fact that only The Doctor and James Bond are played by multiple actors means that it is regularly speculated about the potential of changing the lead actor to a lead actress. In reality, Doctor Who would become a very different show with a lead actress. However, the recent Ghostbusters movie starring four female leads received a positive reaction from critics.
Steven Moffat has been deliberate in his time as Head Writer to state that Time Lord genders can change. An alien race so advanced they probably wouldn’t notice such a stark adjustment in physical appearance. It wouldn’t generate much debate at all. However, for us puny humans, it is heavily discussed. There is no question that making The Doctor a woman would drastically alter the dynamics of the show. Some would argue that such a dramatic change is needed in a show perceived to have stagnated. Casting a female Doctor would be a bold move and a bit of a gamble because the untried and untested always has an element of risk attached. What is likely, however, is that there will be a very different portrayal of the Doctor for 2018.
Older or Younger?
Rumours persist that senior BBC opinion favours a youthful Doctor and companion combination. Tradition does dictate that the next incarnation of the Time Lord differs from the previous one. Sometimes dramatically. It does seem highly unlikely that a new record for the oldest actor to take on the role will be set. William Hartnell and Capaldi currently hold the title of 55 years of age when cast. Given the frankly brutal filming schedule for a Doctor Who series, this might also rule out more senior actors. So, therefore, the likelihood is that we will have younger Doctor. A younger actor will, of course, bring an energetic vibrancy which will hopefully appeal to viewers of all ages. Similarly, it seems particularly important that the Thirteenth Doctor is likeable from the outset.
When Peter Capaldi began his tenure as the Twelfth Doctor the decision was made to make him more alien, at least initially. He was not a hugger. He was cold and blasé about human beings. Hardly ideal when you’re attempting to attract viewers that are also human. At the time critics and fans were pleased with a fresh direction away from the immediately popular Tenth and Eleventh incarnations. Now, however, this strategy of making the new Time Lord unlikable seems to have deterred younger viewers in particular from embracing the show. Continuing the variation from the previous Doctor once again it would seem like number 13 will attempt to be a fan favourite that will also appeal to the wider general public.
Unlucky Number 12?
A different incarnation of the Doctor should in no way be considered an indication that Peter Capaldi’s portrayal was unsuccessful. The Twelfth Doctor regularly astounded viewers with powerful dramatic performances, light comedic touches and even rocking with an electric guitar whilst stood on a tank. In the end what is needed to be found in the next incarnation of the Doctor is a fine actor.
Perhaps someone like Peter Capaldi? He might be free in 2018…