Doctor Who is Back! Why Everyone is Hyped about the New Series

By Jennifer Allen

Ok so if you've been reading any of my articles in Saathee up to this point, you'll realize that I'm a bit of a nerd. If it's geeky, I either love it, have tried it, or at least heard of it. That being said, one of the newest bits of geek news is that Doctor Who is returning to television this fall.

While Doctor Who has been on the air on and off since late 1963 (yes, it's three years older than Star Trek) it has almost always had a similar premise. An alien who looks human travels through time and space with companions (most of the time human) in a machine shaped like a British Police Box. The actor occasionally changes as do the companions who travel with him, but some parts of the mythos stay the same. There's always a Doctor, there's always at least one companion to go on wacky adventures with him, there's (almost) always a TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), and there's always a Sonic Screwdriver tucked somewhere in his pocket for emergencies.

Now let's back up a moment. As I said there's always a Doctor. So far 13 (or 16, depending on who you ask) different actors have been The Doctor. It's now become a standard question with all Whovians (Doctor Who fans) to ask, “So who was your first Doctor?" Often the answer shows the age of the fan in question, but not always since older episodes were available in syndication in the States throughout the 1980's and 90's.

I started watching when Tom Baker was in the role. He's the one most people associate with The Doctor before the revival of the show in 2005. The brown fedora, long colorful scarf, and the curly brown hair made him look just a little bit off from how a normal person would look. In fact that became a trait with a lot of The Doctors over the years. Each incarnation would wear at least one article of clothing that made him a tad eccentric. The Doctor after Tom Baker (Peter Davison) wore a piece of celery on his lapel. Matt Smith (The Eleventh Doctor) often wore bowties and a fez hat.

Why did the regeneration thing come about? Well it started as something rather practical, actually. The original actor to play The Doctor was William Hartnell. Sadly after three years of playing the iconic role, the actor's health started to deteriorate. Instead of simply recast an actor to play Hartnell's version, they decided to have The Doctor “regenerate" after a near fatal circumstance. Instead of dying, The Doctor simply changes (and therefore heals himself) to a new “life". Patrick Troughton then became the Second Doctor and this tradition continues all the way until today.

One thing that remained constant with the show is that The Doctor in each regeneration was a man. Probably a product of the times the show was produced in, and maybe a bit of the British mindset. We all expected the next actor to be a man. It was an unwritten rule that if the Time Lord (the alien race from which The Doctor is from) is born as a specific gender, then they remain that gender through each regeneration. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that it was discovered (with a fellow Time Lord known as The Master) that regenerations can change genders.

And so when the last actor to play The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) decided to step down, the world was in frenzy about who would become the new version of our favorite Time Lord. Then a little 15 second clip hit the internet. A slim figure wearing combat boots and a black hoodie/trench coat combo was seen walking in the woods very slowly. Eventually this figure turned and their hands came up to remove the hood. We saw some blonde hair, we saw blue eyes, and then we saw that this person was… a woman.

Finally!

And now it is official. Actress Jodie Whittaker is our new Doctor. Considering the most recent shift in the entertainment world to focus even more on female leads in Science Fiction and Fantasy, this couldn't have been better timed. There had been talks before about casting a woman, but they always fell through. Now we have a new strong female lead to watch and experience adventures with, and she's from one of the longest running Sci-Fi properties in modern history.

But new show runners of Doctor Who decided that simply changing the main character's gender wasn't enough to garner Whovian excitement. They've also added three new companions to go with her. Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, and Mandip Gill will be tagging along. Not only is this the first time for a companion to be an older character (Bradley Walsh is in his late 50's), it is also the first time that we'll see a South Asian companion with Mandip Gill playing Yasmin Khan.

I think Gill's addition to the show along with writer Vinay Patel (who wrote the 2016 TV film/documentary Murdered by My Father) will finally give South Asians a face and a voice that has sorely been lacking in mainstream television. With Patel along as one of the writing team, I'm sure that his insight will keep Gill's character from becoming too “stereotypically Indian" and simply as a strong woman travelling along with another strong (and somewhat goofy) woman.

So sit back, grab some popcorn and of course your Sonic Screwdriver, and prepare for the return of Doctor Who to television on October 7, 2018. Let's see how many more milestones they'll achieve as we cross through time and space with these intriguing new characters.

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Jennifer Allen works at Saathee and is also a Podcaster, Blogger, Photographer & Graphic Artist.