The Master did it, after all, so why not the Doctor? We all know that Peter Capaldi will pass the TARDIS on to the next actor when he leaves Doctor Who after the current season, but we still don’t know who that actor (or actress) will be. TV star Hayley Atwell had been interested in the role for some time but recently removed her name from the drawing hat, realizing the role apparently wasn’t her thing. “I don’t want to play it,” she says outright. “No. It’s just not my thing, but I really respect it. I’m a big fan of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, though. She plays the lead in Fleabag. There were talks of her being the next Doctor, and she’s so funny and eccentric and unique; she’d be great. I can’t really see anyone other than her playing it.”
So, uh, anyone ever heard of Fleabag?
With Agent Carter – I mean Hayley Atwell – out of the running, all we really have to go on are a miles-high list of fan choices and an equally high list of actors interested in taking on the role. Having Doctor Who turn to a female lead has become a popular opinion among the fan base, but how likely is it to happen? Less than you might think.
Doctor Who isn’t just about the TV show. There’s physical merchandise to push in addition to that, and BBC’s primary concern absolutely has to be its target demographic. Who would get more merch off the shelves, a male or female Doctor? How would a woman affect the ratings just by being a woman? One might be tempted to think it would draw in more female viewers, but that’s not necessarily the case – Doctor Who is already a household name (the irony of that statement…) among men and women. On the flip side, would a certain percentage of fans find it harder to identify with their favorite time traveler as a result of such a major change? Moreover, one of the biggest factors is simply which actor slides into the role the smoothest, and that’s what makes another male lead more likely to happen.
The Doctor has only ever been male, which gives male actors an advantage in filling the shoes. They have less of a weight on their shoulders and can devote more energy to loosening up and feeling natural. That’s not to say a woman wouldn’t perform as well – quite the opposite, there are plenty of actresses who would absolutely kill it. But it’s a combination of all of these factors that tip the scales in favor of the Doctor continuing to be a guy and a younger one at that. You never know though. Only time(lords) will tell.