BBC’s Response To Doctor Who Complaints: Deal With It

BBC’s Response To Doctor Who Complaints: Deal With It
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

This week, the BBC unveiled the identity of the 13th Doctor, and as with all Doctor Who castings, there was inevitable complaining — some more than usual however, because the 13th Doctor is Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor. Today the BBC released its official response to the complaints, and it’s basically, “It’s canon, so deal with it.”

Image: Still via YouTube

As a public broadcaster, part of the BBC’s duty is to issue formal responses to complaints from the viewing public after a certain number of complaints about a given subject have been submitted. This can include everything from complaints as minor as sound levels in drama shows to allegations of political bias in news coverage — and, sometimes, it can concern people angry at something that’s happened in Doctor Who, like the time back in 2010 when the BBC had to assure people that the show does not have an anti-redhead agenda after Matt Smith’s newly-regenerated Doctor appeared to some as dismissive of redheads when lamenting that he wasn’t one (yes, really).

Its latest complaint response is in a slightly different manner, however, addressing displeasure that, after 54 years of men playing the role, the next incarnation of the Doctor will be female. The BBC’s response is short and polite, but it’s basically a reminder to fans that a) this is a TV show about a shapeshifting alien from a planet of shapeshifting aliens, and b) Doctor Who has clearly established the canonicity of a Time Lord’s ability to regenerate into either male or female forms:

Since the first Doctor regenerated back in 1966, the concept of the Doctor as a constantly evolving being has been central to the programme. The continual input of fresh ideas and new voices across the cast and the writing and production teams has been key to the longevity of the series.

The Doctor is an alien from the planet Gallifrey and it has been established in the show that Time Lords can switch gender.

They even added a bonus reminder that hey, Jodie Whittaker is a damn good actor:

As the Controller of BBC Drama has said, Jodie is not just a talented actor but she has a bold and brilliant vision for her Doctor. She aced it in her audition both technically and with the powerful female life force she brings to the role. She is destined to be an utterly iconic Doctor.

We hope viewers will enjoy what we have in store for the continuation of the story.

So there you have it: Jodie’s getting the TARDIS key, and that’s quite all right with the BBC. If only it were all right with everyone else.


  • The only thing that bothers me is we are due a Valeyard.

    I liked JW in Attack the Block, so I’m keen.

  • I saw a lot of people complaining that they were worried that the BBC had only done it under pressure from the social justice sphere, not so many complaining purely because she was female.

    Just like Startrek, this is a small minority being blown way out of proportion.

    • Some people tend to use such complaints as a front to remain resistant.
      But it’s true, any rational person should know that the loudest people in this argument are, even combined, a minority.

      I was gonna launch in to a rant but your a comic guy, it’s like this..
      I just finished catching up on Thor and branched off on the new run.
      Female Thor with a twist, I like it, starts off pretty solid.
      Then it gets in your face about the whole deal in some pretty cringeworthy moments that could’ve been easily achieved with some actual writing.
      Why waste panels attacking those who aren’t likely going to read the book?
      I’m reading the book, can we please get on with some actual story..
      (Thor vs Odinson though, damn)

      • I think Marvel is in an odd place right now, if they actually slowed down on the events and dropped pushing their agenda super hard it could be really good (I have really warmed up to Empire), but I feel like they have a chip on their shoulder now and its going to culminate to something really bad during generations.

        Then I watch DC try another form of progressive story telling by building up minority characters (Dark Matter looks awesome and I really like Duke), they show that it is possible without pissing off large portions of the fan base.

    • No. They respond by saying that people WANT microtransactions and they are only giving people what they want! 😛

  • I’ve got absolutely no problem with this, hoping she’s a good enough Doctor to get me back into the show after Capaldi ruined it for me.

    • I think Capaldi was fine… the writing and the episodes themselves on the other hand were pretty bad,

    • Capaldi was great! The writing was… not as great.

      He also had one of my favourite post-regeneration moments. Tennant’s “What kind of man am I?” schtick was a bit cringe-worthy (even if he is my favourite Doctor), Smith’s, “Fish-fingers and custard! Aren’t I quirky?!” was almost as nauseatingly twee as the rest of the start of that series, but Capaldi’s Doctor had the best line.

      “Oh, no, that’s good. It’s good I’m Scottish. I’m Scottish. I am Scottish! I can complain about things, I can really complain about things.”

  • In all fairness.. it was only “established” like 5 years ago or something…

    As long as she does a good job, I don’t care. I’m interested to see if the companion will continue to be a female, or will that change also? As much as I didn’t care for Bill in the current season, I enjoyed the lack of “sexual tension” between the Doctor and his companion. Allowed for a greater amount of growth for the relationship as a whole and for each individual.

    • In all fairness.. it was only “established” like 5 years ago or something…

      Yeah but in over 50 odd years of the show running as they have built up some rules around Time Lords and how they operate, never have they specifically stated that a Time Lord CAN’T change gender when regenerating.

      They also never said it CAN happen until more recently, but it has never been ruled out.

  • And rightfully so. There is nothing more hilarious that people complaining about something being PC and catering to blah blah… when the target of their fury is a 54 year old show that has always been about a person who spends their life saving people who cant save themselves. (often literal ‘spends’ their life to that pursuit). Who uses words and intelligence and more than a little serendipity, to save the world, anything other than violence and guns. A person who treats everyone equally and with respect and instead of hating his enemies tries to understand what motives them, trying to reason and respect them, anything except straight up hate.

    So basically it has been PC for decades before the people who use terms like snowflake, SJW and like were even born, and learned how to downvote or use an angry emoji.

    I am an old school fan who never wanted a female Doctor, for no other reason than I thought it was silly, then Missy came along and realised just how ridiculous and moronic my idea was, ‘just cos’ is hardly a reason to hold back the future… bring it on Jodie, I am ready…

    • What’s moronic is that a fictional character who dies and is reinvented into a completely different person every few seasons, as a fundamental aspect of his/her character, has never before been a woman. It’s not like the doctor’s penis is somehow the only part of his/her body that is set in concrete when the rest of the body regenerates into someone entirely new.

      • I dunno, until now it always made sense to me. Have they ever specified how Time-lord reproduction even works? I mean, if it’s like humans then I’m sure he was born out of a womb and didn’t ‘regenerate’ out of one. So then he was born a man, and regenerated into one over 10 times so canon or not, this certainly feels like a brand new variation over expectations.

        • The book canon is Timelords are made in looms that store their genetic information. Made from a combination of old timelords in their houses history.
          It’s never been discussed in the show though.

          • Well I hope the show discusses it. Nothing wrong with a woman Doctor, but when it flips over like a switch it’d be nice to see a diegetic acknowledgement, if they hadn’t already done so wit the Master (I am behind on the show).

        • One the one hand, he does remark that it’s interesting that he keeps taking the form of a human male with ears he doesn’t like when he could theoretically come back in any kind of body with any number of appendages… but it’s also important to remember the number one rule when it comes to canon and The Doctor, and using anything he’s said as a source:

          Rule 1: The Doctor Lies.

        • the doctor once commented that he could regenerate with two head or none.. and romana briefly regenerated into a different species.. so its all over the place 😀

          haha consistent lore never was a strong point of the show 😀

  • The biggest problem I have is this.

    The actual god dam writing.

    Season 10, in my option, completely screwed the poach with it. Bill, who BBC said was going to be a black (cos the actor) and a les when they announced her, at the same time said that those things would not be her whole character… However, if you look at S10, that’s really all Bill becomes. A black lesbian who has to tell everyone shes a les every chance she gets, even when it has no baring on the story AT ALL. Hell, making those Romans in to bi or gays was just silly, as it did nothing to the story as a whole. The only time I actually FELT like she needed to say she was a les, was the hunted house ep where the guy was trying to get in her pants. That was it TBH. As for saying she was black… not needed. We all have eyes. And it was not needed for Martha, so I don’t know why it was needed for Bill.

    So, my fear is this. They focus TO MUCH on The Dr. being a girl, and pointing it out, to the point where it basically becomes ‘Look, A GIRL AS THE DR. SHOW!’ and they just completely kill it. Now, thankfully, we do have a new show runner, and he plans to run things in the US style, where all the writers collaborate on episodes, so over all it should be a more consistent show, lore wise. But then, part of the attraction of the show was its complete contempt for its own lore, so….

    Anyway, Jodie Whittaker is a good choice. Shes got the acting chops to pull it off, and I don’t think there would be to many women who could pull of being the FIRST Female Doc, so I am keen to see how things go. Its just really going to come down to the writing. If they can’t pull that of, then Dr. Who could tank.

    • I tend to agree. Moffat did the same with Jenny and Madame Vastra constantly reminding us that they’re married. They can be married and it’s not a problem in itself, but the problem is that Moffat era episodes tend to lay it on so thickly and unnaturally. I prefer more subtlety when trying to convey a positive message rather than bringing the show to a halt at times and making artifical moments that dont mesh well with the plot.

    • I feel the same way. The show writing plays a big part.
      Jack Harkness (DW and torchwood) and Iianto (Torchwood) show us that they are capable of writing characters in gay relationships.
      Rose and River Song show us they are capable of writing strong female parts.

      They seem to have dropped the ball on both fronts recently.

  • The media are the ones trying to make a big deal out of this, not the five people on twitter. I have never watched the show and my interactions with female fans of the show has convinced me to never watch it. They are next level insane those people.

  • Any announcement like this will inevitably bring out the trolls and MRA dickheads but the majority of people don’t really care. I don’t see how this is news, smacks more of the media creating provocation where there potentially isn’t any.

  • So this is Ghostbusters all over again.

    Female cast announced, 20% cheer and are ultra happy, 70% don’t care and 10% complain.

    The more… agenda based online news outlets start posting news stories for clicks saying the 10% represent the other 70%.

    Company responsible for the movie/show see that this is making news and see it as free advertising. They run with it.

    • I don’t think it’s comparable to Ghostbusters. For that, most complaints were that messing with long-established characters for the sake of cashing in on modern social trends is awful. I didn’t like the change personally, but I also wouldn’t have liked it if they’d turned the team into dudebros or anything else too far out of keeping with established canon. And in the end it really was just a gimmick, the film itself was bad and even critical response was tepid.

      Doctor Who on the other hand, I don’t know if there’s ever been a character more likely to be able to reappear as a different gender without spitting in the face of the established lore. I have no problem at all with a female Doctor and I think Jodie Whittaker is an excellent choice.

      There’s certainly criticism coming from people who are sexist in all of these cases, but Ghostbusters had a lot of reasonable criticism that got dismissed along with the sexist stuff. So far for Doctor Who I haven’t heard any reasonable criticism of why the character can’t be played by a woman.

      • I’ve become a fan in the last year, and from everything the Doctor’s said about his regenerations since Eccleston, I assumed a female Doctor was inevitable. And this seemed like a good time for it. But I’m not a rabid superfan.

        My partner, however, IS a rabid superfan, and I woke her up to tell her I’d seen the BBC reveal and that she guessed it, the new Doctor was a woman. She groaned and got very angry at the studio only picking an actor who isn’t even a fanclub nerd like Capaldi because of the social pressure of, “It’s 2017, it’s about time!” etc, at which point I reminded her, “1) It IS about Time, GEDDIT,” (then she hit me, which I deserved), and, “2) You hate change and love Capaldi and don’t want to see him go, so you’d have been just as angry if it had been Benedict Cumberbatch announced,” which caused her to go off on a rant about how unsuitable Cumberbatch was. (To which I replied, “So I was right… you’d have been angry.”)

        She was probably grumpy because of lack of coffee, but she came out, got caffeinated, watched the reveal, and started feeling better on seeing Whittaker’s expression. After thinking about it some more, and drinking in the tears of people complaining on twitter, she’s on board. Also, she really hates Moffat, so pretty much any announcement in the context of a writer switch was bound to be good in her eyes eventually.

      • @bondles is there something there you don’t like? I’m happy to have a conversation with you.

  • I’m not a fan of Doctor Who. I’ve never been able to get into it. My brother and his partner absolutely adore the series though, and they’re both excited to see the newest Doctor is a woman.

    I also learned recently that the Doctor isn’t actually called “Doctor Who”, but “The Doctor”. I had no idea. Apparently, some fans might get annoyed if you don’t properly refer to “The Doctor” this way.

    I think those who are upset over this are just being immature. I see nothing wrong with this.

    I also think it’s funny that the media (film and television) finally has some strong female leads, and people (men) are essentially complaining in a “that’s enough” fashion. Christ.

    I can’t wait to see all the dumb, meaningless memes made by “Men’s Rights Activists”.

  • *Shrugs*

    At least it’s getting a different response.

    I remember most of it being, “Who the hell is this guy?” After the doctor regenerates each season.

  • “it has been established in the show that Time Lords can switch gender”

    Sure. But this was only “established” a few years ago in Capaldi’s run of the show (that’s been running since the 1950s). Prior to that it wasn’t cannon. And that’s the issue people have with this decision.

    • I wouldn’t say that’s the sentiment of every critic. Remember people are against the social implications, not just more recent establishments made in very recent seasons. In other words, i very much believe it is some people wouldnt want a female Doctor regardless and that just fuels the fire.

      Im personally okay with a female Doctor, I just don’t like the cheap hinting to make it a retroactive thing. I’m the type of person who prefers an in-show explanation or acknowledgement. It’s been a long time since the time lords returned (meaning possible progress), there was a time war, and the doctor got a new regen cycle. To me somethibg like that would have been nicer than ehat theyre going for. That said, I feel thats Moffats writing style especially there and really hope his successor does this new Doctor justice…

  • i will straight up say i watched the reveal and was very much “i dont know about this” until she smiled “now thats the doctors smile ” 😀

  • Not a Dr Who fan, but i have many friends who are Whovians and i haven’t seen a single complaint about the new Dr being a woman, all ive seen is people fucking happy that their show is returning for another season

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!