All this will be guided by returning showrunner Russell T. Davies, who revived Doctor Who in 2005 after a 16-year hiatus and left the series when Tennant did in 2010. With credits that include groundbreaking work like Queer as Folk and It's a Sin, there seems little doubt that Davies plans on taking the show in directions it's never traveled before.
And yet. As a longtime Whovian—that's nerdspeak for a fan of the show—I'm left to wonder if the new Doctor Who will fully take advantage of all the diversity in its new casting choices.
Specifically, I fear Doctor Who may not really explore what it means to turn a Black man into one of Britain's most beloved TV characters. Because, when the current production team had a chance to develop storylines around reimagining The Doctor as a woman, they often skirted the issue.
Reimagining the show through regeneration
For those unfamiliar with the show, Doctor Who came up with an ingenious way to keep the series going in its early days, allowing the program to switch out its lead actors. The Doctor undergoes what's called a "regeneration," where he morphs into a new body, often with a different personality, accounting for his tremendously long life.
In practical terms, this storytelling device allows the show to change its star whenever necessary, fueling Doctor Who's rise as a British TV institution and international phenomenon. And in 2017, Scottish actor Peter Capaldi departed the role as Whittaker took over.
I'll be honest, I haven't been all that impressed with the episodes featuring Whittaker, crafted by current showrunner Chris Chibnall. Too often, it seems as if the show races through plotting and circumstances at breakneck speed, leaving me yearning for a little more time spent developing the characters.
No shade intended for the show's actors—especially Whittaker, who has plunged into playing The Doctor with an appealing abandon. She nails every scene in a way that recalls the best characteristics of the classic Doctors, while also developing her own vision. Still, the show's writing too often hasn't matched her skill.
The series' recent six-episode story arc, dubbed Flux, featured The Doctor facing off against a cavalcade of bad guys, including two aliens who looked like they had crystals stuck to their faces, classic villains like the Weeping Angels, another murderous alien called The Grand Serpent and a character who claimed to be our hero's adoptive mother. Even in a season aiming for an epic story, it felt a bit overstuffed.