The casting of Jodie Whittaker as the lead in Doctor Who is the difference between tolerating modernity and embodying it – but why has it taken so long to get here?
The announcement of the first female Doctor felt almost Whovian in its unfolding. The men’s singles final at Wimbledon had just finished, the nation having been primed for two weeks with hour upon hour of a sporting event mainly about – for people not interested in hand-eye coordination – Britishness and gender. We were, therefore, in the right psychic space to go bananas – and we duly did. A little girl reacted on Twitter with wonderment and joy. At the same time, a coordinated warrior army of creatures born to hate, whose only thought was to destroy those not like them – similar to the Daleks, not wishing to labour the point – arrived to decry the decision. This was it, the giddy limit, the moment they stopped watching, the endpoint of political correctness. A female Doctor. Why a doctor at all? Why not a separate show called Nurse Who? Why do liberals have to take everything they love and ruin it? Is nothing sacred?
An immortal time traveller with two hearts who persistently defies the laws of physics – that they could handle. But break the laws of the patriarchy, in which men alone get to do derring? No way. There was almost more enjoyment in defending the casting of Jodie Whittaker than there was in the glittering moment of discovery. A surge of playfulness, from people whom I hazard have watched, but rarely understood, an episode of Doctor Who (not because you have to be sexist to understand it, just because it is incomprehensible), brought the progressive online carnival to a crescendo. First the general election, now this. Sometimes things have to start going your way before you realise how bad they were.