Culture

Doctor Who? Transgender and the original Time Lords

A shocking TV announcement might have cosmic importance

“Who?” That question is on the lips of every ‘Whovian’ and Broadchurch fan in the galaxy, thanks to the notable announcement of the 13th actor to play the famous TV Time Lord.

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Time and space have collided in a small coastal town in Dorset, UK, and not for the first time. The popular BBC drama Broadchurch is set in Dorset and has proved to be a cosmic meeting place (perhaps even homeworld, Gallifrey) for not one or two, but three Doctor Whos.

In Broadchurch most viewers can identify lead actor David Tennant, who played the 10th Doctor Who. During its first season, some fans of Broadchurch even recognised David Bradley, who portrayed the first Doctor Who.

The announcement of the newest version of Doctor Who has shocked many and, yes, they too starred in Broadchurch.

The first female to take on the iconic role, Jodie Whittaker (Black Mirror) said about starring in Doctor Who: “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey … with every Whovian on this planet. It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.”

You could almost say Moses, Elijah and Jesus were the original ‘Time Lords’

Given the increased significance of the ancient cliffs of Dorset for Doctor Who fans, I could jest that the Broadchurch setting is now akin to Mount Tabor.

Mount Tabor was the meeting place of three biblical characters – Moses, Elijah and Jesus – at an event described in the New Testament as “the transfiguration.” (See Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, and Luke 9:28–36) You could almost say Moses, Elijah and Jesus were the original ‘Time Lords’, as the trio converged from points in history separated by hundreds of years.

Dorset’s claim to being a galactic hot spot doesn’t end there: Broadchurch character Rev. Paul Coates was played by Arthur Darvill, who starred in Doctor Who as one of the 11th Doctor’s companions between 2010 and 2012.

Whovians may also be drawing pop-culture comparisons between the change of gender of Doctor Who with controversial recent movies such as The Shack, in which God and the Holy Spirit are portrayed as women. Already, not all fans are comfortable with the Doctor’s gender swap, as demonstrated by comments from Daily Mail readers such as “Time travel is for men and men only.”

But Jodie Whittaker reminds us that Doctor Who is, after all, a work of fiction: “I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender.”

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