Spoiler alert: a warning if you haven't watched the last two series of Doctor Who.
Doctor Who holds a place in our collective psyche that few other things can match. Debate over the Doctor's regenerations has the power to divide us in ways usually reserved for politics.
I've been a fan of Peter Capaldi's work for some time so was excited when he was first announced as The Doctor. I imagined that he would bring a degree of gravitas to the role.
Personally, I feel Doctor Who thrives when at its darkest and The Doctor is forced to confront his "humanity" - Capaldi was perfect for this but I feel he was sadly let down by the writing in his first series.
There were too many gimmicks and he wasn't really allowed to flourish in the role as we know he can.
After each regeneration The Doctor takes a little while to adjust to the new form but, with Capaldi, it was the like the writers were desperately trying to adjust to a new style of doctor and took too long.
His second series, however, was superb. The tone was just right and we got something I felt was missing from the show since the end of David Tennant's tenure.
That's not to take anything away from Matt Smith.
I guessed pretty early on that Missy was The Master and that it was her in the Doctor's vault. With all the talk of diversity it seemed obvious that Missy was an acid test to see:
- how gender-swapping an established character would work, and
- more importantly, how the audience would react
With Missy/The Master they got it just about right and Michelle Gomez played it perfectly. The sexual tension between the male and female incarnations of the Master - the blatant self adulation - was the icing on the cake.
The news that The Doctor will follow the Master's lead and be played by a woman has caused possibly the biggest divide by a regeneration yet but no one should be surprised by this direction.
I can understand the arguments from both sides: "The Doctor has always been envisaged as a male character so why mess with tradition" versus "The Doctor is an alien who regenerates into whatever form is deemed appropriate."
As with any new Doctor I will be reserving judgment until I have seen them in action. Jodie Whittaker is a well respected actress and will no doubt put in a good performance.
I have no problem with the gender-swapping and think it adds an interesting dimension to the show but worry that Jodie's time as The Doctor may not be defined by her acting but by the stories she is given to work with.
More is at stake with a regeneration than ever and I hope her reign doesn't get mired in tokenism.
With good stories this could be a master stroke; I just hope the writers are able to adapt and play to the new doctor's strengths faster than they did with Capaldi.