Image Credit: BBC (Fair Use)
Image Description: A still from The Woman Who Fell To Earth
Written a year ago today, and published in Tides #42, Georgia Harper looks forward to the new series
With The Woman Who Fell To Earth just over a week away at the time of writing, a lot’s happened since the previous issue of Tides of Time. The hype machine is in full force, with a constant stream of new clips, magazine covers and “spoiler-free” reviews which decidedly aren’t (looking at you, Radio Times). And I’m wondering how I’m going to even make it through episode one without exploding with excitement.
While early indications are that the new series itself doesn’t draw much attention to Whittaker being the first woman to play the Doctor, it’s fair to say that the promotion sometimes has, most notably with the “It’s about time” slogan and the specially-made video which features the Doctor shattering a literal glass ceiling. The wider media has certainly done so, and so have many of the fans – indeed, I’d started repeatedly captioning social media posts with “Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor and the world is a wonderful place” long before we knew anything at all about her character. This has led some to wonder why it’s such a big deal, why we’re celebrating the new lead before we’ve seen an episode, why we’re reacting so – the horror! – emotionally. Why should it matter?
It matters because well over a year after Jodie Whittaker’s new role was announced, some people are still bothering to actively click the angry reaction on every single post relating to Series Eleven. (You really have to admire their dedication to “not caring”.) It matters because Series Eleven is happening anyway and those people, who tended to take over every single conversation about who the Doctor could be in future, now look a bit silly. It matters because the new Doctor, and therefore promotion of the new series and Doctor Who in general, just graced the cover of Marie Claire and nobody bat an eyelid. Someone who believed she couldn’t do a particular job simply because she is a woman is now doing it, so it’s only natural that the half of the fandom who constantly find themselves in that position – and the vast majority of the fandom who know how pervasive and how unjust it is – would feel something stir when she points her new sonic screwdriver and says “I’m the Doctor” in the same way as her many predecessors.
In short, it matters because it doesn’t matter.
Thankfully, we now have a lot more than that to go on too. The first full trailer, released back in July, emphasises change (“New faces, new worlds, new times…”) and the music chosen for the more recent second trailer has the same effect. This theme of change has been reflected time and time again with a new cinematic aspect ratio, the apparent absence of well-known villains and the move to Sundays in the hope of a “regular, earlier time slot”. We know a little more about each of the Doctor’s new friends (I’m particularly excited to see a neurodivergent companion in Ryan Sinclair, assuming his dyspraxia is handled appropriately) and a first look at the new episode (at least for those of us who didn’t watch the leak) provides a tiny glimpse of how they meet. That’s before we consider the many colourful promotional pictures – they might not reveal much at first glance, but the TARDIS is conspicuously absent, and just what is with all those orange crystals?
The giddy excitement of a new Doctor is a familiar feeling, but for many, this new Doctor signals hope, progress, and things we never thought possible becoming a reality. It’s a chance to start again, and – with apologies to Macklemore and Skylar Grey, and no apologies to anyone else – it feels glorious.
Tides 42 is, at time of publication, available to buy through this link