Before anyone grabs the fiery torches & pitchforks and goes chasing me into the town square for the kind of blasphemy that only the Devil could've coerced, let me start off by telling you who that headline has nothing to do with. We're thrilled on a ton of levels about the casting of Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education) as the 14th Doctor on the BBC's Doctor Who. Add to that the news that David Tennant aka the 10th Doctor & Catherine Tate aka Donna Noble were returning to film some work for the long-running show's 60th anniversary along with the newest addition, Yasmin Finney's (Heartstoppers) Rose (possibly Rose's (Billie Piper) daughter?). And from what we've been seeing on social media, there are a number of other names that could end up being announced soon. All of that looks & sounds great, and has the potential to move the beloved franchise in some bold directions.
But did we forget that our current Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, still has one special left? Because it sure seems like we did.
So when I asked in the headline why Doctor Who hates Whittaker, I had two people in mind: out-going showrunner Chris Chibnall and incoming/returning showrunner Russell T Davies. While the former was the one responsible for wasting Whittaker's talents with wave after wave of stunt-casting & canon-twisting without trusting is his lead's ability to more than carry the show on her own, the latter won't even let Whittaker have the spotlight during the time she has remaining before her regeneration.
The Chibnall Factor: Looking back over Whittaker's run, I can't help feeling like Chibnall and the BBC were so busy dislocating their shoulders to pat themselves on their backs better for finally bringing on a female Doctor after over a half-century that they didn't have a clue as to what to do with her Doctor. And yet, Whittaker always found ways to rise above "The Next Great Idea" time and again, even as the answer that the showrunner & writers were searching for was staring them in the face. Let Whittaker be Whittaker.
The Davies Factor: So when the news broke that Gatwa would be the next Doctor, Davies revealed during an interview at the BAFTAs that he had spoken with Whittaker and that "she's so happy about" the news. Davies then followed it up with, "We're not giving anything away yet, and Jodie's still The Doctor. We love Jodie" before adding, "But we're going to keep quiet. It's all gonna happen in 2023." And we thought that was a really nice & respectful way to approach Whittaker's remaining months as the Doctor. But then we realized that to some, "going to keep quiet" means announcing Tennant, Tate & Finney over the course of ten days as more set images & videos make their way across social media teasing more reveals to come.
To put it plainly? It's a shit move that vibes more like an ego-measuring contest between two dudes while the woman's left to suffer for it. And anyone who thinks Davies "had" to release the news because of all of the leaks, then why not do one massive casting press release? If anyone knows who's going to appear, it's Davies. Or do what Marvel Studios does and "deny-deny-deny" until the time is right (even in the face of video evidence). Since we're on a rant, it would be nice if both Chibnall and Davies wouldn't be so dismissive about the canon that was created during Whittaker's run. While it may be "refreshing" for Chibnall to be open & honest when he says that he expects Davies to "ignore" his run, I hope they both pause to consider what that does to Whittaker's legacy.
Because Whittaker deserved better than Chibnall and deserves better than what Davies is doing now.
Now here's a look at today's BCTV Daily Dispatch, a rundown of news from the past 24-hours across the television landscape:
And today's BCTV Daily Dispatch "Long-Distance Dedication" is Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross "Life on Mars?":