Doctor Who’s major C2E2 panel happily declares that “She’s the Doctor”


One of C2E2 2018’s earliest panels openly embraced the idea of Jodie Whittaker as Thirteen, discussing how Doctor Who has changed and hopefully will change.

A quintet of Doctor Who superfans — a majority-female panel, it must be noted — came together at C2E2 to discuss the show. Dubbed “She’s the Doctor: Regenerating a Time Lord — and a Science Fiction Franchise,” the conversation got right into everything.

The speakers included Dawn Xiana Moon (founder and director, Raks Geek), Shira Raider (co-organizer, Chicago Doctor Who meetup), Karlyn Meyer (member of the Chicago Nerd Social Club board), Phil Salomon (a cosplayer, typically as the Master) and Gordon Dymowski (organizer, Chicago Doctor Who meetup). All five of them made sure to get the audience involved, and there was lots of positive reaction to Jodie Whittaker as Thirteen.

Dymowski, as the moderator, set the tone quickly by jumping in, reminding the audience that a female Doctor was at first a “joke” suggestion from the ’80s. He said Whittaker’s casting was a “profound change,” but wanted to know how much it actually felt like a change.

Moon jumped in quickly, saying, “I actually was advocating for the Doctor to remain a man,” a black man specifically, because the Doctor is not a fighter. He added though that Whittaker “felt like the Doctor immediately.” Meyer also agreed, saying that she “kind of had to recalibrate,” but that “[Whittaker] feels right.”

Raider discussed how fans might be resistant.

“The Doctor has become more of a romantic figure” in the new Who, talking about how “it’s all on his terms” to draw his mostly-female companions in. However, Meyer’s counterpoint, “there’s really no reason he should have been [a white man every time],” got picked up by Moon, who said that “they won’t be the same stories again” due to Whittaker having some control behind the scenes.

Now, just because things should improve on the front end doesn’t mean that the back end should look the same. As Dymowski pointed out, you can count the female writers from both classic and rebooted Who “on one hand and have some fingers left over.”

“Representation is still important,” Meyer said, describing how her child reacted to seeing Whittaker regenerate.

So, what happens if Who is mostly written by men?

“There are certain things that are informed by experience,” Raider said. In short, the consensus seemed to be that yes, women need to be both behind and in front of the camera. Writing as a lapsed Whovian myself, that makes absolute sense. Certainly, new showrunner Chris Chibnall’s work on shows like Broadchurch should help build confidence — but that doesn’t mean that he should get an immediate pass.

Then the discussion quickly dived into “nerd culture” (Dymowski’s phrase) and the idea of representing everyone who’s part of it.

“We’ve always been here,” Meyer declared. “People are finally starting to listen and realize” that people who aren’t white men have always been here. Moon phrased the idea as “[shifting] your paradigm” as to what people look and sound like. She even mentioned that she was crying after getting the Tico sisters from Star Wars as action figures — although she did emphasize that she isn’t much for crying.

The first question from the audience simply asked whether the BBC and Doctor Who had actually made a big enough stride with a white woman who might be straight. Admittedly, as the panelists noted, it’s entirely possible that Thirteen will represent the LGBT community. Moon said, however, that “no one character is going to be able to do all the things.”

Meyer wished for there to be a discussion about the Doctor’s shift from a man to a woman. Dymowski jumped in with asking to get the “obvious jokes” out of the way.

Ultimately, though, Raider summed up the ultimate mood of the panel. “I don’t need to see what they do with [Thirteen] before I realize what the potential is,” she said.

Fans at C2E2 seem hopeful but want to make sure that Thirteen’s first adventures go right.

So, what do some of these Who superfans wish for in Thirteen’s first season?

  • Dymowski: “An entire season that does not involve any part of the Doctor’s 50-year history.”
  • Raider: “Stronger emotional underpinning” a la the Russell T. Davies years.
  • Salomon: “Interesting stories.”
  • Meyer: “Female friendships would be great to see. […] I want it to get even more queer.”

Next: This Doctor Who fan sequence is so good it should be the real thing

Well, Doctor Who fans? Do you agree with these wishes? Are you ready for Thirteen’s first season?