There has been an ex­tra­or­di­nary, but not en­tirely un­ex­pected, show of petu­lance from male fans of Doc­tor Who – and a few fe­males – about a woman Doc­tor

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Mid­dle-aged man ba­bies went into melt­down this week with news that the new Doc­tor Who is a woman.

They were fine with the idea of Doc­tor Who be­ing a time-trav­el­ling, sha­peal­ter­ing alien with two hearts. They were also fine with the Doc­tor fight­ing Daleks, Cy­ber­men and the malev­o­lent force ready to snare mankind called Man­dragora.

But the idea of a woman in the lead of their favourite fic­tional sci-fi se­ries was sim­ply unimag­in­able.

“And again the PC bri­gade get their way. R.I. P Doc­tor Who,” ranted one on so­cial me­dia. “Time LORD. I re­peat the Doc­tor is a time LORD. Not a time LADY,” raged an­other Twit­ter user.

One even asked what the “word was for fe­male doc­tor”? The an­swer is Doc­tor.

Thou­sands of such com­ments were is­sued around the globe. Clearly, there’s no stop­ping a couch-bound key­board war­rior when he wants to use his sin­gle-digit typ­ing skills for evil in­tent.

Luck­ily, those stand­ing up for the show’s new star, Bri­tish ac­tor Jodie Whit­taker of

Broad­church fame, are a col­lec­tion of kind and witty nerds who quickly took to Twit­ter to de­fend her.

“Imag­ine get­ting pas­sion­ately an­gry over an is­sue and your strong­est ar­gu­ment is ‘The mag­i­cal space alien has to be a boy’,” said one. “Just been out­side for the 1st time since we’ve had a lady #Doc­torWho. Ev­ery­thing’s on fire, the sky’s fallen in & there are bras ev­ery­where,” said an­other. “Has the Daily

Mail run an ar­ti­cle on how a fe­male #Doc­torWho13 will lower house prices and cause can­cer yet?” said a third.

It didn’t help that Whit­taker said be­ing the first fe­male Doc­tor Who was “com­pletely over­whelm­ing, as a fem­i­nist, as a woman, as an ac­tor, as a hu­man”.

The haters didn’t seem to mind Whit­taker ac­knowl­edg­ing the fact that she is, in­deed, a woman, an ac­tor and a hu­man, but they died in­side at the thought of the new Doc­tor Who be­ing a fem­i­nist as well. One me­dia site lost no time in trawl­ing the archives to find pic­tures of Whit­taker in the nude in a role she played more than 10 years ago just to even the score. Classy.

It’s been an ex­tra­or­di­nary, but not en­tirely un­ex­pected, show of petu­lance from male fans of the show – and a few fe­males as well, I should ad­mit.

The fact that in the mid 1960s Doc­tor Who was pro­duced by a woman and di­rected by a gay Asian man was glee­fully pointed out by those de­fend­ing Whit­taker.

The woman was Verity Lam­bert. As a sign of the times she was given a more se­nior male to over­see her work, and was widely praised in the press, not only for her pro­duc­tion skills but for be­ing “tall, dark and shapely”.

In fact, the ques­tion of Doc­tor Who be­ing a fe­male has been un­der dis­cus­sion since at least 1980, when the fourth Doc­tor, Tom Baker, mused on the fact that his re­place­ment “could be a woman”.

But not ev­ery­one agreed: in 1983 the show’s then pro­ducer, John Nathan-Turner said the idea of a fe­male Doc­tor would be a “fool­hardy mis­sion”.

I’ve been a closet Doc­tor Who fan for years, stretch­ing back to the late 1970s when Daleks and big mag­goty grubs tried to take over the uni­verse.

Doc­tor Who al­ways felt like a weird thing for a girl to watch, but back then I didn’t think to ques­tion the lack of a fe­male lead. At the age of eight I was more con­cerned with how I looked in my strap-on roller­skates and knee-high socks to be both­ered by gen­der in­equal­ity.

As I saw it, the nat­u­ral or­der of things dic­tated that a male lead with bad den­tistry and wild hair did things while a pretty fe­male side­kick looked on.

Forty years on, it’s time for a re­think for the sake of our daugh­ters and sons. Man ba­bies, wipe your tears, a new Doc­tor is in town, and she’s go­ing to rock.

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