My first Doctor was the 4th Doctor played by Tom Baker. I loved the show. There was something about it that struck me as wonderful. To be able to travel through time and space and to be home in time for dinner. To see wonders and fight monsters and to always work for the good of humanity. I loved the show for many reasons. However, as a military brat, I loved Doctor Who most because of the TARDIS itself. For a kid who had to move every 2-3 years, the idea of having a house that you could take with you was beyond wonderful. It was magic itself.
Because of this, I was the kid who kept a packed backpack by my bed. I was ready for when the Doctor came and offered me a place in that wondrous blue box. The one that always knew where to go. I wanted to be a companion because I wanted to travel in the TARDIS.
The first time I saw the Doctor regenerate, I realized that maybe, someday, the Doctor could be female. That instead of being the plucky companion, a girl like me could live in the TARDIS and choose her companions. But, being the cynical child that I was, I knew it wouldn’t happen anytime soon.
I disliked the 6th Doctor so much that I stopped watching Doctor Who altogether. I ignored it for three seasons when the new Doctor Who came out. It took Rich Taylor, one of my best friends, a legion of fans gushing about it, and a music video to get me to watch. I went to Netflix and found the episode “Blink.” Rich had described it as “The episode I would point people to if I had to describe what Doctor Who was without getting into the long history of the Doctor.” After I watched “Blink” and admitted I liked it, Rich told me to watch “The Empty Child” next. That’s when Eccleston became my new Doctor. He’s still my favorite.
At least for now.
After Tennant, I wanted a woman or non-white Doctor. I wasn’t picky. I just wanted the Doctor to regenerate into someone who wasn’t white and male. Someone a tiny bit closer to me. After Smith, I was so disappointed that Capaldi was chosen. (Note: Capaldi did a fantastic job as the Doctor.) The world kept telling me “No.” Once more, I was back to focusing on the TARDIS itself as my favorite.
On this 13th (or 14th, if you want to be pedantic, because of the War Doctor), I wanted a woman or a non-white man so bad. My cynical side said it wasn’t going to happen. They were going to get Kris Marshall and he would do a good job and that would be that.
I did not expect my visceral reaction to the discovery that a woman, Jodie Whittaker, would be taking on the titular role of the Doctor. I felt my cheeks flush and my heart beat faster. I punched the air and ran to the Husband’s office to tell him. In those scant steps between his office and mine, tears sprang to my eyes as I formulated the words to tell him, the new Doctor would be played by a woman. My voice cracked when I told him. It was like the world had changed in some indefinable way.
It’s taken me a week to figure out what that way was and why this meant so much to me: Finally, I’m no longer just a guest in the TARDIS. I don’t have to the companion who will eventually be left behind. The TARDIS can be my home, too.
Now, thousands upon thousands of little girls and boys will see Jodie Whittaker as their first Doctor. The potential for them will always be there in a way that wasn’t for me until now.
I can’t wait for this next season of Doctor Who.