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'Doctor Who' Could Have Been A Woman ... In 1986

Gender for the Time Lord has been a topic of discussion within the BBC

When David Tennant announced the end of his tenure at the controls of the Tardis, rumors insisted that the infamous "Doctor Who" Time Lord could re-generate into a woman, making him a Time Lady.

Of course, those rumors were quickly quashed and we now have Matt Smith fending off all kinds of strange, strange creatures. But according to recent interviews, fans of the series were very close to getting a female Doctor ... nearly 25 years ago.

A new documentary charting the development of the series has unearthed a letter buried in the BBC archives that confirm the Doctor's gender was a topic of discussion in the 1980s when Colin Baker was the leading man. Apparently, Sydney Newman (who helped create the series while he was head of BBC drama in the 1960s) suggested that the BBC consider re-introducing Patrick Troughton into the series to settle the show before re-generating The Doctor into a woman.

Such a move would have revolutionized the show and some even speculated that it could turn the series back into a hit.

"At a later stage 'Doctor Who' should be metamorphosed into a woman," Newman's letter to the BBC controller said. "This requires some considerable thought - mainly because I want to avoid a flashy, Hollywood Wonder Woman because this kind of heroine with no flaws is a bore. Given more time than I have now, I can create such a character."

What was his price for such an endeavor? For a start, he would be credited for his involvement in developing the series on a weekly basis as part of the opening credits, and he would also become the showrunner for the series.

"Should you accept these ideas the fee I would accept would be in the form of my being taken on and paid to be its executive director to ensure the concept is properly executed," his pitch apparently said.

As fans of the series will no doubt remember, child entertainer Sylvester McCoy was given the role and the ratings plummeted even further. The late '80s era of the series is now regarded as the most ludicrous and out-there of the show.

Still, as far as the BBC were concerned, the stories charted in that timeframe were nowhere near as ridiculous as the idea of the female Doctor. According to Ed Stradling, who is directing a documentary about the series, the very notion that "Doctor Who" would succeed with a woman in control was something that BBC executives believed to be just too unconventional.

"Newman's suggestions would have certainly have been considered, but they were never taken on board," Stradling said. "He was a hugely respected and influential figure in British drama, which makes it all the more surprising that his suggestions were just so off-the-wall."

About the Author

Alan Stanley Blair is the news editor for Airlock Alpha and assistant news editor for its sister site, Inside Blip. Contributing from his home in Scotland, he is currently studying for a diploma in freelance journalism and feature writing. He can be found on Twitter @Alanistic.
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