‘Doctor Who’ Decides on Controversial Lead’s Future After Anti-Trans “Protest”

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David tennant as the fourteenth doctor in the trailer for the doctor who 60th anniversary special

Credit: BBC

The iconic BBC turned Disney+ show Doctor Who has topped charts for years. However, the network has recently received a ton of complaints after a transgender character named Rose, played by Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney, on the first of this year’s anniversary episodes, “The Star Beast,”  which appeared to be “too much” for some viewers.

Yasmin Finney Doctor Who
Credit: Disney+

The fandom of Doctor Who has been around for decades. After an initial run from 1963 to 1989, Doctor Who went on hiatus until it was revived in 2005. The revival, led by showrunner Russell T Davies, brought the series to a new generation of viewers, as we now know.

The story revolves around a time traveler known as “the Doctor,” who is frequently portrayed as — though not exclusively — belonging to a group called Time Lords. The Doctor journeys through time and space using a time machine known as the TARDIS. Despite its external appearance resembling a small London police box, the TARDIS possesses dimensions inside that are virtually infinite. The design has become so ingrained in British culture that it is currently under the intellectual property of the BBC rather than its original creators, the Metropolitan Police Service.

Neil Patrick Harris as a villain in Doctor Who, surrounded by creepy toys
Credit: BBC

Related: Benedict Cumberbatch Speaks Out On Previous Roles: “I Don’t Do Favorites”

To date, 19 actors have assumed the role of The Doctor.

While officially recognized as 15 sequentially numbered Doctors, the character has undergone 19 distinct incarnations over the years, accounting for alternative versions.

Below is a list of all of the actors who have played the Doctor:

  • First Doctor (November 1963 – October 1966) – William Hartnell
  • Second Doctor (November 1966 – June 1969) – Patrick Troughton
  • Third Doctor (January 1970 – June 1974) – Jon Pertwee
  • Fourth Doctor (December 1974 – March 1981) – Tom Baker
  • Fifth Doctor (January 1982 – March 1984) – Peter Davison
  • Sixth Doctor (March 1984 – December 1986) – Colin Baker
  • Seventh Doctor (September 1987 – December 1989) – Sylvester McCoy
  • Eighth Doctor (May 1996) – Paul McGann
  • Ninth Doctor (March 2005 – June 2005) – Christopher Eccleston
  • Tenth Doctor (December 2005 – January 2010) – David Tennant
  • Eleventh Doctor (April 2010 – December 2013) – Matt Smith
  • Twelfth Doctor (August 2014 – December 2017) – Peter Capaldi
  • Thirteenth Doctor (October 2018 – October 2022) – Jodie Whittaker
  • Fourteenth Doctor (November 2023 – December 2023) – David Tennant
  • Fifteenth Doctor (2024) – Ncuti Gatwa
David tennant as the fourteenth doctor in the trailer for the doctor who 60th anniversary special
Credit: BBC

Ncuti Gatwa is set to portray the Fifteenth Doctor, taking the helm of the show in series 14, scheduled to premiere in 2024.

Lately, we have seen Hollywood move in a much more inclusive direction. Disney has been one of the major companies to do this. Not only are they moving in an ethically diverse direction, as we have seen via the casting of The Little Mermaid with Halle Bailey and Snow White with Rachel Zegler, but also with a more inclusive representation of sexuality.

Ariel (Halle Bailey) resting on jellyfish and talking to Sebastian
Credit: Disney

Strange World, a Disney animated film, had an openly gay character, placing the LGBTQ+ community on the map. Not only is the community being represented in films, but even their after hours event during Pride month was their was even a Pride Night at Disneyland.

Doctor Who has been a little slower when it comes to inclusivity. Jodie Whittaker was the first female Doctor in the show, but that did not happen until 2017, and still, she is the only female to have ever played a Doctor.

As noted by Entertainment Weekly, “The appearance of a transgender character named Rose played by Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney on the first of this year’s anniversary episodes, “The Star Beast,” was too much for some viewers. The BBC, which screens the show in the U.K., reports that it has received at least 144 complaints about the episode because of its alleged “anti-male” theme and the “inappropriate inclusion” of a trans character.”

Showrunner Russell T Davies seemed to be unphased by the reviews. Davies said some critics “full of absolute hate, and venom, and destruction, and violence” would like to see “that sort of thing wiped off the screen entirely.” Addressing them directly, the executive producer declared, “Shame on you and good luck to you in your lonely lives.”

David tennant and catherine tate as the fourteenth doctor and donna noble in the trailer for the doctor who 60th anniversary special
Credit: BBC

Davies went as far as to confirm that Finney would be returning.

“I was writing a trans character who’s a teenager, part of a London family, of mixed race, and that’s an unusual set of conditions for a character to meet,” said the showrunner. “The list of people who would audition for that is not very long. Along came Yasmin, and we just closed the door after that, because there she was! She’s absolutely terrific, and she has more appearances to come, simply because I adore working with her.”

While the list of complaints is getting longer, it seems that the show is not allowing those opinions to sway their choices or storyline.

As noted by Deadline, during a press conference last month, Davies was unequivocal about his ambition to reflect more of society on screen. He lamented how transgender representation can be vilified in the press, arguing: “[There are] newspapers of absolute hate, and venom, and destruction, and violence who would rather see that sort of thing wiped off the screen destroyed. Shame on you, and good luck to you in your lonely lives.”

A new episode of Doctor Who just premiered yesterday, on Dec. 9 on Disney+.


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