‘Next Doctor Who should be a woman’

‘Torchwood’ and ‘Doctor Who’ star John Barrowman has caused controversy by claiming that the next Doctor should be female.

At a press conference to promote his upcoming pantomime role, the actor, who played Captain Jack Harkness in the popular sci-fi series, said: "[T]hey should go out on a limb and try it. If Captain Jack can be an omni-sexual time agent, why can't we have a female Doctor?

“I think a female Doctor might work, you never know. The audience might not like that. I know there's a lot of young girls and women who would love that. That always stirs things up a little bit and makes things exciting and it's nice to see different things and challenges happen like that.”

The actor then went on to offer comedienne and actress Catherine Tate, who has previously starred in the hit sci-fi drama, as an ideal replacement for Matt Smith's Time Lord role saying that he “always thought Catherine Tate would make a lovely female Doctor.”

The comments are sure to stir an angry reaction from avid fans of the show who have strong opinions on the credentials of any new Doctor.

This is not the first time a change of the Doctor’s gender has been discussed. In 2008, a spokeswoman from the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (UKRC) told the Telegraph:

"There is a distinct lack of role models of female scientists in the media and recent research shows that this contributes to the under-representation of women in the field”, adding that making someone with a huge following like the Doctor female would do wonders to emphasise the “important contribution women can and should make to science”.

With Barrowman’s suggestion of Catherine Tate as a perfect replacement for Matt Smith, Yahoo! TV had a little think about some other actresses who could fill the Time Lord’s boots.

Perhaps Georgia Moffett, who played the Doctor’s daughter in 2008, might be in with a shout. It may be a long shot, which would involve a monumental twist, but if anything like this can happen, it’s in ‘Doctor Who’.

Or maybe Joanna Lumley could reprise her 1999 Red Nose Day role as the Doctor in a dramatic shift to attract a more mature demographic? Lumley was once tipped to become the first official female Doctor before producers changed their minds. However, she did fulfil her desire to play the character in the aforementioned four-part series for Comic Relief. The writer of these particular episodes – Steven Moffat - is now back at the helm of the series and is obviously open to the idea, so only time will tell if he returns to it.

Similarly, Billie Piper, who once played Rose in the show, was speculated to return as the Doctor instead of Matt Smith. She was one of the favourites with the bookies. In his first episode, Smith felt his long hair and said "I'm a girl!" before realising he wasn't.

On the flipside, producers could aim for a much younger audience and cast global superstar Emma Watson as a kick-ass female Doctor. She has proven her heroine credentials and is clearly looking for a role to distance herself from her Harry Potter roots.

What do you think? Should the Doctor become female? Who else could be the Doctor?