Sylvester McCoy says doubts about female Doctor were 'stupid sexism'

<span>Photograph: Sophie Mutevelian/PA</span>
Photograph: Sophie Mutevelian/PA

The former Doctor Who star Sylvester McCoy has said his initial reservations about a female Doctor were due to “stupid sexism” and that he would like the role to be played next by a person of colour.

McCoy, who played the seventh incarnation of the doctor between 1987 and 1996, was quoted in 2015 as saying: “The Time Lord should never regenerate as a woman.”

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He further dismissed the idea of a female Doctor, saying: “I’m sorry, but no – Doctor Who is a male character, just like James Bond. If they changed it to be politically correct, then it would ruin the dynamics between the Doctor and the assistant, which is a popular part of the show. I support feminism, but I’m not convinced by the cultural need of a female Doctor Who.”

But in a new interview for Radio Times, McCoy acknowledged that his initial reservations about the casting of Jodie Whittaker in the role were primarily motivated by sexist inclinations.

“It was stupid sexism … I thought, ‘Why change it?’ But after five minutes she was the Doctor, as far as I was concerned.”

Whittaker became the 13th Doctor and the first female actor to play the character in 2017 following her predecessor Peter Capaldi’s decision to leave the show.

Speculation has been growing in recent weeks that the next series of Doctor Who, which is set to premiere this autumn, will be Whittaker’s last. Neither the BBC nor Whittaker have commented on the rumours.

When asked who he would like to see as Whittaker’s replacement, McCoy said: “It has to be someone with lots of character. It can’t be someone bland and beautiful, rather handsome and characterful. I was surprised when they got Matt Smith. He looked about 12, and yet he was brilliant! One minute he looks 12, the next he looks 125. He has the perfect Doctor Who face. So, a surprise. A person of colour would be great.”

Holby City regular Jo Martin became the first BAME actor to take on the role when she played an incarnation known as the Fugitive Doctor in two episodes last year. However, the long-term fate of the character has not been confirmed.

Martin, the actor and comedian Richard Ayoade and Michaela Coel, who created and starred in I May Destroy You, have all been suggested as possible successors if Whittaker does leave the show.