‘Doctor Who’ Showrunner to Press: ‘Shut the Hell Up’ About Jodie Whittaker Backlash

Steven Moffat
Stewart Cook/REX/Shutterstock

Outgoing “Doctor Who” showrunner Steven Moffat blames the media for what he says is a false narrative about backlash against the casting of a woman in the show’s title role.

“There has been so many press articles about the backlash among the ‘Doctor Who’ fandom against the casting of a female Doctor,” Moffat said Sunday at Comic-Con. “There has been no backlash at all. The story of the moment is that the notionally conservative ‘Doctor Who’ fandom has utterly embraced that change completely — 80 percent approval on social media, not that I check these things obsessively. And yet so many people wanted to pretend there’s a problem. There isn’t.”

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Jodie Whittaker will take over the role of the Doctor from Peter Capaldi beginning next season. Whitaker will be the 13th actor to portray the character, and the first woman.

“Doctor Who” fans, Moffat said, “are more excited by the fact that there’s going to be a brilliant actress playing the part than the fact that she’s a woman. It’s been incredibly progressive and enlightened and that’s what really happened. I wish every single journalist who is writing the alternative would shut the hell up.”

Whittaker’s casting was the target of misogynist vitriol on social media, but has been defended by most connected to the show — including Moffat, who is handing over showrunner and executive producer duties to Chris Chibnall.

Capaldi, who will make his last appearance as the character in the show’s upcoming Christmas special, also praised Whittaker’s casting.

“I just wanted to say that I think Jodie’s going to be amazing,” Capaldi said. “I spoke to her the other day and she’s so full of excitement and so full of passion about the show. She really, really loves the show, and she’s a brilliant actress. So it’s really thrilling to know that it’s in the hands of someone who cares for it so deeply. And is going to do really, really exciting things with it. She’s a great choice, as far as I’m concerned.”

BBC also used the Comic-Con panel to premiere this December’s “Doctor Who” Christmas special trailer. The sneak peek shows Capaldi stuck in time alongside a second Doctor played by David Bradley. The trailer can be viewed below.

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  1. Peter Evans says:

    It seems to me that we should be under no illusions about this casting decision. Yes, it’s obviously a “jumping the shark” move to try to breathe new life into flagging TV show. But there’s something altogether more insidious and sinister about it, too.

    Thoughtful US conservatives like Andrew Breitbart, Ben Shapiro and Andrew Klavan have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that the ‘Hollywood’ Left has for several decades been systematically using movie and TV entertainment as a privileged means of disseminating postmodern politically correct cultural Marxist propaganda. I used inverted commas because the same is true of Britain.

    Scripts are approved for translation into movies or TV series insofar as they advance Leftist, which today means PC, messaging: those invariably given the green light will be pro-grievance feminist, pro-LGBQT, anti-capitalist (code for anti-West) and vigorously anti-conservative. This anti-male and pro-“diversity” messaging marred much of Peter Capaldi’s final series as the Doctor (and very obtrusively so).

    The latest move strikes me as yet another major initiative to promote the insane PC gender diversity and “cultural relevance” agenda, which only a tiny minority of prosperous illiberal-Left liberals believe in. And most obnoxiously in my view, since this is a predominantly children’s sci-fi series, it’s a blatant effort to manipulate and socially engineer young minds into accepting biologically groundless PC fictions about gender fluidity. Men can become women, if that’s how they feel. People can simply self-declare a new identity for themselves.

    Well, it doesn’t work like that. No one can simply self-declare a new identity, because identity is a long-term social negotiation that is conditioned by real biological constraints. To pretend that this is not so is to indulge in narcissistic madness, and I include exploiting the “sci-fi fiction” excuse to hijack the Doctor’s regeneration (“the Doctor is a shape-shifting alien” – well, no: he’s been played by a male actor for over half a century and has only been “reassigned” as female as gender fluidity craziness became popular amongst the numerically tiny PC media elite).

    The fact is that this preposterous PC sex swapping flapdoodle irretrievable destroys a show that many fans of my generation have loved since it began on British screens in 1963. My young adult children loved it too and they feel exactly the same way.

    The unrepresentative, unaccountable “progressives” behind this decision will seek to portray (and then contemptuously dismiss) people with views similar to mine as antediluvians (“this is the 21st century!”). But a fair number of loyal “Whovian” veterans like me have rational objections to this casting decision which have nothing to do with misogyny or “hate.”

    We bear absolutely no malice toward the highly gifted Jodie Whittaker (or any other talented female actor for that matter), who we wish every success in future roles. If Ms Whittaker has received misogynistic abuse after being announced as the new Doctor Who, I condemn such foul idiocy unreservedly.

    We object to (a) a distinctly PC gimmick to revive flagging viewer numbers and (b) a blatantly political (and conformist) decision being portrayed as a daringly innovative move in the direction of “cultural relevance” – a term which the Left reserves the right to define. It seems to mean whatever the latest extremist PC fad happens to be; in this case, gender fluidity.

    Be under no illusions. This casting decision bears the hallmarks of the postmodern politically correct Left, which is repelling growing numbers of intelligent people of my generation (and younger) off with their insane nonsense about gender fluidity and their misanthropic delusions about pervasive “racism” and “sexism.”

    If there really was a need for a time-travelling female alien, wouldn’t it have been more principled to write an original script and pitch it? As opposed to, say, imposing an agenda on an established TV show? And why couldn’t a great actor like Ms Whittaker have been cast as another female Gallifreyan, rather than using the Doctor’s regeneration to perform sex reassignment surgery.

    I dislike the attempt to impose PC dogmas on children by hijacking their TV entertainment. Very, very, nasty.

    The (male and female) Whovians who Steven Moffatt believes don’t exist – those who object to using a children’s TV show to advance a blatantly PC agenda – will quietly put our heads down as the Twittermob shrieks “Bigot!” at us. We will do as Mr Moffatt wishes us to do and “shut the hell up.” But we will non-existently stop watching a show some amongst us have been loyal to for almost 54 years, because we refuse to acquiesce to a politically-motivated attempt to socially engineer the minds of the young into conformity with crazy PC dogmas.

    I doubt very much that we’ll be alone but, officially, we don’t exist.

    For me, it’s RIP Doctor Who.

  2. Puddin says:

    Doesn’t matter what fandom feels, BBC will screw with it anyway they want. When the ratings tank the show goes off.

  3. mem says:

    No. There is most definitely a problem. I suspect they will continue to ignore it until they find they aren’t pulling near the ratings they once were. More than anything over the past decade, this has the most chance to cause the should to go back in to cancellation. They would not have even entertained this the thought of doing this if ratings weren’t already on the decline. This smacks of ‘”let’s try anything to get some press. Stir the pot.” You knew exactly what you were doing to the fandom with this move.

  4. jimmy woo says:

    No, we will never “shut up.” Boycott Dr Who. Boycott the whole BBC.

  5. KenL says:

    I agree with him. I have seen more articles about how there is a backlash about the casting than actual backlash posts or opinions. The vast majority of posts that I’ve seen on social media sites has been along the lines of….if she is good, this will be great. Of course, there is some negativity, but that goes with every decision. But witness Peter Davison’s comments being taken out of context….articles appeared saying that he had come out against the casting when he hadn’t. He said Jodie Whitaker was a great actress and would do a wonderful job and that Dr Who needs to open up whom it casts. He mentioned one thing….that he lamented the loss (for the moment) of a male role model. And that is spinned by some articles as coming out against the casting.

    I find the need to create controversy where there isn’t a ton of it to be more of a story than the casting of a woman. By the way, the casting will add a new element after 50 some years of the show. Exciting.

    • KenL says:

      As a side note….yes, there are differing opinions here, and many don’t agree. That’s to be expected. We can see that with some of the other posts here that many disagree. But, there are fair points to be made on both sides, and simply disagreeing with the casting does not mean that the people who don’t agree with it are misogynists or anti-woman. Further, disagreeing with the casting isn’t akin to massive backlash. The articles I disagree with are the ones who try to paint those disagreeing with the casting as misogynists. I don’t think my original post was clear on that point.

  6. Lance Burton says:

    Bull! He is just trying to diffuse a situation he created that killed a great show. The show is now dead.

  7. bill says:

    What’s odd is brand labeling and marketing. You spend all that effort branding and marketing a character and then you break it. And for what, really? I do hope there isn’t any backlash from the new male wonder woman, though. That’d be a shame. Oh, well, off to eat my Coke sandwich and drink my glass of steak. Cheers.

  8. Maria says:

    Yet the BBC still made a statement despite the “lack,” of backlash.

  9. Timely Comment says:

    I could see Moffat’s point— the Mainstream Media’s emphasis on the change in gonads for DOCTOR WHO in over 50 years elicits the reflexive reactions from those Male Rights Activists who’d want the SAME thing done in the previous 12 regenerations…

    They’d register their displeasure, swamping comments and letters to the editors with their point of view of keeping the Doctor a man… using p.r. lessons of an aggrieved majority drowning out the opposing views with THEIR opinions.

    Nothing like the MSM being so “fair and balanced” with this topic that elicits those kind of responses— and likewise the countering opinions; it’s a hot-button topic that proves to the MSM that the subtle egging-on of the ‘DOCTOR WHO NOW FEMALE!’ coverage is the proper one— it gets those eyeballs reading the column inches or watch the prattering videos…

    It’s as if the media encourages the controversy to have ALL those views— people who’d want to conserve the practice begun in 1966 with the First Regeneration of keeping the Doctor a man, and those who’d progress the character to reflect modern times 50 years later and make “him” [a not-human Alien] now a woman…

    It’s as if the MSM wants to have the loud contrarians trumpet their view with some “fake news” controversy about the subject?

  10. Rob M says:

    Having been a Doctor Who fan for over 30 years, I have lived through the best of times (McCoy, Eccelston and Capaldi) and the worst of times (Collin Baker, the TV movie and 18 years of darkness). Although I personally feel the Doctor should have remained male, I have lived through enough to keep an open mind and not pass judgement until I see the new Doctor in action. That being said, I am worried that the show’s dynamic could be in dangerf for two reasons. 1) I am concerned that the writers will no longer write for “The Doctor” and instead will write for “The Female Doctor”. The Doctor as a character has more than 50 years of established cannon of who he (or she) is and if you stop writing for that character and start writing the character specifically because he is now a she, you run the risk of ruining who that character is. If I can still see and hear The Doctor in Jodi Whittiker and it isn’t written to make a point of her being a woman and that’s all, then I will be Okay. 2) I am more worried that now that The Doctor is a woman, you only have one way to go with the companion and that is to have a weak male companion. I would find this to be offensive and it would prove exactly what everyone is upset about because it panders to the overly PC culture prevent today. It makes a political statement that need not be introduced, explored or involved with the show. Both girls and boys should be able to enjoy this show and no one, NO ONE should feel weakened or subdued in an effort to make the show more PC to accommodate a female lead.

  11. Bobby Jenkins says:

    So all you so call WHOVIAN fans do need to shut the hell up we live in the 21 century so if u all don’t like it then get in your TARDIS and travel back to 1920 where females has no right

  12. Leon says:

    Half the fun was the constant sexual chemistry between the doctor and his assistants. This woman has ZERO and I mean Zero sex appeal so whomever the male assistant is (also complete PC BS) will have zero sexual chemistry which means BORING!!!! Doctor Who is over. I blame PC snowflakes and out of touch hollywood.

  13. qguy says:

    Dontcha just love it how any criticism of a female Doctor are automatically labeled “misogynist?” So typical of the left’s labeling and redfining.

  14. nerdrage says:

    It’s hilarious how this very comments section refutes the premise of this article – that “everyone” is onboard with this.

  15. Richard Porterfield says:

    I cheer for the casting but my biggest fear is that the Doctor will come off like Mary Poppins. Heaven Forbid.

  16. May Loo says:

    Among the choices for the new Doctor, I thought both Jodie Whittaker and Kris Marshall as being lightweights. The decision has been made. Time will tell, won’t it?

  17. Joy ruff says:

    He can do that it is in the old boctor who he can do both Wich the old who I love it thanks

  18. Ivan says:

    You all get that this show is made up don’t you?

  19. Cath says:

    TV fans and sci-fi fans don’t like change but change is an expectation in Dr. Who so this much change was going to cause some to go a bit crazy. If you don’t like the casting, do watch or watch and complain, What matters to the show is a) that the show is good, b) that the cast is good, c) that it gets the “ratings” the powers that be want.

  20. Lisa says:

    The first woman to play the role out of over a dozen males and people STILL complain? How many more men should play it before it would be okay for a woman to play it? Kind of like how many male presidents do there have to be before we can have a female one?

    • ExDoctorFan says:

      What woman should we cast as the role of Harry Potter or Luke Skywaker or Superman?

    • Galdon says:

      You have to consider the context this decision is being made in. Right now in geek culture there is seemingly a push to “replace all the white male characters” and you might think that’s hyperbole but we have the Female Ghostbusters, Female Thor, Black Spiderman, Female Iron Man, Black Nick Fury, Black Captain America, Ms. Marvel replacing Captain Marvel, and so on.

      Sometimes, the choice is right. I don’t think there is a person on the planet right now who could do a Nick Fury better than Samuel L Jackson. But every time you take an A-List character and replace them, you reinforce that idea regardless of if it is a political decision, publicity stunt, or legit creative decision. So, while the outrage may seem weird when you narrow it down to just this one instance, it’s pretty understandable that some people may assume the worst about the change.

    • nerdrage says:

      Ah well it was inevitable. Look at the screaming among Trekkies over a black female lead and (worse) actual gay characters (not just presumed ones like Garak). And that’s a franchise that has had progressivism in its DNA from the start. It boggles my mind.

      • freesoul says:

        Well the point is Star Trek WAS progressive at a time but now it will be both racist and sexist following the huge bigotry that is the PC/SJW narrative. Be prepare for weak men and evil white dude all over the universe. I’m sorry, but I hated it when it was the other way around and I don’t see why we should enjoy it now. Sadly, odds are it will be the same for the Doctor.
        Instead of promoting strength of both genders which would be fine (as it has been for strong female lead in the past like Alien without weakening men) this industry is going full gender reversal and far from being progressive is even more pathetic than which they pretend to be critical of.
        So yeah, we can agree on this, it boggles my mind too.
        Imagine that instead of wonder woman, as someone said, we had the new movie Wonder Man ! now that would have been a hell of a shit storm.

  21. The Other Guy says:

    As a life long fan of the show I have a huge problem with the Doctor being a woman because HE has always been a man. This whole codswallop about time lords changing sex upon regeneration is something Davis and Moffat have added to the show in the last few years.
    This is just PC box ticking by the BBC and shows complete disregard for the shows 50+ years of established history.
    I cant understand how women can applaud this as been a brave and forward thinking move either.
    All this proves is that the BBC only think a Sci-Fi show can work with a female lead, if the role has already been made popular by a man. Otherwise they would have put some thought behind it and created a new show with a female lead.
    They have already made several tie in shows with Doctor Who so surely they could have created a show about a female Gallyfreyan, but like I said, they obvioulsy dont think people would watch it.

    • Tobias Cafiero says:

      You are correct. The writing this year was totally PC. This is just natural progression

    • Steve says:

      It just wont be Doctor Who anymore, more like Dr Frank-N-Furter.

    • Lisa says:

      If they created a new show with a female lead, you’d be complaining they were copying Dr Who but with a female lead. You’d still be upset because you’re sexist. Examine your own fears of losing your male privilege before making a reckless claim that women can’t play lead roles in ‘established’ shows.

      • The Other Guy says:

        ‘If they created a new show with a female lead, you’d be complaining they were copying Dr Who but with a female lead.’

        In case you missed it, back in the 90s Paramount did this to great success with Star Trek. Did they change the sex of Kirk? No. They created a new Trek with a female captain and it turned out to be a very successful show that generated a massive global following of its own.

        ‘Examine your own fears of losing your male privilege before making a reckless claim that women can’t play lead roles in ‘established’ shows.’

        This just made me laugh, what utter clap trap. If you would actually read my comment you would notice that I never said a woman couldn’t play the lead in an established show. I said it was wrong to ignore 50+ years of the shows history just to tick a PC box. They could have killed off the Doctor when he reached his 12th regeneration and then had a female time lord stumble upon his Tardis and have the adventures continue. There would be no issue there, its a logical continuation of the show. But to change the lead from a man to a woman is beyond stupid.

      • Vanessa says:

        Why is it assumed that sexism is the only reason to be unhappy with this casting stunt? I am a female with no “male privilege” to lose and I am mad as hell. I find this the worst kind of pandering, and as a woman I’m highly insulted that a MAN thinks that he can simply slap a female face on something and pat himself on the back for being “enlightened”, rather that bothering to come up with something new.

  22. Bismarck says:

    It’s pretty obvious the doctor was made into a woman, for the sake of a being a woman, rather than merit.

    If moffat thinks some poll or comments on social media is a reflection of reality, then I kindly remind him of the shows veiwership

  23. John Miller says:

    I love it when people on both sides completely lose their @#$% over something so completely innocuous and inconsequential.

    • Patrick Mee says:

      Doctor of Who is an alien beans. An men can be it or an ladies. I rest my an case. Look it up in an dictionary, an doctor can be both.

      • Maria says:

        @Patrick You ought to watch the Classics because there’s zippo mention of Time Lords switching sexes. This is a NuWho thing.

  24. Dessa says:

    Just for clarification, she will be the FOURTEENTH actor to play the role, because of the late John Hurt’s War Doctor.

    Also, David Bradley isn’t just playing “a second Doctor,” he is playing THE First Doctor, reprising his role from An Adventure in Space in Time, where he replaced the late William Hartnell.

    • Andrew Hogan says:

      Quite right. She’s the 14th actor (actually actress, that decision to have ‘actor’ apply to both sexes is more PC BS) to play the Doctor, and would actually be playing the 15th Doctor (because of Tennant regenerating twice).

      Also, counting Richard Hurndell and David Bradley, that’s 15 actors prior to JW that have played the Doctor in the series.

      The comment that she is the “13th actor to play the Doctor” is blunt and unspecific. What about Peter Cushing in the films. Rowan Atkinson to Joanna Lumley (and here it was light-hearted and humourous to have woman doctor) in The Curse of Fatal Death.

      • RexBlyCody says:

        Technically she’s the thirteenth Doctor, fourteenth body of the Time Lord, fifteenth life of the Time Lord, and one of many actors who have portrayed the Doctor.
        To clarify, the War Doctor is not considered one of the Doctors because he gave up that name, and the Tenth Doctor regenerated into himself that one time.

  25. BillUSA says:

    To me, it’s important that the reason for a switch in gender is due to a plethora of stories that can be written. On the negative side, if the Doctor is having a gender reassignment because that reassignment is to appease the viewer, then those stories had better be worth it.

    You can’t blame those fans who are repulsed by the change. I’m not one of them, but when Marvel Comics changed Thor into a woman, I took it to mean they didn’t need me as a fan.

    In both cases, I think everyone would be better served if a female character all her own were formed as new adventurer, rather than intentionally changing a long-standing character to reflect our culture.

    But I wish the lady doc well.

  26. f00bar says:

    I just hope that they still keep the Dr with whatever quirks they feel her character should have. I say this because often times female strong characters are shown to have less flaws because they are afraid of the backlash, ie all women of power must be shown infallible. The best episodes are the ones where the Dr has made a big mess up until the end where it all gets figured out.

  27. Chris says:

    All I care about is whether the story writing is going to improve. It has truly sucked for years now. As Mr. Capaldi proved, you can have the most gifted actor in the world play the Doctor and still fail if the writing is garbage.

  28. Paula Stiles says:

    Oh, Lord. Moffat, you can’t leave soon enough. Talk about sticking your foot in your mouth and shoving hard.

    Look, I have no problem with casting a woman for Thirteen and I’m looking forward to what they do with the change. But Moffat is either lying or greatly misinformed. There has been a *huge* backlash in the fandom. The rest of us have had to listen to it for days. And it was entirely predictable. So, perhaps Steven “Sausage Factory for a Writers Room” Moffat should shut his trap about the topic of sexism and misogyny and finish exiting the building.

    • Brandon says:

      Paula, I’m a part of the fandom and I have no problem with it. I figure since the Dr. can regenerate however and whenever he needs, regenerating as a woman is potentially a wonderful thing, don’t you think.

    • Danyael says:

      I wouldn’t classify a vocal minority within the fandom as a *huge* backlash. Such hyperbole Paula Stiles, perhaps you should shut your trap?

      • BetterThanYou says:

        I say we change the name to NURSE WHO and give her a sonic frying pan. The TARDIS control room can be made to look like a kitchen so the talentless hacktress can live where she deserves to live. She can make sandwiches. Danyel, you and every other waste of air that identify as/with progressive, liberal, feminist, democract, etc. are 100% of the problem…every time.

      • *huge* backlash is not an understatement, but certainly not an overstatement. I am one of those ‘traditionalists’ and even I was surprised at the levels of angst on this topic. I didn’t think I was alone, but it seems Moffat may have greatly misjudged his fan base!

  29. WakeUp says:

    Thank you Mr. Moffat for telling it like it is!

  30. cadavra says:

    Of course it’s a non-story. Sci-fi and fantasy are by their very nature liberal in their beliefs (pro-science, pro-tolerance, pro-education). Misogynists are by their very nature conservative. These are phony complaints about a show these people never, ever watch on a “foreign” network they never, ever watch.

    • BetterThanYou says:

      Let me guess..Mom’s basement? 40yo +? Only a complete and utter self-absorbed tool trying very hard not to look like a total and complete classless, no-life waste of air would post something like that. You eagerly swallow all the bile your progtrash masters pour down your throat, and then puke it back up on message boards to make yourself a little SJW hero. You’re a tiny little joke. Proggie “tolerance” means “only if you’re beliefs fall lockstep with mine”. Proggie “SCIENCE” means “only if it supports my false narrative.” Proggies “education” means “only if it indoctrinates others to think like me”. Progs are no more or no less racist, misogynist, or whatever else
      “-ist” you can dream up than anyone else on either side of the socio-political divide. The more you deny it, the more it is true. Keep being a truthophobe, though. Keep believing the lies.

    • kamiamaya says:

      You’re assuming that everyone with a problem about this casting is a misogynist. This isn’t the case.

    • notyoutoo says:

      I’m conservative and I watched Doctor Who…not any more. They should have explored a new character or a new show like about Ginny or River Song. To change an iconic character because of 21 century feminist ideals destroys the show. I can see no other reason the BBC would allow a female Doctor other than to be politically correct.

      • Andrew Hogan says:

        Absolutely. The writers just do not do their research into the programmes history.

        It has long been established that Time Lords and Time Ladies cannot gross-gender regenerate. Go watch The Invasion of Time and listen to Rodan’s comments. They would make no sense of Time Lords (Ladies) could change sex.

        The writers had opportunities to introduce a rationale to explain the change in how Time Lords can regenerate (and I can think of a very good one). They missed them all.

      • Brandon says:

        You don’t have much imagination then do you, notyoutoo?

  31. CJB says:

    Wow. I guess it’s all “fake news”! SAD!

  32. ExDoctorFan says:

    One season to cancellation

  33. BetterThanYou says:

    Aw look, little Mikey is calling people “Pudding Brain”. It was a stupid line when Petey Capaldi used it and it’s still stupid. Maybe you should actually use whatever passes for your brain and realize what a tool you are. Regardless, STFU now. You don’t deserve to have an opinion.

  34. Mike says:

    You know, you’re the classic example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain.

  35. Mike says:

    None of the examples you provided are characters that have a history of changing bodies as part of their lore.
    While the Doctor is a woman, she will be a “Time Lady” not a “Time Lord”
    Problem solved.
    This new season will be brilliant.
    Stop trying to use your pudding brain and just just watch it.

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