Friday, November 24, 2017
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Jodie Whittaker and the other sci-fi women breaking the glass ceiling


Jo-W-71It looks like Jodie Whittaker was prepared for the criticism that she might get as the first female Doctor.


"I want to tell the fans not to be scared of my gender," she said. "This is a really exciting time."


It is an exciting time and not just for Jodie - female leads have been cropping up with increasing regularity on the big and small screens.


And sci-fi and superhero films have been leading the way.


Recently, Wonder Woman was credited for inspiring a new generation of girls, by teaching them they can save the world, too.


And in the Star Wars universe Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, and Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, also proved that male-dominated franchises could be reinvented for the modern day with women taking a leading role.


Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games have also portrayed women as strong leaders, rather than being relegated to the sidelines as minor characters.


And A Wrinkle in Time, starring Mindy Kaling as a character called Mrs Who, will be out next year. The 2018 American sci-fi film is directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Jennifer Lee.

The novel it was based on also has a woman behind it - Madeleine L'Engle.


"Casting a woman in a part that's always traditionally been played by a man is hugely important," Morgan Jeffery, Digital Spy's TV editor, tells the BBC regarding Doctor Who.


"This is the age of The Hunger Games; of the Star Wars movies being fronted by a female lead; of Wonder Woman utterly demolishing its box office rivals.


"By casting its first female lead in 2017, Doctor Who gets to be a part of something - something hugely exciting - instead of being left behind."


New dynamics


Will Howells, who writes for the Doctor Who magazine, feels the decision shouldn't be considered a big deal.


"Fifty years ago the idea of changing the lead actor in Doctor Who was groundbreaking.


"In 2017 there shouldn't be anything major about a TV series changing from a male lead to a female one.


"We'll also maybe see a solo male companion as a regular feature for the first time. I don't think it's a risky choice at all but if a show that can go anywhere and do anything can't take risks, what can? This opens so many potential new dynamics for the shows."


Empire's editor-at-large, Helen O'Hara, agrees.


"It's not just that you can do whatever, it's that you should do whatever. We should not allow our prejudices to colour our imaginations.


"We need more female directors, more female writers. It shouldn't be enough that we have one white woman in the leading role.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't consider female companions. Bill was great last series, not just a woman of colour but a gay woman. We need representation across the board."


She believes the decision to choose a female Doctor is seismic.


"Doctor Who is one of the great legacy titles that we have in our culture… so it makes a big statement to have a female Doctor," she says.


"Leaving aside diversity of casting being a good thing in itself, it's great because if you tell the same story with someone of a different race or gender, it feels different. It's an absolute shortcut to making yourself seem more imaginative.


"I'm thrilled about it.”

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