By Arturo R. García
The debate regarding Doctor Who and race and gender reopened in a major way on Saturday when Matt Smith announced he will leave the show after this year’s Christmas special, meaning the search is on for the Twelth Doctor — an especially crucial role, according to series canon, since this would be the Doctor’s final regeneration.
Naturally, it’s not just showrunner Steven Moffat looking for a new Doctor, but fans and bookmakers.
I’ve long been on-record as supporting Chiwetel Ejiofor getting the nod, and some oddsmakers have him with a 7-1 shot at getting it. The Mary Sue reported that actor Wil Wheaton responded to rumors surrounding Ejiofor by saying he’s known “for several weeks” who it’s going to be.
But, according to IO9, Ejiofor isn’t even on the list with two other bookies, William Hill and Ladbrokes. But there is a POC near the top of the list: Homeland’s David Harewood, who has also shown a progressive activist streak, as seen in this 2012 commentary against Prime Minister David Cameron’s social policies:
However, a poll conducted by the Guardian revealed an apparent new contender: Zawe Ashton, best known in the UK for her role as Violet “Vod” Nordstrom on Fresh Meat, topped the vote with 25 percent. Here’s a clip of Vod describing herself (NSFW, language):
Ashton has not only dealt with the seemingly requisite sexism on the part of some alleged fans of the show:
But she’s expressed her gratitude for the popular nomination online:
It’s worth noting that we’ve been here before; in 2008, Patterson Joseph was listed as a 3-1 favorite to take over for David Tennant. And we saw how that turned out. But for now, I also asked around the Racialicious clubhouse for their picks.
Geek maven Kendra James put in a word for former Deep Space Nine star Alexander Siddig:
Despite evidence to the contrary (my “Doctor Who” toy and gadget collection almost outweighs my Batgirl collection. Almost.) I’m not really a fan of “Doctor Who,” I haven’t really enjoyed the show since the ‘something blue’ speech at the Pond Wedding, and I’ve never made it to a Christmas Special. That said, I do like to give every new series a chance at the start, and casting Alexander Siddig as Twelve would go a long was towards keeping me around.At 57 Siddig isn’t going to fit into the sort of ‘hipster doctor’ theme modeled since Eccleston’s departure –I can’t see him running around in Chucks or a bowtie– but I take pleasure in imagining a slightly more serious doctor with some gravitas under his interpretation. Remove Stephen Moffat while you’re making changes too, and maybe we can find a writer who’d be willing to get back to more time travel based episodes (rather than strictly aliens…) and actually deal with what that might mean for a Doctor of non-white descent when it comes to traveling into the past. We can only hope that it wouldn’t come down t his perky white female companion getting most of the spotlight.
And if Siddig didn’t work out? Well, someone on tumblr suggested the following and I just can’t bring myself to say no:
The Rock is consistently the best part of every project he’s in, including this summer’s “Pain and Gain.” I’ll pretend he’s British if you will.
(h/t for the image of Siddig and Kate Bracken from “Being Human” to Fandomnista.)
Meanwhile, Arts & Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour went with somebody who’s been making some more headway with American audiences:
Richard Ayodade would be a great Doctor. American audiences may (or may not, judging by box office) have seen him in “The Watch” – but, I mean, Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, AND Vince Vaughn is too much doucheiness for any one actor to counteract his first time on American soil. But that’s okay! Because Ayodade will forever be beloved to me as Moss on British series “The IT Crowd.” Richard has that perfect blend of Who-able attributes: devastatingly cute, undeniably dorky, and great comedic timing necessary for the 12th Doctor to be as awesome as his 11 predecessors.