You may feel entitled to a male Dr Who, but you’re not

by Kate Baldwin

Entitlement is a challenge for us all. We all have our expectations for having things in a certain way that we’ve grown accustomed. And we don’t like when those things are taken away.

The latest explosion of entitled angry white men has been around the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the next Dr Who. A role, which to date has been solely been played by white men.

The anti-BBC, anti-PC, and anti-”taking away anything I feel entitled to as being held by someone that looks like me” crowd has come out in full force. Twitter exploded with accusations that the BBC has succumbed to the PC-police, casting a woman out of a leftist-agenda.

Many couldn’t understand that a male Dr Who was an element of the show they purely felt entitled to, irrelevant to the storyline of a regenerating alien. Not appreciating how many actresses – and young girls alike – wanted more than to play the sidekick in this national treasure.

And a lot of us sat back, laughed and enjoyed the mini-meltdowns of the irrationally irate.

But it’s important that we don’t reduce all those who disagree with the decision to cast a woman as the Dr as raving sexist loonies. Despite the character being a time travelling alien that has shifted shapes 12 times previously, the familiarity of the white, male actor has become core to how many fans view the character and – understandably – fear that the 13th Dr is subsequently the “wrong” choice.

We saw a similar outburst when Noma Dumezweni, a black actress, was cast as Hermione Granger in the West End play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”. Many fans, who’d grown up with the cartoon covers of a white Hermione and Emma Watson playing the role in the movies, felt that it was the “wrong” choice, as that wasn’t how they pictured the character.

In true JK Rowling style, she slammed the online outburst around the choice for Norma. Just as we’re seeing many fans and those within the industry slamming the outcry against the casting of Jodie as the 13th Dr.

But rather than disregarding all those angry at the decision as looneys and arguing back loudly into the void of Twitter, to combat the unconscious bias around roles, such as Dr Who and Hermione Granger, we just need to prove them wrong. Only by introducing more diversity into our casting and riding the wave of anger, with great actors, actresses and scripts defying the cries of the entitled, will we see this entitlement over casting well-known characters subside.

However, we also need the support of institutions – especially the media – to do this. When tabloids instantly reduce an actress’s acting skills to a few nude screen grabs, further feeding fetishism and misogyny, they aren’t starting on a level playing field.

But ultimately, we need to grow up. We need to accept that we feel entitled to things that we aren’t. We need to accept that people don’t have to look like “I’ve always imagined” to play a role well, and open ourselves to the possibility that we may enjoy a bit of variety from a TV show that started over 50 years ago..

Kate Baldwin is a key player on our Women of Influence leadership team and is Deputy Chairman of the Parliament Street Technology Forum

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