Well, what we’d long hoped and wished for has happened. Finally! It’s been five seasons since a female writer has penned an episode of Doctor Who, but the upcoming ninth season is set to change all that, as it has been revealed that Steven Moffat’s gone ahead and hired a woman to pen an episode. Can I get a hell-effing-yeah?
Throughout the series’ history there have been only four writers who are women — out of the 91 writers the series has had thus far — despite the groundbreaking fact that Verity Lambert, a woman, was the one who brought this madman and his blue box to life. Next season the series will get its fifth when Catherine Tregenna joins the Time Lord’s ranks, the first woman to pen an episode in six years.
It’s a refreshing change and one that doesn’t come out of nowhere. Despite our own qualms with the overall lack of diversity on the series, one of its most popular writers (and, in general, a very sought-after dude) Neil Gaiman spoke out on the matter earlier this year. It’s long been a goal to get some “women writers onto the team,” he purported, before going on to explain that many women have been considered, with showrunner Steven Moffat allegedly and personally reaching out to many a writer that fits that description because “it’s a priority for them too.”
The hiring of Tregenna is just one in a set of steps the series should endeavor to make heading into the ninth season in order to advance Who and give a few well-rounded edges to its point of view. Really, any advancement is worth pointing out and celebrating at this point. And while there is definitely still some distance for the show to go (we say this with love because what series doesn’t have things it could be better at, right?), we’re hopeful this marks a positive turn for the series’ overall point of view when it comes to diversity.
As for Tregenna herself, her resume is filled with a litany of accomplishments in British television series, of which you’ve probably heard of a few: Law & Order: UK, EastEnders, and Torchwood. The Welsh playwright’s “Captain Jack Harkness” episode was even nominated for the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.
In our perfect world dreamscape, Tregenna would be involved in the creation and introduction of the Doctor’s new companion — given that its rumored this year’s Christmas special will be Jenna Coleman’s last with the show. We’re going to assume at this point that traditional element — that of it being a female companion — isn’t going anywhere (though we could always be wrong!), so allowing a woman to write and shape that woman could only net a positive outcome overall.
The female point of view and experience is rife with compelling story potential that even the most accomplished and intuitive of male writers cannot fully understand. And it’s something the series would do well to expand upon given the slightly disappointing and uninteresting ways in which its female characters have been written on the series over the years (River Song and Michelle Gomez’ Missy notwithstanding). And you can go ahead and whine all you want in the comments about how it should be about “getting the best writer for the job” but until diversity (be it race, gender, sexuality, etc) becomes the base-level, standard norm in the world, the push for varied points of view and experiences is crucial and necessary.
I mean, we’ve all seen Moneyball at this point, right? Sometimes it’s not about only and always about having “The Best of The Best” — if that was the case the New York Yankees would win every year no question, right? Often its about creating more than that: through an interconnected series of different folks with different strengths teaming together to form something more, shows achieve more nuanced, engaging portraits of the characters we eventually come to love (and sometimes hate). Increased diversity in the metaphorical writers’ room at Doctor Who will do just that. And here’s a crazy thought: what if Tregenna simply WAS the best writer for the job, eh? Wouldn’t that be a lark?
What do you think about the news? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.