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The unimaginable joy of finally seeing a woman as ‘Doctor Who’

My Doctor is in. And it’s about freaking time. 

Sunday on BBC America (1:45 p.m. EDT/10:45 a.m. PDT, and 8 EDT/5 PDT), fans who have waited years or even decades to see themselves in a certain time-traveling alien will finally get their wish in the Season 11 premiere of “Doctor Who.”

For the first time in the 55 year-history of the storied British sci-fi franchise, the TARDIS-dwelling Time Lord of Gallifrey is being played by a woman, Jodie Whittaker. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this moment, to viewers of the show, and to the greater pop-culture landscape, in the midst of a movement for greater gender and racial parity in entertainment.

And to me, a fan since I was a young girl, the proud owner of a hand-crocheted stuffed TARDIS, and someone who’s considering a “Who”-themed topper for my wedding cake, it’s monumental. It’s Christmas and my birthday wrapped up with a big blue bow. No gift could be greater, or less expected. 

For a long time, the idea of a woman Doctor seemed completely impossible. Despite the number of times the show had established that when the alien Time Lords “regenerate” (they essentially die and are reborn in a new body, which is the mechanism that has allowed the show to last so long with so many different Doctors), they can change genders or races. Yet many people, including former series writer Steven Moffat, have been vociferously against the Doctor regenerating into a woman.

When it happened, I honestly couldn’t believe it. Watching Whittaker step into the light in the announcement video was surreal and joyful, astonishing and moving. I cried. I’ve cried a number of times since, watching her brief introduction in the 2017 Christmas special, in trailers for the new season and videos of fans wishing her luck. 

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