This fall will see the beginning of Jodie Whittaker‘s tenure as the 13th Doctor. Regardless of arguments about if 13 is the appropriate number for her Doctor (after the meta-crisis and War Doctor, etc.), there has been quite a bit of uncertainty and outright hatred from some fan circles for a female Doctor.
However, Doctor Who has long implied this was not only possible but probable. When David Tennant regenerated into Matt Smith, Matt touches his hair and says, “I’m a girl!!!” before finding his adam’s apple.
In the episode “The Doctor’s Wife” the Doctor says,
“The mark of the Corsair. Fantastic bloke. He had that snake as a tattoo in every regeneration. Didn’t feel like himself unless he had the tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times. Ooo, she was a bad girl.”
In Peter Capaldi’s episode “Hell Bent” he shoots the General who regenerates as a woman.
So the groundwork has been laid for gender switching, but there is a more significant indicator that all will be well with a female Doctor. The Time Ladies that preceded Jodie.
Here are a few of the beloved female “Time Lords” from the Classic and New Who runs of the show.
The first Time Lord to appear on Doctor Who was the Doctor’s Granddaughter, Susan (Carol Ann Ford). In the episode, “An Unearthly Child,” her teachers at Coal Hill School, Ian (William Russell) and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), are concerned about what seem to be outlandish statements about history and science and find themselves in a blue box that is bigger on the inside. The title of the episode references their impressions of Susan prior to meeting The Doctor.
Susan accompanied William Hartnell‘s incarnation of the time-traveller for just over a year until she was left behind on 22nd-century Earth at the end of “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” (1964).
She would return for the 20th Anniversary Special “The Five Doctors” in 1983, and a photograph of her had a prominent place, along with River Song, on The Doctor’s desk in the episode “The Pilot” from Capaldi’s final season.
During Tom Baker‘s tenure as the 4th Doctor, the Time Lord (Lady), Romanadvoratrelundar, was introduced.
With such a long name The Doctor asked what to call her and she was happy to be called Fred but he chose to shorten her name to Romana. She was assigned to The Doctor by the White Guardian in a bid to track down the various pieces of The Key To Time in the show’s 16th season.
Initially played by Mary Tamm, she regenerated at the start of the following season – into actress Lalla Ward, who had played Princess Astra in the previous episode, “The Armageddon Factor.” Princess Astra it turned out was the final piece of the Key to Time and that may have played a part in Romana taking her appearance.
Romana remained with the Fourth Doctor until the 2nd to final episode in Baker’s last season “Warrior’s Gate.”
She went on to marry her co-star, Tom Baker and recently returned to the world of Who for the new version of “Shada.” Their marriage did not last as long as their on-screen partnership.
Actress Kate O’Mara made two very memorable appearances as Ushas, better known as the Rani in two stories, ‘The Mark of the Rani’ (1985) and ‘Time and the Rani’ (1987).
In “Mark of the Rani” she teamed up with the Master (Anthony Ainley) against the Sixth Doctor (Collin Baker). She was intended to be an ongoing new villain for the series but only made one more appearance two years later in “Time and the Rani.” In that episode, which saw the regeneration of the Doctor into his Seventh incarnation (Sylvester McCoy), she has another evil scheme that the Doctor most figure out while still in the throes of change that his regeneration has caused.
Rani fans can also take joy in the 1993 Children In Need special, “Dimensions In Time” where she reprises the role one final time.
Jenny (Georgia Moffett, no relation to Steven Moffat) appeared in 2008’s “The Doctor’s Daughter.” She was an artificially created offspring using the 10th Doctor’s DNA on Messaline, a planet perpetually at war.
She sacrificed herself to save her “father” but had regenerated at the end of the episode and went off to have her own adventures through the Big Finish audio series.
Georgia is the real life daughter of 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) and married her on screen father, David Tennant, whose favorite Doctor was her father.
She also appeared in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special, “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot,” as a very pregnant self trying to use her hubby to help get her dad into the 50th Anniversary episode “The Day of the Doctor.”
In 2008, Catherine Tate‘s dazzling Donna Noble was subjected to a human/Time Lord meta-crisis with David Tennant‘s Doctor – thus creating the DoctorDonna. Though technically not a Time Lord, she acted very much like her counterpart, The Doctor. She disabled the reality bomb of the Daleks and returned the 26 planets back to their rightful places in the universe.
Her mind overloaded, the Doctor was forced to erase her memory (against her wishes) and brought her back to her family on Earth.
She would return for David Tennant’s final episode “The End of Time” but managed not to be converted into the Master like the rest of humanity due to a self-defense mechanism the Doctor had implanted in her mind during the meta-crisis.
After the character got married in “The End of Time,” her name became Donna Noble-Temple which translates via Italian/Latin as “Lady Lord (of) Time.”
Making her first appearance in the Tenth Doctor episode “Silence in the Library,” River Song (Alex Kingston) became an immediate fan favorite and a bit of a mystery. She knew the Doctor’s “real” name!!!
Daughter of Eleventh Doctor companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), River was born Melody Pond. She was conceived in the TARDIS, and while she was human she had Time Lord DNA which allowed her to regenerate as a child during ‘Day of the Moon’ (2011) and then again in the same year’s “Let’s Kill Hitler” which saw her gain the appearance fans are more familiar with.
She had been kidnapped by Madame Kovarian (Frances Barber) and raised to become a weapon against the Doctor by the Silence. She uses her regenerations to save the 11th Doctor after she kills him. They would go on to marry (which explains why she knows his real name).
She was last seen in “The Husbands of River Song” that seems to happen shortly before their encounter in the Library.
Michelle Gomez first appeared in 2014 as Missy, the new regeneration of infamous Time Lord renegade The Master (most recently played by John Simm).
Introduced in the first episode of Peter Capaldi‘s Twelfth Doctor, “Deep Breath” she wasn’t revealed to be a new incarnation of the Master until “Dark Water,” the penultimate episode of that season.
She returned time and again to taunt the Doctor, most recently in the Series 10 finale, “The Doctor Falls,” when Missy teamed up with the Simm incarnation. They betray each other when she decides to help her old friend, the Doctor, and stabs her predecessor. Knowing full well that he is killing himself The Master shoots her in the back with his laser screwdriver.
However, fans know that death is often not fatal in the universe of Time Lords, so we may see a new Master/Mistress in the future. After all, shooting herself in the back should have been in her memories so like Doc Brown in Back to the Future, she could have done something to protect herself.
There are many other instances of female Time Lords holding their own in the same universe. Did we forget a favorite of yours? Tell us in the comments.