Doctor Who Showrunner Steven Moffat has spoken rather candidly about the issue of diversity in Doctor Who and admits that they ‘need to do better’.
Speaking in the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine, Moffat says The Doctor and his companion both were very nearly black quite recently.
With actress Pearl Mackie joining the cast as the new companion next season, Moffat seems happy that the show is embracing the proper sort of diversity: “We decided that the new companion was going to be non-white, and that was an absolute decision, because we need to do better on that. We just have to. I don’t mean that we’ve done terribly – our guest casts are among the most diverse on television, but I feel as though I could have done better overall.”
But, ever the professional, Moffat says that, more than anything, the casting comes down to the right person for any given role: “I had this baffling idea that if we just threw open each part to everybody, it would all work out in the end. I put my faith, inexplicably, in the free market. It doesn’t work. You can only cast for talent – you’ve got to cast the best person, every single time – but you’ve got to gauge where you’re looking for the talent.”
However, he openly admits that a show like Doctor Who has no reason not to be diverse because, by its very nature, it can cast as widely as it wishes: “It’s a show that has no excuse. Sometimes the nature of a particular show – historical dramas, for instance – makes diversity more of a challenge, but Doctor Who has absolutely nowhere to hide on this.
“Young people watching have to know that they’ve a place in the future. That really matters. You have to care profoundly what children’s shows in particular say about where you’re going to be.”
That all said, he admits that even in the historical episodes, Who can play with the facts more that most can: “And we’ve kind of got to tell a lie: we’ll go back into history and there will be black people where, historically, there wouldn’t have been, and we won’t dwell on that. We’ll say, ‘To hell with it, this is the imaginary, better version of the world. By believing in it, we’ll summon it forth.’ And, outside of the fiction, it’s about anyone feeling that they can be involved in this industry as an actor, a director, a writer… It’s hugely important, and it’s not good when we fail on that. We must do better.”
So now that there’s a companion in the TARDIS who isn’t white, will Gallifrey’s most famous son ever change the colour of his skin?: “Two non-white leads in Doctor Who would be amazing. In fact, a lot of people would barely notice … I certainly don’t think there’s ever been a problem with making the Doctor black, which is why it should happen one day. I mean, we’ve tried. The part has been offered to a black actor. But for various reasons, it didn’t work out.”
Hmmmmmmmmm… who do you think the role was offered to? We know Idris Elba was rumoured at one time but we can’t see him in the role of The Doctor, truth be told. Perhaps David Oyelowo is the one offered it? We know he was attached briefly before Capaldi was cast…
What do you think? Who might the first non-white Doctor have almost been?
Let us know your thoughts….