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Doctor Who is…a woman?
There is no need for “Spoiler Alerts” or alarms, because this was bound to happen sooner or later. Many Doctor Who fans and critics expected it to happen much sooner – especially when you consider the background of the character.
Keep in mind that the show aired for 26 seasons from the early 1960s to the late 1980s and 10 series (and counting) since 2005.
Since the start of the series, 12 different men stepped into the titular role. From William Hartnell and Jon Pertwee to David Tennant and Peter Capaldi, no one ever questioned the change of actor without losing respect for and interest in the show. It was only a matter of time before a woman was asked to report for duty as Doctor Who – and Jodie Whittaker is the English actress chosen for this history-making opportunity.
Whether you are a Doctor Who fan means very little, because there is a much more significant lesson that can be learned as content creators, developers and marketers. However, just like a Doctor Who episode, we’ll leave you in suspense before we initiate the “Big Reveal.”
Why So Many Different Actors?
If you are not familiar with Doctor Who, then you may not be up to speed on why there many actor changes have been so or how the show has survived with such a high turnover rate for its titular character. While addressing the elephant in the room, the first lesson in quality content creation is made crystal clear.
How? It can be summed up into a single word: regeneration.
Years ago, the basic concept was added to the script of the sci-fi drama series that the Time Lord would eventually experience too much bodily harm for a normal heal cycle – which explains why they must transform into a new person for a full recovery. That’s it!
No need for a major “jump the shark” moment filled with plot holes, unanswered questions or the vague and flawed but frequently used “just because” line of reasoning. It not only made sense, but it breathed new life into the show – allowing it to last for as long as it has on the air.
Lesson # 1: Shifting the direction or tone of your content does not need an extensive explanation, but you do need to explain.
At times, it may seem natural to shift the tone, direction or even type of your content towards a new playing field or timeline. However, you still need to find a way to bring your audience along for the transition without losing them in the details (or lack thereof). Find a simple way to explain the reasoning behind the transition that allows them to remain engaged and interested while still fully informed. Do not make the mistake of assuming that “they don’t need to know the details.”
As any fan of any TV show that experienced an unexpected and mostly unexplained cast change or “jump the shark” shift would tell you, that does not always pan out successfully. Chances are you do not want your audience to feel left behind. The truth is that they leave and replace you faster than you can say “TARDIS” if they even sense that you are not on the same page anymore.
Remember: Less is more. If you cannot find a simple way to explain the change or transition, then perhaps you are not ready to make the change at all. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line – not a page full of lines. Simplicity is essential.
Go with the Flow & Don’t Fight Against the Content
As content creators and marketers, it is important to remember that you are responsible for breathing life into your work. Breathing life into high-quality content means that it will grow, adapt and even regenerate on its own with time. You must be able to go with the flow and avoid fighting against the current.
At Comic-Con back in July 2018, the history-making actress Jodie Whittaker alluded to that natural flow by stating that “it’s the direction that [the show] was always going to go in” – especially now in 2018. She further referenced that it is only a “slight difference” since the good doctor was known for occasional regeneration.
LESSON # 2: Allow your content to grow and adapt with the time. Fighting against the current will eventually cause it to drown.
You will be able to determine where your content needs to go (or grow) to keep up with your evolving audience. Figuring out a plan to get there is the tricky part. That is where you need to be creative and connected: creative with your content while connected to your audience.
Try to fight against the current of the climate affecting your audience and your content will drown. More importantly, your audience will leave long before that happens. Fans do not wait until a TV show is officially cancelled before they stop watching it. In most cases, the lack of viewership is what leads to the cancellation.
Not All Things Have to (or Should) Change
During the same Comic-con interview, Doctor Who executive producer Chris Chibnall made it clear that there were no major obstacles or challenges behind-the-scenes with the transition to a female doctor. On the contrary, he stated that “you don’t write the Doctor any differently because she’s a woman” since “the through line of the Doctor continues.” The only thing that changed was the actress playing the role.
LESSON # 3: Accept change and embrace it, but only in moderation.
Just because you make one change does not mean everything must change. In fact, it is nearly impossible to keep your audience engaged if you change too much about your content. Do not make the mistake of starting from scratch 100% when it comes to every aspect of your content. Doing so will likely force you to start from scratch with your audience as well.
The Bottom Line
Anyone involved with creating or marketing content should be happy with the fact that Jodie Whittaker is stepping into the role of Doctor Who. This historical cast change and its impact (or lack thereof) on the continuity of the show speaks and teaches volumes about the value of quality content growth and regeneration.
Unlike Doctor Who, though, you do not have access to the Tardis. Be creative yet cautious with how you handle the future success of your content, because you will never be able to go back in time to change a past failure.
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