Doctor Who?!

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Just seconds after the Wimbledon Men's tennis final had finished, a massive online argument and debate broke out over the casting of the 13th Doctor following the BBC clip that revealed the new Time Lord's identity. Jodie Whittaker, most famous for her role as Beth Latimer in the ITV drama "Broadchurch" will be taking over from Peter Capaldi at the end of the year in this iconic television series that now spans over half a century.

As social media went into a frenzied melt down, there was clear division between fans who saw the idea of a female Doctor as being the last straw and the end to all that they held dear and those who saw a bright new dawn with exciting possibilities.

Some of the tabloid newspapers did themselves a great disservice in the way that they too reported the news.

Given the fact that this franchise is all about a fictional time-travelling extraterrestrial being from the planet Gallifrey, it seems to me somewhat surprising that the gender of the latest actor to play this role should spark so much hostility, spite and outrage.

Perhaps I should not have been so surprised; for the cold, hard truth is that despite so much progress since the time that Doctor Who was first broadcast back in 1963, sexual discrimination is still prevalent in our society and a daily reality for so many women.

Whilst some might say that this is a just a T.V. programme purely for entertainment, I am reminded that it is often in those things that we laugh at, jokes being a good example, that our true values and prejudices can be clearly seen.

If the furore about the BBC's casting of their new Doctor seems a trifling storm in a tea cup, then the more recent BBC revelation of the gap in pay between the genders of their most highly paid presenters and entertainers, raises far more serious questions about the repercussions of how we see and value one another.

Whilst within the Bible we find passages that remind us that we are all made in God's image and there "is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus," the church (just like the world in which we live) has been guilty of serious discrimination on the basis of gender and there is more work to be done in overcoming this.

So, we wait with a sense of expectation to see what new qualities and fresh insights Jodie Whittaker brings to the character of the Doctor, just as all her predecessors have done in the past.

In the meantime, we seek God's forgiveness for our discrimination and prejudices as we commit ourselves anew to work for fairness and justice for all, regardless of their gender.

With love and God Bless,

Keith

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