And The Fangirls (sort of) Rejoiced: ‘Doctor Who’ Hires its First Female Writer Since 2008

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You’ve probably already heard the news: Catherine Tregenna has apparently signed on to write an episode for Doctor Who’s ninth season. Some people might say that this is not news worthy – just look at the comments on the Nerdist article about the news  but she’s the first woman to pen an episode since 2008 so it’s kind of a big deal. Well, it’s a big deal for anyone that is not a misogynist asshole. But if the BBC and Steven Moffat were expecting to be showered with praise for finally finding a woman worthy of writing for Doctor Who, they were sorely mistaken. While fans are definitely excited that Doctor Who has taken a step forward the general response from fangirls seems to be: “About time!” followed by “What next?”

Finally a female writer in Doctor Who – @ATweetFromScott

Woooooo they’ve finally got a Female writer for Doctor Who 🙂 – @GallifreyanHaze

Apparently Catherine Tregenna is writing an ep for Series 9 of Doctor Who!  It’s good we’re finally getting another female writer wow – @KlBAINUZUKA

I think I’ll start watching #doctorwho now. Why? Because they hired their 1st female writer in SIX YEARS!!! – @Ashadahya

Doctor Who hires its first female writer in six years and the comments on the ‘THANK GOD, FINALLY’ articles are, unsurprisingly delightful. @briarlawry

I am so excited for Doctor Who to get its first female writer in half a decade. Will everything be better now? – @JaneLytv

Doctor Who finally has a female writer for the first time in six years, which is awesome, but it also should not have taken this long.. – @becksandtherest

Oh look, Doctor Who hired it’s first female writer in 6 years, bringing the grand total in it’s history up to… 5. Cool. – @alyssa_jayne

Point of this post unclear. Sorry. I’m sure there’s something vaguely along the lines of ‘why the hell wouldn’t they hire more female writers than that’ but I’m not exactly sure how that sort of thing works in the television writing world, so. – westgateoh

The last female Doctor Who script writer was Helen Raynor in series 4, so it’s about bloody time we got another! – @jennacoleeman

It might be tokenistic… But it’s a start. – meltedthedashboard

Catherine Tregenna is great. Her episodes of Torchwood  “Out of Time”, “Captain Jack Harkness”, “Meat” and “Adam” – were some of the best of the series run. “Captain Jack Harkness” was nominated in 2008 for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Her character work is especially good, which is good news because Moffat has never been particularly good at developing well-rounded characters. If you’re looking for an episode to watch to get a feel for Tregenna’s writing, try “Out of Time”, which is everything a grown-up time travel story should be.

Beyond the overall feeling that ONE SINGLE female writer is just not enough, there is a lot of excitement to see what Tregenna has to offer, especially considering that many believe the series has gotten a little stale in recent years. Some new blood – especially a writer coming from a new perspective – can only be a good thing. Of course there’s also the accusations of rampant misogyny throughout Moffat’s time as show runner; with Catherine Tregenna comes the hope that the female characters will break Moffat’s sexist stereotypes and become actual human beings.

Oh, I’m so excited!!  Out of Time is one of my favorite TW eps.  It speaks to me on a very personal level, and I just love it so much.  Love “Captain Jack Harkness” as well, such a lovely episode.  Can’t wait to see what she comes up with for Series 9! – sphinxyvic

Okay but the new writer we’re getting for Series 9 was nominated for a Hugo award with Captain Jack Harkness, and even managed to pull off making Owen Harper somewhat sympathetic in Out of Time. I’m hopeful for the best. – scriptscribbles

Even as a staunch Torchwood disliker I am hyped as heck that Catherine Tregenna’s writing a Doctor Who episode. – @tremolo_ 

Great 2 know that s9 of DW will hav a female writer.Catherine Tregenna’s work on TW was pretty good, especially Captain Jack Harkness!! – @CheekyAzzi

I love #DoctorWho but feel that with Catherine Tregenna joining the team, we can hopefully see a little more diversity in female characters. – @sophstomorrow

The unfortunate problem is that while the lack of diversity makes a female writer noteworthy, the many articles celebrating Catherine Tregenna’s appointment also draw attention to just how few female writers there have been since the series’ inception. It’s been SIX YEARS since the last female-penned episode: Helen Raynor’s two-part story “The Sontaran Stratagem”/“The Poison Sky” and according to The Mary Sue only four out of Doctor Who’s 91 writers have been women. Catherine Tregenna will be the fifth and the first during Steven Moffat’s time as show runner. This is a MASSIVE gender disparity – especially considering Doctor Who has a HUGE female fanbase. It’s no wonder many fangirls seem to think that this announcement is too little too late.

Good! As much as I love Doctor Who the show has a real problem with female characters, especially since Moffat… – @Noadi

Speaking of TV, I’m happy they finally dig up a female writer for Doctor Who, because these ones are so rare! #crazytv #sarcasm@tetxisk

wonder woman movie, female writer for doctor who. oh world, sometimes you spoil me with a hint of almost equality – @MegTao

Love how dudes who say why are you making a big deal out of Doctor Who hiring a female writer always bring up Verity Lambert from the 60s – @gabydunn

Oh look, Doctor Who hired it’s first female writer in 6 years, bringing the grand total in it’s history up to… 5. Cool. – @alyssa_jayne

You know what’s ridiculous? The fact that a female writer being announced for Doctor Who now just makes me slightly nervous. – @HacklyFracture

I’m hoping that this isn’t just Moffat/the BBC throwing us a bone to get us to shut up about gender equality. It would be good so see more women writing for Doctor Who because it shouldn’t be note-worthy, but it is. None for six, going on seven years? That’s not really good enough. – youatthebarricades

It’s pretty clear that women are no longer happy with the scraps they have been given. They need something more. One female writer is a great start but there is still a long way to go. It also begs the question: Why has it taken so long to find a female writer? Moffat – and others – have said that they have been searching for a female writer for some time but I can’t help but think they didn’t look very far. Or maybe there just aren’t any female writers out there. It’s almost like systematic oppression and institutional misogyny have prevented female writers from reaching the point where they might be invited to write for Doctor Who. But hey, Moffat’s hired ONE female writer during his FOUR YEARS as show runner, let’s all celebrate mediocrity!

Author: Undie Girl

Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.



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