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Six days ago one of England's tabloids got some attention when they ran a quote attributed to Dame Helen Mirren, the 67-year-old actress of The Debt, Red, Prime Suspect and Best Actress Oscar-winner for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen. Why? Because she wants to be the main Time Lord in Doctor Who.
"I would like to play the new female Doctor Who. I don't want to just be his sidekick," Mirren is quoted as telling the gossip section of The Daily Star. Strangely enough even for a tabloid, there's no accompaning background story for the Mirren quote; it's just there, published by the paper, with no reason given as to why Mirren was talking about her interest in Doctor Who. It seemed like such an out-of-left-field thing to say that Mirren might as well be asked what she thought of collecting candy bar wrappers, or if she favored cheap car insurance over the more expensive kind.
I had hoped that once the story was picked up and travelled around the Internet, someone would follow up with Mirren and find out more. Alas, nothing has emerged from the Christmas fog of the holidays, so all we have is what was first said: that she would like to play The Doctor.
While there had been female Time Lords shown in Doctor Who, there have only been men who have played the character in the BBC series since its beginning in 1963. Each time The Doctor regenerates he changes his appearance, thus providing the show's creators a means to introduce a new fresh face to play the character. Currently it's Matt Smith who plays the Eleventh Doctor on the show.
While there hasn't been a woman Doctor yet, the door was opened last season for the possibility. In one of last season's episodes The Doctor mentioned that it is possible for male Time Lords to renegerate into a female body, so it could happen. Also, actress Joanna Lumley played a female version of The Doctor in a comedy special, "The Curse of the Fatal Death", though this story isn't considered canon.
Matt Smith will return to Doctor Who next year, so if Helen Mirren wants the job she'll still have a year to wait.