“It’s obvious that Chibnall has only cast a woman as The Doctor so that he and his straight mates can whack off over the character the way gay fans used to cream their pants over the likes of David Tennant and Matt Smith,” opines Dr Who ‘superfan’ Tim Rubbles on his blog, as he addresses the whole issue of new showrunner Chris Chibnall’s casting of a woman in the series’ title role. “It’s a clear act of homophobia – everyone knows that The Doctor is a gay icon – just look at the number of gay guys who have produced the programme – and this is cruel attempt to deprive the gay community of one of their top masturbatory fantasies. If they think that they can fob us off with some kind of sex object male companion, then they are sorely misguided.” Rubbles believes that the change in gender for The Doctor will lead to a massive drop in viewing figures. “No self-respecting gay fan is going to give the show the time of day if the Doctor wears a dress,” he writes. “I just don’t know where we’re going to go now for our science fiction masturbatory fantasies – there simply is no other currently produced series whose lead character offers such a combination of compassion, anger, intellect with a commitment to non violent solutions, sees women as friends rather than sex objects and has a great arse!”

Other fans disagree with Rubbles’ analysis, claiming that The Doctor’s gender change is all part of a gay plot. “It’s those poofters at the BBC attempting to subvert normal sexuality again,” says rival ‘Whovian’ Pete Pogg in his video blog, recorded live in his bedsit. “By turning the character into a woman, they’ve destroyed another good straight male role model for young men everywhere. What next, a gay Doctor? Or a bisexual Doctor who swings between Captain Jack and Billie Piper on a nightly basis? Is it any wonder that so many guys are going gay theses days?” Pogg – who admits that he hasn’t actually watched the series since 1981, when the late John Nathan-Turner became producer, (“That was when it started to become gay propaganda”) – believes the Doctor’s change in gender is part of a long term plan to emasculate Britain’s remaining straight males. “For decades now the BBC has been promoting homosexuality and denigrating traditional manly skills and activities as part of the homo-feminist masterplan to create a race of weak and subservient males,” he shouts. “Believe me, the next regeneration sequence will involve The Doctor cutting off his own cock and balls with a knife as he transforms into she, waving them triumphantly in the air as the transformation is completed! The bastards are no doubt hoping that thousands of despairing male fans will follow suit!”

But this isn’t the first time that the BBC have attempted to change The Doctor’s gender. In an exclusive interview with Renegade, the journal of the Alternative Doctor Who Appreciation Society (ADWAS), infamous Doctor-Who-Never-Was Ron Feague – selected to replace Jon Pertwee but sacked without ever being seen on screen after a series of sex-related on and off set incidents (see Dr Who?) – has revealed how The Doctor nearly donned slingbacks in 1974. “Even back in the seventies the bloody feminist brigade were trying to subvert the programme – I was told that there had been a suggestion that Jon Pertwee play The Doctor as a transvestite, so as to get the character into a dress and shut the bra burners up,” recalls Feague. “Thankfully, Pertwee told them where to get off, in no uncertain terms, I’ve heard. That said, he had to make the concession to play the character as some kind of Edwardian homosexual instead – all those frilly shirts and velvet smoking jackets. But he still played it all bloody macho though! That was always his way!” The former Doctor, who is currently living in his cousin’s garden shed, has also revealed his own brush with attempts to change the gender of the character. “When they decided that Pertwee had to go, there were suggestions, to placate the femi-Nazis that the Doctor should regenerate into a bird,” he says. “The trouble was that I’d already been offered the part – and I was clearly a bloke. The bigwigs at the Beeb then suggested that the Doctor should still be a woman, at first I thought they wanted me to have a sex change, but then they said they wanted me to play the part in drag! Well, you can imagine my reaction! I told them that there was no way I was going to have my knackers cut off – not even metaphorically!”

Feague admits that, in retrospect, this furore undoubtedly influenced his conduct during his brief tenure in the role. “There’s no question that I ramped up the masculinity as a result of all that nonsense = all that shagging of female co-stars, production assistants and fans,” he concedes. “I just wanted to emphasise the fact that The Doctor was a man and needed to be played by a real man! Damn it, we had to set an example to all those impressionable young boys watching, they needed a proper role model! I mean, can you imagine if there had been a woman Doctor back then? Imagine the damage it would have done to young fans if she’d done the same stuff as me: all that girl-on-girl action would have scarred them for life!” Ironically, though, it was Feague’s rampant sexploits which led to his ignominious exit from the show. “It was certainly a disappointment, but at least they replaced me with a real man, in Tom Baker,” he says. “That said, I did hear that there was a suggestion that he should wear high heels but Tom told them where to get off ! He also challenged the BBC executive concerned to a drinking contest at the Coach and Horses in Greek Street – not surprisingly the snivelling little pen pusher wimped out of it!”

Renegade editor Jake Tifter believes that all of those currently arguing over the casting of the thirteenth incarnation of The Doctor are missing the real issue. “The truth is that this whole ‘The next Doctor needs to be a woman’ campaign has primarily been advanced by people who are actually not fans of the programme and are interested only in pursuing their own agendas, rather than considering what is right for the future of the show,” he says. “The reality is that there has never been any demand on the part of fandom for such a development. The truth is that, despite watching a show where the lead actor regularly changes, the average Who fan is actually pretty conservative: they’re always looking back to the past of the programme to define each new regeneration.” Tifter believes that the change of gender could be hugely damaging to the programme, alienating fans and reducing it to a vehicle for promoting a single issue. “The thing is, though, that the people who have pushed for this don’t care if the programme suffers as a result. They aren’t really fans – they’ve achieved their short term goal and that’s all they care about,” he muses. “Moreover, I’ve always had an issue with the idea that you can advance the cause of gender equality by co-opting established male characters and arbitrarily making them female. When you do this, surely you are admitting defeat and saying that you can only create powerful female role models by co-opting existing male ones, that it is too difficult to establish new female characters who can capture the public imagination?”