A fan's relationship with a show is a lot like a deep personal friendship. We love spending time with them and get great emotional satisfaction from their company but what separates a casual friendship from an important one is this: our friends let us down sometimes but we stay friends with them anyway. Sometimes being a fan of a huge, high profile show like is a lot like that. Even when they let us down we keep loving them. Peter Capaldi has just been announced as the new Doctor, bringing to an end weeks of speculation. This is about far more than a casting decision; a fan's answer to the question 'Who should play the next Doctor?' is frequently taken as a referendum on their opinion of the entire direction the show has taken recently. Beyond that, your opinion on the direction Dr Who has taken is treated as a reading on your entire socio/political worldview.
I can see how the fact that the new Doctor is another straight white man is emblematic of the fact that in today's supposedly equal society the top positions are still reserved for a straight white man. I know this is a huge issue, but I still love this show and I forgive the things I love when I feel they have wronged my moral compass. Despite this I am very pleased at the casting of Capaldi for the same reason. I love this show, as a fan, and want it to be as good as possible.
I am happy because Capaldi is a brilliant actor, excellent at comedy and drama, he is an Oscar winner, a veteran stage performer and can bring a real sense of gravitas to a role. He will make this show better and be a brilliant Doctor. I am sure of this because he is an actor with the experience required to carry off a role like the Doctor well. There are, of course, many actors who fall into this category and are not straight white men. I would be thrilled if Idris Elba or Olivia Williams had been cast because I can make the exact same claim about them. On the same note, I would have been disappointed if Sue Perkins or Aneurin Barnard had been cast because I honestly cannot say the same things about them.
I want Dr Who to be as good as it can be; a show as expensive as this to make won't last long unless it is good. I am not saying this is where the debate should end. It should and will continue until we have a talented and experienced woman or member of an ethnic minority playing the Doctor. I cannot endorse someone of whatever gender or ethnicity playing the Doctor if they won't make the show a good as it can be. A bad minority actor in a main role will only tarnish the excellent cause of getting more women and ethnic minorities into lead roles on major TV shows.
This is when we move onto the other area of Doctor Who in which your opinion is treated as watermark for your views on the world: the prevalence of computer effects on the new show. A certain contingent of fans want Doctor Who to return to the days of papier mache walls and villains made out of tin foil and coat hangers. A lot of people have warm feelings of nostalgia about this era of Doctor Who, and some of the characters from this time were genuinely scary.
However it needs to be remembered that a lot of the wider audience remember Dr Who as being really bad. Bad in a loveable way, but still really bad. Until Russell T. Davies brought the show back in 2005, it was both a national treasure and a national joke. I want Doctor Who to be as good as it can be and that means realistic looking villains and not characters made out of whatever car parts were found in a skip behind the studio.
Doctor Who cannot solve the world's sociological and political problems, and it cannot restore to its previous position of prominence the art of puppet making, but it can be a great show. It can be entertaining, it can raise important issues and it can remind us what we used to love about TV. It cannot do any of these things if it is a terrible show and it certainly cannot do any of these things if it gets cancelled.
I will always love Doctor Who because it is an important part of my own childhood and I am a die-hard fan. Again, I will forgive this show its mistakes along the way but I stand by my assertion that today is a good day for the show. Capaldi will be a great Doctor. Every fan has a complex relationship with their favourite shows and I am not expecting everyone to subscribe to my view. The debate should continue and there should be a Doctor from a minority background but that doesn't mean Capaldi isn't a great casting decision.
To really get the most out of being a Doctor Who fan, we need to understand what all the different ilks of Whovians want from the show. I want the show to be a good TV show and casting Capaldi as the Doctor is a part of that. Lots of people want a whole range of different things and fans are striving to understand this so we can all get what we want from the show.