Steven Moffat clears way for female Doctor Who

Steven Moffat has cleared the way for a woman to play 'Doctor Who' by changing the sex of villainous Time Lord The Master in last weekend's episode 'Dark Water'

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Steven Moffat at Doctor Who event in Cardiff

Steven Moffat

'Doctor Who' showrunner Steven Moffat has paved the way for a woman to play the character by changing the sex of his famous foe The Master.

In the episode 'Dark Water' - which aired on BBC One on Saturday (01.11.14) - viewers saw the mysterious character Missy (Michelle Gomez) - reveal herself to be evil Time Lord The Master, but having regenerated as a woman.

When she made the reveal to the Doctor - portrayed by Peter Capaldi - Missy said: "Missy. Short for Mistress. Well I couldn't very well keep calling myself The Master."

Moffat had previously allowed writer Neil Gaiman to add to 'Doctor Who' mythology the fact that Time Lords could change sex when they regenerate into a new body in the 2011 episode 'The Doctor's Wife'.

Moffat also previously revealed he considered casting a woman in the famous role when he was looking for a replacement for Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, who was eventually succeeded by Capaldi.

He said: ''It's absolutely narratively possible and when it's the right decision, maybe we'll do it. It didn't feel to me, right now, right. I didn't feel enough people wanted it. 'Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it - and I know I'll get into trouble for saying this - were women. Saying, 'No, no, don't make him a woman!' Not that I was influenced by that. I'm influenced by nothing. Obviously.''

The decision to change The Master - famously portrayed by Roger Delgado and John Simm in past incarnations - into a woman has prompted a mixed reaction online from fans.

In a posting on popular fan site DoctorWhoTV.co.uk, user TheDoctornator wrote: "I mean no offence in anyway, I just think if they were going to bring back a female timelord, than they should have brought back the Rani, I am not trying to be sexist in anyway, but I think that in my opinion that would have been the better solution. (sic)"

Another user, ElyotWren, was happier with the shock reveal, posting: "I wanted the Master to return some day as he was my favourite villain, being the Doctor's disturbed equal (I'm a sucker for crazy stuffs), and I was so glad when Missy revealed who she was. My grin could not have been wider, my face was hurting! (sic)"

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