Doctor Who Hires Its First Female Writer in Six Years

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Doctor Who Hires Its First Female Writer in Six Years

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Catherine Tregenna is the fifth woman to write for Doctor Who out of the 92 people hired to write for the show in its history.

According to an updated CV, Catherine Tregenna will write a Doctor Who episode in the upcoming ninth season. Tregenna has previously worked on Torchwood, EastEnders, and Law & Order: UK, and she is the fifth woman to write for Doctor Who. She's also the first woman hired to pen an episode since 2008 for the long-running show.

Writer Neil Gaiman, who wrote the Doctor Who episodes "Nightmare in Silver" and "The Doctor's Wife," spoke out on the lack of women writing for Doctor Who earlier this year when he noted no women had written for the show since 2008. Showrunner Steven Moffat has faced a lot of criticism over how he writes women who are tied to the men around them, such as River Song, Amy Pond, and Clara Oswald.

Before Tregenna's hiring, the last woman to write for the show was Helen Raynor, who wrote "Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks" in 2008, "The Sontaran Stratagem," and "The Poison Sky" in 2007.

Gaiman said Moffat and many of the producers and script editors have attempted to get women involved in writing the show, but scheduling problems have allegedly stood in the way, and some women have declined offers.

Doctor Who now has had 92 different writers in its history, and only five have been women.

Source: doctorwhotv.co.uk

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Is it really going to matter, as long as Moffatt's the one in charge overall? He seems to be the source of the problems, and he's still in charge.

Also, I doubt anyone could make Clara not terrible.

Great!

Now get rid of Moffat!

Over the years since Davies left I've been trying to figure out what the problem's been with Doctor Who without him. It wasn't the Doctor himself, or his companions, or hell even the villains.
Sometimes it wasn't even the main villain of the season. No, it was Moffat this whole time.

Fucking really? Master-Cybermen team-up and you devote 30 minutes to-GAAAHHH

Who cares about the gender of the writer? If they're good, then hire them. If not, then don't. How hard is that?

I don't really understand all the hatred towards Moffat, he has been pretty good for the show overall. He is a great writer in his own right, his portrayals of women withstanding (I don't honestly have an issue, but people will find fault with anything if they want to). Honestly, if they could hire Neil Gaiman full time we would never have a dull episode, he pretty much eclipses everyone who has written for the show.

Zero=Interrupt:
Who cares about the gender of the writer? If they're good, then hire them. If not, then don't. How hard is that?

Given that only 5 out of 92 writers were women, and none in the last 6 years (none under Moffatt's leadership), it would seem that people do care.

Josh123914:
Great!

Now get rid of Moffat!

Over the years since Davies left I've been trying to figure out what the problem's been with Doctor Who without him. It wasn't the Doctor himself, or his companions, or hell even the villains.
Sometimes it wasn't even the main villain of the season. No, it was Moffat this whole time.

Fucking really? Master-Cybermen team-up and you devote 30 minutes to-GAAAHHH

The problem is Moffat writes like a fan boy. Most of his episodes start off with the doctor being all mysterious and usually not even present. Some characters talk about how awesome the doctor is. Then he shows up and does stuff. There is then a lore contradiction (because time travel) and then it's over.

Moffat isn't a bad writter, he's a bad show runner. Blink is one of my favourite episodes, but he had to follow someone else's rules for it.

I miss Davies. He wasn't perfect, but man the guy nailed continuity, season long story arcs and the wacky intensity of The Doctor.

I haven't seen season 8 yet, but I really don't want to see my Doctor tainted any more...

OT - I really don't care what gender you are as long as you can write. I've seen a lot of crap from men and women alike.

jFr[e]ak93:
snip

Well I agree with that.
I figured Gaiman would be very similar. He's great in small amounts but I doubt he'd have the energy to run the show.

And for the record, season 8 was (in my opinion) the best season since Davies. It's just the finale that let it down.

WHAT?!? OMF DOCTOR WHO IS OVER! IT'S THE END OF ALL THINGS!!!!

no, wait, the other thing: I don't care and don't know anyone who would. Good for her I guess.

jFr[e]ak93:
The problem is Moffat writes like a fan boy. Most of his episodes start off with the doctor being all mysterious and usually not even present. Some characters talk about how awesome the doctor is. Then he shows up and does stuff. There is then a lore contradiction (because time travel) and then it's over.

Moffat isn't a bad writter, he's a bad show runner. Blink is one of my favourite episodes, but he had to follow someone else's rules for it.

I miss Davies. He wasn't perfect, but man the guy nailed continuity, season long story arcs and the wacky intensity of The Doctor.

I disagree with that. Davies story arcs and wackiness were (IMHO) rubbish (though Moffatt's are likewise), and he fanboyed much harder than Moffat.

But definitely agree that Moffat really needs to have someone above him script editing.

And within those 6 years no women didn't even bother raising the Equality Act 2010 against them despite there being reasonable evidence.

Zero=Interrupt:
Who cares about the gender of the writer? If they're good, then hire them. If not, then don't. How hard is that?

You know, we have to celebrate everything female.

roseofbattle:
Before Tregenna's hiring, the last woman to write for the show was Helen Raynor, who wrote "Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks" in 2008, "The Sontaran Stratagem," and "The Poison Sky" in 2007.

DiM/EoTD came out in series 3, TSS and TPS in series 4. Unless writers write episodes in a very bizarre order I think these may be backwards.

Mr Cwtchy:

roseofbattle:
Before Tregenna's hiring, the last woman to write for the show was Helen Raynor, who wrote "Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks" in 2008, "The Sontaran Stratagem," and "The Poison Sky" in 2007.

DiM/EoTD came out in series 3, TSS and TPS in series 4. Unless writers write episodes in a very bizarre order I think these may be backwards.

Sometimes the order is a bit odd, yeah. Sometimes a story was written for the previous doctor, but didn't get used until after the change, which can cause problems.

Zero=Interrupt:
Who cares about the gender of the writer? If they're good, then hire them. If not, then don't. How hard is that?

I constantly boggle at how someone can see a 93/5 split, and somehow come to the conclusion that this wasn't badly gender-biased already. Or are you making the claim that men are just that much better at writing, and 95% of the time, it just so happened to be a man was the best qualified for the job? If so, please state it explicitly.

Edit: Reminds me of that social-interactions study where participation level was being tracked against actual participation. When women spoke barely a third of the time, men had the perception that they were dominating the conversation, and it didn't drop to a "balanced" perception until something like 90/10. (it may have been 93/7, which makes this writer split almost dead-on)

JarinArenos:
[quote="Zero=Interrupt" post="7.865843.21638941"]snip

Well yeah, but of those 93 writers, how many were during the original run decades ago? You can't assume they make up for it by having the next 80-something consecutive writers be women.

A better method is to number the existing writers and take it from there, but again the job should be given based on merit, and not on gender.

Zero=Interrupt:
Who cares about the gender of the writer? If they're good, then hire them. If not, then don't. How hard is that?

That would be the ideal, yes. But with numbers that that heavily skewed in favor of male writers, is kind of hard not to suspect some sort of "Good Ol' Boys Club" culture for being at play amongst the creative staff on the show.

Josh123914:

JarinArenos:
[quote="Zero=Interrupt" post="7.865843.21638941"]snip

A better method is to number the existing writers and take it from there, but again the job should be given based on merit, and not on gender.

Okay. Two episodes since the new series started up were not written by men. Also, See post below yours. I have very little trust in Moffat's management ability/inclination to do what you describe.

Do we really have to cheer everytime a developer hires a woman? Who even bloody cares, as long as they write good stories, I don't see how their gender matters in ANY way. This shouldn't be news.

NearLifeExperience:
Do we really have to cheer everytime a developer hires a woman?

No. Thankfully, virtually nobody does (possibly literally nobody does).

Sort of makes me wonder why the naysayers so frequently pretend it's the case.

Good for her? I honestly don't see the big deal here. Gender does not a good writer make. A good writer can anyone

Zero=Interrupt:
Who cares about the gender of the writer? If they're good, then hire them. If not, then don't. How hard is that?

Men and women will see things from different perspectives, and I'll be dammed, if I watch another episode where Moffat is a sexist dick lord.

In six years, there was NEVER a woman worthy of writing for Doctor Who? No one woman talented enough? Not one woman hired to write?
That's not at all weird to people who claim it's no big deal?

It's not something I'm outraged over, the 6 year gap, but I do think it's weird.

:/

It seems like these articles exist purely for the "female" bit of the title and little else, just because it gets people gabbing away or making inconsequential posts/comments like...well, the one I'm writing right now.

I'm glad they hired her and I hope her output is good, but the gender isn't important.

Rebel_Raven:
In six years, there was NEVER a woman worthy of writing for Doctor Who? No one woman talented enough? Not one woman hired to write?
That's not at all weird to people who claim it's no big deal?

It's not something I'm outraged over, the 6 year gap, but I do think it's weird.

This isn't just directed at you, Rebel, apologies for singling you out here:

Is it truly so difficult to assume a lack of guilt/sexism, rather than...not?

Any number of factors are potentially at work here, including number/quality/demographic of viable applicants, how often they were actually hiring, how well applicants did in their respective interviews, the interviewer/ee's health or mood during any given interview, any number of minute details that affected either interviewer/ee, etc. etc. etc.

A gender gap, even one that large, is not explicitly indicative of sexism, no matter which gender it is that is the majority.

Sincerely, if it were a 95% female to male ratio, I wouldn't immediately view it as being motivated by sexist behavior on the part of human resources.

I can certainly understand an incredulous viewpoint, given the length of time and ratio, but...hell, benefit of the doubt?

kenu12345:
Good for her? I honestly don't see the big deal here. Gender does not a good writer make. A good writer can anyone

Apparently not, since the options here appear to be discriminatory hiring practices or the notion that women just aren't as good as men. The idea that it's 87 to 6, and it's been five years since #4, would indicate one of these two. One way or another, you would think this would be noteworthy: either because a sausage fest actually hired a woman, or because they finally found a chick who could write like man.

Rebel_Raven:
In six years, there was NEVER a woman worthy of writing for Doctor Who? No one woman talented enough? Not one woman hired to write?
That's not at all weird to people who claim it's no big deal?

It's not something I'm outraged over, the 6 year gap, but I do think it's weird.

Or, in other words, what RR said.

The "right person for the job" so often means "the right man for the job," and I think these numbers kind of show it.

LostGryphon:
:/

It seems like these articles exist purely for the "female" bit of the title and little else, just because it gets people gabbing away or making inconsequential posts/comments like...well, the one I'm writing right now.

I'm glad they hired her and I hope her output is good, but the gender isn't important.

Rebel_Raven:
In six years, there was NEVER a woman worthy of writing for Doctor Who? No one woman talented enough? Not one woman hired to write?
That's not at all weird to people who claim it's no big deal?

It's not something I'm outraged over, the 6 year gap, but I do think it's weird.

This isn't just directed at you, Rebel, apologies for singling you out here:

Is it truly so difficult to assume a lack of guilt/sexism, rather than...not?

Any number of factors are potentially at work here, including number/quality/demographic of viable applicants, how often they were actually hiring, how well applicants did in their respective interviews, the interviewer/ee's health or mood during any given interview, any number of minute details that affected either interviewer/ee, etc. etc. etc.

A gender gap, even one that large, is not explicitly indicative of sexism, no matter which gender it is that is the majority.

Sincerely, if it were a 95% female to male ratio, I wouldn't immediately view it as being motivated by sexist behavior on the part of human resources.

I can certainly understand an incredulous viewpoint, given the length of time and ratio, but...hell, benefit of the doubt?

It's all good. ^-^ I'm still gunna reply with no hard feelings, though! :P

Personally, I don't believe much in people as a group/whole. Some stand out, but as a whole? They don't really get the benefit of the doubt. I don't see why they get to have it some times.
I used to give the benefit of the doubt pretty easily, but decades of it taught me that they don't always get it. I'd need some reason to believe that it wasn't because of a boy's club mentality over it not. The boy's club method of hiring is just soooo easy to get away with, even these days regardless if it's actively sexist, or due to some other reason that just happens to make an excuse to exclude women.

I figure if we just let this sort of thing slip by, not calling out an unusual hiring ratio, and applauding the end of an unusual hiring policy just leaves the doors wide open for the unusual ratios to keep going because no one cares they exist, so a status quo that can be harmless at times, but isn't harmless at others continues.
It's okay for people to not care (even if they get annoying as a whole with snippy replies), and it's okay for people to care. I'm just glad for this event, and I hope it works out coz I'm still expecting a good show no matter who's writing.

I dunno, I just can't blindly give people the benefit of the doubt. Especially when it's a situation like this where the vast majority of it favors one group so much. It just feels a bit too wrong. Like I said before, it's hard to imagine that it takes so long to run into a person that's not the usual sort to do something that pretty much everyone can do equally, and have been famous for. In this case,it's women capable of writing a script suitable for a tv show. Gap's way too big in an industry notorious for not being the best to women.

But hey, on the bright side, if they occasionally keep hiring women that are good at their job, this won't ever be news/brought up again until they stop for a long amount of time.

Zachary Amaranth:

kenu12345:
Good for her? I honestly don't see the big deal here. Gender does not a good writer make. A good writer can anyone

Apparently not, since the options here appear to be discriminatory hiring practices or the notion that women just aren't as good as men. The idea that it's 87 to 6, and it's been five years since #4, would indicate one of these two. One way or another, you would think this would be noteworthy: either because a sausage fest actually hired a woman, or because they finally found a chick who could write like man.

No offense man I barely know you and all, but that came off really odd to me. Probably cause I just see people as people or something I don't know, but isn't there just a chance that not many (in this case)woman applied over the years or that they just haven't need to change writers that much. I mean I all for cheering on women when they do something that challenge something obviously misogynistic, but just seems to be a bit of random circumstance that kept a woman from this position for this long. Either way, as I said good for her. She got a job woot woot

Rebel_Raven:

It's all good. ^-^ I'm still gunna reply with no hard feelings, though! :P

Personally, I don't believe much in people as a group/whole. Some stand out, but as a whole? They don't really get the benefit of the doubt. I don't see why they get to have it some times.
I used to give the benefit of the doubt pretty easily, but decades of it taught me that they don't always get it. I'd need some reason to believe that it wasn't because of a boy's club mentality over it not. The boy's club method of hiring is just soooo easy to get away with, even these days regardless if it's actively sexist, or due to some other reason that just happens to make an excuse to exclude women.

I figure if we just let this sort of thing slip by, not calling out an unusual hiring ratio, and applauding the end of an unusual hiring policy just leaves the doors wide open for the unusual ratios to keep going because no one cares they exist, so a status quo that can be harmless at times, but isn't harmless at others continues.
It's okay for people to not care (even if they get annoying as a whole with snippy replies), and it's okay for people to care. I'm just glad for this event, and I hope it works out coz I'm still expecting a good show no matter who's writing.

I dunno, I just can't blindly give people the benefit of the doubt. Especially when it's a situation like this where the vast majority of it favors one group so much. It just feels a bit too wrong. Like I said before, it's hard to imagine that it takes so long to run into a person that's not the usual sort to do something that pretty much everyone can do equally, and have been famous for. In this case,it's women capable of writing a script suitable for a tv show. Gap's way too big in an industry notorious for not being the best to women.

But hey, on the bright side, if they occasionally keep hiring women that are good at their job, this won't ever be news/brought up again until they stop for a long amount of time.

Certainly understandable.

Personally, I'm trying to be a bit more positive than my usual unrelentingly cynical, pragmatic self. Even with that mindset, I do still think people are basically good and that Hanlon's Razor is one of, if not the, best explanations for most of society's ills.

With that said, I too believe granting of the 'benefit of the doubt' does, indeed, depend on the context.

For instance: A KKK member hosting a barbecue/bonfire with a "blacks only" clause?

Maybe he's saying that people who enjoy their food overcooked or burnt are the primary target of his cookout? Maybe he's reaching out to the African American community in an attempt to better himself? In any case, perhaps a bit of caution is in order.

As for the group in question? They're writers for a BBC show popular with a wide demographic (I think? I'm actually having trouble finding statistics outside of raw viewership numbers) and are...well, just writers. I'm willing to give them the ol' BotD here.

More specifically, I'm not aware of how their hiring process works, what they look for in a writer (don't say 'a dick' >.>), or what the turnover rate happens to be. All of those are major factors, with the latter being, by far, the most important given the inference that the overall time between hiring of female writers is somehow noteworthy.

...So, I feel I'd be doing them an injustice by automatically assuming the ratio was achieved under 'malicious' circumstances.

Now, in the interest of consistency I do have to ask, as I often do in these sorts of discussions, "if the genders were flipped, would you be similarly concerned?"

Good for her! And great that this is being reported on.
Considering that women are so underrepresented in this area, it's necessary that they get some time in the spotlight.

Better headline suggestion: "Doctor who hires first female writer since just before the series began going downhill"
All I can say to Catherine Tregenna is good luck. You're going to need it.

Mr Cwtchy:

roseofbattle:
Before Tregenna's hiring, the last woman to write for the show was Helen Raynor, who wrote "Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks" in 2008, "The Sontaran Stratagem," and "The Poison Sky" in 2007.

DiM/EoTD came out in series 3, TSS and TPS in series 4. Unless writers write episodes in a very bizarre order I think these may be backwards.

Also, I know most people weren't fond of DIM/EotD but I highly doubt they were written a year after they aired.

YaY I get to soapbox rant about this!

One of the biggest consistant issues Doctor who has had has been with its companions. So far in the 'new who' Rose has been the best, and ,at best, she was an eastenders rip-off ( basically a soap opera character ), None of the writers have been able to create an interesting character, and at best they are used as end-of-series maguffins , with the exception of martha jones, who still got an "it takes me to save the world" ending.

I'm not going to rant about the other flaws that there are/have been in who, as frankly they are small fry compared to this. I know quite a few fans of 'old who' who now refuse to watch because of the companions. Sure 'old who' had some not great choices, but even back in the sixties we had some better women assisting the doctor. And yes I'll admit that the change in format doesn't help, Genesis of the Daleks is almost 3 hours long, something you never see in new who at all.

I find it interesting that many people seem 100% sure that the lack of women being hired to write Doctor Who is due to boy's club culture/sexism. Me, I'm not so sure. What's the proportion of women to men in sci-fi writers for TV, and how many of them are trying to write for Doctor Who? If the proportion is low, it could explain a part of why so few women were hired. Unfortunately, the only people who really know how many women submit scripts to Doctor Who are the people in charge of Doctor Who.

The number still seems really low though.

thaluikhain:

Zero=Interrupt:
Who cares about the gender of the writer? If they're good, then hire them. If not, then don't. How hard is that?

Given that only 5 out of 92 writers were women, and none in the last 6 years (none under Moffatt's leadership), it would seem that people do care.

What's an acceptable percentage you'd sign off?

To maintain this percentage would you chose a worse female writer over a better male one?

Are you will to accept that it's just possible that there are other reasons for this mix of gender?

mad825:
And within those 6 years no women didn't even bother raising the Equality Act 2010 against them despite there being reasonable evidence.

What reasonable evidence is that then?

The suspicions based on personal prejudices raised in this thread?

Res Plus:
Are you will to accept that it's just possible that there are other reasons for this mix of gender?

What, that there weren't any female writers whatsoever good enough to write any Dr Who in the last 6 years? That the right person for the good just happening to be a man for each of the last 70 odd episodes? That, no matter how god-awful some of the writing for those episodes were, a woman would have done it worse?

If they keep excluding female writers, I'm going to hazard a guess that they've decided to exclude female writers.

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