Yesterday the internet rightly celebrated as it was announced that Jodie Whittaker would become the first woman to take on the role of The Doctor. Finally, a victory in the culture wars for the good guys!
But here's the thing: Whittaker isn't actually the first woman to play the iconic role.
Way back in 1999, when Doctor Who was in its wilderness years, the show was revived for a charity special. Written by a bloke called Steven Moffat (whatever happened to him?), the episode initially starred Rowan Atkinson as the titular character, Julia Sawalha as his companion Emma and Jonathan Pryce as The Master. Given it was being made for Comic Relief, Moffat took the opportunity to parody many of the tropes associated with the series - including the same Timey-Wimey stuff that he'd later use in Blink.
Here's the full thing:
As the episode reaches its denouement there are a number of quick regenerations, with The Doctor transforming into a succession of Richard Curtis-affiliated luvvies: Richard E Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant... and then finally, Joanna Lumley.
Yep, before she became a championed pissing away million of pounds of public money on a stupid garden bridge, she (very) briefly played one of science fiction's most iconic characters.
Here's Lumley's appearance:
Though embraced by fans as it was clearly a parody made with affection for the source material, the episode itself is (unsurprisingly) not considered a part of the main series canon. But perhaps most importantly, it means that the answer to the pub quiz question "Who was the first female Doctor Who?" isn't Jodie Whittaker, but is actually Joanna Lumley.