Former 'Doctor Who' star Colin Baker has praised new showrunner Chris Chibnall on his "courage" in casting Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor.
Fans were stunned when 'Broadchurch' actress Jodie was unveiled as the Thirteenth Doctor who will take control of the TARDIS after Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi bows out in this year's Christmas special.
Although the decision to change the Time Lord's sex has been met with a mixed response, Colin - who played the Sixth Doctor between 1984 and 1986 - believes it is an exciting new direction for the show to go in.
In an article written for The Guardian newspaper, he said: "I have repeatedly stated publicly that I personally would not just welcome but expect a female doctor, but that I doubted the courage of the decision-makers at the BBC to allow a showrunner to explore the exciting opportunities afforded by such brave and game-changing casting. Clearly I was wrong and I congratulate Chris Chibnall, the incoming executive producer and writer, on succeeding where others may have failed or maybe not even tried. What is doubly encouraging is the fact he has very long track record of writing good strong parts for men and women alike, including the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, who was superb in 'Broadchurch' ... I do not believe catastrophe awaits 'Doctor Who' and expect a renaissance - not that one is needed. Peter Capaldi was magnificent and was a refreshing contrast to the youthful trend that preceded him (who were also superb I hasten to add)."
Colin, 74, admits he has been shocked by the vehement disapproval of the casting by many Whovians, with some vowing to not watch Jodie in the role when she starts her tenure in 2018.
But the actor has faith that the doubters and naysayers can be proven wrong and will give Jodie, 35, a chance in the role.
He said: "I have been shocked by the reaction of some people who would describe themselves as fans of the programme to the casting of a really good actress in the role. Some of them I know and am sad to see them vowing to 'never watch the programme again'. It is not an unfamiliar position in fandom (and I know I risk being a troll magnet in saying this) to mistake being a fan of something to owning it. A true fan of a football team supports their team even in defeat and as they slide down the leagues ... Let's hope the disgruntled can be convinced in the end. But if we do lose some fans we will gain many more when it's not just little boys in the playground (or bigger boys in the acting profession) saying, 'I want to be the Doctor one day.' "
Jodie's casting has also attracted support from other former Doctors and companions, including Sylvester McCoy who was the seventh actor to land the part.
In a statement released via his outsourced Twitter account, McCoy, 73, said: "Congratulations Jodie Whittaker!!!!! One small step for Women, one Giant leap for Womenkind!! (sic)"
Billie Piper - who played beloved companion Rose Tyler opposite Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston and Tenth Doctor David Tennant - tweeted: "G'wan Jodie !!!! This is amazing news. Well done Dr Who world #drwho #jodiewhittaker #ladiesnight (sic)"
Katy Manning - who was Third Doctor John Pertwee's assistant Jo Grant - tweeted: "Well there you have it tweetiepies ! 13 is named & im sure she will be excellent xxx
"I am thrilled #JodieWhitaker DW13 a fine actress & a great gig xxx
"Well there you have it tweetiepies ! 13 is named & im sure she will be excellent xxx (sic)"