Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles These are Doctor Who fans — arguably some of the most passionate fans of any show. And this year, they're especially excited because, for the first time in the show's 55-year history, the Doctor won't be played by a white British man — it'll be a woman. “Oh brilliant!” This move adds Doctor Who to an influx of sci-fi fantasy franchises who have already put women at the helm. But this new woman Doctor is expected to have a trait that those other heroines don't have — a sense of humor. “This is gonna be fun.” For those of us not as invested in the show as this guy — Doctor Who is the story of a mysterious alien being (known as the Doctor) who travels through time and space having adventures and fighting evil. But the Doctor has one particularly special ability — when the character is mortally wounded, the doctor can regenerate into a new body. The Doctor has had 13 different faces over the years — all white, British men. This is one of the first episodes of Doctor Who, from 1965... The Doctor was an eccentric old man who often relied on his more courageous companions to get him out of some sticky situations. Support me, dear boy. In fact, in early concept notes from one of the show's co-creators, the character of the Doctor was described as “a frail old man lost in time and space.” But as time went on, and different actors rotated through the role, the Doctor went from being a frail trickster to a male hero archetype. The Third Doctor in particular played the role as an “action hero” “Violent exercise makes me hungry. Don't you agree?” Fast forward to the Tenth Doctor, and the action hero traits had become baked into the character... “Leave this planet and never return — what do you say? Yes. All well then. Thanks for that!” But there's one particular personality trait that stayed from the beginning... The Doctor has a gleeful, almost childlike personality. He's a hero with a sense of humor - which makes the character fun and compelling to watch. But that kind of character complexity has been typically reserved for male heroes. Female superheroes are very much pressured to be taken seriously because there are so few of them, they have to do well. In 2014, the last time good data was available, only 14% of mainstream sci-fi films had a woman protagonist. Women are not only vastly underrepresented in sci-fi fantasy films, they're often restricted to generic superhero personalities. If I think about the leading female superhero... think about the Wonder Woman film...She's powerful she's strong … But she's not a funny funny character. She laughs, but doesn't crack jokes, she doesn't have banter in the same way that male superheroes can do. That seriousness is consistent across most woman characters on-screen. Take a look at this scene between Guardian of the Galaxy's heroine, Gamora, and one of the film's villains, Nebula. Gamora puts up a pretty awesome fight. But compare that to Peter, the film's male hero... notice the difference? There's also Black Widow from The Avengers whose whole personality is built around being stoic. And Katniss Everdeen, who can do some serious damage with a bow and arrow but barely ever drops her steely persona. Of course, there are some examples of funny heroines in film and television. One of the earliest is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. These examples are still rare on-screen, but there is one medium where heroines have more complex personalities... Female characters who do humor, do very well in comics... Squirrel Girl, Kamala Khan, Gwen Pool. From a financial point of view, it is less of a risk. Because there's less of a pressure on a female-led title to do well, there's more room for comedy, there's more room for humor. It's this scarcity of women superheroes in film and television that makes the new female Doctor's role even more impactful. This woman doctor is not only expected to be a great witty hero traveling through space like her male predecessors, she could also push the boundaries of what a woman hero can be... To have a female Doctor, that's a win for a lot of us. Women, young girls will get to see someone that looks like them be smart and interesting and funny and that is incredibly important. So even if you're not one of the millions of people worldwide who watches Doctor Who, next time you see an awesome new woman superhero, you might have the Doctor to thank.