Olivia Colman Dr Who
Olivia Colman Dr Who
(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

This year's Doctor Who Christmas Special will see a new Time Lord take on the Tardis - and Broadchurch actress Olivia Colman is currently a frontrunner for the role. This would be the first time a woman has taken the lead in the series, and after Saturday night's explosive finale it's looking more likely than ever that the rumours will become reality.

The episode teased viewers with a cryptic clue regarding the identity of the next Doctor. John Simm's The Master asked, "Will the future be all girl?" to which the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, replied, "We can only hope."

If we are finally going to get a female Doctor, Olivia Colman is undoubtedly a strong contender. Adored by fans across the nation for her roles in Broadchurch, Peep Show and The Night Manager, the actress is also said to have a close relationship with Chris Chinball, the new lead writer and executive producer replacing former showrunner Steven Moffat. The odds that she will be the next Doctor currently sit at 20/1 with William Hill.

Women have always been an integral part of the show since it first aired in 1963. But rather than taking on the starring role, historically they've been cast as the Doctor's time-travelling companion. Last week, current companion Bill Potts asked the Doctor, "So Time Lords are a bit flexible on the whole man/woman thing?" The Doctor replied, "We're billions of years beyond your petty obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes." The nods towards a woman taking on the role of the Doctor sometime soon are clear - so could Chimball be about to make Doctor Who history?

Other female contenders for the role include Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, plus the likes of Tilda Swinton, Maxine Peake and Suranne Jones. But the shortest odds are currently on a male actor, Death In Paradise star Kris Marshall.

Not everyone is happy about the prospect of the Tardis being run by a female time-traveller for the first time. One fan tweeted on Saturday ‘Nice to see the #FirstDoctor. The 1st reiterates he's MALE.'

Another typed, ‘just heard they might have a female dr in the new series of doctor. I hope not or that would be the end of doctor who for me.'

Another fan called the concept of the Time Lord changing genders ‘ridiculous', fearing that a ‘female Dr will kill the show'.

Writing for the Metro, journalist James Baldock wrote, 'For many people, afemale Doctor is like having a tooth pulled. It probably won't be as bad as we think, but our heads are buzzing with a dozen nightmare scenarios.

'But if the Doctor becomes a woman for a single cycle and then switches back to being a man, there will be victory cheers from many quarters proclaiming that the showis ‘back on track'.'

Others are much more open to the idea of a female Doctor. One fan tweeted, '54 years of male doctors and people are getting annoyed about possibly having a female doctor for a few years. Wow.'

Another wrote, 'great to see a female doctor being teased!'

This isn't the first time that Olivia Colman has been in the running to be the Doctor. Last summer, it was 10/1 odds that the actress would take on the role that ultimately went to Peter Capaldi. At the time, Olivia addressed the rumours, telling fans, "I wouldn't put money on it". She's yet to comment on the current speculation. Watch this space...