The concept of a female Doctor was first mentioned in 1981, when Tom Baker suggested his successor might be female, after announcing the end of his tenure as the Fourth Doctor. Producer John Nathan-Turner later discussed the possibility of casting a woman as the Sixth Doctor to replace the departing Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor, claiming it was feasible but not something he was considering at the moment. In October 1986, during the transmission of Colin Baker's final season as the Sixth Doctor, series creator Sydney Newman wrote to BBC Controller Michael Grade, with a suggestion that "at a later stage Doctor Who should be metamorphosed into a woman". Dawn French, Joanna Lumley, and Frances de la Tour were suggested by Newman in 1986 for the role, but were dismissed by the BBC. Lumley later appeared as a satirical version of the Thirteenth Doctor in the 1999 Comic Relief special The Curse of Fatal Death. Arabella Weir also played an alternate Third Doctor in the Doctor Who Unbound Big Finish episode Exile. Neither portrayal is typically considered to be within the show's main continuity. Producer Jane Tranter also considered casting Judi Dench as the Ninth Doctor. Helen Mirren was suggested for the role of the Twelfth Doctor.
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