In the 1980s, Doctor Who had so many problems that the BBC apparently considered changing the character's gender.
The various regenerations of The Doctor on Doctor Who have each been fairly different from one another, but they've always been men. However, it turns out that The Doctor's original creator wanted to replace the Colin Baker incarnation of the 1980s with a woman.
Baker's tenure as The Doctor is particularly infamous, thanks to the various problems that plagued both the show and the actor, including the death of Baker's son. In the midst of all these problems, the BBC's Michael Grade decided to consult Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman about how to revitalize the show.
According to a newly-discovered letter from Newman to Grade, improving the show required a two-step plan:
1) Bring back Patrick Troughton, the former Doctor from the 1960s, temporarily, to help steady the TARDIS for a bit, and prepare the way for a more radical transformation. (The letter is dated Oct. 6, 1986, just about six months before Troughton's death.)
2) Have the Doctor later regenerate into a woman. Possible candidates included Frances de la Tour, Joanna Lumley and Dawn French. (Actually, I'm not sure if Newman suggested these actors, or this was just fan speculation.) And this new female Doctor should travel around accompanied by a trumpet-playing schoolgirl in John Lennon glasses, and her elder brother, a "yobbo" who sprays graffiti everywhere.
Newman also explained that this female Doctor shouldn't bee too perfect, though, stating, "I want to avoid a flashy, Hollywood Wonder Women because this kind of heroine with no flaws is a bore. Given more time than I have now, I can create such a character." In return for his services, Newman wanted to be brought onto the show as an "Executive Director" and receive a permanent listing in the show's credits.
Honestly, the sidekicks sound terrible, but the premise certainly seems to be better than the episodes that aired during the Baker era. Funnily enough, Joanna Lumley wound up playing the character in the BBC parody Doctor Who and the Curse of the Fatal Death in 1999, along with Hugh Grant and Rowan Atkinson. Of course, Grade didn't actually use any of Newman's advice; instead, Baker's version of The Doctor evolved into Sylvester McCoy, for better or worse.