There’s a dirty little secret beating quietly away at the heart of the BBC (well, to be fair there’s probably more than one, but, you know – one step at a time) and it’s this:
Doctor Who has been getting a bit rubbish lately.
And by “lately” I mean since about, hmmmm, let’s see, 2010 or so. (Here, if you need to see what that coincides with,there’s a list on Wikipedia here Hint: the column you want to be looking at is the “writer” column.)
You would have thought someone would have noticed at the BBC by now, you really would. But presumably they have been too busy cancelling quality shows like Ripper Street to bother with their “darling ” Science Fiction show, Doctor Who. I imagine the people at the top of our beloved Beeb probably still don’t quite get why Doctor Who is so appealing, and likely consider it to be a part of their “pleb” programming, so a marked drop in quality is not something they really worry about. Happy to rake in the ratings from the fans, not really bothered if it is any good or not.
Either that or they genuinely don’t have a clue what constitutes good writing and great television (*cough* evidence for the prosecution: cancelling Ripper Street. Case closed). Little things like, you know, good stories, great characters, great dialogue. Having a diverse cast. Not changing your own rules every thirty seconds like a 3-year-old with Attention Deficit Disorder. Actually understanding what it is that (sometimes) makes the show so great. Not considering a plot climax to be giving the Daleks a new lick of paint (Victory of The Daleks, I’m looking at you…)
Here are 5 reasons why Doctor Who needs a new showrunner, whilst the current one needs to be put in a nursing home where the absolute most cultural damage he can do is trying to cop a feel of the nurses.
1) Complete lack of diversity
Moffat’s Dr Who is a nasty place to be if you aren’t white, heterosexual and into marriage. Compared to the terrific diversity of Russel T. Davies run – hell, compared to any other damn show on television – Doctor Who has become so utterly WASPy it makes me want to actually cry. Even the Doctor got married at one point. The companions have been uniformly white and heterosexual, whilst multiple storylines have revolved around committed white heterosexual relationships. Doctor Who has become a white, conservative love-in, its closest stab at introducing any kind of diversity being a lesbian lizard (Lesbian as cold-blooded alien? No issues with that little combo, clearly. ) The genius of characters like Captain Jack Harkness (“So many species, so little time…”) have long since departed.
The point? If our science fiction show isn’t hanging out there on the wild, wild outer fringes of basic social, political and sexual diversity, then what damn hope is there for the rest of television in general? If this is the benchmark for science fiction these days – which of all the genres is supposed to be, by definition, the most progressive one – then its seriously time to change benches.
For Doctor Who to have fallen so far from promoting cultural, ethnic and social diversity is ultimately utterly depressing, and another reason not to tune in.
It also speaks volumes about the BBC’s current political agenda.
Dave is the Editor of TLFR and a freelance writer. As well as a guest on BBC radio and regular appearances on the television show Reel Review, he has written for The Guardian, We Got This Covered, the International Political Forum and more.