The last time I knowingly watched an episode of Doctor Who, the Time Lord was played by Jon Pertwee. And even then, my early-Seventies viewing of the Saturday-evening show would have been largely borne of inertia, probably no more than an interlude between the football results on Grandstand and the entire family settling down for Brucie’s original Generation Game. Even at a young age the Daleks and Cybermen were risible rather than fearsome, and in my mind’s eye the only frightful aspect was the set seemingly put together by the Blue Peter team using only egg cartons and sticky-back plastic.
But one thing from that period of which I remain certain is that the creators did not regard the programme as a vehicle for sharing their politics: in the unlikely event that the show’s writers and producers were known at all, it was not because of their views on Edward Heath taking us into the EEC. Nor for that matter do I recall Jon Pertwee publicly agonising that, because of this new-fangled Women’s Lib, his replacement in the title role should be an emancipated Paula Wilcox or bra-burning Nerys Hughes – though any such a move would undoubtedly have, ahem, aroused much male interest.
Steven Moffat, Dr Who’s outgoing ‘showrunner, lead writer and executive producer’, unfortunately had no such compunction about airing his predictable and tedious views, spouted while justifying why on his watch a female Doctor was not introduced, a change which will now happen under his successor. Moffat and his fellow creators were, naturally, all for such a change but, needless to say, felt constrained by the dastardly forces of conservatism:
We have to worry about our Daily Mail-reading viewers saying, “That’s not the same person!” This isn't a show exclusively for progressive liberals; this is also for people who voted Brexit. That's not me politically at all – but we have to keep everyone on board.
At first read, you wonder if this quote is actually a note-perfect parody of how a pompous BBC luvvie might simultaneously inflate the value of his art while sneering at a section of the audience with whom he is ashamed to be associated. Alas, Steven Moffat’s condescension is entirely genuine and typical. And Moffat providing the assurance ‘that’s not me politically at all’ was quite superfluous: we already take for granted that only ‘progressive liberals’ of the type which instinctively disdains Brexit will be engaged on flagship programmes for the BBC.
But why should Mail-reading, Brexit-supporting conservatives be resistant to the idea of a time-travelling female lead? Anyone fitting that description will already think fondly of having a strong woman in charge (no, not you, Theresa). With a floundering PM appearing to believe only in political correctness, a Cabinet seemingly there for mere display, no vision being offered for the country and proper Brexit under daily assault, the regeneration of the previous leader, to wield her handbag again, would in fact be just what the Doctor ordered.