Gary Oliver: To the Tardis – and bring back Maggie!

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.

Gary Oliver

  • Pozieres

    I really don’t give a t**s who plays Dr Who but I suspect that Albeeb will politically correct it into oblivion as they did Top Gear – which I didn’t care much for either.

  • paul parmenter

    Women only come to the top when the men are weak. Maggie’s seizure of the Tory party leadership and the keys to number 10 are classic examples. But right now, the women also appear to be equally weak. I look at the government front bench and I look at the opposition front bench, and I see nobody, male or female, that even remotely inspires me to think that they could offer this country genuine leadership, or take me anywhere I want to go.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Corbyn and his little politburo will offer you genuine “leadership”, of the type seen in Cuba and Venezuela, and will be taking you where you don’t want to go.

    • Lagopus scotica

      I think Lady T rose even though there was strong competition. Its Teresa the Appeaser’s career you describe.

  • Labour_is_bunk

    My only surprise is that Mr Moffat didn’t cap his statement with something like “we will continue to be unbiased, in line with BBC policy”.

  • sfin

    Doctor Who was written using the dynamic of a male protagonist and his trusty, normally female sidekick. That is the common thread running through the various storylines.

    The Miss Marple detective stories were written using the dynamic of a clever, confirmed spinster, amateur detective. That is the common thread running through the various storylines.

    The End.

    • captainslugwash

      You have to admit that Miss Marple would have been much more fun if the main character was a transgender diversity officer for the local council.

      • Labour_is_bunk

        Consider as well, in the Margaret Rutherford film versions, she displays a flagrant disregard for health and safety on several occasions.

    • Colonel Mustard

      The idea of females supplanting traditional male roles, and blacks supplanting whites in traditional white roles, is wholly motivated by a revolutionary left wing political agenda, expressed in a left wing narrative and facilitated by a largely unelected left wing hegemony across the academic and arts establishment rather than by any demands of plot, presentation or drama. Therefore the “equality” of males supplanting traditional female roles, or whites supplanting traditional black roles, will not happen.

      • sfin

        Indeed.

        It is an established more that writers of long running series – in literature, or on the screen – have to conform to ‘audience expectation’ as well as providing the thrills/ spills/ surprises etc. This is what I meant when I referred to the ‘common thread’. Thus we expect Bernard Cornwell’s hero Sharpe to be a rough diamond ranker, commissioned ,on merit, by Wellington (so, he’s therefore white), who needed an attack dog. We expect Sharpe to rise, with difficulty, through the ranks and how he does it provides us with the thrills/ spills/ surprises etc.

        The fact that the BBC has dispensed with this golden rule of series writing is proof positive of a political agenda.

        I’m going to stick my neck out and say that they will lose the established audience for Doctor Who – which, of course will give them the excuse to label the viewing public as misogynist.

    • Nockian

      Yes, let’s replace Mrs Marple with a bloke, someone like Joey Essex would do.

      • JabbaPapa

        I look forward to a sensitive period costume drama about love and science, starring a burly African muslim wrestler as Marie Curie …

  • Colonel Mustard

    As with the criminal offence the crucial aspect is not the act itself but the guilty intent behind the act. There should be no objection to a lady Dr Who but every objection to the reasons for appointing her and every objection to the usual suspects responsible. Dramatic theatre (I use the term loosely in respect to this programme) thus becomes political propaganda – now a blatant BBC constant.

  • I watched the first few series but gave up as it became far less interesting.
    I would not object to a female doctor any more than I object to, say, female clergy. But what I do object to is that immediately it is agreed that it would be possible to have a female in a particular role in whatever field, there is instant pressure to appoint someone, whether they are suitable or not. My attitude is more “If a suitable candidate comes along, we are now able to appoint her” rather than we must find a female (suitable or unsuitable) at once.
    I know nothing about the latest Doctor Who or her suitability; what I object to is the “it must be done now” attitude. I won’t be watching, I’m sure everything will be too PC for me.

    • PiqueABoo

      Then 13yo daughter was very annoyed by the announcment of a female Doctor:

      “I’m never watching it again! It’s wrong! Why do they have to change everything!?! It’s not as though there aren’t lots of females in other programs and films … It’s an insult. Do they think girls are so weak they can’t cope without a female role model?”

      She has stuck to those views despite having been told by a more consensus-bound friend (girl) that “You can’t say that! It’s sexist!” I won’t miss it given the 21st century soap-like nature, increasingly, artlessly, pushing PC themes e.g. the last series arc was essentially a lesbian love story. I don’t want to watch crocky romance in this program, whether it’s straight or otherwise.

      • Lagopus scotica

        The ultimate snowflake way of closing down a debate. My 18 y.o. niece claimed it was sexist to say only women can give birth, cue a few basic scientific facts….

        • PiqueABoo

          Fortunately I don’t have to do that. Daughter assures me her generation at the comp aren’t up for living in Cloud Cuckoo land. They have a running “I’m a victim..” joke and ‘snowflake’ is a favourite put-down. This isn’t parental influence, it’s them.

      • Feminists’ “It must be possible for a female to do anything that a male can do” is the current requirement regardless of ability.

    • JabbaPapa

      I would not object to a female doctor any more than I object to, say, female clergy

      I would, and I do object to both.

      • I don’t object in principle to women having any job provided that they are capable of doing it. I object when standards have to be reduced so that they can do it, for example, the proposal to reduce the physical tests necessary to join the SAS.

        • JabbaPapa

          The priesthood is a vocation, not just “a job”.

          Though of course I realise you’re an Anglican, and therefore used to the situation of belonging to a community whose orders are invalid.

          http://www.papalencyclicals.net/leo13/l13curae.htm

          • I could make comments about the RC Church and the present Pope, but I will restrain myself.

          • JabbaPapa

            Please, don’t let me stop you making comments about the present Pope …

          • I’m waiting for his new version of the Lords Prayer.

          • JabbaPapa

            That’s from the previous Pontificate, though I understand that problems regarding existing translations of it began to be examined under John Paul II.

  • Indeed. Many of us have fond memories of a grocer’s daughter and her handbag. My guess is that Putin well remembers her as well, although possibly not as fondly.

  • Patrick Selden

    Gadzooks!! I had no idea that, as a Leave voter, it was my fault Capaldi got the job and not some bimbo! Is there no end to my evil…?
    *sits in silent contemplation of myriad Brexit sins*

  • Nockian

    Doctor who gets a gender re-assignment during re-generation. Gender fluid doctor ? Presumably not as smart, nor as strong as the male version because the male Doctor is the superlative version of the Time Lords, not the Time Ladies. Therefore we can assume there are critical gender differences. If these differences are similar to humans, then it would make sense that it was a male doctor who survived the destruction of the Time Lord planet- Ganemede. The other survivor was the Master-another male who was reassigned a designated mistress.

    I’m taking this way too seriously. Next the Doctor can be a cat, gerbil, plant or perhaps a chunk of rock.

    • LoveMeIamALiberal

      Dr Who is clearly an eccentric Englishman, so this whole exercise is just gender appropriation, I’m so triggered….

      But (nearly) seriously, l don’t see what’s to be celebrated in a woman taking over a man’s role in a TV series. It implies women can only succeed if they get a man to do all the spade work for them; it’s impossible to imagine anyone would think it progress to cast a man as Miss Marple. The BBC wants a female superhero? Fine, create a bespoke series and persuade people to watch it. A female Dr Who is a sign of feminist failure, not success.

  • Ed McA

    Thought Maggie was initially great but when it came to the coal mining industry she really became vindictive and destroyed the industry although she was not alone with the presence of Scargill et al.

    • John Birch

      That’s total crap, how the conservative government didn’t defend itself is beyond me.
      Our coal is absolutely poor quality, the mines that stayed open till the bitter end had to have a 50% mix with clean Aussie or South African coal to be able to meet emissions targets.
      Emission laws were what killed off our coal mines.
      And while we’re on the subject the Tories didn’t shut down shipbuilding shipbuilding stopped because it could be done in other countries cheaper .
      We couldn’t compete and paid the price .

      • Yep, that closed most of our eastern deep mines too. Sad, but necessary.

      • Sean Toddington

        Emissions laws? When were those introduced? I thought our coal industry was dead – killed by economics – long before emissions standards were considered.

      • Labour_is_bunk

        I suppose there’s always a few who find the notion of the UK being
        held each winter by its whatsnames at the behest of some union baron,
        quite appealing.

    • LoveMeIamALiberal

      Labour governments in the ’60s and ’70s closed more coal mines (and shipyards) than Maggie, but the left ignores this as they’re only interested in demonising Tories.

  • MorganCourtenay

    I stopped watching Dr. Who after David Tennant left. In my mind, Dr. Who is male. (And incredibly hot, the intial reason I watched before I caught up with the Sci-fi language).

    • AKM

      I wouldn’t much care if the next Dr. Who was female if I thought that they’d picked an actress because they’d found one who would be perfect for the role. As it is I rather suspect they’ve decided they want an actress for entirely political reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with good character, plot or storytelling.

  • Flaketime

    Perhaps someone can explain this to me. If I as a right of centre conservative person even in the slightest cause offence by some incredibly tenuous reason to one of the brown eyed favourites, I would likely end up being spoken to by the Political Correctness Enforcement Squad formally known as ‘The Police’.

    Yet Moffat can manage to piss off not just a nation, or a region, or even a religion, but several of the aforementioned in combination all at once and the BBC thinks it’s all OK !

    Doctor Who is now banned in several Muslim countries because of its active promotion of homosexuality to children. It’s also banned in several African Christian countries for the same reason, and South America as well.
    In fact the only countries which seem to approve of Moffats scribbling are the supposedly enlighted Western decadent crazed nations in the West !

    So how is it that the Fascist Left can hypocritically point out the non existent specks in our eyes whilst failing to see the entire forest in their own ?