"Creeping social engineering" sounds like something from a Nazi Germany-inspired sci fi novel – but here it has been uded to describe alleged BBC efforts to cast a black actor as the lead in Doctor Who.
According to the Daily Star, certain BBC executives were dead set on a black actor playing the Doctor, but with neither of the lead contenders (thought to be Paterson Joseph and Chiwetel Ejiofor who are both pictured on the right in center and center-top) willing to commit long-term it’s thought that the programme makers were able to choose their own man.
A BBC source:
“The key phrase is ‘programme-makers’ – some executives were desperate for a black actor to take the role.
“Paterson and Chiwetel were both at the top of the list, though both ended up ruling themselves out once they found out what would be expected of them.
“There’s no doubt that one or other of them would have walked into the role had they not done so. Once they were out of the running the producers went to Plan B – a young unknown who would happily commit to the part long term.”
The Daily Star also suggests that maintaining the shows integrity and battling what was seen as "tokenism" became quite heated.
Opinions on the issue are widespread, from feeling that the BBC seemingly once more considers that it can do whatever it likes and treat audiences with disrespect to the quite obvious fact that the job should go – and certainly seems to have done so – to the best man, Matt Smith.
Robin Tilbrook of the English Democrats said: “The BBC take our money and then try to impose their views and values on us. It’s a creeping form of social engineering.”
And Doctor Who fan Alex Hooker, of St Albans, Herts, fumed: “What on Earth has a trendy, right-on recruitment policy got to do with sci-fi entertainment?
“They should just have gone for the best man for the role. It is extremely patronising to black actors to think they can’t compete for roles on ability alone.”
Of course, this is all behind us now, and the last thing a new Doctor Who production team needs is a storm of protest about something that didn’t happen.
Let’s hope that the issue is finally put to bed.