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Published on September 9th, 2010 | by Christian Cawley

Comic Disses Grown Up Who Fans

Popular comic David Mitchell – one half of Mitchell & Webb, and a star of Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show - has has criticised Doctor Who, claiming that it has forgotten it is a kid’s show.

Mitchell – a popular panel show guest whose weekly diatribes on BBC One’s Friday evening show Would I Lie To You? cause much mirth – seems to have been in the middle of one of his famous rants when he let fire with the following.

“My parents never watched Doctor Who – it wouldn’t have occurred to them to do so,” said Mitchell.

“They might have been fond of it, they might have said, ‘Oh yes, I used to watch that as a child’. What they wouldn’t go on to say was ‘…and I still do now.’” He added: “These days, a huge amount of stuff seems to be aimed at children, but with the assumption that adults – and not just parents – will consume it too.”

So, it would seem that David Mitchell isn’t a fan of either Matt Smith or Karen Gillan, never mind Steven Moffat, who like his predecessor and the broadcaster that produces the show, rightly describes Doctor Who as “family television”.

Doctor Who has always been family television – it has never been produced by any BBC children’s department, and principal casting has been conducted to appeal to adults. Storylines, particularly in the 1970s and 200s have been laced with adult references from politics to sex, and the series has been responsible for introducing mature sci-fi concepts to the masses.

Something that Blue Peter, The Tweenies and Grange Hill have singularly failed to do.

Perhaps there is a weird psychological reason that some so-called grown ups don’t like Doctor Who, or Harry Potter, or Toy Story, or The Simpsons…?


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

4 Responses to Comic Disses Grown Up Who Fans

  1. avatar Paul Cavanagh says:

    I can’t quite see how the above quote is ‘dissing’ adult fans of Doctor Who, or indeed is critical of the show as it stands. It just seems to show that Mitchell’s parents were very boundaried in what they watched on TV. It’s like they were saying “we like that, but it’s not for us, so we can’t watch it”. Maybe it’s not the show that has changed, but the way in which audiences react to what sort of entertainment they feel is appropriate to them.

  2. avatar 23skidoo says:

    There’s this rather frustrating stereotype among some people that science fiction produced for television is just for children. I’ve seen this said of Star Trek, of Gerry Anderson’s UFO (and anyone who says that’s a kid’s show is a liar if they claim they’ve actually watched it), etc. The stereotype is starting to be broken with shows like Galactica, Lost, and Fringe. But because Doctor Who connects back to the older days, it’s still lumped in with the “sci fi is for kids” belief. The low budgets, etc., of the early shows play a bit of a role in this, too. But people conveniently forget that so-called “adult” SF productions such as A for Andromeda and the original Quatermass were just as low-budgeted and were very adult shows for their time.

    I think the cluelessness of Mitchell and Stephen Fry’s comments is made patently obvious when you look at things like Doctor Who’s dominance of the Hugo Awards (much to the chagrin of BSG fans), and the fact Harlan Ellison back in the 1970s declared Doctor Who to be superior to Star Trek (yes, we all know Harlan had an axe to grind with Trek, but still), and the fact we have writers like Michael Moorcock and Neil Gaiman and Richard Curtis choosing to become involved in the franchise. Frankly, if Doctor Who is a kids’ show, then I wish more kids’ shows were of this quality.

  3. avatar bobbygaga says:

    I was under the impression that it was a family drama for everyone to watch: male, female, young, old, gay or straight. The Doctor Who concept is limitless… why can’t the audience be also?

  4. avatar Charlie says:

    I would take David Mitchell’s rants too seriously. It was probably said for comedic effect. Much like Jeremy Clarkson’s columns in whatever newspaper he writes in.

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