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Published on January 26th, 2011 | by Andrew Reynolds

Who: ‘The Gayest Non-Gay Show on TV’

Certain eras of Doctor Who are as defined by the show as they are the events that surround it. Mary Whitehouse, gabbing to all and sundry about the perceived violence of the show during the 70′s which, inevitably, lead to higher ratings or Micheal Grade and his one-man hate campaign to rid the schedules of, what is now one of the BBC’s biggest earners.

A rogues gallery no doubt but recently one of the biggest events outside of the show to affect the perception of all things Who was the appointment of the very man who brought the show kicking and screaming into modernity- Russell T Davies.

Davies was, is and shall gloriously remain, an openly gay man, and this, we all scoff with cynicism at our Neanderthal self’s from back in the B.i period (before iPads), was a bit too much for tabloid journalists to take.

‘A gay man running a children’s show!’ said one source who I just made up.

But as time has proved and will continue to prove, the chip paper suppliers missed the point- the point that has been rounded up, study and collated into a smashing little article from the good people at Frost Magazine whose premise is not to question, but to love the glorious contradiction:

The reborn Doctor Who embraces numerous gay references, all the more remarkable in a top-rated, worldwide, prime time TV show aimed at the family. In fact, it is probably the gayest, non-gay programme anywhere in the TV schedules.

Sex and Doctor Who used to go together like biscuits and hammers but as pop culture was slowly circulated into the program, the odd jumpsuit there, a touch of miniskirt here, the show began to reflect the changing sexual attitudes of the world around it:

Wendy Padbury’s Zoe Herriot often crops up in Whovian conversations thanks pretty much to a spangly, tight purple zip-up jump suit she once wore while scrambling on to the Tardis console. But it was probably Katy Manning’s character of Jo Grant who is most fondly remembered as the girl who first put the sex into Doctor Who.

Jo, apart from being a good screamer as the role frequently required, had a tendency to flash her knickers courtesy of her early 1970’s outfit of short skirt and plastic boots. Not only did Manning thus cement her role as the first crush of small boys and the lust object of dads everywhere, ratings went through the roof.

The odd bit of Peri leering later and we’re back on the air and rightly, embracing variety as the spice of life – and none came more spicy than Captain Jack Harkness, who became the shows first bi-tri-anything with a pulse-sexual and from their the floodgates opened and reality came rushing in.

The article points out that  perhaps its a greater irony that now we are seemingly comfortable with a liberal attitude towards homosexual and bisexual relationships that certain factions (cough, Daily Mail, cough) have such a startlingly puritan attitude towards the heterosexual desire of Amy for the Doctor and her own comfortableness in her own sexuality.

(via Frost Magazine)


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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

3 Responses to Who: ‘The Gayest Non-Gay Show on TV’

  1. avatar Carn says:

    Well the Davies era sure, but the last series was refreshingly low on the gayness. I don’t mean anything against the whole gay thing but it did start to seem like Davies had some obsession with reminding everyone he’s gay quite often. I feel pretty pleased with the progression of things though overall in that a character like Jack Harkness can be accepted by the majority of children and parents (though I not sure how many of them watch Torchwood as well as his appearances in Who)

  2. avatar EddySc says:

    I am proud to say the series I love the most is the one that respects all. There are gay people, black people, alien people… Hell, probably even hermaphrodites and they ALL are treated with respect and dignity. You say gingers don’t have souls? Well, we, Doctor Who fans, say they are the stuff of legend (and the stuff of the Doctor’s dreams – come on, 11 incarnations and still not ginger?!).

    Of course, at times Russel put TOO MANY gay references – Jack going for Alonso wasn’t exactly something I think would relieve him of the burden of killing his own grandson – and, as such, it’s refreshing to see not so many gayness (does that word existe?), but without removing the respect.

    PS.: as Carn said before, I don’t mean anything against gay people.

  3. avatar Paul Cavanagh says:

    Aaaaaahhhhh! *runs around in circles flapping hards in front of face in a very camp manner*

    Puh-lease! Let’s not restart the old ‘gay agenda’ nonsense again. Russell having an obsession with reminding everybody that he was gay? I don’t think so – it seems to me that he got pretty hacked off with everybody asking him stupid questions about the ‘gay agenda’ – he had to constantly deal with this sort of thing:

    Interviewer: So Russell, why do you spend so much time writing about gay people in Doctor Who.

    RTD: I don’t, but gay people exist, and I don’t think Doctor Who should pretend otherwise.

    Interviewer: My God, will you stop banging on about gay people all the time, can’t we just change the subject?

    RTD: But you started it.

    Interviewer: No I didn’t – you wrote Queer as Folk!

    OK, I’m being silly now, but surely you see the point? RTD was best known for having written Queer as Folk when he started work on Doctor Who – so clearly, the media were always likely to focus on just how gay he was going to make Doctor Who. Just because it’s got a few gay characters in it, doesn’t make it a show about gay people. Russell mentions chips a lot, do you ever hear people saying that Doctor Who is a show about chips? No. Frankly, and I’ll try to frame this so as not to cause offence and start a flame war – frankly, this argument is often perpetuated by people who are at the very least uncomfortable with the idea that homosexuality is a perfectly acceptable and normal part of everyday life in the Twenty-First Century. Just like chips.

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