Doctor Who News Karen Gillan's first appearance as Amy Pond in The Eleventh Hour

Published on November 12th, 2013 | by Rebecca Crockett

Doctor Who ‘Sexualised’? Matt Smith Disagrees

Has Doctor Who been sexualised?

So says veteran Who director Waris Hussein.

But current star Matt Smith disagrees, and recently spoke about the allegations in The Mirror.

I strongly disagree. Doctor Who is just rollicking good fun with the odd snog here and there. For sure, Karen [Gillan] is hot, so too Billie and Jenna but is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.
What’s he want us to do, put everyone in straitjackets? Look at the history of the show, there were women in Tarzanian outfits, were there not, back in the early days?

I personally agree with Matt on this point. While there has been a bit more romance added to the show than was done in the episodes of the Classic era, I don’t think the show is by any means overtly sexual. Both Leela and Peri at times wore much less than Amy, even with her short skirts.

Frankly, having characters that are couples like Amy and Rory as well as the Doctor and River – who is supposed to be his wife, after all – kissing, is something that would naturally happen! To never see any of them kiss would almost feel as if their relationships were trying to be hidden. There are a number of moments in the episodes from the original series where a quick snog would have been more than appropriate, but where such a thing wasn’t done because it was felt it would change the characters or quite possibly because those creating the show were scared to add such a thing to something ostensibly labeled as a children’s show.

I’m not advocating for turning the show into a full on snogfest (a snog box indeed!) but here and there when appropriate to the story? The Doctor and his companions can always use a few more lighthearted moments. And for a relationship like the Doctor and River have, where the audience hasn’t seen all of their romance played out on screen? A kiss shows us just how strong a connection they have for each other.

(via MTV UK)



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About the Author


Rebecca is new to the Who world, having only recently watched the entire new series in a span of 8 days. She is no stranger to sci-fi though, being a life long Trekkie and has vague memories of seeing the 4th Doctor on US television as a child. When not watching, reading, blogging, or talking about Doctor Who, she is a fan of pop culture and loves movies and books so much she has to keep a list of both so she doesn't forget any of them. She also likes to make attempts at various forms of art including photography and painting. Rebecca is currently working her way through as many classic serials and as many books related to the show that she can find and wishes she could have been with the Doctor and Amy when they met Van Gogh.

20 Responses to Doctor Who ‘Sexualised’? Matt Smith Disagrees

  1. avatar dr jon says:

    If you were talking about dr who back in the 70′s or 80′s there would be a lot of tutting and frowning from the public eye about the doctor snogging his assistants in the tardis even if they were only wearing animal skin’s.[Which by the way was ok for the dad's at the time.] But in 2013 the public are a bit more open about relationships sexual or otherwise.It was not that long ago when even death was a taboo subject on the tv.

  2. avatar Bradondo says:

    There was plenty of snogging in the old series, it just occurred offscreen. If you were paying attention you could see romantic feelings and relationships amongst the various characters and could easily tell which relationshhips were consummated and which were not. It’s just shown to us a bit more now and I don’t see a problem there. The show has finally left behind the idea–pretty well outmoded from the start–that it’s a children’s programme, so a bit of snogging is just a natural progression. I am a straight man and I appreciate the aesthetics of a lovely woman, but I would much rather see two characters who care for each other kiss than have a bunch of low cut blouses there just for tittilation purposes. What’s worse…a bit of harmless flirting or full-on objectification of a woman’s body as was done with Peri and Leela? Those outfits did nothing to advance or develop them as characters but were just slipped in for the randy dads in the audience. If anything the modern programme actively respects women and their sexuality and respects that not all men are misogynists. I’ll take character development and a wee snog over crass objectification any day.

  3. avatar Christine says:

    I agree with Rebecca, and with Matt for that matter. I don’t see hugs and the occasional snog as an issue. It’s similar to relationships with my own friends (male and female). And there isn’t a Who girls calendar for nothing! The thing is that in the past it was okay for the female companion to be eye candy but a normal friendly relationship was seen as being sexualised while currently some more romance (not sex, come on) is involved. And though as I have stated earlier here, Rose and 10 were some what embarrassing, this is certainly not the case with 11 and River. By the way, don’t we all hug and kiss our friends when we meet up, when a friend is going through a rough period or just because we want to? There’s got to be some kind of in between thing. Women not just being eye candy (though I tend to wear short skirts myself; does that automatically degrade you to being eye candy?),characters showing their support by touch and hug wwithout sexual connotations and last but not least humanising the character, including even the Doctor?

    • avatar Bradondo says:

      Spot-on comments, Christine. I would add that if you choose to wear a short skirt you are expressing yourself, which can be an empowering action, whereas if you are forced to wear one to rope a few leering dads into watching it is exploitive. I like to use women’s roller derby as an example. Many of the athletes (of all body types, by the way) wear outfits which purposely accentuate their curves and show off their bodies, yet at the same time they’re tough-as-iron bad-asses on the track. It’s total empowerment: women taking charge of their sexuality and bodies and showing the world that they can be beautiful, feminine, strong and fierce all at once. In a way I feel that the way women and relationships were previously and are currently presented on Doctor Who contrasts how women were once used as fantasy objects but are now shown as full human beings. I should really write a book about this! ;)

      • avatar Rebecca Crockett says:

        Karen herself recently said on this point that she had input into what her character wore and she chose the shorter skirts and boots – things she could run in! It’s not like she wasn’t wearing tights with the short skirts most of the time and she always had on flat shoes. No running in heels!

        • avatar Bradondo says:

          I think the rigamarole over this alleged sexualization is really off target. You’re from the U.S. (as am I) so you know there are hyper-sexualized, grotesquely exploitive images of women and sex just about everywhere you look–and I’m certain it’s not much different in the U.K. Doctor Who is like a Sunday school lesson compared to most magazines, movies and television programmes out there, anyway, but the question should be “is it advancing the plot and/or enriching the character or is it just a cynical sexing-up for ratings purposes?” Modern Who clearly passes the sniff test on this in a way Classic Who, at least some of the time did not. Thanks for the article and discussion, Rebecca. :)

    • avatar lara hartley says:

      the only problem i have with “y the way, don’t we all hug and kiss our friends when we meet up, when a friend is going through a rough period or just because we want to? There’s got to be some kind of in between thing. ” is when the doctor finds clara, he is SO emotional, so physical, and his face so vulnerable to everything he is feeling – i don’t know about you, but i do NOT have male friends with whom i have this kind of relationship. that kind of intimate hugging always seems to be a bit over-the-top. but i do like the romance 11 and river share. didn’t see it working with 10.

  4. avatar Al says:

    I find Waris’ comment a bit hypocritcal. Go watch the first version of the first episode with the camera panning up Susan as she does her sexy dance, and with her sensual portrayal of the character. One of the major things they changed when they did the do-over was to scale that back, and even then Susan wasn’t exactly shown as a “child”. The character was 17 but Ford wasn’t so I can say that sexualizing to a degree has been part of the show since Day 1. And then go forward a few years to Jean Marsh’s catsuits, Anneke Wills and her sexy outfits, and Wendy Padbury’s Zoe? You bet. Liz, Jo – even Sarah Jane to a degree. And then finally Leela and what about the fetish outfit Romana wears throughout City of Death? It’s been there all along. Now if Day of the Doctor has a Torchwood-style love scene or Jenna turns up naked in an episode (though they got away with Captain Jack dropping trou, for some reason) then we’ll talk. Otherwise I refuse to equate snogging with sex if that seems to the criteria in play.

  5. avatar TimeChaser says:

    This accusation of over-sexualization is bogus. Has Waris Hussein seen a lot of other shows out there? Shows on cable, or pay-per-view? Even with the added flirting an occasional kissing in New Who, its still far more tame than a lot of other TV dramas. There was a time when adding more sex into a show was a novelty, but now it seems like standard practice.

  6. avatar iank says:

    Funny, I don’t ever recall seeing any of the classic Doctors ogling his companions tight arses. Great point-missing there, Matt.

    But whatever appeals to the plebs, I guess. Just don’t pee on my leg and then try to tell me it’s raining.

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      So that to you is like Torchwood, or Orphan Black, or Hex, or any number of other shows in both the UK and US where sex and violence are raised to a gratuitous degree? Its just as sexual as watching people jump into bed together and have full-on sex?

      Sorry, but I don’t think so.

  7. avatar James Lomond says:

    Erm- was Waris Hussein talking about the amount of sex/ snogging in DW full stop or specifically talking about the Doctor’s sexuality? Cuz it sounded to me like the latter and I completely agree with him.

    I imagine academic feminists would have a lot to say about female characters and companions in NuWho but as far as I can see it’s mostly *fairly* empowering and not overtly misogynist as regards women. I could be wrong. Certainly it’s an improvement on 70s Who. I don’t have a problem with the amount of snogging and sexual references in NuWho at all (except for the oral sex reference in Love & Monsters which was the icing on the cake of the worst episode ever) but I do have a problem with the doctor being portrayed as a sexual being – it totally gets in the way of the character and reduces him to effectively being just human.

    This clip particularly – at and after the line ‘”..squeezed into a skirt that’s just a little bit too… tight” he’s basically fantasizing about Clara and then reprimands himself for it. I find this really off-putting and don’t think the Doctor should be portrayed as having *any* sexual interest in his companions. Show him being embarrassed and surprised about sex/ snogging, fine, but don’t show him actively lusting after someone.

    That’s my only objection – Captain Jack, Rory & Amy etc… all fine. The relationship with River Song I’m less certain about – I really enjoyed River’s character and the will-they-won’t-they was a crafty snare for the more casual audience. But I felt the full-on snogging damaged the character of the Doctor. That’s a matter of opinion/ personal feeling but I find the more casual sexualised remarks from the Doctor *out* of character. That said they are generally few and far between.

    Only other problem is there aren’t enough chaps in skirts that are too tight. Moffat- you’re ideally placed to address this coming from man-skirt-land. Sort it plz. For Christmas. ;)

    • avatar Mike R says:

      OK what I don’t understand about this is, by your estimation the Doctor should be completely ambivalent to the opposite sex? And this makes since how? Since it’s beginning we know he had a Gran daughter which means he had a wife and kids, and I don’t have to explain as to what the means or how it happened. The idea that he should have no attraction or thoughts at all about a woman is ridiculous. He is a character though not human still has the same human urges. Were people get things wrong is where they put the character in a position as if he is god or Jesus who should never stoop so low as to have a basic attraction, just like the people who say that Superman should not have killed zod in the new movie even though he has on more than one occasion killed in the comic, but only as a last resort to prevent more innocent people being killed. Stop making obviously flawed fictional characters into Christ figures it doesn’t match with the long standing history of these characters and the article and the people who agree don’t have a leg to stand on with this issue. Amy’s skirt was really no smaller than the 4th Doctors companion Leela who ran around in a skimpy top and and a leather skirt. Now with that said the most inappropriate thing was the Bit from love and monsters. Please for the love of sanity and common since find something more important to talk about, or at least know the facts before you make certain statements. And the argument that everyone is entitled to their opinion, is very true it helps to know all the facts before that opinion is mode or it just makes the person look ridiculous.

  8. avatar BOJAY says:

    Everyone is entitled to their point of view, but I find the suggestion, like Hussein has made, that Doctor Who has been sexualized to be ridiculous. Sexuality has been added to the mix, just as a greater emphasis on character has, to broaden the dramatic and narrative power of the show. Frankly, if I have a point of view on this topic, it’s that Classic Who might have been a touch hypocritical with the female companions being dressed to please the “dads” while the producers at any given point tread a line of asexuality. JN-T was, in my estimate the most red handed here, with his “no hanky panky in the Tardis” rule, while basically all but supplying magic arrows pointing out Tegan or Nyssa’s legs, or Peri’s notable endowments. What is present now is in context, while back in the day, in my view, what was on display smacked of gratuity. Not that I minded it one bit……….

  9. avatar Ranger says:

    Quite frankly I would welcome a show that takes out all sex references and kissing, it all becomes boring and repetitious. That doesn’t mean that it can’t portray love and affection – I love the way that the 4th Doctor holds Sarah Jane’s hand or states she’s his best friend, can anyone doubt his affection for her, but it isn’t done in an in your face way. I got fed-up with Rose and 10, if I wanted over-the-top mushy romance, I’ll go and read a Mills and Boon book.

  10. avatar DonnaM says:

    I’m inclined to think it’s society that has become “sexualised” rather than Doctor Who! In my early teens I could watch the Fifth Doctor and his troupe without ever wondering who was snogging whom; my nephew and niece at the same age don’t have quite the same innocent view…

  11. avatar Leila Jane says:

    No, i disagree with Matt Smith. Of course he wants to disagree, he’s the guy that gets to snog all the beautiful women. I don’t care if he has a kiss every now and then but he has snogged every single one of his assistants since its reboot in 2004/2005. I love the idea of a gentleman doctor, a proud and even arrogant one. And not one that makes sexual jokes and has it on with every girl he meets. Steven Moffat has ruined Who for me, stereotyping women as over-confident, flirtatious and arrogant. Every single one seems to flirt and fall in love with the Doctor, its like he’s turning it into Hollyoaks. More drama, less romance. Get back to what its supposed to be about, adventure, exploration and sic-fi drama. Or at least lets have another companion like Donna, funny and not madly in love with the Doctor!

    • avatar Leila Jane says:

      And this,

      Im not a prude by any means, but i find this uncomfortable and unnecessary. I guess it is what you want out of a doctor but this is not something i ever imagined seeing. I do hope Capaldi brings the stature and class back up from the gutters and Moffat learns to write humour without so much slapstick.

  12. avatar dr jon says:

    I do like most of Moffats story and most of the writing on dr who,but i have to agree with leila jane i think the dr should retain some class and stature. with a sort of victorian value.I for one grew up with jon pertwee dr who was always the heroic protector and i know the third dr did get in the shower for a comedy moment and even dress up as a cleaning lady,but it was done well i hope this is done well in the xmas special with decorum.

  13. avatar TonyS says:

    I started with Pat Troughton’s Doctor- and totally failed to grow up. I agree with both Leila Jane and Dr Jon (and with Donna M earlier). The programme HAS become more sexualised. But I think this is because society has. Good thing? Bad thing? Write on both sides of the paper and uses diagrams if necessary…

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