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Published on February 12th, 2014 | by Jonathan Appleton

Moffat: The Doctor Has Always Been Sexual

Steven Moffat has defended himself against accusations that he’s “sexed up” the character of the Doctor.

In a new interview, the Doctor Who and Sherlock showrunner sounds somewhat baffled at the complaint from some fans that he’s taken the programme into inappropriate territory:

“I mean, people talk about sex in Doctor Who – I heard someone say that to me, ‘You’ve sexualized the Doctor.’ I said, ‘Where? In what episode? What great episode are you watching!?!’”

This is not exactly a new issue, of course, and Moffat has long insisted that there’s a tendency among some followers of the show to ignore the evidence of their own eyes when it comes to the Doctor’s relationships with women:

“I mean, Matt Smith’s Doctor in particular just flails in the presence of women. But at the same time, it’s a fact of the canon of the show that the Doctor was a married man and had children. We know that he flirts, we know that he falls in love, we know that he has the full range of responses in that.”

The Moff undoubtedly enjoys a bit of mischievous provocation when it comes to this whole hanky-panky in the TARDIS business, but in fairness his comments were made as part of a wide-ranging interview covering both series currently under his stewardship:

“I never know quite what to say about this. Because they’re both characters, and in my head they’re both people. My God, if that’s not sexualized, they’re not having a very good time, are they? [Laughs]“

What do you think? Enough with the flirty Time Lord? Or do you enjoy the idea of the Doctor indulging his romantic side?



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About the Author


has watched Doctor Who since those great big spiders did for Jon Pertwee, and it's way too late to stop now. When he's not at his job working for a charity he spends his time following Hull City's fortunes, listening to Bruce Springsteen and wondering why it took thirty years too long for Doctor Who action figures to come along. Currently reading: Frank Skinner interview in DWM. That guy seriously loves this show...

26 Responses to Moffat: The Doctor Has Always Been Sexual

  1. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    The Aztecs, anyone?

  2. avatar docwhom says:

    Where does he say that the Doctor “has always been sexual”?

  3. avatar TimeChaser says:

    I think the flirting can be a bit much a times, but I don’t mind it. It just adds another layer to the character. We’ve seen him flirt and we’ve had suggestions at him being ‘naughty’ with certain women (Elizabeth I immediately springs to mind), but all this is tame compared to the outright and overt bed hopping you see in a lot of other shows today.

    And it may be one of those quirks of regeneration. Some Doctors will be flirty, some won’t.

  4. avatar Ian says:

    More desperate justifying of the unjustifiable. Give it a rest ffs.

    • avatar neu 75 says:

      Are you talking about Moffat or yourself, Ian?

    • avatar fan says:

      You are insane! Unjustifiable? It’s a TV show he’s not committing murder!

    • avatar TonyS says:

      If it’s unjustifiable, he can’t be justfying it

  5. avatar Ian says:

    I didn’t mind the Doctor flirting with River Song, not exactly a companion. But fed up with the Doctor snoggin the companion. I hope Capaldi won’t be wanting to get into Clara’s knickers.

  6. Well, The 8th Doctor was the first that got a kiss on screen. The first doctor was the first one to flirt. :)

    I was going to get into a bunch of stuff about writing outside the TV show, and how the producers were overly paranoid about affection being shown in the show during the 80′s for the younger audience members and all that, but eh, that gets complicated.

    So anyway, I don’t find anything wrong with exploring romance with the doctor….but I do think they can go a little overboard with it. I’ll be happy to see them pull back a bit with Capaldi.

  7. avatar rickjlundeen says:

    Tennant’s incarnation was the only incarnation that was somewhat of a Casanova and even he was pretty restrained. although I get the feeling that had he gone on to a lengthier run, McGann would have really played that aspect up.

  8. avatar James Lomond says:

    Hmm. I don’t buy that the Doctor’s flirtation with Cameca in The Aztecs and becoming accidentally engaged to her makes him sexual in any sense nor that anything significant about the character should enter canon…

    The one thing I find frustrating in Moff’s interview here is that he is so incredulous at the idea that he has sexualised the character. Yes it’s true that the 11th Doctor isn’t an Alpha Male, licentious, predatory or preoccupied with sex… but whether he’s debonair or awkward around women, Moffat has made it 100% explicit that he is sexually attracted to women and HAS sexualised the character to that extent. (11th Doctor remarking how Clara’s skirt is too short and obviously enjoying the idea and all of the snogging River Song/ being flustered around her).

    My basic point is he’s not getting flustered and skittish around good looking men, is he? You can’t make an alien character that was previously avuncular and disinterested in sex into a character that thinks and behaves in the same ways as a heterosexual human and claim you haven’t *sexualised* them.

    The Doctor can have deep and powerfully felt relationships with other characters – I’m thinking of Idris/The TARDIS (and I take “sexy” to mean sexy the way a car might be “sexy”) or Handles in Time of the Doctor – but making him turned on/ physically attracted to others crosses a line for me.

    Personally I don’t this aspect of the Doctor and as I’ve said before I’d prefer the character to be asexual as that has a broader appeal, makes him more alien and less alienating – but it’s not the worst thing to happen to the show. That was Love & Monsters (joking. Sorta).

    • avatar Philip Bates says:

      Hmm. I know what you mean, but I think Moffat’s just made the sexual side of the Doctor more obvious, and that he never really was asexual. I think there were hints that the Doctor found previous companions attractive, but because he’s so old, it’s not worth dwelling upon – because it seems quite creepy.The Third Doctor was obviously younger than the Fourth, but because the Fourth looked younger, it wouldn’t be so creepy if he fancied Jo Grant; we only say that the Third Doctor looked after her as a daughter (or whatever) because going, ‘he clearly fancied her,’ seems… odd. Now, whether the Third Doctor was upset at the end of The Green Death because he’d effectively lost someone who he either thought of as a daughter (or whatever), a partner, or simply his companion – - well, that’s up for debate.

      But to me, the Doctor found quite a few companions attractive: I mean, with Zoe, Victoria, Sarah, Leela, Ace, Rose and Amy, how could you not? I’ve never considered that he’s found Adric attractive. He might’ve wavered with Jack, I suppose, but in general, I’ve never really thought of the Doctor as asexual.

      It’s an interesting debate!

      • I’m sorry but are you saying asexual and meaning bisexual? Because you said “He might’ve wavered with Jack,” which is clearly about bisexuality but then write “but in general, I’ve never really thought of the Doctor as asexual” which is clearly about asexuality, I’m sorry to ask, but it seems a little mixed up, so just wanted to know if that was intentional?

    • avatar Philip Bates says:

      Oh, and I think the worst thing to happen to Doctor Who is also one of the best things: the Internet! ;)

  9. avatar Colin says:

    The Moff needs to be careful about casting the Doctor into his own image. The Doctor is an alien. He’s not human. Yes, he has produced offspring, but why do we assume he is attracted to aliens and likes being flirty–at least in the same ways that humans are? I can buy the Doctor’s companions being attracted to the Time Lord, but I think Moff has pushed the envelope a bit too far. Without getting too preachy about the moral descent of Western culture, I think the Doctor’s current attitude toward the opposite sex reflects more the values of 21st century British society, which just doesn’t seem right for a 900+ year old Gallifreyan.

    That’s what I think, anyway, since you asked. :)

  10. avatar John Miller says:

    The Doctor has always been sexual, it’s just that the Classic Series(and television in general at that time) didn’t feel the need to constantly portray it.

    The other thing is what sort of woman the Doctor is attracted to. No doubt some fangirls will be upset, but the Doctor’s main relationships have been with the 150-year old Time Lord Romana, and the 50+-year-old part-Time Lord River Song. He also flirted with the 50-something Aztec Cameca. He kissed the 30-something Grace Holloway. All of these women(excluding Grace) were mature(though some may still cal Grace that…). Cameca was a tribal elder, Grace a doctor, River a professor, Romana a fellow Time Lord. The Doctor likes mature women, preferably at least part Time Lord, and of the doctor/professor ilk.

    There haven’t been that many travelling with him over the years. I always knew that the Doctor pushed the pork, it’s just something that never had any reason to be shown or even alluded to.

  11. avatar Ranger says:

    So what about Rose, John? I wouldn’t call her mature or highly educated and I would term her the Doctor’s most serious relationship – the relationship with River just doesn’t feel passionate and heartfelt to me, more like friends with benefits

  12. avatar Christine says:

    I thought the relationship with Rose was really embarrassing. not because of any snogging or flirts but because I feel a (sexual) relationship between a really older man (900 years) and a girl barely out of adolescence is hardly equal. Compared to that, all the others seem perfectly all right. As John said. I also liked the attraction between Captain Jack and the Doctor, and I for one wouldn’t mind the new Doctor being attracted to both sexes once more. And a little more mature please!

    • avatar Jeff G says:

      No way. We don’t need a bisexual Doctor. Doctor Who is technically a kids show. That’s one example of PC bull that needs to stay out of Doctor Who.

      • Doctor Who is not – and never has been – technically a kid’s show.

        It’s family television. Kid’s shows are not family television. Adult shows are not family television.

        Doctor Who is.

  13. avatar Al says:

    You need only witness the clear sexual tension between Tom Baker and Mary Tamm – the Doctor even says at one point that Romana is attractive – and then see how the real life attraction between Baker and Lalla Ward spilled over into the show to see the truth of Moffat’s words. This is not new. They just weren’t allowed to show anything back in the 1970s when the BBC still considered it purely a kids show.

    • avatar John Miller says:

      As has been said, Doctor Who was not a kids’ show.

      It was a show designed for the whole family to watch. Kids enjoyed certain aspects of it, teenagers enjoyed certain aspects of it, adults enjoyed certain aspects of it.

      There’s a big difference between a show made for kids, and a show made so that kids and adults can both enjoy it, and get something out of it.

  14. avatar TonyS says:

    A family show still means that children should be able to watch and enjoy it. The debate about whether overt references to sex should be shown remains a live issue.

  15. I don’t get it Moffat, a person can be romantic and be asexual at the same time it doesn’t need to be one way are the other, and yes he had children, I just need to say that it’s possible to get children without any sex, I’m not saying that’s how it is, I just don’t like Moffat saying it can exclusively only be one way. I’m not saying that Moffat “couldn’t be right” with the doctor, I’m saying it’s not as obvious as he thinks, and I think Moffat talks like a acephobia in this interview, at least in these brief clips of the interview.
    To The Question I like River Song she doesn’t take too much of the innocent out of the show, but too many love interests and sex hints would be wrong. Not just for the fans like me but the children.

  16. avatar Susanne says:

    I don’t mind the doctor being sexual and romantic…it is a part of life, alien or human and it adds more complexity and emotional layers to the characters and the story. As long as the story is solid and the acting is strong then I don’t see any reason why there shouldn’t be any references to sex or storylines surrounding love, loss and romance. Looking at the history of Doctor Who you can always see references or subtle hints of attraction and romance. Paul McGann and Daphne Ashbrook had it in spades and the dialogue between them was smart and quick (despite the story being poor). Alex Kingston and Matt smith’s pairing was good as well. I will admit that I had a problem with Rose and the 10th doctor mainly because she was an adolescent who wasn’t really mature and her rants and fits of jealousy got on my nerves. But overall the majority of romantic relationships that the doctor has had were with women who were past there 30s with qualifications or with other timelords. Don’t see any problem.

    As for sex hints in television and its connection to children…please children start asking questions about these issues as young as 5-7 years of age. Look up the stages of sexual development in child development (psychology). Children are learning about these things very early because of magazines and pornography on the internet, they are not as “innocent” as people would think them to be.

    Overall the show is a little bit above a family show, it had elements that kids enjoy, there is stuff for adolescents and a lot of subtle references and stories that appeal to the adults. That being said, after all that romance I am ready to have a different dynamic between the doctor and his companions. Moffat did say in one of his other interviews that you will have incarnations of the doctor that inhabit the dashing, romantic and sexual side of the spectrum like Tennant, McGann and Smith and then you have the opposite side of the spectrum where the doctor can be cold, calculating, fierce and manipulative like Eccleston, McCoy and Baker. And from what Moffat has said in recent interviews there is no doubt in my mind that the pendulum is going to swing in that direction with Capaldi.

  17. I wish I hadn’t known what I knew when I was a child so the fack most are not as innocent wouldn’t be a excuse,
    besides have you seen this?
    I’m sorry if this offends you I’m not in any way trying to offend you, nplease don’t take it personally.

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