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Saturday, 27 September 2008

Who’s gay?

Could the next Doctor Who be gay?

Sounds like a tabloid headline, doesn’t it? But could it be true? Well, to be more accurate and less sensational:

Could the next actor to play Doctor Who be gay?

This week saw the publication of Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale – essentially, a chronicle of a year-long interview (via email) between Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook. Much of the press reaction to the book has centred on a suggestion from Davies that Russell Tovey (left) would make a suitable replacement Doctor when David Tennant decides to hang up his multicoloured scarf. Tovey, who came to prominence as Rudge in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, is openly gay. And, yes, it would be great to have an openly gay actor playing such a popular and iconic part.

But what about the naysayers?

Ever since the BBC brought back Doctor Who in 2005, malcontents and other bigoted saddos have accused the show’s outgoing head writer, Davies, of having some sort of gay agenda, presumably because he created a Channel 4 drama – Queer As Folk – about gay men in Manchester!

Their evidence of gay mis-goings on in Doctor Who? Well, every once in a while, there’s a passing reference to a character being gay, or possibly being gay.

It happened in Series 1, with the introduction of one of the Doctor's companions, Captain Jack Harkness – an “omnisexual” Time Agent from the 51st century – played by John Barrowman, who is himself (horror of horrors!) an openly gay man.

It happened again in Series 2, when Tommy (Rory Jennings) – the teenager who might be gay – helped out the Doctor while Rose was "off her face".

Then it happened in Series 3, when we met briefly a couple of dear old ladies – from the year 5 billion – who’d been “an item” for many years, and again when the Doctor made some quip to Frank – a young man from 1930’s New York, played by Andrew Garfield – about kissing him later.

Series 4 wasn’t immune either, with a minor Maurice-type subplot in a story about a unicorn, a giant wasp-like alien, Agatha Christie and a joke about a bottle of ginger beer!

These idiots also cite as evidence that Davies has cast lots of dishy young men in the show. Furthermore, now that Steven Moffat is to take over as head writer for Series 5 in 2010, they believe that the gay agenda will be no more.


The Doctor snogged every one of his female companions and most of them, Rose Tyler, Martha Jones and Sarah Jane Smith, were in love with him. What about the tear-jerking end to Series 2, when Rose was banished for ever to a parallel universe. And then, at the end of Series 4, she and the human version of the Doctor went off together hand in hand. Doesn't look much like a gay agenda to me! Where's the male companion falling in love with the Doctor?

Forget all those straight characters and straight relationships in the show. Forget the fact that the programme’s also full of older men, young women and older women. Ignore the fact that much of the character profile of Captain Jack was developed by Steven Moffat – a straight man with a wife and children.

If this was the gay agenda, I can't wait for the straight one because, by those standards, it's going to be wall-to-wall male companions snogging the Doctor, falling in love with the Doctor, walking off into the sunset with the Doctor!

May the Gods of Ragnarok preserve us!
UPDATE: I can’t believe I said “when David Tennant decides to hang up his multicoloured scarf”. It’s the sort of thing lazy journalists say. Tom Baker was the only Doctor Who to wear such a garment, and he left the show nearly 30 years ago!


Baal's Bum said...

Although it has been refreshing to see The Doctor grow up and be more accepting of relationships in general, I did at times feel in Torchwood sometimes did the gay thing at the expense of the plot. As much as I accept Captain Jack is a sexually charged character and this needs to be shown it did occasionally seem superfluous to the storyline. Particularly with James Marsters or maybe I am just jealous.

Slythgeek said...

Jack Harkness is a male companion who fell in love with the Doctor. And it caused some wonderful tension between him and Ianto Jones in Torchwood.