Doctor Who’s journey Through the ‘Protected Characteristics….

Having cringed my way through the first four episodes of this season’s Doctor Who, either I must have become desensitised to the overt preachy and patronising politically correct tone, or perhaps I’ve just accepted that it’s not so bad after all that the BBC uses one of its flagship international programmes to preach tolerance and diversity?

Or perhaps the episodes (bar no 9) were of a higher quality: either way I didn’t find the second half of the series anywhere near as offensive as the first half, I even actually enjoyed the final episode.

It struck me that what the series actually did (its not so hidden agenda, if you like), was to trawl through most of the ‘protected characteristics‘, those things that you’re not allowed to discriminate against under British law since the 2010 Equality Act, as follows:

  • age.
  • disability.
  • gender reassignment.
  • marriage and civil partnership.
  • pregnancy and maternity.
  • race.
  • religion or belief.
  • sex.

I outlined here how episodes 1-4 dealt with many of the above (often in quite patronising ways).. already having covered age, disability, race and sex, and this theme of ‘minority representation’ was set to continue…

Episode 5: The Tsuranga Conundrum -Pregnancy/ sexuality

Not the main thing focused on, but one of the ally characters is male and pregnant and Ryan and the other male sidekick get roped in as his birth buddies.

Episode 6 – Demons of the Punjab – race/ ethnicity/ religion

Set at the start of the Pakistan/ India partition …. one of the main sidekicks (Yaz) is of Pakistani/ Indian heritage, busting stereotypes. Maybe this is what mellowed me to the series: it’s long annoyed me that kids don’t learn about this aspect of history at school, at least this episode made a start!

Episode 7 – Kerblam – Definding AI/ disability

This was an odd episode… it was set in an Amazon type factory in which robots start killing people… but it ain’t the robots it turns out, say no more! There are quite a few painful references (and unnecessary ones) to Ryan’s dyspraxia in this, as he used to work in a warehouse, and there’s a few throwbacks to the issues he used to have.

EPISODE 8: The Witch finders – Gender

In which the crew get transported back to 16th century (or around then) England and we get a little lesson on women’s rights (or lack of them) just because they’re women.

Episode 9: They Take You Away – disability (blindness) 

I couldn’t face watching more than five minutes – as soon as as I realised the main ‘ally character’ was a blind female child I switched it off. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong (I actually would like to know if I’m right) but this episode probably ended up with the blind girl somehow being instrumental in resolving (without killing) the ‘monster’ (if it was a monster) working together with the sited assistants. The painfully obvious message being that ‘if you support blind people they can do amazing things’.

Episode 10: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos – religion 

in fairness to this episode i didn’t feel the usual preachy tone until right at the end (if you ignore all the ‘better man for not killing’ stuff)…. when the Doctor advices the ‘ally characters’ (at least allies by the end) ‘remember to keep your faith, the universe has a tendency to test it’.

Which really just a load of postmodern nonsense.. vague, wishy washy and ultimately devoid of any meaning or substance….

What’s the Doctor got in store for us next season? 

I predict three things:

  • ‘Respect’ T shirts, with no reference to what exactly it is you should ‘respect’.
  • A couple of episodes on transgender and asexuality: not really dealt with this season, but I guess ‘homosexuality’ had been ‘done’ in the previous few seasons (much more subtly too).
  • The Doctor going on the rampage against the poor, because we’re still allowed to discriminate against them under the 2010 Equality Act.


All pics from iplayer….




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