The Upcoming Season of ‘Doctor Who’ Promises to Be the Most Queer-Positive Yet
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Given how inclusive Doctor Who has been over the years, we’re pleasantly surprised to find out how the upcoming season — the first with a female lead — will bring even more queer Doctor Who characters into the lexicon. But in a new interview, the showrunners and series star Jodie Whittaker talk about how Doctor Who Season 11 will actually be the most queer yet.
Doctor Who Season 11 (technically the show’s 36th season ever, not counting specials and spinoffs) is back Oct. 7. The new series will be the first with Jodie Whittaker taking over as the Doctor’s thirteenth regeneration — a clever device that allows creators to keep the show alive as actors retire from the role — and the first female Doctor in the series. (There was a female doctor, played by Joanna Lumley of Absolutely Fabulous, in 1999, but that was a non-canon Comic Relief sketch.)
Of course, Whittaker’s casting was controversial. At the time she said, “I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender.” As she’s made her first on-screen appearance in last year’s Christmas special, those questions have mostly died down — though she still gets asked stupid questions. Whittaker told Digital Spy, “I didn’t come into Broadchurch saying, ‘I’m playing Beth Latimer as a woman’! No one’s saying to Jon Hamm, ‘Did you play [Don Draper in] Mad Men as a man?’ It’s a weird question!”
But the people who took issue with Whittaker’s casting in the first place — and the rainbow on her shirt — will find even more reason to be mad about diversity. Doctor Who Season 11 promises to add more queer characters than ever before. And it sounds like we’re not just talking about a token gay character.
Executive producer Matt Strevens told Digital Spy, “Since the show came back in 2005, I think Doctor Who has been amazing at blurring the edges of sexuality and being quite genderfluid about the characters and relationships. I’m not going to say if any of our characters are or are not at this point. But it is part, I think, of the DNA that Russell [T. Davies] re-imbued into the show. … There will be characters from across the spectrum.”
Russell T. Davies, the out gay man behind Queer as Folk, Cucumber, Tofu and Banana, was behind the 2005 Doctor Who relaunch. Since that relaunch Doctor Who has been inclusive, though it was only in 2017 that the Doctor got his first gay companion, Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie.
It was under Davies that fan-favorite character Captain Jack Harkness was added to the cast (and then given his own spinoff, Torchwood). That character, played by John Barrowman, is notably one of the few pansexual characters on television.
Sadly, we’ll have to wait for more details about upcoming queer Doctor Who characters, as the cast and crew aren’t allowed to spill too much. As Whittaker says, “It’s really frustrating when you’re not allowed to say anything!”
Doctor Who Season 11 showrunner Chris Chibnall adds, “You’ve just got to see how the stories play out!”