50 Reasons to Love Doctor Who – Part Two

Paul Cockburn
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Catch up on part 1 here.


26: “It’ll never work.”

“It’ll never work. He’s gay, and she’s an alien,” says the Ninth Doctor, flicking through a copy of Heat magazine. Whoever could he be talking about?… A prime example of the snappy, cheeky, clever writing of Russell T Davies, which firmly rooted his Doctor Who in the 21st century. (Rose, 2005.)

27: “Daleks have no concept of elegance!” / “That is obvious!” 

Russell T Davies made every eight year old fan’s dream come true when he finally brought the Daleks and Cybermen together in one episode. Yes, they eventually end up having a big battle above Canary Wharf, but how does it all start? They bitch like a Drag Queen facing up to a Muscle Mary! (Doomsday, 2006.)

28: “I might’ve been saying something important. I was saying something important!”

Unlike Star Trek, where viewers were often clobbered over the head by the “issue of the week”, Doctor Who has seldom been “issues-led”. Except, that’s an accusation that’s now often made against the 21st century show, not least because it dares to suggest that (a) LGBT people exist, and (b) that’s OK. This is, apparently, clear evidence of the series suddenly gaining a “Gay Agenda”. Or, specificially, a gay marriage agenda: for example, “the Cassini Sisters”–one of whom tells cat-man Brannigan: “You know perfectly well we’re not sisters; we’re married.”(Gridlock, 2007.) Or there’s Kylie’s: “But Cyborgs have rights now–they can even get married!” (Voyage of the Damned, 2007.) And, of course, Madame Vastra and Jenny. (The Snowmen, 2012.) Not much, really; still, it’s apparently too much for some people.


29: “Allons-y, Alonso!”

29 Allonsy

OK, except for The History Boys-fans among us, how many people had ever noticed Russell Tovey before his 2007 Christmas Day appearance as Midshipman Alonso Frame? (Voyage of the Damned.) Being Human was still months away from broadcast; Him & Her had yet to be created. Thank you, Doctor Who casting agent.

30: “Yeah, I came first in jiggery pokery, what about you?”

30 Yeah, I cam first in jiggery pokery

Talking of which, the Tenth Doctor’s final gift to Captain Jack was to match-make a date with Alonso Frame. Barrowman and Tovey–the mind boggles… (The End of Time, Part Two, 2010.)

31: “Well, we can’t just sit here glittering, can we!”

In 1975’s Revenge of the Cybermen, we learned that humans had won the Cyber-war with the invention of “the Glitter Gun”, a weapon which sprayed gold dust which clogged up Cybermen’s breathing apparatus. Sounds so gay. Alas, we never saw any in action.

31: “Eldrad Must Live!”

31 eldrad must live

Starting out as just The Hand of Fear (1976), the silicon-based villain surprised many viewers by appearing to be female. Later, it turned out that Eldrad has sensibly modeled a stylish, sexy body based on companion Sarah Jane Smith. Disappointingly, the real Eldrad was revealed to be a shouty, male bully. How many of our relationships have ended up like that?

32: “You squashed my favorite Beatles!”

Given the size of the universe, the Doctor has always kept up to date with the latest in Earth culture. Bless. (The Chase, 1965.)

33: “I never touch alcohol.”

So said the First Doctor; two incarnations later, however, he clearly loved his fine wines and pungent cheeses. (Day of the Daleks, 1972.) Consistency, my arse!

34: “Excuse me, do you mind not farting while I’m saving the world?”

The Doctor’s neither one to stand on ceremony, nor tiptoe around people’s feelings. And he can be pretty bitchy. “You’re a classic example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain,” he told one idiot. (The Robots of Death, 1977.)

35: “Our lives are different to anybody else’s.”

The Doctor revels in his lifestyle; nor does he apologise for it. Simply put, he’s a role model for us all. (The Tomb of the Cybermen, 1967.)

36: “Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.”

Yes, he can be a tad moralistic on occasions, but the Doctor’s hearts are usually always in the right places. (Planet of the Daleks, 1973.)

38: “There’s no point being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes.”

Especially on a Friday night at G.A.Y., presumably. (Robot, 1974-75.)

39: “Oh. It’s you again. Can’t say I’m delighted. It’s no use pretending.”

Not one to put on a false face, is our Doctor. If he doesn’t like you, he’ll let you know. Possibly by blowing up your planet. (The Sontaran Experiment, 1975.)

40: “Hello, this is Sarah Jane, she’s my best friend.”

For a generation of boys in the 1970s, Elisabeth Sladen was indeed the perfect example of a female best friend: brave yet vulnerable, intelligent but not bossy. That Sladen subsequently repeated that trick 30 years later is remarkable: when she died in 2010, several generation of viewers were heart-broken.

41: “Change, my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon.”

The Doctor has never been one to hang onto anything for too long. He’s been reinventing himself decades before Madonna or Lady Gaga came up with anything radical. (The Caves of Androzani, 1985.)

42: “Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold.”

Priorities. The Doctor doesn’t forget the small, important things in life. (Survival, 1989.)

43: “Nine hundred years of time and space, and I’ve never been slapped by someone’s mother.”

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there.

44: “Aw, I wanted to be ginger! I’ve never been ginger!”

While even the Doctor has admitted to some prejudices over the years (a prejudice against Daleks, for example), a dislike of people of “primary colour” is obviously not one of them. (The Christmas Invasion, 2005.)

45: “I’m not running away from things, I am running to them. Before they flare and fade forever.”

The Doctor’s life is grounded on his friendships. He doesn’t want to loose them–even though he knows he will long outlive all of them. (The Power of Three, 2012.)

46: “I’m always serious. With days off.”

The Doctor’s attitude of “serious about what I do, but not necessarily how I do it,” has much to recommend it. (Cold War, 2013.)

47: “You’re overexcited. Have you been eating Miss Jenny’s sherbet fancies again?”

Doctor Who has always been very good at pulling the rug under pompous machismo, whether it’s in the form of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart or the Sontaran Strax.

48: “The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.”

And, let’s face it, we’ve all felt on occasions that some people would prefer to change us rather than their prejudices.

49: “What? Not Ringo? Why doesn’t anybody ever want to meet Ringo?”

The Doctor will stand up for the forgotten and overlooked, or at least think about the less than obvious. Even Ringo Starr. (City of the Daleks, 2010.)

50: “What I did, I did without choice, in the name of peace and sanity.”

50 what i did

Doctor Who can still surprise us. Remember that fake “regeneration” for David Tennant? Or when John Hurt was revealed at the conclusion of The Name of the Doctor (2013)… as The Doctor! Clearly, there’s life in the old Time Lord yet!

About Paul Cockburn

Edinburgh-based magazine journalist (freelance) specialising in arts & culture, equality issues, and popular science. Of an age now to prefer theatre to film. Lifelong Doctor Who fan; favourite episode being “the next one”–not least because, for too many years, it looked as if there never would be another. @paulfcockburn