Doctor Who is a British science fiction programme produced by the BBC. The first episode was shown on Saturday, 23 November 1963 and ran until 1989. It was relaunched in 2005 and is still running.
The programme is about the adventures of a Time Lord called “The Doctor” or Doctor Who, an extra-terrestrial being from the planet Gallifrey. On the adventures he is normally accompanied by a human female.
As the TV series is over 50 years old, The Doctor has been portrayed by 13 different actors. In the 2017 Christmas Special, the actor- Peter Capaldi was replaced by Jodie Whittaker. This will be the first time the role will be performed by a woman.
|First Doctor||William Hartnell||1963–66|
|Second Doctor||Patrick Troughton||1966–69|
|Third Doctor||Jon Pertwee||1970–74|
|Fourth Doctor||Tom Baker||1974–81|
|Fifth Doctor||Peter Davison||1982–84|
|Sixth Doctor||Colin Baker||1984–86|
|Seventh Doctor||Sylvester McCoy||1987–89|
|Eighth Doctor||Paul McGann||1996|
|Ninth Doctor||Christopher Eccleston||2005|
|Tenth Doctor||David Tennant||2005–10|
|Eleventh Doctor||Matt Smith||2010–13|
|Twelfth Doctor||Peter Capaldi||2014–2017|
|Thirteenth Doctor||Jodie Whittaker||2107- current|
The Doctor and ‘his’ companions travel the universe and time in the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) which is stuck in the form of a 1960’s police box. The TARDIS is much larger inside than it appears on the outside. One of the TARDIS’s many quirks is finding people in desperate need of help. These people could be at peril due to encountering one of his many enemies. These include the Daleks, the Cybermen, and the Master, another renegade Time Lord.
Physically Time Lords are very similar to humans but have a few differences. These include:
- They can live far longer than humans. The Doctor is over 2000 years old
- They have two hearts and three brain stems.
- Time Lords do not die, they regenerate
- An internal body temperature of 15–16 °C
- Occasionally exhibiting a super-human level of stamina
- The ability to absorb, withstand and expel large amounts of certain types of radiation
I write about Doctor Who because is he is a very interesting character form a spiritual view point. One of the Doctor’s qualities I particularly admire is whenever he encounters an enemy, dangerous situation or challenge, he always maintains his cool and faces it with curiosity and intrigue. He never acts out of fear or responds with violence. He is only ever armed with his trusty sonic screwdriver.
The recent Season 10 featured some interesting underlying themes. In episode 10 -The Eaters of Light, Bill (The Doctor’s assistant for this season) was stuck hiding in a cave with some Roman centurions. One of the soldiers, Lucius has shown a romantic interest in Bill.
Warning Spoilers Ahead!
Bill- I don’t like men… that way
Lucius- what? Not ever?
Bill- No. not ever… only women
Lucius- Oh! Alright. Yeah I got it. You’re like Vitus then
Lucius- He only likes men.
Vitus- Some men. Better looking men than you, Lucius
Lucius- I don’t think it’s narrow –minded. I think it’s fine. You know what you like.
Bill- And you like both?
Lucius- I’m just ordinary. You know, I like men and women.
Bill- Huh! Well, isn’t this all very… modern
Lucius- Hey, not everyone has to be modern. I think it really sweet that you’re so … restricted.
While this may not necessarily be a spiritual theme, it is definitely a reflection upon our society. In a later episode the doctor is telling Bill about his history with Missy (Missy is the latest incarnation of one of the Doctor’s oldest friends and quite possibly his most ruthless enemy – the Master).
The Doctor- She was my first friend, always so brilliant, from the first day in the Academy. So fast, so funny. She was my man crush.
Bill- I’m sorry?
The Doctor-I think she was a man back then. I’m fairly sure that I was too, it was a long time ago, though.
Bill- So Time Lords, bit flexible on the whole man woman thing, then, yeah?
The Doctor- We are the most civilised civilisation in the universe, We’re billions of years beyond petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes.
Bill- But you still call yourselves Time Lords?
The Doctor- Yeah, shut up.
This is by far more of an insight as it shows an androgynous aspect. If we are to leave duality, what impact would this have on our sexuality? This is something that will be written about more in the future.
Death and the value of life seem to be an underlying theme this season. In one episode The Doctor questions Bill on the morality of eating a bacon sandwich, stating the pig had a “mummy and a daddy”.
Another example of this was in Episode 3- Thin Ice. The Doctor and Bill are in London, 1814. On the frozen Thames, the entire city has turned out for the biggest Frost Fair in decades. Bill is very upset after witnessing a young boy die by being snatched through the ice. She confronts the Doctor regarding his lack of emotion.
Bill- have you ever killed anyone? There’s a look in your eyes sometimes that makes me wonder.Have you?
The Doctor- There are situations when the options are limited…
Bill- not what I asked!
The Doctor- Sometimes the choices are very…
Bill- That’s not what I asked!
The Doctor- Yes
Bill- How many? Don’t tell me. You’ve moved on
The Doctor- you know what happens if I don’t move on? More people die. The kids living rough near here, they may well be next on the menu. Do you want to help me? Do you want to stand her stamping your foot? Because let me tell you something- I’m 2000 years old…and I’ve never had the time for the luxury of outrage
Towards the end of this episode The Doctor confronts the wealthy villain Lord Sutcliffe regarding the monster in the Thames.
Lord Sutcliffe – I move this empire forward
The Doctor- Human progress isn’t measured by industry…It’s measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life. A life without privilege The boy who died on the river, that boy’s value is your value. That’s what defines an age. That’s…. What defines a species.
I love this concept. People can place so much emphasis upon progress, technology and materialism but how can we be an advanced species if we leave people to starve, destroy mother earth and her inhabitants. What do we consider “an unimportant life”? People? Animals? Plants?
The full extent of how many people’s death The Doctor has been responsible for is revealed in the episode Extremis. The Doctor is on a distant planet to execute Missy but instead takes her prisoner. Rafando the executioner confronts The Doctor.
The Doctor- Of course she’s not dead. She’s a friend of mine. I may have fiddled with your wiring a little bit.
Rafando- You swore an oath.
The Doctor- I swore an oath I’d look after her body for a thousand years. Nobody mentioned dead.
Rafando- You cannot do this. You will not leave this planet alive.
The Doctor- Do me a favour. The Fatality Index. Look up The Doctor.
Rafando- You have an entry, just like any other sentient being.
The Doctor- Under Cause of Death.
Rafando works his wrist computer. It ticks rapidly as it runs through all matching entries.
Rafando- You do seem to have an impressive record of fatalities credited to you.
The ticking keeps going, and speeds up.
Rafando- A truly remarkable record.
The guards retreat.
Rafando- Where are you going? He’s unarmed! You are unarmed?
The wrist computer still hasn’t stopped scrolling through.
Rafando- You stand alone?
The Doctor- Often.
Rafando- You’re the one who should be afraid.
The Doctor- Never.
Rafando- Have a nice day, then.
Rafando runs away, very fast.
While The Doctor maybe responsible for many thousands of deaths, how many have been saved in return?
The last quote is from Episode 9- World Enough and Time. The Doctor, Missy and The Master are stuck on top of a building surrounded by Cybermen.
Missy-Doctor, have you done something? What’s happening?
The Doctor- people get the Cybermen wrong- there’s no evil plan. No evil genius. Just parallel evolution.
Master- Doctor, What have you done?
The Doctor- People plus technology minus humanity…The internet, cyberspace, Cybermen. Always read the comments, because one day they’ll be an army.
I love this line because as a society we have become more dependent on technology but what do we risk losing?
Many of these quotes used could be more of a reflection upon our current society but is our society not a reflection upon our spirituality?
Doctor Who Season 10 can be purchased here- Doctor Who Season 10
Mark- The Alchemist’s Journey