After already enduring criticisms that the show has become a hedonistic bacchanal of snogging, Doctor Who is now under fire for being “thunderously racist”—a type of racism far worse than the scattered showers of drizzling racism that may occasionally be a nuisance, but shouldn’t affect your weekend plans. This argument forms the basis of a new book titled Doctor Who And Race, which collects essays from various academics who were shocked to find numerous examples of racism in the show when they went looking for them specifically.
Among the charges excerpted by Radio Times: “the failure to cast a black or Asian Doctor;” a 2011 episode that offered an “inappropriately slapstick take on Hitler;” the tendency of the show in the 1970s to refer to primitive people as “savages” and cast white actors in ethnic roles; and even the fact that Peter Davison’s fifth Doctor in the early 1980s harbored an obsession with the sport of cricket, which American writer Amit Gupta says “harks back to the ‘racial and class nostalgia’ of the British Empire.” Strangely, even while making such compelling arguments, based on decisions made 40 years ago and the implied racist subtext of a sport, somehow unaddressed is Britain’s racist and classist history of not allowing Daleks in Parliament. And, of course, there's David Tennant’s familiar catchphrase, “Wibbly-wobbly, racial purity.”
For its part, the BBC has already defended the show, arguing that it has a “strong track record of diverse casting among both regular and guest cast,” and specifically pointing to Freema Agyeman playing the Doctor’s first black companion and Noel Clarke’s recurring role as Mickey Smith. Such arguments seem likely to prove unpersuasive, however, seeing as they already wrote this book and everything.
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