Companions in Color by Samantha Harden

From the moment I happened upon Matt Smith dipping fish fingers into custard on an iTunes promotion, I knew I would love Doctor Who. But I wasn’t prepared for how much. No other show has so often made me feel like the world might just be okay.

However it’s still a bit of a rarity to see myself represented on screen, and despite the show’s 55 year history it will only have its first writer of Color in the upcoming series 11. In a show that is so often in touch with relevant issues of our time, it’s disappointing and even hurtful when it fails to address the nuanced struggles of the marginalized groups and minorities who watch and adore it. Despite this lack of behind screen representation, the show has turned out several thought provoking characters of Color, although much is still missed in the overall picture.

Mickey

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Undervalued by Rose, the butt of the jokes in the TARDIS, Mickey was left with more than a little time to consider what the universe had to offer by the time Rose and the Doctor returned to the Powell estate. Despite being dubbed ‘Mickey the Idiot’ by the Doctor, he had skills, and assisting the TARDIS team in their shenanigans made him realize that maybe the simple life wasn’t for him after all. So. he took a deep breath and decided to retroactively accept the Doctor’s offer to join the crew, only to have it immediately made clear by Rose that his presence was anything but welcome.

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He joined to learn; to explore and discover things within himself that he had only begun to scratch the surface of on his earth-bound gallops. But he was ignored, figuratively invisible as he held a button for half an hour because the Doctor literally forgot he was there. They mocked him as if he was at fault for following orders – but when the Doctor tells you to do something, you do it. He just doesn’t usually forget you exist in the middle of it. But like the ‘insignificant little power cell’ that ended up restoring the TARDIS in Rise of the Cybermen, he had infinite potential that with the right encouragement would save worlds. He realized this and, not unlike Martha decided to leave a vaguely toxic environment to stay where he could become his best self. When he returns in Army of Ghosts there is a change in his countenance. He’s confident, fiercer, harder and almost indistinguishable from his parallel self, Ricky. This new man is most certainly different. He fits so neatly into the box of performative masculinity often associated with Black men, and I wonder why his gentleness had to be sacrificed for it.

Martha

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“But how does it travel in time? What makes it go?”

“Oh, let’s take the fun and mystery out of everything.
Martha you don’t want to know, it just does.”

Martha’s opening words on her first TARDIS trip prove her keen mind, but the Doctor is unreceptive to this. The curiosity and brilliance which he praised in countless others before her (a certain beautiful French aristocrat comes to mind), are seen as bothersome and fun-sucking here. Perhaps he is resistant to a companion who doesn’t see him as a magical anomaly, but acknowledges that there must be some logic behind the smoke and mirrors. I remember being taken aback the first time I witnessed it, confused as to why my Doctor, kind hero and encourager of curiosity and questions galore, would ever discourage constructive inquiry. If I, a Black woman of eighteen at the time, was wounded by his response, imagine the effect it could have on younger viewers of Color. Mickey wasn’t clever enough, but Martha was a killjoy; who must they become to be worthy of respect?

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“If you don’t mind my saying, you seem a little familiar with him.
Best remember your place.”

Something else I found startling as a new Whovian was the overwhelming vitriol in the fandom directed at her character. Yes, many bristled at the thought of anyone new taking centre stage after the passion that Rose incited, but the more I saw, the more the general disdain looked much less wholesome. How dare this intelligent, (slightly) more age appropriate woman fancy the Doctor? What gave her the right? But whether or not she was liked, she taught the Doctor, viewers and the future writers of the show much more than they could have anticipated. The Doctor learned not to dismiss his companion’s worries as they walked through times that were not made for them, in a world whose prejudices they were all too familiar with. His failings with Martha became his triumphs with Bill.

Danny

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“Oh I bet you are. I know your type.”

Unlike Mickey, Danny was actively pursued by Clara, removing the problematic notion that she was his prize. However, Danny was constantly assumed to possess the type of masculinity that Mickey aspired to, despite consistent evidence to the contrary. Clara uses this to her advantage to shade the Doctor’s perception of Danny when she’s lying (to both of them), characterizing him as over-protective to the point of being controlling.

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She meant no harm besides a days work in slight manipulation, and it certainly couldn’t have fallen on better ears than the Doctor’s who was hardly listening, but often what seem like fairly harmless white lies have had dangerous implications for Black men throughout history. You only have to type the name Emmett Till into a search browser to see one of the most horrific examples the ramifications of such a small lie can have. Throughout history, even to this day, White lies largely hold more power than Black truth. If Clara had been careless enough to spread these inaccuracies of Danny’s personality to others, and one day she didn’t come back home, Danny would most likely have found himself in a well of hot water, similar to that of Mickey in series one. He was the prime suspect in Rose’s disappearance for twelve months, but upon confronting Jackie, Rose and the Doctor with his justifiable anger, not only is he denied the dignity of an apology from Jackie or Rose, he is then called an idiot by the Doctor. Although Danny was an interesting example on the variations of masculinity, I would still be reluctant to say that Doctor Who has done particularly well in its treatment of Black men. I’m looking forward to series 11 in hopes that this changes with Ryan.

Bill

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“Most people when they don’t understand something they frown. You…smile.”

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With that sentence Bill not only became the first companion of Color that was never at any point treated like a burden, but she also became the first from a very long line to be specifically chosen. Not just thrown together with the Doctor by chance and precarious circumstances, not a mystery to solve. On a sunny day in a comfortable office with no looming threat peeking ‘round the corner, the Doctor looked at Bill and said, ‘You. I want you.’

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“My mum always said, ‘with some people, you can smell the wind in their clothes”

On a snowy Yuletide evening Bill sits in the Doctor’s office and invites him into her head, where she frequently converses with her late mother. You get the feeling that this isn’t a normal exchange for Bill. She utters the words with enough comfort in the Doctor’s presence, but her eyes briefly flit askance, indicating her lingering shyness. But he’d established a trustful relationship with her; she knows her thoughts are free to move and stretch in his company. The gentleness of this exchange strikes such a wonderful chord with me. The issue of freedom of expression in Black youth is a prevalent one. One discourse in particular discusses the whimsy of Willow and Jaden Smith, who are often mocked for their abstract blend of philosophical and scientific ideas, which are really just the product of an excellent education paired with ripe, creative minds. As Twitter user Son of Baldwin states:

‘Sometimes I think we hate Jaden and Willow Smith because they are free black
children and we don’t know what free black children look like.’

The Doctor gives Bill a similar education as her tutor, teaching her about the interconnectivity of the universe, never letting her forget that “…Everything rhymes.” So often Black children (people in general, really) are dismissed or called mad for having unique ideas, or possessing a slightly larger dose of oddity. Their Blackness is then called into question by those in and outside their community alike, the latter of which use the oft uttered micro-aggression ‘But you’re not really Black’. As a lifelong oddball myself, I found my heart pleasantly aching at the recognition of another ‘Free Black Child’ in a story I hold so dear.

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“Look! There’s Bill! Dead, dismembered, fed through a grinder and squeezed into a Cyberman, doomed to spend an eternal afterlife as a biomechanical psycho-zombie. It was hilarious! …Ripped out her heart, threw it into a bin and burnt it all away”

I honestly loved the series 10 finale. The crisp, eeriness of the cinematography and set, the chilling music, and the excellent dialogue that kept you rapt, though the plot is a slow, steady unfurl. But despite all of that, my stomach churns every time I hear those lines. The lucidity and grotesque violence in the description of her death are incredibly jarring. We don’t live in a particularly squeamish time; I myself enjoy a fair bit of action and non-gratuitous violence, but continuously seeing the apparent relish with which writers victimize Black and queer women, usually to deepen the pain of a White protagonist is exhausting. The Whoniverse now has an interesting track record of turning Black characters into Cybermen. There’s Danny Pink, and in Chris Chibnall’s Torchwood episode Cyberwoman not only is a Black woman (the girlfriend of a protagonist) the titular character, but she is also hyper sexualized in way that is almost comical, if blatant fetishization ever could be. However, this quite literal othering of Black characters didn’t slide firmly into place until Bill.

In The Doctor Falls, a small girl with afro-puffs vaguely reminiscent of a younger her, brings Bill a mirror and says, “Everyone’s too scared to talk to you, but I’m not.” Bill turns it over and sees not herself, but what they made her into. She is not a monster, she never could be, but the mirror is telling her otherwise.

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“This won’t stop you feeling the pain, but it will stop you caring.”

The surgeon’s discomfiting words are staunchly reflective of the historical global oppression of people of Color, and the often implemented strategy of dehumanizing them to the point where they no longer cared about their suffering. As Frederick Douglass stated in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,

“I have found that to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one…he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceased to be a man.”

Unlike Oswin from Asylum of the Daleks, or Clara in The Witch’s Familiar, Bill did not have an elaborate world created in her mind to mask the pain, nor was willingly stepping into or even consciously aware of her alien exterior. She was killed; her insides violently wrenched from her, and remade into their image. The Doctor theorized that Bill’s time spent living under the Monks’ fascist regime taught her to hold onto herself, but she already knew how to do that. When you grow up hearing that you shouldn’t be who you are, you cling onto yourself a little tighter than most.

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D: “Bill, I’m sorry but you can’t be angry anymore. A temper is a luxury you cannot-“

B: “Why can’t I?! Why can’t I be angry?! You left me alone for ten years! Don’t tell me I can’t be angry!”

D: “Because of that, that’s why. Because you’re a Cyberman.”

B: “People are always going to be afraid of me, aren’t they?”

Despite the violence of Missy’s words from the previous episode, it was this moment that pricked me the most from the finale. The Doctor, champion of rage, forbidding the righteous anger of a Black woman. ‘The Angry Black Woman’ is such a pervasive myth throughout history that it’s become its own problematic trope in media. From Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman reinforcing the idea within Black culture, to countless works using Black women’s anger as a gimmick or comic relief, it persists, reducing the outrage of a century’s brew of sexism, racism, as well as personal baggage into a punch line.

Once more humor becomes the socially acceptable tool to assuage the fear of those around, an irrational fear which ironically they have conjured themselves. Somehow The Doctor Falls manages to slip into a faux pas of metaphor; an attempt at a touching, bittersweet scene, becomes a work of Afro-surrealism gone wrong. Bill is shot, stripped of her agency, brutalized, othered and then told that she cannot afford the ‘luxury’ of her anger. However, when your very existence is called into question, and your life is at constant threat, anger is not a luxury. Harnessed properly it becomes a tool to ensure your progress and eventual triumph. But Bill’s anger never is harnessed, until the Doctor, persistently in the form of a White man, tells her to direct it at an obstacle he sees fit to be removed.

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To Moffat’s credit, and my immense relief, Bill was not wasted and fridged like so many queer women and women of Color before her, but was instead restored with a warmth and beauty that brought tears to my own eyes. It was wonderful to see her character get an ending she deserved, her months of studying the universe with the Doctor a precursor of the infinite adventures to come, and an easy way back into the narrative should a future writer ever want to bring her back. And yet, I couldn’t help being struck by one last troubling thought. In a world where White women’s tears have repeatedly been a rallying cry to violence against people of Color, and the tears from women of Color are dismissed, it was Heather’s tears, not her own that saved her. Perhaps it’s intentionally left for the audience to interpret whether the tear she cries in the closing scene of World Enough and Time is nothing but an echo of her former self shown for our benefit, or one of Heather’s tears. But regardless, it holds no power. It doesn’t save her, it merely illustrates the depth of her suffering.

With series 11 approaching, I am so recklessly optimistic for the future of this show I adore. I know that with each passing day, we get closer to a world where everyone will be able to see themselves in these mirrors of media we make for ourselves. I’m crossing my hearts that it’s soon.

Written by Sam who you can follow on Twitter and Instagram
Her new project ‘Sam & Am’s Tea Party’ Podcast you can find on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

10 Times Women Saved The Doctor

To mark International Women’s Day, BBC Books have released
The Day She Saved The Doctor – an all-female penned anthology of short stories. Including Doctor-saving adventures from Sarah Jane Smith, Rose Tyler, Clara Oswald and Bill Potts, it’s an amazingly empowering book from our heroes to be released on
such a day!

To join in the celebrations for International Women’s Day, we’ve picked ten moments when our favourite women saved The Doctor…

1 – Rose Tyler

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Rose Tyler saved The Doctor in more ways than one. From helping him grieve after the Time War, to battling creatures and villains, there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do to help him.

Top Time Lord saving moment: Becoming the Bad Wolf

After the Daleks make their evil plan clear, Rose, after despairing that she has to do something, crucially looks into the heart of the TARDIS. Using its energy she saves the Doctor, turns the Daleks into atoms and even brings Captain Jack back to life, saving the universe all by herself! Her fearless courage to get back to the Doctor and save him is incredible, proving once again that a shop assistant from a council estate can do anything a thousand year old Time Lord can.

2 – Leela

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Nicknamed ‘savage’, there’s not much that gets past Leela. Always ready to help those she feels are in need, she is steadfast and loyal to the end. From her upbringing, she can smell danger in the air, and has her knife ready, always.

Top Time Lord saving moment: Saving the Doctor from the Time Cabinet

At the end of The Talons of Weng Chiang, the Doctor and Leela are at a stand off with Magnus Greel, the war criminial known for killing houndreds of thousands of people. (This confrontation is all whilst being shot at by lasers from Mr Sin, yikes.) Knowing that the Time Cabinet would implode if used, Leela fires a gun at the laser and disables it, meaning the Doctor can stop Greel. We all know who the real hero in that scenario was, our Queen Leela!

3 – Martha Jones

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Martha Jones saved The Doctor many times. She was there for him whilst he grieved the loss of Rose and helped him to save the universe over and over. One of the bravest women in Doctor Who, she used her medical student instincts and strong will throughout her travels with the Doctor. This continued when she left the TARDIS to pursue her career with UNIT.

Top Time Lord Saving Moment: The year that never was

When the Master took her family and the Doctor prisoner whilst taking over the earth, Martha travelled the world for a year to spread the story of the legendary Doctor and save the planet. Pursuing a fake weapon to kill the Master, she fought and helped all by herself to save The Doctor and take down The Valiant. After being treated unfairly by the 10th Doctor, she proves her worth once and for all, saving planet Earth and The Doctor from a disastrous fate.

4 – Donna Noble

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Donna, as the Doctor’s best friend saved him probably more times than he realised. And not only in a big ‘saving the day’ statement, but emotionally too. In her first story, she saved the Doctor from himself by reminding him to stop, to not go too far.

Top Time Lord Saving Moment: 
The Doctor Donna

In one of our favourite companion moments Donna, about to plunge to her death, touches the Doctor’s spare hand and bam, the Doctor Donna was born! Fully embracing her new role in the universe, Donna flies back to the Doctor and Davros, using her unique mix of human instinct and time lord brain. With this came the biggest sacrifice, losing all her memories from the best times of her life. We salute you Donna.

5 – Clara Oswald

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Clara Oswald might just be the ultimate Doctor-saver. After jumping into his timeline and splintering herself into millions of echoes, she used her bravery and wit to save the day on many occasions, sacrificing herself hundreds of times and dedicating her life to helping our hero.

Top Time Lord Saving Moment: Jumping into The Doctor’s time stream 

After the Great Intelligence infected The Doctor’s timeline and tried to destroy all his lives at once, Clara bravely jumps in and gets splintered into millions of echoes of herself – each to save The Doctor.  This brave sacrifice meant she saved the lives of every incarnation, as well as living and dying thousands of times. Now THAT is friendship.

6 – Ace 

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Always handy with a baseball bat or an explosive, Ace doesn’t need anyone to watch her back. She manages to get herself and The Doctor out of many scrapes using her skill and wit, with effortlessly cool ease.

Top Time Lord saving moment: Rescue from A Dalek

In one of her most iconic, feisty stories, Ace rescues The Doctor from a terrible fate when he’s locked inside a basement with the most evil creature in the universe in Remembrance of the Daleks. Not only does she save him from being exterminated, but she also bashes up a Dalek with her trusty baseball bat, which takes some guts if you ask us!

 7 – Bill Potts

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Bill’s loyalty and dedication to The Doctor is unfaltering during her time in the TARDIS, resulting in her saving his life on many occasions. Her tragic death was not in vain when you count how many times she helped save the day. Smart, brave and kind, she’s the hero Doctor Who deserves.

Top Time Lord saving moment: Giving herself up to the monks

When The Doctor reveals he is blind and cannot save himself, Bill immediately takes action without hesitation. She bravely gives herself up to the monks, knowing full well she may die in the process and saves him. Her good intentions means she survived the monks as well as keeping The Doctor alive. This pure act of selflessness is one of our favourite Doctor saving moments, leaving us a bit teary over her eventual death and departure from the TARDIS.

8 – Amy Pond

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Amelia Pond saved The Doctor many times and in many ways, from helping him save the universe, to helping him become a better person. Her incredible heart and fiery soul came in handy during her time in the TARDIS, along with her constant loyalty and willing to help people.

Top Time Lord saving moment: Saving his soul

Quite a different way of saving our hero, this moment in The Beast Below shows that The Doctor must be saved from himself sometimes. Convincing him to free the star whale instead of killing it, she saved everyone on Starship UK as well as the innocent star whale’s life. In turn, she saves The Doctor from living with yet another murder and more blood on his hands.

9 – River Song

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Unapologetically badass, brave and smart, River Song saves the love of her life with style and sass. With her whole life dedicated to him, he can always count on his wife to save the day.

Top Time Lord saving Moment: Dying for The Doctor

River shockingly sacrifices herself the very first time The Doctor meets her (that he knows about, anyway), in a timey wimey twist that means their timelines don’t match up. The encounter is her very last with the Time Lord whom she has known since birth, and she dies to keep him safe. Hooking herself up to CAL, the library computer, she takes The Doctor’s place and saves his life. Zapping herself out of existence, she then saves everyone from the simulation they were destined to be stuck in.

10 – Sarah Jane Smith

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Our beloved Sarah Jane saved more than one Doctor, and several times! We love nothing more than seeing her using that wonderful journalistic brain, or alternatively climbing through vents and hiding from monsters really well.

Top Time Lord saving moment: Freeing the Doctor from the Sisterhood of Kahn

After the Doctor has been put on a stake to burn to death, with multiple sisterhood members crowding round him chanting, there really does seem to be no escape. But here comes Sarah in a wonderfully simple disguise! She followed the Doctor taken prisoner to their shrine and with the magic of a red blanket and some trusty wire cutters she frees him whilst no one’s looking. Huzzah for Sarah!

It’s small moments like nearly being burnt at the stake which make you realise how lucky the Doctor is to have his friends around.

Let us know your favourite moments on Twitter and keep an eye on our social media channels for celebrating all things #IWD2018!


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The Day She Saved the Doctor
is out today and can be bought in all good book stores and online (RRP £12.99)

 

 

 

Celebrating The 12th Doctor: Series 10

Get your tissues ready for the many sobs, it’s our last series with PCap!

  Overview

‘Where’s there’s tears, there’s hope…’

At the beginning of 2017, well before we started watching series 10, the news broke that Peter Capaldi was leaving Doctor Who. His next series would be the last time he graced our screens (minus Christmas joy) and quite rightly, we were heartbroken. But with the addition of the absolutely wonderful Pearl Mackie as Bill, it seemed like the 12th Doctor was starting all over again – a massive contrast to what was going on behind the camera, and which made series 10 feel very bittersweet.

Introducing the Doctor as a professor in a university, and Bill as his most enthusiastic assistant, this series felt like a breath of fresh air. With Clara’s storyline at an end, the 12th Doctor had no baggage, and it finally felt like he was truly having fun! Even the look of the show changed, with bright vivid colours and a warm glow in place of the cold, gritty feel of series 9. With story lines including such larks as the thames freezing over, emoji robots, monks taking over the earth and of course, the Mondasian Cybermen, series 10 was a TREAT of a series.

Top 3 Defining Moments

Punching a racist in the face
Thin Ice

After seeing Lord Sutcliffe’s underwater burning fuel In Thin Ice, the Doctor and Bill take a visit to his swanky manor house to determine if he’s alien. The Doctor assures Bill he can do the talking, he will be all ‘charm and poise’. But as the (ahem) utter prat walks through the door and starts mouthing off at Bill, shouting at her to get on her feet in ‘the presence of her betters’, the Doctor sees red and swings a mighty blow right under the chin of the repugnant man. And cor blimey it was quite the biff.
Three cheers for the Doctor punching racism in the face! Hip hip hooray!

Sacrificing his eyesight for Bill
Oxygen 

As Bill’s spacesuit malfunctions (for the second time and our nerves are FRAZZLED), she thinks she’s done for. Not believing the Doctor will be ‘seeing her soon’ and realising there’s no escape, she asks for a joke, just a joke. But they all leave and she’s left by herself, using her last words to speak to her mum. But we should always trust the Doctor – even if he sometimes lies! When Bill wakes up, we walk through the space ship with her to see the Doctor, who looks up with milky white eyes – he’s blind. He sacrificed his sight to save Bill. Assuring her (and the viewers at home it feels), that it is only temporary we breathe a sigh of relief… until it’s revealed that even with some sonic-ing in the TARDIS, our beloved Doctor still has no sight. This moment really hammers home the Doctor and the ‘duty of care’ he feels. He wouldn’t risk the lives of any of his friends, even if it means sacrificing himself. Sorry, we’re, yup… a few more tears.

“I do what I do because it’s right!”
The Doctor Falls

One of our favourite moments from the 12th Doctor is as he addresses the Master(s) in The Doctor Falls, questioning their plans of scarpering off away from conflict. The speech focuses on the very essence of who the Doctor is – who and what he fights for. Because it’s not about winning, or beating someone; it’s about being kind and because simply, it’s the right thing to do. He’s a Doctor and he’s there to help people.

“What would you die for? Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand, is where I fall.”

This is one of the most powerful moments between the two characters, as the Doctor reveals the core of who they are. To me, it also shows how much Capaldi truly understands the Doctor. The performance cements his mark on the role. showing the many layers the character has shown over his era.

Best 12th Doctor outfit

Thin Ice regency get-up

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I mean, who doesn’t love Peter Capaldi in a cravat and a top hat? Need we say more?
We here for Cravat Capaldi.

 The ‘Not-So-Doctor’ Moment

Faking regeneration
Lie of the Land

Now, I can see why the Doctor did this but it seemed like such a cheap shot. Regeneration is a sacred thing. Say it with me, s-a-c-r-e-d; and this scene just blew that out the window. Plus, Bill is an emotional mess, having had to build up the courage to shoot her best friend and then it’s all ‘haha lol prankeD u’. We weren’t very happy with that Doctor.

Best story

World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls

Even though the thing I loved most about series 10 was its vibrancy, colour and sense of adventure, World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls is a very, VERY dark story in comparison. But it’s brilliant Doctor Who. I love an origin story, and seeing the beginning of the Mondasian Cybermen was near perfection. Mix that in with a throwback to classic Who and the Master revealing himself under the disguise of Razor, timey wimey goodness on a spaceship and more than one Master?! It’s like a dream come true. Everyone is at their absolute best: The Doctor laying his heart on the line and sacrificing himself to save as many people as he can, the Master(s) being both cunning, evil and yet hilarious, Bill being our eyes in this horrible new world and Nardole, well just being Nardole. Although more gritty, it was a terrific drama and the best Capaldi finale by far.

Rating

Series 10 was a fresh start for the 12th Doctor. As well as Bill Potts boarding the TARDIS and Nardole making up the gang, it has some of the best stories of the 12th Doctor and Capaldi is at his very best. So… *drumroll* we have to give this series a strong 9/10.
(Although we give him dying a 0/10 thanks.)

Let us know which your favourite series was from the 12th Doctor along with your favourite moments! Tell us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Facts and Fun with ‘Paper Dolls’

Always imagined what the Third Doctor would look like in the Ninth Doctor’s clothes? How Sarah Jane would style a look like Rose’s? Well imagine no more!

Paper Dolls is your number one source for costume knowledge and fun. Featuring every Doctor and their companions, each character has multiple outfits they can be changed into, complete with facts on their costumes! Introduced with cosplay tips from ‘Doctor Who: The Fan Show’s very own Christel Dee, this book covers every angle of dress up fun. Here’s some things we learnt about our favourite time ladies costumes whilst scouring the pages and dressing up the dolls…

Jo’s gorgeous high heeled boots worn in Day of the Daleks were chosen due to the height difference between Katy manning and Jon Pertwee. Katy was only 5’1 and Jon 6’3, making it much more practical for her to wear high heeled shoes!

Jo

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Sarah Jane’s fun, child-like dungaree outfit from The Hand of Fear is supposed to contrast with the events of the story. Sarah is possessed by the evil Eldrad, meaning she’s not quite herself (!)

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 The Blue Peter badges on Ace’s amazing bomber jacket were Sophie Aldred’s that she earned as a child.

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ace

Donna’s beautiful dress, worn in The Unicorn and the Wasp, was an original 1920s dress hired especially for the episode.

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Clara Oswald often looks pretty smart during her time on the TARDIS. This is because Steven Moffat wanted her to always look like a school teacher, even in the middle of crazy adventures! We always wondered why Clara looked so classy ALL the time.

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Lalla Ward hoped that having Romana wear a school uniform would make children happier to wear their own… not quite sure if that worked. Maybe if teens were allowed to wear incredible long pink coats!

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romana

Ace was originally styled in bumblebee style yellow and black leggings, amazing! They couldn’t go ahead with the look because it caused strobing on the tv cameras, drat.

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Osgood’s wardrobe was a lil’ testament to all Doctor Who cosplayers! Steven Moffat wrote in her costume as a ‘sort of love letter to the Doctor Who fandom’. She’s totally one of us.

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And they ALL look great in each others outfits:

rose as clarabill as acemissy as osgoodamy as jo

Why not assemble your ideal Sarah Jane Adventures episode with all the classic Who companions? Or ever wondered what a Victorian dress would look like on Ace? Have some fun assembling some dream teams of your own and send them to us on Twitter!

For more costume facts, cosplay tips and fun, get Paper Dolls, out Aug 24th in all good book stores and online.

p.s. Look out for us Time Ladies cosplaying real soon…

Why Bill Potts Proves Positive LGBT+ Representation Matters

On 31st March 2017, actress Pearl Mackie announced in an interview with BBC News that her character, Bill Potts, would be Doctor Who’s first openly gay companion. Although Captain Jack, played by John Barrowman was pansexual (or omnisexual meaning aliens and robots are fair game!), he wasn’t a full-time companion so this was a big milestone in the show’s 53 year history.

Steven Moffat and the team didn’t make any fuss about it in any way, Pearl mentioned the character’s sexuality in an interview with BBC News, they ran with the story and it blew up. The media made a fuss because LGBT+ representation in film & TV isn’t yet commonplace and Bill being the show’s first out and proud lesbian companion was a big milestone for the show; it was newsworthy.

Within the show, being gay isn’t a big deal to Bill herself but in the real world, where homophobic hate crime is on the increase and where young people can still feel scared or embarrassed about coming out, it’s a big deal that one of the most popular TV shows in the country has done this. As a long-time Doctor Who fan and lesbian, I can’t begin to describe how much it’s meant to me to see someone like me in a main role on my favourite TV show. We all need characters that can inspire us and that we can look up to and I knew from the day of her announcement that Bill Potts was going to be a positive role model to so many.

I didn’t have any female gay role models growing up.

Like many other gay women, I grew up in a very heterosexual environment. As a teen, the chat in the playground was always about which boy you fancy and at home I was constantly getting asked “have you got a boyfriend yet?”. To add to this, I was only being shown hetrosexual relationships in films, TV shows and books. With heterosexuality as my only point of reference, I didn’t even consider that the fact that my disinterest in in guys was because maybe I liked girls instead – I just thought there was something wrong with me.

When I got older and eventually began to realise I was gay, I was very frightened of it. My upbringing had taught me it wasn’t okay to be gay. I grew up in foster care for the latter half of my childhood and teenage years but my real Dad, who I lived with during my formative years, was very homophobic and made fun of gay people. Later, living with my foster parents, the conversations were always about guys. My foster mum would often say “Ohhh, isn’t that guy off the telly hot” and I’d go “Is he? Erm… if you say so.”. I never once expressed interest in guys but they would always quiz me about it, especially if I was hanging out with a friend who just so happened to be a guy. Being in their mid-70s, I feel I can’t blame them for their traditional way of thinking, they were just doing what was normal to them. That said, it would have been nice to not have guys thrust on me as the only option. It only made me feel more weird about myself.

I should probably mention that I didn’t have social media when I was at school and there wasn’t as much awareness about LGBT+ issues amongst young people as there is now. It certainly wasn’t spoken about in class. Not only was it not taught as part of the curriculum but you’d also be badly bullied if anyone thought you were gay. I remember once a boy at my secondary school came out as bisexual and he was absoutely crucified by the other students. No one else was going to come out in my school after that.

Coming to terms with my sexuality whilst growing up was a long and difficult process and I strongly believe if there were some female gay role models like Bill Potts who I could look up to, I would have felt more comfortable with my sexuality and accepted myself a lot quicker. The great thing is, young Doctor Who fans today have Bill as a role model and that makes me so happy. She’s been wonderful to watch and such an inspiration. To celebrate our lovely queer companion, I’ve asked people on Twitter to share how Bill has personally inspired them. I’ve been blown away by the responses and I think they really prove how important representation is. So, without further ado, here’s 10 reasons why Bill Potts proves LGBT+ representation matters.

1. Bill has helped people feel comfortable and confident with their sexuality

One of the most inspiring things about Bill is how comfortable and confident she is talking about her sexuality. In fact, her sexuality is revealed right away in her second line of dialogue of her first episode, “The Pilot”. She just embraces who she is.

2. Bill reassures us that it’s okay to be gay

As I mentioned earlier, I grew up thinking it wasn’t okay to be gay because of the lack of LGBT+ representation in the media, school bullies and because at home and in the playground, heterosexuality was the only thing that was ever spoken about. The very presence of a gay main character (and one who is portrayed so positively) in one of the country’s most popular TV shows, reassures me, as a lesbian viewer, that it’s not weird or wrong to be gay; I feel included rather than excluded (which is usually the case) and therefore, normal.

3. Bill’s sexuality isn’t treated like it’s a big deal – because it’s not!

Bill’s sexuality is never made a big thing of. That’s because one’s sexuality isn’t (and should never be) a big deal. No one ever questions Bill on it (well, apart from Lucius, the Roman in “The Eaters of Light” who is bisexual and finds it cute that Bill is “so selective”). Her sexuality isn’t important and she’s treated like any straight character would be. Bill’s openness about her sexuality and the positive way that people around her respond to her says you can be awesome, save the world and who you fancy is irrelevant.

4. Being gay doesn’t define Bill’s character

Sexuality can play a big role in one’s life and it may even shape your political views, your social circles and how you view the world. But being gay isn’t the only thing about you and it’s not the only thing about Bill either. In fact, it’s a really unimportant piece of information; it’s just something that’s part of her, just as is her height, her eye colour and what she likes to eat.  Her personality isn’t in any way defined by her sexuality, certainly not in a stereotypical sense. She’s a human being, first and foremost!

5. Bill has given people the confidence to come out

Coming out can be really scary and the fact Bill is giving people the confidence to do so is awesome. Bill has to come out a few times, particularly to the guys who fancy her in “Knock Knock” and “The Eaters of Light”. Coming out to guys because I’m getting hit on is something I’ve found I have to do regularly and it isn’t always comfortable. That scene really resonated with me and the way Bill handles herself in those situations – calm, collected and confident – is so great. Representation isn’t just including a gay character and being done with it. If you’re writing a gay character in a realistic way, then this sort of stuff is going to come up too, because it happens in real life. It would be kind of odd if it wasn’t there. I’m sure many people will have felt inspired by Bill’s confidence.

6. Bill highlights Doctor as a positive example of how to treat LGBT+ people

Positive representation isn’t only about how you write the character in question but it’s also how others respond to them. As the Doctor tells Bill in “The Doctor Falls”, Time Lords are billions of years beyond our petty obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes. The Doctor is a positive role model in so many ways, my favourite trait being that he sees the best in you, regardless of where you come from or who you’re interested in. The Doctor is very supportive of Bill; at the end of “Extremis” the Doctor calls her up and tells her that Penny (a girl she goes on a date with in the Monk’s simulation) isn’t out of her league and encourages her to arrange a date with her immediately. The Doctor is a wonderful role model because he treats Bill like she’s no different to anyone else. Because she isn’t. We can learn from him!

To add to this, the Doctor isn’t only a positive example of how to treat LGBT+ people, he’s also a positive male role model and Bill really brings this out in him. The Doctor is, in fact, a father figure to Bill. I particularly enjoyed this final exchange between Bill and the Doctor in “The Doctor Falls”;

Bill: “Uh, hey, um, well, you know how I’m usually all about women an-and kinda people my own age?” the Doctor: “Yeah?” Bill: “Glad you knew that.”.

The Doctor was well aware that Bill likes girls; he knew she had a crush on Heather (other names include “Puddle Girl” and “Drippy Bae”) and that she was dating Penny so Bill making sure he knew did seem a little odd to me at first. But then I thought about it a bit more and realised this is her own way of saying she really admires, trusts and perhaps even loves him, platonically, as a father figure. She comes out to him (again) and is accepted by him (of course, she would be!). The Doctor’s supportive and accepting nature is something loads of young boys watching will pick up on. We will never not need male role models like this!

Not only this, not everyone in the LGBT+ community has parent figures that they feel will accept them. I found it really lovely that Bill has an elder figure that she looks up to and feels comfortable opening up to him to about her sexuality (unlike her foster mum who she attempts to come out to but it goes right over her head). It gives me hope that there are people out there who will accept you. As Steven Moffat said, “Doctor Who is a big hearted, optimistic show that believes in kindness and love and that wisdom will triumph in the end.”; this scene really demonstrate this.

7. You can have adventures with the Doctor regardless of who you are

It can be a little tiresome when everyone fancies the Doctor and a huge part of loving the show for me personally, is imagining that the companion could be me. This is a little difficult if the companion is in love with the Doctor because it’s hard to relate if you don’t see him that way! I think it’s much less alienating as a viewer when they’re just a mate (o, hai Donna “you’re not mating with me, sunshine” Noble). I feel it opens up the TARDIS doors a little wider, allowing anyone to join the Doctor and his companion’s adventures.

8. Bill isn’t broken 

There aren’t a lot of shows that include LGBT+ characters without them falling into stereotypes and clichés. Queer characters are so often portrayed as broken – either destined for nothing but a life of tragedy or simply, killed off. This is pretty damaging because basically what it says is that if you’re LGBT+ you’re never going to be happy. Bill’s sexuality is very much part of her story but it’s a positive one. She’s smart, funny and saves the world on more than one occasion. Plus, she gets to live happily ever after with her love, Puddle Girl Drippy Bae Heather!

9. Bill has a happy ending 

As mentioned in #8, LGBT+ characters have a seriously high mortality rate. It’s important LGBT+ people feel like they can live happily ever after too. Imagine being a young person trying to come to terms with your sexuality and all you’re seeing on telly is queer characters having terrible lives and horrible endings? To quote Steven again,

“I don’t’ believe it’s the kind of show that says there are bitter, twisted and nasty endings because it’s not, it’s not gritty. It’s aspirational. It says, it can work. Wisdom and kindness will triumph. Love will always come through in the end. There aren’t enough people and enough shows saying that and I’m dammed if Doctor Who is going to join in with the general chorus of despair.”

Well said, Steven. And two girlies kissing on a prime-time BBC family show? Thank you, Doctor Who.

10. Seeing yourself positively represented in the media generally means a lot 

At a time where positive LGBT+ representation is still slim, having a character like Bill has meant so much people, especially those who are gay. If the tweets thus far haven’t yet proved that, here are a few more testimonies that demonstrate what a positive thing Bill Potts has been;

I’ve absolutely loved seeing Bill on screen. Not only have I related to Bill massively because of my background, she’s made me feel more confident talking openly about my sexuality too. And knowing that she’s inspired so many people, just fills me with joy!

It still seems bonkers that Bill is the first lesbian companion in the show’s 53 year history but I’m so glad we’ve finally got her. Doctor Who is a wonderful example of a TV show doing LGBT+ representation right and I hope other shows can follow in it’s example. But for now, a huge thank you to Doctor Who for creating Bill Potts, a character who has inspired so many people and who will continue to inspire viewers for years to come.

A big thank you to everyone who sent in tweets and thanks to Graeme Neil Reid for letting use his wonderful artwork. Has Bill Potts inspired you in any way? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

– Christel Dee.

Find Christel on Twitter or on Doctor Who: The Fan Show