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Doctor Who Thread of Space and Time: Discussing Twice Upon A Time (SPOILERS)


OK, this might be the last one:


Mood whiplash.

RIP Trevor Baxter

[quote]It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Trevor Baxter.

Trevor Baxter will always be a familiar name to fans of Big Finish and Doctor Who as Professor George Litefoot. His first unforgettable appearance was in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, the Doctor Who serial from February 1977, alongside Tom Baker, Louise Jameson and his partner-in-crime Christopher Benjamin.

After graduating from RADA in 1951, alongside names such as Joan Collins and Gerald Harper, Trevor Baxter has had an illustrious career on stage and screen, as well as behind the mike at Big Finish. Notable stage performances include David Mamet’s A Life in the Theatre, performing with the RSC, and touring Shakespeare in South America.

Trevor was also a playwright as well as actor, his plays Lies, Office Games and Undertaking all opening in London. He also adapted greats from Oscar Wilde, with a national tour of Dorian Gray in 2003 and Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime touring in 2005.

He continued to perform past a typical retirement age and to write and perform on stage, screen and the mike. Trevor has been an invaluable part of Big Finish and since May 2009 the Jago and Litefoot series has delighted listeners and remained a fan favourite, the last volume to be recorded was released just this year. With 13 series in 8 years, Trevor and Christopher have been some of our most prolific and joyful performers.[/quote]


Ah that’s sad. RIP Professor Lightfoot: Infernal Investigator.

I have never seen Talons of Weng-Chiang, but I have picked up a few of their audio adventures and enjoyed them. Jago and Lightfoot and Strax is a hilarious mashup between the Old series and the new (Strax has amnesia. Hilarious consequences ensue).

He and Christopher Benjamin did a Doctor Who: Short Trip short story recently that was a lot of fun.


It’s worth a watch, it’s one of the more Hammer influenced stories but on an even lower budget than Hammer had access too.

For me, it’s one that I enjoy more in my memory than when I’ve revisited it. ‘Pyramids of Mars’ is another one I feel the same way about.


You can get lower than 50p and the contents of the janitorial supplies?


Some of the Red Dwarf fans on the internet are getting quite a few chuckles out of the gender-swap recasting outrage surrounding Doctor Who today.


I think any genuine pushback or criticism is being drowned out by folks scoffing at the obvious sexists. It’s the kind of stuff that’s fueled the rise of Trump, where you’re quickly demonized for not buying in completely to the change. And yes some of the detractors are clearly idiots, but there is a valid point to be made if someone says ‘The Doctor has always been traditionally an old white wizard in a box, casting him as a young woman was done to serve a progressive agenda rather than to fit the narrative that’s been built up over the past 50 years. And as such a program that I care about is now being used to further progressive politics, when all I really want is an hours escapism from the real world’.

There could just as easily have been strong female timelords introduced. Companions that are truly heroic rather than relying on the Dr to save them. Aliens that kick ass and save the day despite the Dr. Natural female character heroes like Hermione Granger or Rey or Katness Everdeen. There were other ways to give girls heroes.

I think that’s what alot of the pushback to the casting is all about. For me I don’t care that the Dr is a woman, but I am concerned that the actress may not be strong enough and that the whole casting is a big dollop of nepotism. And that the showrunner has a pretty awful record of being really clumsy when it comes to diversity and gender. All signs point that these upcoming seasons of Dr Who might be a bit terrible.


Worst Sapphire and Steel remake, eva


[quote=“Jim, post:3299, topic:214, full:true”]
There could just as easily have been strong female timelords introduced.[/quote]
There have been.

There have been.

There have been.

There have been.


Well yeah Dave, that was exactly my point - this series has been empowering women since the relaunch but the narrative suggests that it took the casting of the Dr for little girls to get their hero.


Oh, sorry - when you said “there could just as easily have been”, I assumed you were suggesting that the latest casting choice was instead of those possibilities rather than on top of them (and there are many more examples in addition to the ones I picked).

Doctor Who has always been a very deliberately progressive show in terms of its politics, especially so since the relaunch. It’s great to be able to look back at recent years and realise that the show has actually been well ahead of this narrative.

I think it’s only the current climate of political discussion that is making this news the big deal that it needs to be, and creating a controversy where one doesn’t need to exist. I don’t think anyone who has followed the show in any detail could possibly be shocked that it has taken a progressive approach to recasting the Doctor this time.

It’s fine to have reservations about the actress. I said before the casting was announced that if it was her, it wouldn’t excite me particularly as I have no reason to think she’s a great actress. But I’m still interested to see what she and Chibnall bring to the show, and I’ll look forward to it returning after the Christmas special.


Big Finish (who do licensed audio dramas based on Doctor Who) have a bunch of female lead series on the go:

  • The Diary of River Song
  • Bernice Summerfield
  • UNIT (i.e. Kate Stewart and Osgood)

So I agree to a point with what you say. But Doctor Who isn’t a novel with a dramatic through line. It’s a show which has 50 years of ideas piled on top of other ideas. That they are even in a marginally coherent order is a surprise to me.

So I guess my question (and it isn’t for you specifically) is why not? Why not pivot and change things up?

That’s how Doctor Who survives (in my opinion). It changes a bit and then changes a bit more.


An important supporting role isn’t the same as the lead. And Doctor Who is a show that is in a unique spot to change its hero’s gender.

I don’t think it’s necessary “for little girls” to have a female Doctor to enjoy the show, but it probably is pretty nice to have it, for once and for a while. But more importantly, I think that using this opportunity shows that we, as a society, have come to understand that gender is more fluid and less character-defining than previous generations thought it was. And there is probably nothing more important to fighting sexism than this insight.

Well, yeah. But, you know, he’s also got an awful record of telling stories, especially in the Who universe. That’s really something I’m more concerned about than the casting. Although the casting of a Doctor is always a big thing, obviously.


From what I’ve read the big fear is that the show becomes about the casting and the progressive agenda, rather than just stories about the Dr. That the scripts for this upcoming season will be different because of Jodie Whittaker in the role, rather than Peter Capaldi, when they should have more or less the same stories and scripts. I think most fans have this concern, some folks are just projecting that they expect this to happen rather than taking the ‘wait and see’ approach.

I should add that I don’t see Dr Who are this progressive pushing show as other see it. To me it’s fairly neutral TV escapism. Something like Star Trek was far more boundary pushing and did more for equality than most other shows.


Open question: what would we like to see from the show after Capaldi bows out? Is there anything that we feel has been lacking from the series in recent years? Or anything that it has been doing well, that it needs to keep on doing?

I’ve enjoyed a lot of what the show has done in recent years, but I do wonder whether there’s room for it to be slightly more ambitious in terms of the historical/educational aspects that it has to offer. I always like it when the stories are rooted in some kind of historical context or event that allows it to explore real-world history, even if it does so from a fantastical angle. I guess it’s maybe difficult to integrate those elements into a story, but I like seeing it when it’s done well.


That’s fair.

That’s sort of why I wish they didn’t do these big casting announcements so far out. At that stage, they don’t have anything to show people what sort of Doctor 13 is going to be.

As to the progressive agenda…well RTD always had that in his mind, but with the intention of it being something so normal and commonplace that over time people would just go with it. So it would be no big deal that the Doctor’s companion was an omnisexual timetraveller (Jack Harkness).


I think the BBC need to decide if this is the prime showcase TV show they’re selling to 100 countries, in which case put in the talent and budget to make it so, or if it’s a stable series that will continue on as is. To compete on a global TV market Dr Who I think has fallen backwards in recent years and isn’t up to the same quality as most other new shows. It needs big name showrunners, big budgets, big actors, ambitious stories and grand scale. If it’s to continue with puddles and cracks in the wall it’ll revert to looking very twee and old fashioned. The reboot fixed that, but they’ve reverted back again under the Tory government.

For as long as the BBC is mired in government funding I don’t see budgets changing though, and given Brexit is on the horizon I don’t see prosperous times ahead for the UK. I think the series is inevitably going to follow the same cycle it had in the 80’s, leading to an overall disinterest and viewer apathy.


I agree with this. The show’s had strong female characters for decades, if not since the start (not Susan, obviously, but Barbara definitely, and beyond). This burgeoning insistence that the companions aren’t as important as the Doctor himself clearly flies in the face of everything the show’s been for years.

And, I’ve mentioned before, there is something sacred in the Doctor being a male role-model for kids (girls and boys) that actively seeks non-violent solutions to conflicts, espouses kindness and understanding etc; traits which are often pushed aside onto female characters and marked as feminine and non-masculine. The alternatives are largely super-heroes, Ninja Turtles, Transformers, wrestlers, Power Rangers and more super-heroes, and while I love most of them, they’re all pretty rooted in violence as a catch-all solution.

I think it’s important that there are more heroes for girls, especially in science-fiction, but I worry that the Doctor being that female hero is a pyrrhic victory that will sap the will to provide new, tailor made ones. The BBC’s had little interest in doing science-fiction outside of Doctor Who for a while now, how much harder is it going to be to get new shows through when the distinctive hook of “female fronted” has been sucked up by the behemoth too?

But most people (not here, but elsewhere online) don’t want to hear this, it’s all “lol manbaby tears” gloating.


I thought last season pretty much got the formula back on track after the hybrid season and the slow faux-coupling season. I could live without a three parter, but the individual parts were distinct enough to work.

I’d love to see a higher ratio of historicals and from a wider range of time periods. I can understand why RTD went for the historical celebrity method and why they fell away largely after that, but I’d just like interesting new locations from the past. Medieval China for instance, if the show’s able to film there with its new international partnership.


At the same time though, if you actively say that the Doctor can’t be a woman - that that’s an element of the show that must not change, even though it can do according to the logic of the story - then you impose a limit that doesn’t need to be there.

Chibnall chose the person he feels is the best actor for the version of the show that he wants to make. I’m happy to see how that goes.

I agree with the points that the Doctor is a great role-model for boys, that offers something different to a lot of male heroes. I also think he’s a great role-model for girls, even in his male form (as discussed earlier, there’s a big female fan base, even though the character is male). Hopefully it will continue to be a show that appeals to both male and female viewers alike, even with a female Doctor. And I’m sure there will be more male Doctors to come in future.

I think it’s the nature of a lot of internet discourse today that these things get reduced to their most basic elements and every discussion becomes some binary war where you have to pick a side, and the most extreme arguments get the most attention (often to the detriment of the conversation).