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BBC Takes On Accusations From Academics That 'Doctor Who' Is 'Thunderingly Racist.' Is It?

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act May 28, 2013 at 6:47PM

BBC Takes On Accusations From Academics That 'Doctor Who' Is 'Thunderingly Racist.' Is It?
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Dr Who

I'm not a watcher of the series; I just never quite got into it, so this isn't a topic that I'm equipped to intelligently comment on. 

I'll sit this one out and defer to those of you who are fans, and who do watch the series, to share your thoughts on this and enlighten the rest of us - whether you think the claims against the series are valid, or ridiculous.

Courtesy of the Daily Mail UK, here's a snip of the story:

The BBC has hit back at accusations that "Doctor Who" is 'thunderingly racist', insisting the sci-fi show has a 'strong track record of diverse casting' [...] Following claims by a group of academics in a new book "Doctor Who And Race," fans have rushed to dismiss the criticisms as ‘groundless’ and ‘ridiculous’ [...] The BBC pointed out the casting of Freema Agyeman as the Time Lord's first black assistant in 2006 and Noel Clarke, who played Mickey Smith for five years. The BBC's reply came as critics alleged the Doctor's apparent dismissive attitude towards black companions, his contempt for 'primitive' people, and his passion for cricket as proof of a reactionary ‘whiteness’ pervading his adventures. [...] One of the more bizarre theories is offered by Amit Gupta, an American professor, who argues that Peter Davison’s cricket-loving incarnation of the character in the Eighties was thinly disguised nostalgia for the British Empire [...] Several of the 23 contributors to the book lament the failure to cast a black or Asian actor as the Doctor. And in earlier series, white actors were cast as other ethnicities. Singled out for criticism is a 1977 storyline, The Talons Of Weng- Chiang, set in Victorian times and featuring the white actor John Bennett as a Chinese villain. There is also an attack on the ‘second-class’ treatment of black characters such as Martha Jones in more recent episodes [...] Australian academic Lindy Orthia, who compiled the anthology, concluded: ‘The biggest elephant in the room is the problem privately nursed by many fans of loving a TV show when it is thunderingly racist.’

You can read the full piece HERE.

The referenced book, Doctor Who And Race, is an anthology that claims to offer new understandings of the cultural significance of race in the program, and how the show’s representations of racial diversity, colonialism, nationalism, and racism affect our daily lives and change the way we relate to each other, says the publisher. 

It actually won't go on sale until August 15, 2013

This article is related to: TV News


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