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Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowflakes...

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2018-10-23 Sun.jpg


THERE'S something a bit unnerving about anyone over the age of about ten who gives much of a damn about Doctor Who's gender.

The obsessive fans who can explain exactly why it shouldn't be a woman are an obvious concern, but they at least love the show above all else.

Something you certainly can't say about the BBC's drama department, which clearly thinks the very average Jodie Whittaker is its Tiananmen Square moment. Gandhi, Emmeline Pankhurst and Nelson Mandela all rolled into one.

How can you tell?

The plot. Or almost complete lack of it, to be more accurate.

Three episodes into its new run and no matter how many time vortexes the Tardis spins through she still can't find one.

First week we got the Jolly Green Giant version of Rob Beckett, who was trying to lay waste to Sheffield, unaware that the city council had already beaten him to it.

The second, as far as I could make out, was Mad Max: Beyond Competitive Sports, and you could tell by the sincerity with which the cast kept shouting: "What's going on?" that none of them knew what the hell was going on, possibly because the storyline had been eaten up by some pretty stern lectures about gun control.

If the sense that every single episode was now going to be Doctor Who and the Curse of the Snowflakes had already been rising, it was confirmed by Sunday's destination. Alabama, segregated America, 1955, the year of the famous bus boycotts and a piece of history that would make Spielberg gulp at the responsibility.

Not Auntie, though, who just saw it as another opportunity to preach. So no sooner had the gang bumped into Rosa Parks, heroine of the civil rights movement, and some poor sod pretending to be Martin Luther King than they'd met a racist white alien, Krasko, who was attempting to re-wire history by the time-bending trick of fly-posting some bus cancellations.

Not much of a threat then, but boy-oh-boy did viewers ever get a telling off, not just about 1950s America but about the perceived injustice of modern day stop-and-search laws, which must have enchanted all the seven-year-olds watching.

But, hey, why bother with entertainment when you can fill children's heads with political propaganda?

To be honest, though, the fact Doctor Who's Rosa episode was so pompous, preachy, self-righteous and clumsy was hardly a surprise.

What did stun me, however, was the sudden realisation I'd seen it before. It's Quantum Leap, obviously, but not just the basic time-traveller-guarding-history idea.

It's episode seven of series one, from May 1989, called The Color Of Truth, which was also set in 1955 Alabama, followed the same narrative and, like Rosa, even finished with a rousing song of defiance (We Shall Overcome) instead of the theme tune.

The difference, of course, was that Scott Bakula's Quantum Leap delivered a powerful message with charm, subtlety, humour, a proper story and a great script.

Lump of rock

The Beeb show did it with a mallet over the head.

If Doctor Who now lacks any originality, though, it's certainly not short on supplies of irony, given the BBC — which is still embroiled in its own gender pay gap row — is using it to lecture the rest of us about equality.

Contrary to the perceived wisdom, however, there is no lack of good TV roles for female actors. Quite the opposite. And if you want to see it done well, without an agenda, you need only watch BBC1's Killing Eve.

But I get the impression drama now firmly takes second place to preaching from watching Sunday's episode, which ended with the Doctor lost in wonder at the asteroid named after Rosa Parks: "The woman who changed the universe." Though, point of fact, there are also asteroids named after Lance Armstrong and Phil Spector and a revolving lump of rock, somewhere out in the universe, called Sandra Bullock.

And hands up everyone who wouldn't mind Jodie Whittaker landing on that particular planet?

Sexist beasts...

Caption: PREACHY .. Doctor Who Jodie and pals

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  • APA 6th ed.: Ross, Ally (2018-10-23). Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowflakes.... The Sun p. 13.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Ross, Ally. "Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowflakes...." The Sun [add city] 2018-10-23, 13. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Ross, Ally. "Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowflakes...." The Sun, edition, sec., 2018-10-23
  • Turabian: Ross, Ally. "Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowflakes...." The Sun, 2018-10-23, section, 13 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowflakes... | url= | work=The Sun | pages=13 | date=2018-10-23 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=24 March 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowflakes... | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=24 March 2023}}</ref>