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ScotsGay Doctor Who

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"Breath in deep... You feel that pounding in your heart, that tightness in the pit of your stomach, the blood rushing to your head? Do you know what that is? That's adventure. The thrill and the fear and the joy of stepping into the unknown. That's why we're all here and that's why we're alive!"

Dr Who first appeared on television on 23 November 1963. And it's had a troubled history. Axed in 1989, brought back for a one off TV film in 1996, axed again, and then finally re-resurrected in 2005 by the openly gay Queer as Folk writer Russell T Davies.

But, back up. Before the latest incarnation of Dr Who hit our screens - during its long hiatus - old episodes were repeated every weekend on UKTV Gold, a library of new adventures were published by Virgin books, endless comic book stories were produced and a wealth of fan fiction grew and grew. The show never died in the eyes of the public. "Dr Who fans," ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston, recently observed, "are legion."

So back in 1999, to satisfy demand, Big Finish Productions, were given a licence by the BBC to produce new Dr Who fiction in audio. The first story, The Sirens of Time, featured Peter Davison, Colin Baker and the Dunoon born actor Sylvester McCoy (the fifth, sixth and seventh Doctors.) The story was greeted with critical acclaim, and the audio adventures have continued to be produced and enjoyed ever since. Guest stars have included Stephen Fry, Stuart Lee, Mark Gattis (The League of Gentleman), Matt Lucas (Little Britain), David Soul, James Fox, Melvyn Hayes and David Benson, as well as many actors who played assistants, companions and enemies in the classic series.

Now, in 2006, the openly gay Glaswegian comedian Charlie Ross has become the latest famous fan to join the Dr Who Big Finish universe. He plays a baddie who is pit against the eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, in a brand new story by Eddie Robson, called Memory Lane.

"It's a dark, comic piece with a twist" enthuses Charlie, "It's a traditional Dr Who story of the best kind. Good writing, great acting, solid storytelling."

Charlie has been a Dr Who fan his whole life. He grew up watching Tom Baker and Peter Davison "Who I've been lucky enough to meet" and often includes Dr Who material in his stand up act.

"In the latest classic DVD release, The City of Death, the Doctor and his assistant, Romana, are forced by an evil alien into making a time machine. So we cut to Romana wiring a domestic plug!" Charlie grins. "It's like, where do we plug this time machine in? What's worse is that the story is set in France and the plug is a British three pin..."

I point out that I thought - as Dickens might say - he was a fan?

"That's the beauty of Dr Who. Fans see the errors, the weaknesses and the strengths. As well as regular stand up gigs I perform Dr Who gags at SF and Who conventions. The beauty of performing at conventions is that you need very little time to set the joke up - in fact they can tell you almost instantly the exact date and time that the episode you are talking about was transmitted. Fans are not precious about the show... they are affectionate."

Carry out a cursory online Google Search of Dr Who groups and it quickly becomes apparent that more than a fair share of the show's fan base is gay. Indeed, there are gay men at every level of Dr Who fandom, be it the local Edinburgh group, or the guy currently in charge of the TV series.

"There is no question that there are many, many gay Dr Who fans out there. The Doctor is not the traditional hero. He doesn't carry a gun, and would rather use his intelligence than his machismo to get out of problems. Despite having endless attractive female assistants, he never seems to notice them in a sexual way. In fact he doesn't seem the least bit interested in sex at all. When you're growing up gay, you can identify with an asexual man much more than with a macho heterosexual one.

"Add to that the pure escapism of it all. The Doctor can step into a cupboard (the TARDIS) and go anywhere in the universe, in any time. Surely that has to be the ultimate fantasy?"

I wonder what I'd do with such a machine? Find out how the dinosaurs were wiped out? Repair an old damaged relationship? Get next Saturday's lottery numbers?

"That's just it... the possibilities with a time machine are endless... the show was only ever held back by its own budgetary limitations."

These limitations however, did not apply to the new series. The 2005 television version of Dr Who quickly became a huge success. Millions tuned in every week - not even Ant and Dec or the new Star Wars film could compete in the ratings.

"I missed episode 2 - The End of the World," laments Charlie, "I was away skiing. Set my timer to record the show but forgot about the clocks going forward. Ironic, to miss the Time Lord over a problem with time."

And the new series pushed the boundaries further than Dr Who ever had before. Delightfully, Davies slipped a brief gay reference into practically every episode - right from the season opener. Then in episode 9, The Empty Child, the implicit gay references became explicit with the introduction of the first pre-watershed non soap character that was openly and obviously bisexual.

Captain Jack Harkness (played by Glasgow born gay actor, John Barrowman) debuted in a world war two scene dressed in an Air Force uniform spying Rose (Billie Piper) hanging from a rope attached to an air balloon. After commenting "Nice bottom," he goes to rescue her, but not before slapping a male soldier (Robert Sands) on the arse and commenting "You have a nice bottom too."

Captain Jack goes on to flirt with both male and female guest characters throughout the series until, in the last episode; he kisses both Rose and The Doctor on the lips. For those who remember the fuss surrounding the gay kiss in Coronation Street, the fact that an openly bisexual male could be seen on screen kissing a woman, then a man, in a family drama, without fuss from public or media, was a huge breakthrough.

Now Captain Jack will have his own post watershed series in Torchwood, again devised by Russell T Davies, which will air in the autumn of 2006. Davies promises that Torchwood will be "sexy and action packed" and explore themes that "will be suitable for a post watershed drama."

In the meantime, while you wait, catch the tenth Doctor, portrayed by Paisley born, David Tennant (himself a frequent guest actor on Big Finish audios and co-star of the latest Harry Potter film) in The Christmas Invasion at 7pm on BBC1 on 25th December. Encouragingly, in a recent Radio 4 interview, Tennant hinted that the Doctors own sexuality will be "gently probed" over the actor's first season in the role.

"I saw David Tennant as The Doctor for the first time on the Children in Need special he did with Billie." Grins Charlie, "It was only a brief five-minute episode, but it was enough to convince me that the Scots lad is going to make a really great Doctor."


The Doctor Dances (episode 10)

The Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack realise they must pass the army guardsman - Algie, to get to the bombsite.

Rose: Are the words "distract the guard" heading in my general direction?

Captain Jack: I don't think that's such a good idea.

Rose: Don't worry I can handle it.

Captain Jack: Trust me, I've gotten to know Algie quite well since

I've been here. You're not his type. I'll distract him. Don't wait up!

Rose looks put out. Captain Jack had been flirting with her - now he is making his moves on a man.

The Doctor: Don't worry, he's a 51st century guy - he's just a little more flexible when it comes to dancing.

Rose: What do you mean?

The Doctor: Well by his time you lot are spread over half the galaxy.

Rose: Meaning?

The Doctor: So many species, so little time.

Top 6 Websites:

Gay Dr Who group

Edinburgh Dr Who group

Big Finish Audio website

The best Dr Who fan site

Charlie Ross official website

Dr Who official website

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  • APA 6th ed.: Walker, Martin (Dec. 2005). ScotsGay Doctor Who. ScotsGay .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Walker, Martin. "ScotsGay Doctor Who." ScotsGay [add city] Dec. 2005. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Walker, Martin. "ScotsGay Doctor Who." ScotsGay, edition, sec., Dec. 2005
  • Turabian: Walker, Martin. "ScotsGay Doctor Who." ScotsGay, Dec. 2005, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=ScotsGay Doctor Who | url= | work=ScotsGay | pages= | date=Dec. 2005 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=13 June 2024 }}</ref>
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