Russell T Davies Reacts to “Soapy” Doctor Who Complaints

April saw Who bigwig Russell T Davies appears for the third time in Toby Hadoke’s “Who’s Round” podcast where he attempts to amass an anecdote for every episode of Doctor Who.

During their exploration of Series Two they touch on the “snog” between the Doctor and Madame de Pompadour in 2006’s Girl in the Fireplace, leading Toby to ask whether RTD has “a sympathy” with the fans who would prefer a less soap opera tone. He doesn’t…

[quote]I absolutely think [fans with criticisms] are wrong. I can understand where it is coming from, but it doesn’t mean I like where it’s coming from. You are looking at a major character in his own show that’s on for 50 years and you’re denying him a full life. You can’t do that.

Plus, I have to say, what a load of fuss about nonsense! If you added all the kisses and the love lines I think you’d have about 40-seconds of material! Seriously, think about it. It’s not much, it’s tiny. And it very rarely changed the direction of a story. But mainly it’s so alive. You have to let it move on.[/quote]

Hmm. No Russell. This is a matter of taste but I feel the kissy-stuff did change the series in quite a profound way – the Doctor and Rose loved each other. That’s huge. It’s an entirely different dynamic and agenda for the series’ central characters. RTD has previously been clear that after the tragic love story of two perfectly matched people separated by a dimensional void at the end of Series 2, he wanted to try the unrequited love story with Martha fancying the Doctor.

RTD did inject emotionally-involving stories into the show and made it about people and their experiences more than about sci-fi and space opera – and I believe that’s a large part of why the show is still around. It was first and foremost a drama about people and secondly a sci-fi romp. Good. But –and I’ve said it before– I personally feel his mistake was to overly involve the Doctor in the lusty side of things.

It’s one thing to make him a lonely god who turns down an invitation for Christmas dinner and secretly (or openly as though summing up the plot for the camera) yearns for an ‘ordinary’ life. It’s quite another to turn him into a hipster-geek James Dean in space (though, in fairness, that would also be good telly…).

But what does ‘soapy’ mean here? RTD refers to the kisses and love-stuff which I’m quite clear about. I think that’s what the companions are for and the Doctor should stay sexually out of it. Less horniness more mysteriousness. But did the constant returns to Rose’s estate, getting a slap from Jackie etc. and involving Martha’s family get a bit much for fans?

I’m not so sure – a big part of what RTD did was contrasting the whole of time and space with the banality and ordinariness of Rose and Martha’s home life. It was quite clear that Martha was fleeing her rather fraught family issues when she stepped aboard the TARDIS with a guy she’d developed a rapid crush on. But the fact that the Doctor could have reciprocated her feelings and fallen in love with her irks me a bit. I have to pretend it’s not really there so I can believe it’s Doctor Who (apart from Daleks in Manhattan which I pretend is a completely different show).

The best pairing EVER in my opinion is the Second Doctor and Jamie – the buddy movie of the Classic era. After that the Scooby and Shaggy pairing of the Fourth Doctor and Sarah-Jane Smith. No canoodling, just best mates having adventures. Sorted.

What do you think? Did the Russell T Davies era play too much like a soap? Was there too much domestic strife or too much kissy-kissy with the lead character? Did the Doctor need “a life” or was he better off being mysterious? Set us right below…

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  1. Harry M VanHoudnos says:

    I think that the show, starting with the RTD era, and continuing into the Moffat era, HAS taken on a Soap Opera feel to it! Its more, The Doctor Shows up, waves the Sonic Screwdriver, saves the day. What happened to The Doctor using his brain, or items other than the Sonic Screwdriver? I would like to see less dependence on the Screwdriver and more use of brains.

    • Nick says:

      That’s a really great point. Smith and tennant waved around the sonic a lot but hopefully in the Capaldi era they will go back to that. I feel they did use their brains but a little more magic then needed.

    • TonyS says:

      It is a very good point. I am not sure that this is what makes the programme soapy but it is an issue that I hope they are now addressing.

    • mrjohnm says:

      I think the 50th Anniversary episode confronted this when the War Doctor commented on David and Matt’s over-use of the sonic. Hopefully, Capaldi’s Doctor will still use it but not as a way to solve every problem.

  2. TonyS says:

    An excellent articles, James, with much food for thought. The “soapy” feel is one of the main things that I struggled with (with which I struggled?) when the programme came back. I am not sure that I am totally happy with it even now. Having said that, though, to have brought the programme back the way we kleft it in 1989 would probably have been to watch it fail. For all my qualms, RTD brought back the programme and made it a success.

    • Chris says:

      “Having said that, though, to have brought the programme back the way we kleft it in 1989 would probably have been to watch it fail.”
      I quite liked where the series was in 1989. First and foremost science fiction with a dash of mystery concerning The Doctor and back when it was subtle and not hearing people go on and on and on about how great The Doctor is and what a legend he is. You know you’re overdoing it when we get voiceovers from a couple of kids who saw The Doctor for about 10 seconds (“Closing Time”).
      Personally I did not like the switch when the show came back in 2005. Personal drama with a science fiction backdrop. Not saying it can’t be done, because it can (i.e. Solaris, Moon), but I find the drama not very interesting. All of Rose’s stuff is like something ripped right from East Enders or Coronation Street. Martha’s storyline went nowhere and the stuff with her parents was not interesting.
      Big Finish on the other hand have dealt with people drama in their stories and have given companions who didn’t have a personal arc in the Classic series personal arcs of their own. There was personal drama in the Classic series but it was subtle, a word that I don’t think Russell, or Steven for that matter, knows. The Second Doctor’s discussion with Victoria, the First Doctor’s farewell to Susan and his later lamentation over the loss of his companions over time in The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve, the Sixth Doctor’s horrified reaction to Peri’s death are ten times more powerful to me than any of the “tear fest” that RTD or Moffat have given us.
      But back to Big Finish: I can’t attest to all of their stories but the ones I’ve heard have all been well done. The science fiction is never put in the background for the personal drama and in the cases that it is the story never suffers. It was nice to see Classic companions like Nyssa (who thought was unfairly sidelined in favor of Teagan), Peri, Mel, Teagan, Jamie, and Leela get to show sides of their characters that wasn’t present in the televised stories as well as continuation of Ace’s personal arc. Not to mention the new companions like Charley, Evelyn, etc. Only one I found that they stumbled with was C’rizz and I wasn’t a fan of the Lucie Miller story I listened to.
      Speaking of Ace, at a panel I went to Sylvester McCoy talked about the comparisons between Ace and Rose and he remarked that while Ace was great character he thought that Rose was a “perfected version” of Ace. Sorry Sylvester but did Rose ever beat the crap out of a Dalek with a baseball bat? No? I rest my case =)

  3. Ian says:

    A good article. I am hoping now that The Doctor is older looking he won’t be snogging his companions!

  4. Ian says:

    Just to add, not in RTDs era but Moffats, Amy and Rory like Eastenders in Space. I was getting fed up with them in Asylum.

  5. Patricia says:

    I agree with the author of the article. Doctor Who doesn’t do romance, it simply does not become him. the Doctor is just a spaceman who tries to be good and help people. I didn’t like all the gooeyness of the 9th doctor and his companions.

  6. Patricia says:

    I mean the 10th doctor.

  7. SynCallio says:

    I think the trouble is that Davies seems to think that sexual relationships are the most important/powerful (or ONLY important/powerful) relationships you can have. As if friends can’t have drama, or that the trust and honesty and loyalty of a friend can’t make or break you. As if your relationship status is the most important thing about you. Which makes me wonder if RTD has ever had a true friend. It’s common to go through life without ever having any true friends.

    Honestly, RTD’s writing makes me think he’s got serious issues. He has disturbing ideas about what a relationship looks like, and what family looks like – ever notice how the mothers are screechy and mean, and the fathers are kindhearted doormats? Which isn’t to say there aren’t screechy, mean mothers out there, or fathers who are kind doormats, but when that’s all we’re given, I start to wonder.

    I am grateful for RTD’s work. He has written some of my favorite Doctor Who moments, and we have him to thank for bringing the show back and making it successful again. I wouldn’t even be a fan if it weren’t for him. But I’m not going to gloss over the flaws.

    • SynCallio says:

      Also, RTD *really* needs to learn how to take criticism. Any time anyone says, “these are problems I see with his work”, he denies it flat out and defends himself without actually engaging the critic’s points. I mean, critics who just tear you apart with insults and rants are not worth listening to, but when someone presents criticism with logic and reason and respect, you’ve got to entertain the possibility that they may, in fact, have a point.

      • Gareth Kavanagh says:

        I’m not sure I agree with that pastiche of Russell’s families. The Tylers are pretty rounded and credible, a tight mother daughter combo. Jackie Tyler in Love and Monsters gets a pleasing amount of screen time and her awkward date with Elton tells us a lot about that character, while grounding the show.

        Martha’s family is perhaps the least developed of the three companion families we see, but they seem a rounded, functional unit.

        Donna’s family is more complex, as the unplanned loss of the actor playing Geoff means the narrative shifts with the introduction of Wilf. It’s a great dynamic. Wilf is the dreamer, who believes in Donna but here the mother is part of the expectations we all get of giving up your dreams and settling for what you can realistically get – in this case, a proper job and a husband. It’s a brutal moment for most of us, when you realise this is probably it, but with Russell cleverly juxtaposing this with the infinite possibilities of travel in the Tardis, it’s a clever extension of the Rose as bored shop girl.

        What they all have in common though, is they are rounded, interested and fully formed characters. They inform the narrative. It’s one of Russell’s many gifts to the show.

        • I think the problem is perhaps that people do not distinguish between the introduction of fully formed characters (although it would be easy to argue that this isn’t an exclusive of RTDs time as there are notable other characters in classic Who that could be described as such) and their urban/suburban lives with the introduction of a “human”, sexual Doctor.

          Perhaps it was an interesting idea at the time, but it doesn’t mean that it should be a permanent facet of the character, rather than one of his incarnations. After all, he’s a Time Lord; he’s an alien, an extra-terrestrial. If we took this at its literal meaning, it would be like Rose Tyler shagging a Slitheen; it’s just not going to happen. I think it takes a particular type of actor to be able to play this particular aspect of the Doctor utterly convincingly. David Tennant did it, but I don’t think it would have developed in quite the same way had Eccleston stuck around.

          Ultimately, we should look at this as an aspect of the Doctor, just as we do with the manipulative Seventh Doctor, the Establishment-cosying Third Doctor, etc.

          And let’s face it, grounding Doctor Who in the way he did enabled RTD to revive the show in the most complete way imaginable while maintaining a thematic link with the last episode of the original series. Whether that was conscious or subconscious coincidence, it was pretty clever!

          • Gareth Kavanagh says:

            Oh, I’ve long subscribed to the theory that Girl in the Fireplace was originally conceptualised for the 9th Doctor. It makes a lot more sense dramatically to give the Doctor’s first whirlwind romance to a shy, gauche outsider as opposed to the cocksure, sexual 10th.

  8. lozzer says:

    Everyone likes a snog- why wouldn’t the Doctor… I’m assuming Timelords breed in the same way we humans do… It would be wrong not to make him a rounded individual – I love the RTD era and all that came with it.

    • Harry M VanHoudnos says:

      From what I read in the book Lungbarrow, Time Lords DON’T reproduce the way that humans do. They reproduce via a process called “The Loom”, which creates 13 children each time it is used, and used to keep families going.

      • John Smith says:

        Keep in mind that the canon-ness of the Virgin novels is sketchy at best. The show does not even acknowledge the book series’ existence, so we can’t be sure if the Looms are canonical or not.

      • Gareth Kavanagh says:

        And thankfully, not canon.

        • Harry M VanHoudnos says:

          But, many of the items in the New Adventure books, HAVE been used as source material for stories! Take a look at the two part story involving The Family of Blood. The New Adventure book was used as the basis for the story. Therefore, we need to take a LONG look at many of the stories that have been done since the show returned to the air, if many of the New Adventure books have been used as a basis for canon in the new series.

          • Gareth Kavanagh says:

            Yes, Family of Blood is an adaptation of Human Nature. No -one disputes that. But the rest of the ideas and arcs are now thoroughly discarded, unless specifically referenced in the show. The looms are out as far as I can see.

  9. Gareth Kavanagh says:

    Cor, there’s a lot of squeamishness in that article about love and sex that accurately reflects this very real sense in fandom that the Doctor is not a sexual being.

    I rather liked the awakening of this side of the Doctor, going back to the 8th Doctor, via the gauche 9th Doctor (who doesn’t ‘dance’) and reaching it’s zenith in the confident 10th. Doctor Who needed to evolve, to become more rounded in this respect otherwise you get no character development, no progression.

    Girl in the Fireplace is brilliant because it’s an intense holiday romance for the Doctor of the kind we all remember when our feelings are first awakened and I think he’s well matched with Madame du Pompadour (as opposed to River who just doesn’t strike me as the person the Doctor would shack up with).

    Doctor Who is all the richer for Russell being brave in this aspect, making him a rounded character and it’s a trend the Moff has continued, up to and including families and children on Gallifrey as opposed to the sexless looms beloved of certain sections of fandom.

    • Ian says:

      Girl in the Fireplace is one episode I dislike for all the lovey dovey crap lol

      • Gareth Kavanagh says:

        Ahhh, there we disagree. Much as I enjoy the macho guns and mercenary staples of the 80s, the world and audience has moved on. It’s the best episode of the new series, bar none. The final 10 minutes are arguably the greatest ever shot.

  10. razville says:

    Susan, his Granddaughter had to come from somewhere….

  11. Chandler77 says:

    As a NuWhovian, I have yet to connect with 1-7 but it seems that Classic Who is all Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. While time may be wibbly-wobbly balls, people are ooie-guey bags. Sex and sensuality are in that bag. Crimeny, peeps, River Song is sex on a stick in 140mm Louboutain Merlot Bianca stilettos. Keep it in the tool box.

    • Christine says:

      Don’t worry Chandler77: there was romance and characterisation in the classic series. Differently executed perhaps, but we do all hopefully remember Susan’s romance in Dalek Invasion of Earth.. kiss and all!

  12. DonnaM says:

    I;’m quite happy to see the Doctor – any Doctor – flirt with a guest character now and then. It’s all that testing the tonsils of his companions I draw the line at!

    I loved The Girl in the Fireplace because Madame de Pompadour was brilliant, fascinating and fleeting. That she put a certain companion’s nose out of joint was just a bonus, honestly 🙂

    The “romance” with Rose was a step too far for me, but while I initially loathed the Tyler baggage – Jackie, Mickey, the London estate – I came to appreciate what Russell was doing. Did none of the Classic era companions have friends and family? Wasn’t that a bit unrealistic?

    And yes – I know it’s not supposed to be “real life”. Still, connecting the alien with the mundane is what Doctor Who has been doing for generations. Cybermen on the steps of St Paul’s; Rose’s mum washing her smalls at the laundrette. They’re serving the same purpose, in different ways.

    I’d agree totally with the Doctor/companion choices James makes as my personal favourites. Given the age difference between Peter and Jenna I’m hopeful of something similar for Series 8 too.

    What can I say? Where Doctor Who is concerned, I’m an incurable optimist 🙂

    • mrjohnm says:

      You asked about Classic era companions and their families. Just off the top of my head, Jo Grant got her job at UNIT because of her uncle and Sarah got into UNIT pretending to be her Aunt. So while the Doctor’s companions’ families didn’t play as active a role as they do now, they were still there.

      • TonyS says:

        Companions in Classic Who had families and home lives. But the Doctor tended to take them away from that. Nu-Who tends to take the families as part of the deal. Or has until now. Who knows what will happen when the new series starts? Well, presumably Mr Moff does. But he is being characteristically cagey about it. The canny wee Scotsman!

        • Gareth Kavanagh says:

          Yes, they had families, but no-one ever asked what happened to them when they were gone. Sarah Jane, OK she pops back regularly and Jo Grant is on Earth most of the time, so we can assume they have families and a life we ever see.

          Ian and Barbara on the other hand vanish and reappear 3 years later, with no issues. Despite presumably families going spare and flats being repossessed! Let’s not even try and explain Dodo.

          Now you can argue that the narrative and audience were far less sophisticated back then, and I think that’s a fair argument to make. But it doesn’t wash in 2005 onwards. There are consequences and dramatic possibilities to be explored if these characters are real, unless the Doctor goes back to his narrative simplifying predilection for orphans and outsiders like Nyssa, Adric, Turlough, Leela, Vicki and the like.

    • TonyS says:

      Tegan had an aunt a grandfather and a cousin…

      • I don’t think having a family makes a character fully formed – it’s in the strength of the writing and how the actors work with it.

        Take a look at the first TARDIS team: Ian and Barbara have no family (although of course they have each other), but you utterly believe in their situation. Conversely, Susan has her grandfather and she’s a bit all over the place in terms of who and what she really is.

        • TonyS says:

          Oh I agree. But the question was asked about families.

          Adric had a brother. Nyssa had a father and a step-mother. Turlough had a brother. Peri had….

          But, as you say, it;s the writing that makes them work (or otherwise) as characters.

          • mrjohnm says:

            I don’t remember too much about Turlough’s brother, but all the others you mentioned were killed as a part of the storyline.

  13. rickjlundeen says:

    Part of it is the times we live in, another bit is him being the last of the time lords because he in effect got rid of him. He was very damaged after the time war. It’s going to make you vulnerable and the 9th Doctor had some serious PTSD. A man his shaped by his experiences and all this factors in to the personalities of these later incarnations.

    Also, every incarnation is different and with 10, he was a bit of a Casanova and we know this. It was pointed out by 11 in the 50th. He eased off the lover boy stuff with 11 and was often I’ll at ease with it but that was his “thing”, loving River but not really being suave or comfortable in the role of sexual being. Also, the War Doctor’s comments in the 50th really brought it all into perspective with how they act.

    What I think a lot of people don’t *realize*, is that after the events of the 50th, they’ve kind of closed the door on this type of Doctor. Because now the Doctor knows that he did NOT kill his people, they’re still out there. And Moffat said the show is going back to more of a classic mode, so this is all tied in.

    Oh and just because the. BBC couldn’t really show it back then, it being considered a kids show—Sarah and the Doctor were best friends, yes, but the best marriages start off that way. And anyone who is married will tell you that they did love each other. Go back and rewatch Hand of Fear and their dialogue before she leaves. Being who he was at the time, the Doctor simply couldn’t act on his feelings to a certain degree.

    • Cynthia Y says:

      “Go back and rewatch Hand of Fear and their dialogue before she leaves. Being who he was at the time, the Doctor simply couldn’t act on his feelings to a certain degree.” <—This!!

      I personally see some parallel in the relationship between Sara Jane and the Doctor and Rose Tyler and the Doctor. If I remember correctly, RTD had mentioned the Sara Jane/Doctor era was one of his favorite and I wonder if he just expanded that with the Rose/Doctor pairing.

      And how about how upset the Third Doctor was when Jo Grant decided to leave him? Maybe it's just me, but I felt there was an "almost" something in there between the two. Whereas with the other companions leaving the TARDIS, it was more like the Doctor saying "I'm going to miss you but you have a choice to make and I will honor it" type of thing or a quick "Ok, bye!"

    • Olivia says:

      I only got interested in the show because of the relationship between Clara and 11. Moffatt knows that the majority of the audience will walk away if you take away the romance. Expect to see the relationship explored with the 12th Doctor.

  14. simon magellan says:

    It should also be said that TV writing in general now tends to be “soapy” – Soap Operas dominate the TV landscape, many writers – like RTD – develope through them and so this style of writing (what might have once been called melodrama) is probably the standard writing style of British TV in the 21st century.


  15. Cynthia Y says:

    I’m a new-Who fan and started watching Doctor Who because of the reboot. So I have watched all the new stuff before really understanding what the Classic Who entailed. Towards the end of Rose’s tenure, I was very uncomfortable with the relationship between Rose and the Doctor. In fact, I don’t really like the pairing that much. Although I did like Rose’s character with the 9th Doctor, she just got too emotional for me and I don’t like that it was hinted that the Doctor may have reciprocated the feelings.

    However, I do have to agree with RTD though. He did try not to inject too much of the lovey-dovey stuff. As much as he made it quite obvious about how Rose felt he made it just a tad bit of a mystery about how the Doctor truly felt. I mean, there’s a reason why the Doctor’s words were cut off after Rose declared her love no? Of course, someone will always go “Oh it’s so obvious! The Doctor was emotional!” etc etc but it was never actually spoken was it? It is one of those things where the audience can keep asking what if the Doctor was allowed to finish what he said? Will it have solidified his relationship with Rose Tyler? But RTD only let the imagination run. He took it to a high point and then he just stopped. And I’m glad RTD stopped where he did otherwise I think it would have been an even bigger deal. However, it was a bit annoying that Rose keep coming back. Yet, this isn’t the first time the relationship with the Doctor and his companion was hinted as more than just platonic.

    I went back to watch Classic Who because I was so confused about all the references the New Who kept bringing up from the classic series and also to cure the withdrawal syndrome as I wait for the next season LOL. I am currently on the last season of the Fourth Doctor so I can’t speak for what’s going to happen but only for what I had already watched. As I had mentioned in a reply in someone else’s post here, I think RTD just took the “hints” dropped a few times in the Classic Who about the relationship between the Doctor and his companion and expanded it a bit more to explore “what may have happened”. I think RTD tried not to take it too far but I think he may have failed just a little bit in avoiding the soap thing altogether.

    I saw 10th Doctor’s passion in the 3rd Doctor – the whole thing about convincing the companion to stay to see the universe with him etc. The 3rd Doctor was also visibly upset when Jo Grant decided to leave the TARDIS and he didn’t even give a proper goodbye. When the Doctor quietly walked out Jo seemingly almost changed her mind. Then there was Sara Jane and the Doctor. There was a certain care from Sara Jane towards the Doctor. Some of the Doctor’s banter with Sara Jane reminded me of a husband-and-wife couple LOL. Sara Jane actually reminded me of Rose a bit. As much as Sara Jane is a favorite for a lot of people, I actually didn’t find her that appealing (please don’t throw stones at me LOL). The same with Rose. Rose seems to be a favorite for a lot of people but I am not too crazy about her either. RTD had mentioned a few times that the Sara Jane/Doctor pairing was his favorite. So it sort of made sense how he would write Rose – his first companion.

    I do agree with James though. My all time favorite Doctor/companion is the 2nd Doctor and Jamie but also with Zoe as well. Those 3 together have such great chemistry. I have yet to see another group like it. I also enjoyed Ian and Barbara – who is always saving the Doctor’s butt LOL.

    Steven Moffat kept hinting that he is going to bring the show back to the “classics”. That can mean anything but if what he means is he will steer the show back to what Doctor Who was – a curious/adventurous man in a “stolen/borrowed” blue box who wants to see the world but always end up in someone else’s business and yet can’t do it on his own – then I am all for it. The more I watch the Classics the more I am preferring it.

    With that said, RTD did a great job with the reboot. If it wasn’t for him, I would’ve never know this gem of a show that I am currently so addicted to. And the only show I can actually sit through seasons of black and white TV! LOL

  16. Simon Danes says:

    I would like Capaldi’s Doctor to meet Evelyn Smythe and then snog her.

  17. Seeing the Doctors from the beginning allows you to realise the lack of depth some of the early characters had.There were occasions that came close to recent writing like, Susan falling in love and the Doctor leaving her or Barbara and Ian risking their lives to get back to their own time.
    Generally we’ve had years of everlasting, hard to follow plots tediously padded out with wobbly sets and the Doctor Actors trying their best to make it interesting , despite the lack of rehearsal time.RTD turns up ,grounds the characters,gives them real lives and everyone starts groaning about the brief romantic interludes…The new series is in my opinion a far superior product and I say that as a long standing committed fan..

    • “years of everlasting, hard to follow plots”

      You lost the majority with that nonsensical statement.

      • Gareth Kavanagh says:

        I think it’s a different product, doing a different job in a different time for a different audience. But you are quite right, the original series rarely gets the emotional tone and the characterisation right. For every Tegan exit, there’s a Leela marrying a man she’s held hands with 40 minutes earlier.

  18. Joyce says:

    The “soapy” element of the shows return has been a big, big problem for me. However, look at the success, the viewing figures and the love for the show. Last year I sat in a cinema, packed with people, and held back tears when Tom appeared, along with many others that night.

    RTD did that. It’s really a small compromise in the scheme of things. But I still hate it so grrrrrrrrr RTD!

  19. vortexter says:

    Yes Dr Who has veered into soap territory and it does’nt match the tone of the show. Its not wrong for the Dr to catch the eye of the odd companion but not everyone who steps aboard the TARDIS. That’s why I think Donna and the Dr were the best pairing in the new series. Two good mates having a whale of a time together like Jamie and the second Dr.

  20. Geoff says:

    I think what matters is that proper believable emotional relationships are portrayed between the Doctor and his companions. They don’t have to be in love or infer sexual involvement but equally there’s no reason why they shouldn’t if it’s done well. The 10 and Rose relationship worked really well I thought and was like nothing that had been done before. Then the next year they just put a different spin on it (not helped by the fact the actress who played Martha wasn’t really very strong as a performer) and I started to get a bit weary of everyone fancying the Doctor. In the last few years they’ve handled it differently again, not always brilliantly but well enough.

    However for the defining relationship of the Doctor and companion you have to go back to the classic era and Sarah Jane/4th Doctor in my opinion. I think their final scene together is the most emotionally charged thing the show has ever produced. Tom Bakers “No, don’t you forget me” line chokes me up every time I see that scene….and not a snog in sight!

  21. I agree entirely with the author of this article. It’s just as the Classic Doctors point out – The protagonist is a 1000 year old superadvanced alien … sure, he has respect for the resourcefulness and spirit of humanity … but biologically, humans are just insects to him. I mean, can they even reproduce sexually? Why on earth would a superadvanced alien be sexually attracted to a mere human. Respect, sure, that’s one of the Doctor’s defining characteristics – but attracted? Ew.

  22. iankiddy says:

    It’s just lazy hackery designed to appeal to the soap audience. Worked a treat. Pity it undermined the point of the character and the series he was supposedly making, but that doesn’t seem to bother them these days.

  23. Leda says:

    Hey, RTD, quick question: who was it decided to destroy Gallifrey, leaving the Doctor with no other members of his own kind and therefore apparently no choice but to get inappropriately involved with his human companions if he wanted “a full life”, as you so coyly put it?

    Who devised all this? You did. But at least it’s now irrefutably clear what your agenda was in wiping out the Time Lords. Thanks for clearing that up.

    • Gareth Kavanagh says:

      But that assumes that there was anyone nowadays for the Doctor in that society of dusty senators. Just because they’re the same species, doesn’t mean anything more than that.

  24. CatPiper says:

    I agree with the person above who found the Doctor’s relationship with Donna a relief after all the lovey-dovey stuff with Rose and unrequited love with Martha. I actually found it faintly disturbing that the Doctor obviously didn’t feel the same way about Martha as he did about Rose, given that she was the first non-white companion. (Equally found it disturbing that she dumped her good job in the hospital and rather lovely boyfriend in order to become improbably military and hitch up with Mickey, as if it were impossible for her to have a relationship with anyone other than the only other non-white character). I would MUCH rather that the Doctor and his companions were just best friends: I loved the PT/Jamie/Zoe relationship: I really hope we are going to lose all the lovey stuff now (though find it funny that it is Peter Capaldi’s age that most people cite as a reason, as he is, give or take, the same age as me). Having said all that, I loved ‘Girl in the Fireplace’, and think that an OCCASIONAL romance for the Doctor does no harm. Just not with the companions. And not all the time.

  25. CosmicDebris says:

    On the whole, I don’t mind the romancy stuff, as long as it doesn’t drive the show. I think that side of the doctor was always sort of a big elephant in the room that nobody wanted to deal with, and we’re better off for acknowledging it. Having said that, I never liked the way the Doctor and Rose’s relationship was carried out, personally. But I do believe his feelings for companions to sometimes go beyond just friendship and you can see that fairly clearly even in the classic series. The Doctor certainly has a myriad of reasons to not pursue them. Speaking of “Family of Blood/Human Nature”, the same author wrote a really good Big Finish audio drama that hits on some similar themes called “Circular Time” that hits on some similar themes, I highly recommend it (it features the 5th doctor). On another note, I do wish we’d get another bromance like 2nd/Jamie again as well. 🙂

  26. Valerista says:

    I thought the romance side of things was realistic for the Doctor and Rose’s relationship, though I didn’t care for Martha pining for him right afterward (“Too busy with my medical career to care, Doctor,” but exception made to flirt with Jack, and later, Mickey, would have been much better) and I love the Doctor with Donna.

    Romances aside, I just prefer the way RTD wrote the companions; we know much more about their inner lives than Moffat’s, with Amy being an enigma and River a plot device AND an enigma (though I don’t dislike them, they didn’t make a lasting mark on me). Davies is just good with characterization and backstory in general, however; in Torchwood we knew about Owen’s awful mother and Ianto’s love for his dead girlfriend and Gwen’s dad. And don’t forget Capaldi’s character John Frobisher in Children of Earth. Yes, RTD goes for heartstrings, but he does it so well it’s hard to fault him for it.

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