When the triple threat of the BBC, Disney, and a showrunner who simply can’t help himself when it comes to personal politics in entertainment and inserting them into his work, combines then there was always a danger that Doctor Who would suffer. It seems that none of the criticisms about recent runs of the show have really been listened to. The entire canon is up for grabs and the inevitable current-year washing can’t be denied.
Returning Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies has confirmed that they are changing Davros forever. Davros is a key Doctor Who villain, forever linked to the Doctor’s greatest foes, the Daleks. The character of Davros is a Kaled scientist responsible for creating the “Mark 3 Travel Machine” which is the Dalek shell we are so familiar with. Inside are the surviving members of his race mutated by a nuclear war.
Davros is basically a heavily injured scientist using the bottom half of a Dalek shell to travel around. He was first played by Michael Wisher in the Tom Baker era, and beyond. Then he was played by Julian Bleach from the Tennant onwards.
On Friday night was the annual BBC Children In Need telethon, where it is now almost traditional that part of the content is a Doctor Who short. In this, they introduced a new, more human-looking version of the character from before the attack that injured him.
So far, so harmless. Until Russell T. Davies opened his mouth to confirm that this more human-looking Davros would be the go-forward version now as he and his colleagues managed to find a problem where none really existed, as is their standard operating procedure.
“We had long conversations about bringing Davros back because he’s a fantastic character. Time and society and culture and taste has moved on, and there’s a problem with the Davros of old in that he’s a wheelchair user who is evil.
I had problems with that, and a lot of us on the production team had problems with that, of associating disability with evil, and trust me, there’s a very long tradition of this. I’m not blaming people in the past at all, but the world changes and when the world changes, Doctor Who has to change as well.
So we made the choice to bring back Davros without the facial scarring, and without the wheelchair, or his support unit, which functions as a wheelchair. I say this is how we see Davros now. This is what he looks like. This is 2023. This is our lens. This is our eye. Things used to be black and white, they’re not in black and white anymore. And Davros used to look like that, and he looks like this now, and that we are absolutely standing by.
I think, because it’s Children in Need night. It’s a night where issues of disability, or otherness, or being excluded from society come right to the front of the conversation. So of all the nights to make this change, I thought it was absolutely vital to do this, and I’m very, very, very proud of the fact that we have.”
Hmmmm, that sounds awfully close to “this is my truth!” and other associated Newspeak.
Online, Doctor Who fans were quick to raise issues with this, including large numbers of disabled Doctor Who fans, pointing out they had no problem with Davros and that they feel patronized by this change. To one fan, Davies simply responded “Tough”.
Doctor Who returns with its 60th-anniversary specials with David Tennant returning as the Doctor. Many Outposters (who are usually right about such things) did warn us that Tennant’s return would be red meat for the fans before Davies takes things in a turbo-agenda direction. They could be right yet again.
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