Creating Companions of Color from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the presentation “Doctor Who and Culture: with Dr. Rosanne Welch

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Transcript:

Other cool characters that Russell T. Davies invented was the very first companion of color. The Doctor always travels with someone, generaly a human, these days, generally a girl, although eventually we got round to a boy. Martha Jones comes on to the show and she is the opposite of Rose, not just that she happens to be an Englishwomen of African descent, she’s and intern — she’s about to be a doctor. Whereas Rose is a shop girl. so she is low class/high class, right?

So, he made a character of color who was from the higher class. Not someone from the ghetto. She was someone with a good education, moving forward to a good job. She gets to be a full. 3-dimensional person, complete with falling in love with the Doctor, because who wouldn’t fall in love with David Tennant? The problem is, so had Rose, briefly and he actually fell in love with Rose so you can’t fall in love with every girl or then he is just, you know, a traveling womanizer.

So, Russell T. Davies actually took some flack for not allowing David Tennant to fall in love with the character of color, but it was just the way the story happened to fall. It would make him look cheesy if he fell in love with every girl he met. But Martha gets to be grown up enough to say, “I get it. You’re never going to feel about me the way I feel about you and I’m not going to waste my life waiting. I’m going to move on.” Which is hugely mature. So there is her character arc and she goes off to do very interesting things.

There are 2 really interesting characters of color, so far. Coming up to the 3rd one who only shows up in one episode. It’s a Christmas episode, as well, where there is an alternate Doctor and an alternate companion. There in sort of a Steampunk world. Rosita here, it looks like she should just be a maid and basically just a prostitute from back in the day. But again, 3-dimensional personality, she saves their lives in the course of the episode. She is hugely important to this episode. She doesn’t just stand around and say, “Ooo, I’m cute!”

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

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