While preparation for some lectures I was giving at the San Diego Who Con (a small and friendly, all vaxxed and masked politely convention celebrating the English sci-fi drama Doctor Who) I researched how the new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, turned the 50 year old character into a female (long story unless you know the show).
That lead me to researching the writers he chose for the last two seasons to bring more diverse stories to the show.
One such story, The Haunting of the Villa Diodati, written by Maxine Alderton, involved meeting Mary Woolstencroft on the weekend of inventing Frankenstein. For that I found this post about the importance of writing soaps and how, because so many women do it, it has often been dismissed as lesser writing – but in fact, of course, it is not. I think it is yet another area of bias against female writers that needs to be quashed.
Maxie Alderton joins the world of Doctor Who this Sunday, far from her usual stomping ground of Emmerdale. But as the architect of some of the soap opera’s most innovative and exciting episodes of the past decade, she’s a name to watch
At first glance Maxine Alderton, writer of The Haunting of Villa Diodati, seems like a strange fit for Doctor Who. After all, of the new writers to join the Doctor Who team this season, she easily has the least background in science fiction and fantasy. And her main track record so far has been across the Yorkshire Dales for popular soap opera Emmerdale. But as soon as you scratch the surface she quickly emerges as an exciting and dynamic writer. One showing every sign of bringing something very special to Doctor Who indeed.
My focus was on the delicate work showrunner/writer Chris Chibnall had to do in realizing this new Doctor so it’s called “She is Wise and Unafraid” Writing the First Female Doctor and a Diverse Universe for her to Protect.
I touch on the myriad decisions a showrunner makes in creating a character from costuming to sidekicks (called companions in the Whoniverse) to dialogue. I was excited to have been invited to contribute to this collection and proud to showcase the way screenwriters work.
I know academic books can be expensive but you can always ask your local or college library to order a copy for you to read!
Doctor Who – new dawn explores the latest cultural moment in this long-running BBC TV series: the casting of a female lead. Analysing showrunner Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker’s era means considering contemporary Doctor Who as an inclusive, regendered brand. Featuring original interview material with cast members, this edited collection also includes an in-depth discussion with Segun Akinola, composer of the iconic theme tune’s current version. The book critically address the series’ representations of diversity, as well as fan responses to the thirteenth Doctor via the likes of memes, cosplay and even translation into Spanish as a grammatically gendered language. In addition, concluding essays look at how this moment of Who has been merchandised, especially via the ‘experience economy’, and how official/unofficial reactions to UK lockdown helped the show to further re-emphasise its public-service potential.
P.S. You can check out the trailer for Jodie’s upcoming 3rd season here:
There are many exciting steps along the way to having a chapter you’ve written about a beloved television show accepted into a book collection.
First you see the Call for Submissions, have an idea and send in an abstract.
Then they tell you they like your idea and want to include it in their collection.
Then you write the chapter and they send back minimal notes.
Then (that’s today) they send you the artwork for the cover and you smile all over again knowing other fans of the show will be reading your ideas as they consider the importance of the show to our culture.
All those steps (except the cover page) happened recently on a couple of upcoming collections I’m contributing to but the other day this cover came along for Doctor Who: New Dawn: Essays on the Jodie Whitaker Era and I couldn’t be more excited that a show I originally watched on PBS back in Ohio and followed all these years then made their lead character a female and then I had the chance to write about how a writer could go about making such a culturally important change.
My essay is entitled ‘She is wise and unafraid’: writing the first female Doctor and a diverse universe for her to protect
Dr. Rosanne Welch presents “How Doctor Who Redefined Masculinity: A Study of the Doctors and their Male Companions” at the Cal Poly Pomona University Library. Dr. Welch teaches in the IGE (Interdisciplinary General Education) program.
But now, our generation is starting to look also at how do they parent? Will this person make a good father to the children I might have and we’re going to see that reflected in Doctor Who. Then, of course, all of them mentioned good hygiene, which we all know is a code word for hot looking and I think that’s true of most of our Doctors. Then ambition and honesty is a pretty basic one. Of course, if you flip that, it’s really all the stuff that men are looking for in women, as well. So, it’s just really what makes a quality human being and I think that’s really of interest to us. The other thing I would say is that that, as I said, is reflected in all of our guys.
A clip from this 5th talk on various aspects of Doctor Who presented by Dr. Welch. You can find Dr. Welch’s other Doctor Who talks using the links below.
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.”
An essay I wrote called “When White Writers Write Black” is being published in a book called “Doctor Who and Race: An Anthology” edited by Dr. Lindy Orthia, lecturer at the Australian National University. Published by Intellect the collection is scheduled sometime in late 2012 or early 2013. It’s quite fun since I sat down one Saturday morning to write the 1,000 words and sent it off and she accepted it two days later!