BBC to Use Doctor Who to ‘Tell Trans Stories’

A child plays with a 'Doctor Who' Dalek Voice Changer at the Hamleys Christmas toy photoca
Leon Neal/AFP via Getty Images

The state-owned, publicly-funded British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) will use its flagship Doctor Who franchise to “tell trans stories”, according to its own reporting.

The notionally apolitical broadcaster announced on the front page of the BBC News website that it would be using the venerable science-fiction show — first aired in 1963 — to “let trans people tell trans stories”, linking to a story about an upcoming podcast spin-off.

The article, which boasted up front that the spin-off “is making the show more female and LGBTQ+ than ever before”, centred around a BBC Radio interview with BBC writer Juno Dawson, the transwoman who will be writing the series.

“It’s a real first for the Doctor Who universe to have a cast that’s completely led by women and completely led by queer women,” Dawson said, insisting that it is “important that every person who comes to Doctor Who brings their own little identity” — apparently believing that representing the various ethnic and sexual minorities of the 21st-century United Kingdom and their issues in a way pleasing to identity politics activists should be an overriding concern for a show about space aliens and time travel.

Rather than sticking to a neutral write-up of Dawson’s comments, the BBC editorialised by tying the transwoman’s upcoming show to the fact that the “government plans to ban conversion therapy for lesbian, gay and bisexual people — but not for transgender people.”

Boris Johnson’s not-particularly-conservative administration had backed off including transgender people in the so-called conversion therapy ban amid concerns that, among other things, it would have made it impossible to do anything but affirm the gender identity of supposed “trans kids” by “create[ing] a situation where doctors, therapists, even parents, would be deterred from exploring with a child any feelings of what else may be going on for fear that they will be told they are trying to change a child’s identity” — although the BBC did not reference these concerns in its report.

“We’re living in quite a scary time for trans people. I’m a trans person, and I’m quite scared,” Dawson asserted, adding that “One of the ways things will get better is to let trans people tell stories about trans people.”

Charlie Craggs, the trans actor who will be playing Dawson’s lead, added the interesting observation that “When we’re integrated into mainstream culture pieces, like big storylines in EastEnders or Coronation Street” — Britain’s premier soap operas — “it’s so powerful because people aren’t watching it for that,” hinting that it is important to inject identity politics into such entertainment “in a natural way” so that the public don’t “feel like they’re being shouted at.”

Conservatives have long complained that the BBC — funded by a compulsory television licence that must be paid on pain of fines backed by imprisonment — uses its massive entertainment budget to try and shift the culture, despite its supposed impartiality.

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