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LGBTQ representation in Doctor Who and related media

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LGBTQ In The Worlds Of Doctor Who - Doctor Who The Fan Show

Christel Dee, Bethany Black, Benjamin Cook, Alex Smith, and Waris Hussein talk about LGBTQ in Doctor Who. (DOC: LGBTQ In The Worlds Of Doctor Who)

The portrayal and representation of queer identities in the Doctor Who universe affects how many fans experience Doctor Who. (DOC: LGBTQ In The Worlds Of Doctor Who, REF: Queers Dig Time Lords) It has been considered an important issue by 21st century showrunners Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, and Chris Chibnall,[1][2] as well as Class creator & writer Patrick Ness.[3]

Representation within material[]


When interviewed for an episode of The Fan Show on LGBTQ+ issues and Doctor Who, Waris Hussein stated that Doctor Who in its original form - being a 1960s BBC programme aimed at children - queer topics were not something that could readily be examined. (DOC: LGBTQ In The Worlds Of Doctor Who) Indeed, the show began before homosexuality was decriminalised in England & Wales in 1967[4], and Scotland in 1980.[5]

In the novelisation Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion, Professor Whitaker considers using Operation Golden Age to meet Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward, two gay icons.[source needed]

In the TV story The Happiness Patrol, one of the victims of the fondant surprise is a man wearing a pink triangle badge. The symbol was used by the Nazis to identify gay men; it has since been reclaimed by the queer community.(DWM 594)

Writer Ian Briggs revealed many years after the production of The Curse of Fenric that the story's Dr Judson was intended to be — like the man he was based on, Alan Turing — struggling with his homosexuality, but this was ultimately cut as in 1988, it was still not generally considered appropriate to discuss such topics in a family programme. Briggs instead reworked his writing plans such that Turing's frustration at being unable to express his true sexual identity was converted into Judson's frustrations about his disability. (DCOM: The Curse of Fenric)

According to Rona Munro, the writer of Survival, there was a lesbian subtext intended in the relationship between Ace and Karra. This raises the possibility of Ace being the first LGBTQ+ companion on screen. (DOC: Cat-Flap) Munro would further acknowledge this in interviews, indicating that the costume for Karra impeded the conveying of the affection between the two characters.[6] Fan literature has also acknowledged this aspect of the Cheetah People, stating that "they exhibit many of the physical and thematic attributes of the werewolf, including a sexual element, the 'lesbian subtext' identified by author Rona Munro".[7]


In 1990, the novelisation of The Curse of Fenric alluded to the notion of both Dr Judson and Commander Millington having feelings for men. Through a flashback to twenty years prior, it is indicated that Millington became jealous of Judson's affection for another boy in their class during a sports match. As a result of this jealousy, Millington tackled Judson during the match brutally, driving his arm into his shoulder. The resulting damage fractured Judson's spine and left him paralysed.[8] Given Alfred Lynch's partnership with James Culliford[9], if this had been realised onscreen, then Lynch would have been the first LGBT+ performer to portray a character intended to be LGBT+, but it ultimately had not been.[1]

Though Virgin Publishing's New Adventures' first representation was that of a character[which?] who was killed 'off-screen' in a book[which?], it would then see the first unambiguous gay representation. From that character's 'off-screen' demise; Gareth Roberts was spurred to create, in his 1994 novel Tragedy Day, the character of Forgwyn.[1] Initially within the story, Forgwyn sheepishly evades Laude's bold remarks about enjoying young women. Laude mistakes merely as a general wish of celibacy, to which Forgwyn remarks: "something like that."[10] Some later, whilst in the club Globule, he is approached by a blonde boy about whom he thinks: "He was pretty but [he] knew he could never fancy anybody from Olleril."[11], and by the conclusion of the story, he has a chance re-encounter with the boy, who speaks with him. This time, he thinks: "He remembered the boy and remembered thinking that he couldn’t fancy anybody from Olleril. But Olleril had changed. And so, perhaps, had he."[12]

In 1995, Paul Cornell would further add to this with an instance placed within a 'period piece' story, with the inclusion of Alexander Shuttleworth and his lover Richard Hadleman in Human Nature. Though unable to be openly together, the two characters were indicated to have been together for some number of years when Bernice discovered their relationship.

The P.R.O.B.E. home video The Devil of Winterborne depicted a same-sex romance between its characters Luke Pendrell and Christian Purcell, notably including the first onscreen same-sex kiss in the DWU.


Russell T Davies' novel Damaged Goods in 1996 then put significant focus on British gay culture of the 1980s, with the Doctor's companion Chris Cwej going to a club. Established via Cwej happily having sex with David Daniels in Damaged Goods, Cwej's non-heterosexuality was then reinforced in Bad Therapy later that year - showing an empath notice that Cwej is interested in both men and women - and then in 1997 with The Room With No Doors having an implied sexual relationship between Cwej and Joel Mintz, both of whom share a bed during the course of the story.[13] Joel additionally refers to Cwej outright as a "gorgeous blond".[14]

Meanwhile, the ongoing Doctor Who Magazine comics introduced Izzy Sinclair as a companion for the Eighth Doctor. Izzy was decided to be a lesbian by Alan Barnes as he wrote her first story Endgame, and it was alluded to throughout her run as a companion from 1996 to 2003. Izzy's character arc then culminated in Oblivion with her finding the self-confidence to fully accept her sexuality and kiss Fey Truscott-Sade. (Author's Commentary: Oblivion)

The last Virgin New Adventure, The Dying Days, would retroactively establish that Ralph Cornish (originally from The Ambassadors of Death) was non-heterosexual, depicting him with a boyfriend, Timothy Todd.

The 1998 novel Seeing I, by Kate Orman, portrayed companion Sam Jones as bisexual. In the novel, Sam had separate relationships with two male characters and a female character, Chris, over the course of her three year separation from the Doctor.

It was heavily controversial when the Eighth Doctor shared his first kiss with Grace Holloway in the 1996 TV Movie. (DOC: The Doctors Revisited - The Eighth Doctor) From the TV movie on, the Doctor had an active sexual and romantic life in the BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures and the BBC Wales version of Doctor Who, not always heterosexual. The 2001 novel The Year of Intelligent Tigers, for instance, showed the Eighth Doctor in a relationship with Karl Sadeghi that was intended by author Kate Orman to be romantic and sexual.[15] The Eighth Doctor also was shown to kiss Fitz Kreiner on one occasion, (PROSE: Dominion) and even actively flirted with Fitz on occasion: "I'll show you my tattoo if you're lucky." (PROSE: Eater of Wasps)

Though never outright describing himself with any specific term, Fitz Kreiner was also shown to be non-heterosexual in some sense through the course of the Eighth Doctor Adventures. Beginning implicitly in 1999, when Fitz blushed when the Doctor kissed him on one occasion after discovering he was still alive in the aforementioned novel, Dominion, Fitz would later more explicitly mull over "his chances of getting laid by Iris... and even of getting laid by the Doctor." in his head, indicating a sexual level of attraction towards both of them. (PROSE: The Blue Angel) This was then further cemented by The Book of the Still in 2002, where Fitz rebuffed Carmodi Litian's alteration of his memories by stating that he'd been "engineered to love" Carmodi, before then going on to say to Carmodi that "With the Doctor - it's the real thing.", indicating a definite and vocalised attraction to the Eighth Doctor.

The 1999 comedic special The Curse of Fatal Death, written by Steven Moffat, doubled-down on the romantic potential introduced for the Doctor in the TV Movie, with the story's alternative Ninth Doctor intending to retire and marry his companion Emma, with whom he had developed a romantic and sexual relationship. Over the course of the special, after a series of regenerations, the Doctor eventually settles into a female incarnation who seems perfectly willing to go ahead with her marriage to Emma. Emma, on the other hand, feeling uncomfortable at the idea, ultimately opts to break the engagement.

DWM 328 kiss

Izzy Sinclair and Fey Truscott-Sade kiss in COMIC: Oblivion


With Doctor Who's return to television in 2005, Captain Jack Harkness became the first televised non-heterosexual companion. From then on, the programme — not to mention its more adult-orientated spin-off, Torchwood, with Jack in the lead — contained many references to various sexual orientations, and demonstrated the evolution of views towards homosexuality in humanity's future. In including this representation, Russell T Davies's intention was to express that, in his own words, "sexuality is fluid".[2]

In greater detail, Torchwood showed all members of the main cast in some sort of non-heterosexual situation in at least one episode of the series. (TV: Everything Changes, Day One, Cyberwoman, Greeks Bearing Gifts). One of the series' main focus was the relationship between Jack and his boyfriend, Ianto Jones, as well as including a subplot in Series 2 about John Hart, Jack's old male lover. (TV: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, etc)

The Haunting of Thomas Brewster from Big Finish would also feature the character of Pickens, a friend of Thomas who would confide in Nyssa his affections for the man: "I like him. More than he likes me, if you know what I mean."

As revealed by Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat on the DVD commentary for Forest of the Dead, the original draft of the story would have revealed in his final scene that Lee McAvoy (Donna's husband within the virtual world in the Library's data core) was assigned female at birth in the real world. However, it was cut because they didn’t feel that it had been made clear enough that individuals were able to choose their appearance inside of the virtual reality of the Library, and that it would therefore be too confusing in the split-second framing of the reveal that the episode's structure necessitated. This would have made Lee one of the few portrayals of an explicitly transgender character on the show, albeit one who was still pre-transition outside of the virtual world of the Library.

Steven Andrew, then Head of Drama and Acquisitions for CBBC, also requested that Davies put a gay character in The Sarah Jane Adventures, in an attempt to introduce a "normal" gay teenager into children's television. Before the show's cancellation, the plan was to have Luke Smith come out and eventually have Sanjay, his university dorm mate, mentioned in Death of the Doctor, become his boyfriend. (DCOM: Death of the Doctor)[16]

A number of minor or supporting characters are stated or implied to be LGBTQ in the show. Cassandra O'Brien mentions having grown up as "a little boy", implying that she is transgender and transitioned at some point of her life. (TV: The End of the World) William Shakespeare is shown to flirt with the Tenth Doctor, hinting that he might be bisexual. (TV: The Shakespeare Code) Gridlock features Alice and May Cassini, an old lesbian couple, in a minor role.


Through continued use since their original debuts outside a televisual context, during this period, various characters from the original series of Doctor Who would be identified as being queer. Liz Shaw - a Third Doctor era character - had a relationship with Patricia Haggard in When to Die, a 2014 P.R.O.B.E. direct-to-video film (produced as a tribute to Liz Shaw's late actress, Caroline John). In the 2016 Short Trips audio story A Full Life, the Fourth Doctor companion Adric was depicted as bisexual, with the story showcasing a timeline where he had a wife and then later, a husband.

Beyond television, 2011 brought the First Doctor a gay male companion from the 1960s, Oliver Harper. Oliver comes out to the Doctor and Steven in Big Finish's The Cold Equations. He was ashamed and afraid to reveal his sexuality to them, in fear of getting kicked out of the TARDIS, as homosexuality was criminalised in his time, but the Doctor assures him that this persecution was "society's crime", and not Oliver's.

After becoming showrunner of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat continued to introduce a number of queer characters, such as Day of the Moon's Canton Everett Delaware III, whose longing to marry a man in 20th century America, where this is legally impossible, is given focus.

Most notable were the recurring characters of the Victorian Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint, a married lesbian couple, introduced as such in A Good Man Goes to War. A line in companion Clara Oswald's debut Asylum of the Daleks also established her, from the get-go, to have had experience with at least one woman, though her apparent bisexuality would only be elaborated on fleetingly in later stories, only becoming explicit and undeniable in Moffat's 2017 The Day of the Doctor novelisation.

In 2013, the spin-off audio Imaginary Boys featured a relationship between David Taylor and Lawrence. The story was partly inspired by events in Paul Magrs own life. Peter Summerfield would also be indicated to have fallen in love with fellow slave Antonio Tulloch, within the story The Curse of Fenman. Though Peter believed that Antonio came with him when he was saved from captivity and that they were both living in a relationship - Ruth would break the news to him that, in actuality, Antonio had been murdered before he could be saved by Avril Fenman. Two years later, The Pyramid of Sutekh would established that Peter had since met another man and that they were both happily married.

2014 saw the release of the comic The Swords of Kali, which featured Rani Jhulka, an openly lesbian woman. Additionally, the Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor comic story series would introduce the character of Cindy Wu. First appearing in Revolutions of Terror during this year, Cindy would initially stay behind whilst her friend Gabby Gonzalez ventured off with the Tenth Doctor as a companion. She would return two years later in 2016's Arena of Fear, now joining them as a companion. The subsequent comic stories would then imply that Cindy's reasons for joining the adventures was to remain by Gabby's side, and in Old Girl, she told Gabby she could not bear the thought of not being with her, explaining that while she did indeed love her, she didn't need for there to be a relationship. This would be followed up the following year with Breakfast At Tyranny's, where it would be established that Cindy also had feeling for Cleopatra Hunsicker; but she concluded that both women were "uninterested" in such a relationship.

The novel, Engines of War, would also feature the character of Cinder as a companion figure to the War Doctor. Whilst being mind-probed on Gallifrey, Cinder would rewatch the memory of herself kissing a colonist called Stephanie. George Mann would later clarify that this was intended to show that Cinder was lesbian.[17] The year would also feature the final appearance onscreen of Jenny and Vastra in Deep Breath, who would both continue to appear in tie-in novels and comics.

In 2015, Rachel Edwards, a character in the Faction Paradox novel Head of State would be introduced as bisexual. The Lethbridge-Stewart series of books would also introduce the character Owain Vine. Featured as a teenager during the late 1960s in his debut, The Forgotten Son, it is indicated that he was unable to be open about being gay out of fear of how people would react. In Beast of Fang Rock, he also forms a close friendship with William Bishop - though it is explicitly suggested that Owain is also sexually attracted to William.

The Series 9 opener, The Magician's Apprentice, contained a line of dialogue that further hinted towards Clara Oswald's bisexuality, in which she casually describes Jane Austen as, among other things, "a phenomenal kisser" in front of her Coal Hill School English class. Though it passed largely without external commentary at the time, Richard Unwin later reflected, in a 2023 issue of Doctor Who Magazine, on the line's unacknowledged significance in the show's legacy;

For most of the kids growing up in ‘the wilderness years’ when Doctor Who was off-air, such comments from a teacher would have been unthinkable. Section 28, a piece of legislation effectively banning the "promotion of homosexuality" in classrooms, was introduced in the UK in 1988 – which was also the year we saw Coal Hill School for the final time in the original run of Doctor Who. The law was repealed in 2003 – the same year that Doctor Who was announced as returning from the void. And although it may seem a relatively small moment, there's something satisfyingly triumphant about Clara owning her identity in a setting where she couldn't have done, not long before. Nice one, impossible girl.Richard Unwin, DWM 591

Bill and Heather kiss

Bill Potts and Heather kiss in TV: The Doctor Falls.

The 2016 TV spin-off Class, written by Patrick Ness, featured a non-heterosexual romance between central characters Charlie Smith and Matteusz Andrzejewski.[1] Though neither character would utilise any specific terms in the episodes of the TV show to describe their specific sexuality, Matteusz would describe himself as gay in Now You Know... - a 2018 audio story that would also touch upon the impact of homophobic bullying to Matteusz's school life.

2017 saw the debut of televised Doctor Who's first openly gay full-time companion, Bill Potts.[18] Created by Moffat, Bill's sexual preference was fully established from the beginning of her debut episode, The Pilot, and the character would go on to start a romance with Heather, with the novelisation of Twice Upon a Time revealing that the two of them eventually settled down together. Series 10's The Eaters of Light also acknowledges the more complicated social norms within the Roman Empire, with almost all the members of the Ninth Legion featured - Lucius, Cornelius, Marcus, Thracius - being non-heterosexual. Lucius himself indicating that he considers himself "just ordinary" in that he likes "men and women". Additionally, the sole exception to this, Vitus, is indicated by Lucius as homosexual - "He only likes men."

Harry Sullivan, another Fourth Doctor companion, was originally planned to be referenced along with a boyfriend in the episode Knock Knock. In the final version of the episode that was broadcast, a character named Harry still mentioned his grandfather and his grandfather's boyfriend, but the lines that identified the grandfather as Harry Sullivan were cut, on the grounds that viewers in 2017 may not remember a companion from forty years earlier.[19]

2017 also saw Big Finish introduce Orr to the Torchwood Three team, beginning with their Aliens Among Us series. Though they are an alien, and thus don't strictly count as non-binary human representation, Orr uses they/them pronouns and opts for Mx in place of binary gendered honourifics (like Mr, Ms or Mrs). The team quickly comes to support and validate them, even amid the initial confusion which some characters express on first encountering someone who does not fit neatly into any conception of gender with which they're yet familiar. It was also important to Russell T Davies that the new team include a particular kind of gay representation which he saw as important to the modern era: the older gay man, here St John Colchester, who is settled down with his husband, Colin.

Furthermore, the year would also have Rachel Edwards return in the 10,000 Dawns crossover Rachel Survived.

During 2017, planning was also undertaken for a proposed second season of Class.[20] Patrick Ness had intended to bring Juno Dawson onboard as a writer for this series - which would have been the first instance of an openly trans individual writing for a BBC-produced TV show in the DWU - and early discussions between Ness and Dawson had raised the notion of Tanya Adeola coming out as either pansexual or bisexual in an episode centred around her.[20] Sadly, as the show was cancelled during this initial planning for a second season, this did not occur.


2018 saw some of the first prominent and positive transgender human representation in Doctor Who thus far, with Russell T Davies' Sally Salter in the Rose novelisation and Alan Flanagan's Eleanor Blake in AUDIO: The Jabari Countdown. It also saw the introduction of the first officially genderfluid character, Cá Bảy Màu, in the Faction Paradox story What Keeps Their Lines Alive.

Series 11 in 2019 saw multiple appearances of queer side characters, like Angstrom in The Ghost Monument, Frankie Ellish in Arachnids in the UK, or Richard in Resolution. The series also acknowledged the scholarly belief that James I was attracted to men to some degree.

The year would also see one of the stories in The Dimension Cannon - entitled The Flood - feature a parallel universe where Mickey Smith was instead in a homosexual relationship with a male counterpoint of Rose called Rob Tyler. Additionally, The Paternoster Gang - Heritage 1 - featured further exploration of sexuality in the 19th century with the character of Tom Foster. Having being shunned by his family for his sexuality, he had encountered the Sontaran Stonn, and both had entered into a relationship as members of the Bloomsbury Bunch.

Adam Jake kiss-Praxeus

Kiss between Adam Lang and Jake Willis inside the TARDIS in TV: Praxeus.

2020 saw the return of Captain Jack in Fugitive of the Judoon and the introduction of married couple Jake Willis and Adam Lang in Praxeus. Notably, both Adam and Jake survive to the end of the story.

Later that same year, Chris Cwej would make a return in Collective Unconscious, and would continue to feature in his own series, Cwej: The Series.

The Diary of River Song would introduce Luke Sullieman, who would show attraction to males and females.

While working on the 2020 Time War: Volume Three story Unity, producer/director Scott Handcock and Louise Jameson discussed whether to make Leela's relationship with Veega, a woman with whom she lived for many years and raised a child, overtly romantic. Ultimately, it was decided to leave the exact nature of the Leela and Veega's relationship open for interpretation. (BFX: Unity)

In contrast to the earlier story Good Companions giving Tegan Jovanka a husband in the form of a certain William Haybourne, with whom she'd grown old, the 2020 Doctor Who: Lockdown! story Farewell, Sarah Jane by Russell T Davies established that classic companions Tegan and Nyssa had become a couple living in Australia by the time of Sarah Jane Smith's funeral. The same webcast also officially established Luke Smith's sexuality, long after its intended exploration within The Sarah Jane Adventures series, with it being revealed that he and Sanjay had long since gotten married.

Tania Bell would be introduced as the first transgender companion in-universe in Stranded 1, and would enter a relationship with fellow Eighth Doctor companion Liv Chenka. The boxset - both released and set in 2020 - would reveal that Helen Sinclair had an older brother, Albert, who had been disowned by their father after he'd been imprisoned for being gay during a time when it had been illegal in the UK. She would note the relationship between Tony Clare and Ron Winters as a sign of how things had changed, and how she wished that Albert could have had an openly homosexual relationship like that.

Calypso Jonze, the first non-binary human character in-universe, would also be introduced in the same year, in the standalone The Lovecraft Invasion.

The Guide to the Dark Times, published in Doctor Who The Official Annual 2021, featured the Thirteenth Doctor encountering River Song with the two still considering themselves spouses.

The Wonderful Doctor of Oz marked a milestone in trans representation through the character of Dorothy. Joining Team TARDIS throughout the plot of the book, Dorothy is the first transgender character in Doctor Who to discover her true self over the course of the story instead of starting the narrative with their transgender identity already established.

BBV Productions' Novelisations in Time & Space, launched in 2021, sometimes included more explicit representation than was present in the originals. Micah K. Spurling's novelisation of Republica featured Alice experiencing an unpleasant flashback to homophobic comments made about her at a youth dance when she attended it wearing her dad's old suit jacket and with a girl called Misha as her partner. Lupan Evezan's Cybergeddon novelisation included a secondary female character mentioned to be in a same-sex marriage, as well as a casual mention of being trans having become normalised in the 40th century, with people able to casually use holosimulators to simulate living as other genders so as to help the questioning process.

The Audio Adventures In Time & Space Faction Paradox title character in Lucifer (2021), is alluded to be bisexual, reflecting the sexuality of writer and performer Trevor Spencer.[source needed]


The Thirteenth Doctor and Yasmin Khan

In 2022, Doctor Who Magazine included an interview with Chris Chibnall about Thasmin, the relationship with the Thirteenth Doctor and Yasmin Khan. Under the section title "Love Story" Chris Chibnall was asked about Thasmin and how the relationship evolved during the series. “It wasn’t part of the plan. You’re in a constant dialogue with the show because you see things come through and you think, ‘That’s interesting - we can slow burn that.’ And that’s sort of what happened with this. If you look at Arachnids in the UK [2018], it’s there front and centre in the scene where Yaz’s mum asks, ‘Are you two seeing each other?’ and the Doctor says, ‘I don’t think so. Are we?’ Later in the episode, when Yaz describes the Doctor as the best person she’s ever met, we noticed a real intensity to Mandip’s performance. It started to read on-screen, maybe partly because of Jodie and Mandip’s friendship off-screen, but partly because it just came through. We started making very deliberate decisions in terms of costume and started laying some things in. I remember Maxine [Alderton] adding the line to The Haunting of Villa Diodati [2020] where Claire asks about being an enigma and Yaz says, ‘I know someone like that.’”

In Survivors of the Flux, the Thirteenth Doctor is revealed to have left an adaptive hologram for Yaz to view when they were separated across time and space, in which she says "I'm probably worried for you, if you're hearing this. And I'm sure I miss you." Yaz replies "I miss you too" and the hologram replies "I know you do." This is quoted in an official Thirteen and Yaz design, officially posted on Twitter with two blue heart emojis, a reference to the Thasmin relationship or "ship."

The Vanquishers, the final episode of Doctor Who: Flux, saw the Thirteenth Doctor, coming across another one of herself after being triplicated by a spatio-temporal anomaly, remarking on how "cute" she looked and flirting with herself. There was also a scene at the end, which has been confirmed as romantically-charged, where the Thirteenth Doctor tells Yaz "I want to tell you everything," to which Yaz replies "I'd like that." The two are interrupted by Dan before they can complete their interaction.

In Eve of the Daleks, it was explicitly confirmed that Yasmin Khan harboured romantic feelings for the Thirteenth Doctor, when Dan Lewis asked her. Though Dan would later point this out to the Doctor privately, it was left ambiguous as to how the Doctor felt.

Legend of the Sea Devils would then establish that the Thirteenth Doctor did also feel the same but did not feel comfortable enough to ask on them, stating "dates are not something I really do, you know. I mean, I used to. Have done. And if I was going to, believe me, it'd be with you." She would elaborate this was down to her concerns about mortality and how that would end a relationship, nothing "But if I do fix myself to somebody I know, sooner or later, it'll hurt." The Thirteenth Doctor also referenced River Song in this episode, addressing Yaz with a heartfelt "I think you're one of the greatest people I've ever known. Including my wife."

The in-universe podcast series Doctor Who: Redacted was also announced on 8 April 2022[21], with producer and director of the series Ella Watts promoting the series as being "very gay, very trans"[22]. Indeed, the series would be notable for being lead-written by trans writer Juno Dawson[21], (who had previously been considered as a potential writer for the proposed second series of Class[20]) making her the first openly trans lead writer on a BBC-produced Doctor Who series. The series would also feature a trans lead character, Cleo Proctor.[21]

The opening episode, SOS, established that Cleo had been thrown out of her home by her mother for being transgender. Though her father had been supportive of her, he had disappeared some time before Cleo had begun transitioning.


The Star Beast Rose Noble Just Different

Rose Noble.

2023 saw the return of Russell T Davies to the position of showrunner, and with him, even more overt examples of on-screen representation, beginning with the introduction of main character Rose Noble, the transgender and non-binary daughter of Donna Noble and Shaun Temple, in The Star Beast. The episode unambiguously depicts Rose's struggles as a young trans woman, in particular one scene were she is mocked and deadnamed by some boys from her school, a scene that brought back some painful memories for her actress, Yasmin Finney, who is also trans. More positively, the undying love and support of her family is also given plenty of spotlight. The episode gave Rose an even greater importance, by revealing that she inherited a part of the Human-Time Lord Meta-Crisis that her mother had received.

The following episode, Wild Blue Yonder, briefly alluded to the Fourteenth Doctor being attracted to other men, agreeing with Donna's assertion that Isaac Newton was "hot", following their brief encounter with the physicist.

Behind the scenes presence[]


Although Doctor Who would go a number of years after its inception before having LGBTQ individuals openly represented within its universe, members of the community have contributed their talents to the franchise for much longer, as far back, from a retroactive standpoint, as its very first episode. Waris Hussein, who directed the shows opening serial, An Unearthly Child, as well as several episodes of the serial Marco Polo, made his sexuality public in the LGBTQ In The Worlds Of Doctor Who webcast, revealing that he had a partner.

Some gay actors had also been cast in the classic series - though, in most cases, these were before said actors had made their sexuality public, such as Matthew Waterhouse, who played Adric. Very few gay actors who appeared in the classic series had their sexual orientations known publicly at the time, primarily due to the different social climate then, where being gay was nowhere near as socially acceptable, with homosexual acts even still being considered a criminal offence in England & Wales during the first four years of the shows run, and considered a criminal offence in Scotland until 1981. According to some accounts, Ian Marter was bisexual and kept it private to avoid public scrutiny.[23][24]

One particularly notable individual was Michael Cashman, who was openly gay at the time of his casting in Time-Flight. He would later become a significant figure of LGBTQ+ history by being one of the founders of the charity Stonewall, which lobbies for the change of policies in the UK that are discriminatory towards LGBTQ+ individuals.[25] His fellow founder, Ian McKellen, has also contributed to a story - by voicing the Great Intelligence in The Snowmen.

Max Adrian, a gay actor who played Priam in the 1965 serial The Myth Makers, was another of these rare exceptions as he was openly gay at the time of recording the story.[source needed]

In terms of openly gay individuals to have worked on the show in a significant production capacity, the earliest and most well known instance was the show's longest-running producer, John Nathan-Turner. Having previously worked as a production member on the series, Nathan-Turner took on the producer role beginning from Season 18 and seeing out the final ten years of the shows "classic" run.

In The John Nathan-Turner Memoirs: Volume 2, Nathan-Turner also noted that his casting of openly gay actors in the show resulted in backlash from some British tabloids. These included Dallas Adams, whom Nathan-Turner described as "the largest gay palimony lawsuit-winner in English legal history"; Adams guest-starred in Planet of Fire, where he played Peri Brown's stepfather Howard Foster, as well as the Doctor's android Kamelion, who got stuck in a physical form mimicking a silver-skinned Foster for the remainder of the episode. Kamelion, in Foster's form, is also briefly possessed by the Tremas Master in the story; thus, for a single scene at the end of Episode One, Foster technically became the first openly gay actor to play the Master on television.

1990 - 2004[]

Mark Gatiss, who has served as a major creative force on Doctor Who since the 1990s, writing various stories for TV, audio, and prose format, not to mention a handful of acting roles - became in 2003, the first openly gay actor in any medium to portray a unique incarnation of the Master, albeit a version from a parallel universe, in the Doctor Who Unbound audio story, Sympathy for the Devil. predating the first on screen instance with Derek Jacobi in Utopia.

One notable individual to lend their talents to the Virgin New Adventures range was openly gay Gareth Roberts, who later wrote for both televised Who as well as various episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Roberts' most recent planned contribution, to The Target Storybook (2019), was removed before publication in response to a series of transphobic tweets the writer had made in 2017. Roberts' removal further enforced the Doctor Who franchise's status as an ally to the transgender community.

James Goss, who has worked on a variety of projects for the BBC and for Big Finish, is gay.[26]

2005 - 2022[]

In the BBC Wales era of the show, the most well-known production presence was Russell T Davies, who revived Doctor Who with Series 1 and continued to act as showrunner until The End of Time. Before reviving Doctor Who, Davies wrote the Virgin New Adventures novel Damaged Goods, which touched upon several LGBT themes. His tenure as showrunner saw him bring LGBT representation into televised Who for the first time, beginning with the introduction of the TV show's first openly queer character during the first series - Jack Harkness, played by the openly gay John Barrowman.

A large number of other gay actors have been cast in the series, especially during Davies' tenure, such as Andrew Hayden-Smith and Russell Tovey, both of whom played implicitly queer characters - in Hayden-Smith's case, with an explicit connection occurring in a scene that was ultimately cut. (The scene was later included in the extra bonus material featured on the Series 2 DVD boxset.)

Actress Pearl Mackie, who played the first televised lesbian companion Bill Potts, came out as bisexual in 2020.[27]

Bethany Black was Doctor Who's first transgender actress on television, who played the character 474 in Sleep No More. Rebecca Root was the first trans actress on audio, voicing the character Sable in Zaltys and Cantico in Partisans.

In 2017, James Dreyfus, who had previously portrayed John Harrison in the final Sarah Jane Adventures story The Man Who Never Was, became the fourth openly gay actor to portray the Master, across three Big Finish audio stories, The Destination Wars, The Home Guard, and The Psychic Circus. Like Gareth Roberts before him, Dreyfus had generated a negative public reaction after he began voicing transphobic views on his Twitter feed. In July 2019, Big Finish released a statement reaffirming their stance on equality and diversity at the company, citing messages from fans "concerning the views expressed by individuals [they] have worked with".[28]

Previously, trans woman writer Lilah Sturges wrote the IDW comic story A Fairytale Life, although she had not come out at the time, and was credited under her birth name.

Writer and editor Hunter O'Connell came out as non-binary around the time of the release of the first few installments of Arcbeatle Press's prose Doctor Who spinoff Cwej: The Series, starring former Seventh Doctor companion Chris Cwej.[29]

Under Chris Chibnall's tenure of televised Doctor Who, celebrity queer actors such as Alan Cumming and Stephen Fry have been cast in the series, as James I and C respectively.

Big Finish audio story The Lovecraft Invasion's non-binary supporting character Calypso Jonze was voiced by themselves non-binary actor Robyn Holdaway.[30]

Trans writer Juno Dawson[21], (who had previously written the BBC New Series Adventures novel The Good Doctor, and had been considered as a potential writer for the proposed second series of Class[20]) would make history as the first openly trans lead writer on a BBC-produced Doctor Who series - lead-writing the in-universe podcast series Doctor Who: Redacted. In addition, the series was also varied in its production staff beyond Dawson - with openly queer[31] Ella Watts directing and producing the series, and a "really diverse writer's room"[32] including openly bisexual[33] David K Barnes guest-writing on the series. Openly trans woman Charlie Craggs also portrayed one of the lead characters, Cleo Proctor, who was also trans.[21]

2023 - present[]

to be added

Actors to play the Doctor[]

This section's awfully stubby.

Info on Ncuti Gatwa needs to be added.

First openly LGBTQ actors to have portrayed the Doctor in any medium were Geoffrey Bayldon and Mark Gatiss. Bayldon was originally offered the role of the First Doctor, and ultimately voiced an alternate universe incarnation of him in the Doctor Who Unbound audio stories Auld Mortality and A Storm of Angels. Mark Gatiss, meanwhile, played a "generic" Doctor in the licensed parody sketch The Web of Caves.

A number of LGBTQ actors had been considered to play the Doctor on screen. Openly gay actors John Sessions and Tony Slattery were considered to play the Eighth Doctor.[34]

Bill Baggs was set to create a 40th anniversary special in 2003 which would have featured bisexual actor Alan Cumming as the Ninth Doctor. The special was cancelled when the BBC instead commissioned Russell T Davies to revive the series.[35]

One actor rumoured to play the Ninth Doctor before Christopher Eccleston's casting was now-openly genderfluid actor Suzy Eddie Izzard. As a reference to the rumour, Izzard's likeness was used to describe a potential ninth incarnation of the Doctor that the Eighth Doctor caught a glimpse of in the novel, The Tomorrow Windows.

Openly gay Russell Tovey, who had already appeared as Alonso Frame in Voyage of the Damned, auditioned to play the Eleventh Doctor, after being recommended to Steven Moffat's production team by Davies.[36]

Openly gay Ben Daniels was among the actors shortlisted to play the Twelfth Doctor.[37]

One of the actors tipped to play the Thirteenth Doctor was openly gay Ben Whishaw.[38]

Ncuti Gatwa, who was cast as the Fifteenth Doctor, is openly queer. [39]

Fan criticism of featured representation in-show[]

Trans representation before 2018[]

Prior to 2018, trans representation had mostly been confined to one-off lines, like in Torchwood's Greeks Bearing Gifts, which many have read as derisive and transphobic, with particular criticism levied at the fact that the negative remark within the episode from Captain Jack about his friend, Vanessa, being trans is at odds with his characterisation as an "accepting, omnisexual man from the 51st century."[40] The character of a horse in A Town Called Mercy, who the Eleventh Doctor says prefers to be called Susan - "He’s called Susan, and he wants you to respect his life choices." - has also attracted criticism as a wholly disrespectful remark. Though it has been conceded that, though implausible, the horse may well have been non-binary or had preference for he/him pronouns alongside the name of Susan - particular concern is drawn at the phrasing of this as "life choices."[40]

A more debated case is that of Cassandra O'Brien.Δ17, who refers in The End of the World to having once been a "little boy" and is simultaneously painted as a prime example of someone who's excessively modified their body, and said for this reason by Rose to be less than human; if the "little boy" line is taken at face value, Rose's treatment of Cassandra and her surgery becomes much more problematic.[40][41] The reference book Doctor Who: Monsters and Villains also lends substance to this interpretation, as it states Cassandra was born as "Brian" - though it is uncertain as to if this this was the intended reading of the scene in The End of the World when written by Russell T Davies. This is also further complicated by Cassandra's surprise and amusement when body-swapped into the Tenth Doctor's body in New Earth, which has been described as "forgetfulness" and "extremely unlikely".[40] Some [who?] have argued that the "boy" line could possibly be meant to instead be one of Cassandra's egregious mistakes about her hazily-remembered life on Earth — which would then mean that Cassandra would not constitute trans representation of any kind, good or bad.

Russell T Davies has, however, been conceded by trans individuals for his acknowledgement of non-cisgender individuals existing within Midnight, where the Hostess welcomes everyone to the Crusader as "Ladies, gentlemen, and variations thereupon".[40]

Series 1[]

The series 1 episode Aliens of London was criticised for a scene where Rose Tyler calls the Ninth Doctor "gay" after expressing his displeasure at being slapped by Jackie Tyler, with objections coming from some fans regarding its use as an insult. [which?] Davies, an openly gay man himself, defended the line, saying he was trying to reflect how people talk in real life.[42]

Series 6[]

In the years since, the Marines would also be referred to by commentators as "the worst line ever written in the history of Doctor Who"[43], and as something that made them "furious."[44] Another fan would also refer to the Marines as an example of treating gay characters "horribly.", alongside other items from the Moffat production run.[45] The Guardian would also levy criticism at the portrayal of the Marines, noting that Moffat opted to "behead one of them, then forget about them."[46]

One fan also noted the complexity of Series 7, expressing a positive appreciation of Vastra and Jenny's debut whilst also being dismayed by the Marines.[47]

Series 11[]

Particular division, criticism and counter-argument from within the queer community surrounded the nature of the representation in series 11: that a notable amount of the queer characters introduced would either die themselves thereafter, or their partner has, with brief mention made of an off-screen partner.

One commentator saw this as Chris Chibnall and company "throwing diverse characters into the plot without considering the consequences, or the tropes that they're fulfilling, by not taking enough care. [...] I don't think that they were actively, like, Let's murder all the queer characters, but they did that because they weren't paying attention." Furthermore, she continued, the queer characters seemed to be the only ones made to "randomly mention partners" as their death approaches.[48]

However, other individuals would note the existence of Yoss Inkl as a queer character who did not die or suffer any misfortune[49] and argue that non-heterosexual characters dying is not necessarily indicative as there is a substantive death toll in the TV show.[50] (Indeed, whilst security guard Richard dies in Resolution immediately after mentioning his boyfriend, security guard Dennis in The Woman Who Fell To Earth also dies immediately after it is established that he has close connections in the form of his daughter and granddaughter.) Attention would also be brought by fans to Yoss' pregnancy being portrayed "sincerely rather than just for laughs" with Graham and Ryan being "initially bemused but always supportive and accepting."[51]


When interviewed for an episode of The Fan Show on LGBTQ+ issues and Doctor Who, Waris Hussein stated that Doctor Who in its original form - being a 1960s BBC programme aimed at children - queer topics were not something that could readily be examined. The only connection he could make was that the character Tegana from Marco Polo was, in being "everything you could possibly associate with dark forces", a copious wearer of leather and thus a potential "fantasy figure" for gay audience members. (DOC: LGBTQ In The Worlds Of Doctor Who)

Fan literature has also acknowledged this aspect of the Cheetah People, stating that "they exhibit many of the physical and thematic attributes of the werewolf, including a sexual element, the 'lesbian subtext' identified by author Rona Munro".[7]

Cast interpretations[]

Tom Baker made note that he played the Fourth Doctor to be asexual and clueless to human sexuality, sometimes for visual humour. (DOC: Getting Blood from the Stones) Asexuality is, however, a facet of human sexuality, and an estimated 0.4%-1% of adult British humans are asexual. [52] [53]

Sixth Doctor actor Colin Baker noted a similar interpretation of how he played the character, stating his reasoning as being that "Love is a human emotion and the Doctor isn't human." (REF: The Television Companion) However, though Colin Baker was referring to an intention of asexuality - what he describes is closer to aromanticism, a separate categorisation.

In 2009, in response to an interviewer noting the increase in kiss scenes in the current era of the show, Tenth Doctor actor David Tennant responded with "I can't help it if the ladies of the universe are flinging themselves at me, can I?", continuing to say that it's "usually not a sexual thing, with the Doctor" and described the Doctor as a "fairly asexual character".

In 2011, Eleventh Doctor actor Matt Smith also went on the record stating his Doctor is asexual. When asked if he thought his Doctor ever had sexual relations on board the TARDIS, he replied “No. The Doc’s idea of an orgy is playing chess with an ostrich. His brain doesn’t work in that way. He would find it (sex) weird and peculiar. He finds women peculiar. He is quite asexual.”

Fan interpretations[]

Within early decades of Doctor Who, some fans considered the Doctor to be asexual, using the Fourth Doctor's line in City of Death that Countess Scarlioni was "probably" beautiful as proof. (REF: The Television Companion)

The opening of Arc of Infinity has been referenced by fans as being evocative in feel to the opening of gay adult entertainment videos, with Robin Stuart's questioning of Colin Frazer opting to sleep with all of his clothes on in the pump house being often interpreted as an indication of a sexual relationship between the two (with some drawing attention to the fact that the duo have a hostel room booked for all the other days of their holiday trip).[54][55] The homoerotic subtext has also been noted by reviewers.[56]

Elizabeth Sandifer has expressed the belief that based on his introductory trilogy of stories, Turlough is actually a queer character.[57]

The Caves of Androzani has also been noted as a point of potential subtext in relation to Salateen and Sharaz Jek - given Salateen's notable jealousy of Peri upon her arrival, and Jek's care for keeping beauty close at hand - with Jek dying in the arms of his android duplicate of Salateen.[54][58]

Metaphorical interpretations[]

In DWM 591's The Runaway Pride article, writer Molly Marsh expressed her reading of the Twelfth Doctor's early character arc as being an extended metaphor for the transgender experience, citing the scene in his first full episode, Deep Breath, where he asks Clara to "please, just see me":

The Doctor wants his best friend to see him the way he sees himself, and she's struggling with that.



Doctor Who received an Ally Award at the 2017 PinkNews Awards for its "long-standing LGBT inclusiveness". The award was picked up by Bill Potts actress Pearl Mackie, alongside executive producer Brian Minchin.[59]


As the subject of LGBTQ rights is still seen as a sensitive issue in many communities across the world, including countries where such issues are still seen as taboo, the DWU's queer representation has not gone without its controversies.

A scene in Doctor Who series 8 opener Deep Breath, where Madam Vastra gives oxygen to her wife Jenny Flint via a mouth-to-mouth kiss, generated 6 complaints to Ofcom, with grievances directed at what had been branded as the promotion of a "blatant gay agenda".[60] Ofcom responded to these complaints by confirming that they would not be investigating the case.[61] The scene went on to receive even more controversy when it was cut from Asian broadcasts of the episode in order to comply with Singapore's broadcast code.[62]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Scott, Darren (5 October 2018). Doctor Who's LGBTQ+ representation is nothing new – but it took us a long while to get there. Digital Spy. Retrieved on 24 January 2020.
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  8. PROSE: The Curse of Fenric, page 54
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