Will Dr. Who Come Out as Bi?

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday November 8, 2020

In this July 21, 2018 file photo, Jodie Whittaker attends the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con Celebration in San Diego
In this July 21, 2018 file photo, Jodie Whittaker attends the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con Celebration in San Diego  (Source:Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Rumor has it that the current version of Dr. Who - the title character of the long-running BBC science fiction series - might emerge from the closet as bisexual in the upcoming 13th season of the show's modern era.

The rumor of the Doctor's bisexuality was shared at a YouTube program called "The TARDIS Zone," which is dedicated to news of the show. The program's host, Noel, shared various tidbits of gossip about the upcoming season, including a rumor that the current writer and showrunner, Chris Chibnall, "is looking to cast trans and/or non-binary actors to star as new companions" for the Doctor, reports We Got This Covered.

But, the report said, an even more "headline-grabbing" rumor shared by Noel is the one about the Doctor "being bisexual and a guest star will apparently be brought on board to explore this."

The Doctor is an otherwise-unnamed alien who travels time and space in a ship that's programmed to look like a British police box from the 1960s. (The series' first era began in 1963 and ran for 26 seasons, ending in 1989.) Essentially immortal, the Doctor regenerates into an entirely new person every time his - or her - old incarnation ends up getting killed. To date, thirteen actors have played the character on the TV series. The current star, Jodie Whittaker, took over the role in 2017, becoming the first woman to portray the character.

But the news of the Doctor's rumored bisexuality may not be yet another case of TV inching into the realm of LGBTQ representation by introducing a non-heterosexual female character. The Doctor's sexuality has been the subject of some debate and analysis in the past, especially in the show's modern incarnation, which has spanned twelve seasons (and five actors) since 2005.

Most particularly, the "Tenth Doctor," played for three seasons (2006 - 2008) by David Tennant, is seen by some as having been bisexual. Pop culture writer Jef Rouner made an argument for this in a 2012 article, noting how Tennant's Doctor romanced a human female companion but also "flirted" with a pansexual character named Captain Jack.

Captain Jack, incidentally, got his own series in the spinoff "Torchwood," created by former "Doctor Who" writer-showrunner Russell T. Davies, who also created the original British "Queer As Folk," upon which the Showtime series was based.

"Doctor Who" is not the only long-running sci-fi franchise to explore the strange new worlds of human (and alien) sexuality in a more modern take. The half-century-old "Star Trek" franchise has also ventured into LGBTQ territory, with the CBS All Access series "Star Trek: Discovery," now in its third season, recently introducing two transgender characters, one human and one alien. The characters are played by non-binary actor Blu del Barrio and trans actor Ian Alexander. The series has also won accolades for being the first "Star Trek" series to include LGBTQ regular characters, with two of its stars - Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz - portraying a male couple.

Earlier this year, during the course of the inaugural season of "Star Trek: Picard," returning fan favorite Seven of Nine (originally from the 1990s series "Star Trek: Voyager" and played by Jeri Ryan) forged a same-sex relationship with another "Picard" character, Rafaella Musiker (Michelle Hurd).

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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