Religion, racism and the Church of England in Doctor Who

Harmes, Marcus K. ORCID: (2013) Religion, racism and the Church of England in Doctor Who. In: Doctor Who and race. Intellect Books, Bristol, United Kingdom, pp. 197-212. ISBN 9781783200368


This essay builds a case study out of serials from the original 1963-89 run of Doctor Who, to reconsider and refine the oft-accepted notion of the programme as embodying and celebrating Englishness. These stories engage on multiple levels with the clergy, history and beliefs of the Church of England. They are The Daemons (from Season 8, 1971) and The Curse of Fenric and Ghost Light (both from Season 26, 1989). More than 18 years and several changes in production personnel separate the Jon Pertwee story The Daemons from the two 1980s stories starring Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor. It is clear that the makers of Doctor Who across a succession of different production regimes only occasionally approached the Church of England(as opposed to remote and clearly alien religion) during most years of the programme's 1963-89 production, adding impact to the stories which make sustained use of the Church and its clergy. Other dimensions of these stories - the settings, the Gothic trappings and the hidden alien menace - connect them thematically to many other stories, but the presence of clergymen as lead characters is unusual. The depiction of the Church and its clergy in these three stories shows the complexity of Doctor Who's supposed encapsulation of Englishness and English identity. The stories were produced in a period when English identity was intensively renegotiated and contested, partly through the impact of multiculturalism, a point central to the narrative of Ghost Light. This renegotiation and contestation took place as the white English population was augmented by waves of immigration. This brought with it the greater visibility of racial difference and the inevitable and concomitant challenge to a national identity based on whiteness.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright 2013 Intellect Ltd. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted. in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication (1 Jul 2013 - 28 Feb 2019)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication (1 Jul 2013 - 28 Feb 2019)
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2013 02:46
Last Modified: 02 May 2017 01:02
Uncontrolled Keywords: Doctor Who (television program); Church of England; Anglican Church; racism; whiteness studies
Fields of Research (2008): 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1902 Film, Television and Digital Media > 190204 Film and Television
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210305 British History
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220405 Religion and Society
Fields of Research (2020): 36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3605 Screen and digital media > 360505 Screen media
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430304 British history
50 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 5004 Religious studies > 500405 Religion, society and culture
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology

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