The Doctor and the Professor [Blog post]

Harmes, Marcus ORCID: (2015) The Doctor and the Professor [Blog post]. CST Online, 22 October 2015.

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‘Remember the Red Indian. When he saw the first steam train, his savage mind thought it an illusion, too.’ Thus begins Doctor Who in 1963 when two teachers Ian and Barbara enter a police box and swiftly find themselves patronised by an alien time traveller, the Doctor. Bewildered by the alien technology around them and unable to understand how the TARDIS could be large on the inside but only a police box on the outside, the teachers soon overhear the Doctor comparing them to the ‘Red Indians’. This line is now very dated but the way the Doctor feels about humans in his present incarnation remains the same. In his most recent adventure ‘The Girl who Died’, he tells the assembled Norsemen ‘I deplore your stupidity’. His comments connect across the decades with the First Doctor’s now very un-PC comment and connect with other incarnations. The Third Doctor, brought to life by Jon Pertwee in velvet, satin and lace frills, was especially prone to outbursts of patronising behaviour, including upbraiding his companion Jo for not understanding Latin.

The other factor that has remained constant throughout Doctor Who is the central character’s use of an academic title. In her major study of science, scientists and Doctor Who, Lindy Orthia points out that a title such as Professor or Doctor is a way of bestowing academic credibility something that the Doctor uses to his benefit. Occasions when he has met professors and other academic élites are when the programme has raised ambiguous and sometimes disturbing messages about education. Although Doctor Who has been widely praised for its wide intellectual horizons and promotion of intellectual curiosity, two stories in particular deliver disturbing moments when the Doctor advocates an élitist outlook.

An unsettling conversation occurs in ‘The Two Doctors’. There the Doctor meets Professor Joinson Dastari, whom he praises highly, telling Dastari that he has ‘more letters after your name than anyone I know. Enough for two alphabets’.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Blog post available at supplied URL.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Open Access College (1 Jul 2013 - 7 Jun 2020)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Open Access College (1 Jul 2013 - 7 Jun 2020)
Date Deposited: 16 May 2017 05:35
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2021 01:35
Uncontrolled Keywords: Doctor Who (television program); science; education
Fields of Research (2008): 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1902 Film, Television and Digital Media > 190204 Film and Television
Fields of Research (2020): 36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3605 Screen and digital media > 360505 Screen media
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing

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