Doctor Who and History

Critical Essays on Imagining the Past


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About the Book

When Sydney Newman conceived the idea for Doctor Who in 1963, he envisioned a show in which the Doctor and his companions would visit and observe, but not interfere with, events in history. That plan was dropped early on and the Doctor has happily meddled with historical events for decades. This collection of new essays examines how the Doctor’s engagement with history relates to Britain’s colonial past, nostalgia for village life, Norse myths, alternate history, and the impact of historical decisions on the present.

About the Author(s)

Carey Fleiner is senior lecturer in classical and early medieval history at the University of Winchester. Her research interests include film and television depictions of the Romans, and the cultural influence of the music of Ray Davies and the Kinks.

Dene October is a senior lecturer at University of the Arts London, running options in fan cultures and Doctor Who. His research interests include the media, performance and the legacy of David Bowie.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Carey Fleiner and Dene October

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 224
Bibliographic Info: filmographies, appendix, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6656-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2981-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1

Part 1. Television as History: Inform and Entertain
Journeys through Cathay: Remediation and Televisuality in “Marco Polo” (Dene October) 13
“O tempora, o mores”: Class(ics) and Education in Doctor Who (Aven McMaster and Mark Sundaram) 35
Remixing the Imperial Past: Doctor Who, British Slavery and the White Savior’s Burden (Susana Loza) 47

Part 2. Historical Drama: Genre and Conventions
Doctor, Go Roman: “The Romans,” Emperor Nero and Historical Comedy in Doctor Who (Carey Fleiner) 61
History as Genre, Aesthetic and Context in “The Gunfighters” (Ramie Tateishi) 78
A Rude Awakening: Metafiction in Eric Pringle’s “The Awakening” (Andrew ­O’Day) 92

Part 3. Historical Constructions/Reconstructions
Playing with History: Terrance Dicks, Fans and Season 6B (Rhonda Knight) 102
Doctor Who Unbound and Alternate History (Karen Hellekson) 118
The Vikings at the End of the Universe: Doctor Who, Norsemen and the End of History (Marcus K. Harmes) 132

Part 4. History and Identity
Ape-Man or Regular Guy? Depictions of Neanderthals and Neanderthal Culture in Doctor Who (Kristine Larsen) 148
The Dark Heart of the Village: Doctor Who in the 1970s and the Problematic Idyll (Peter Lowe) 168
Doctor Who and Environmentalism in the 1960s and Early 1970s (Mark Wilson) 186

Appendix: Adventures Referenced 204
About the Contributors 207
Index 209

Book Reviews & Awards

“essays in this volume consider how the television show Doctor Who portrays history and the place of its creators and audience within that history”—ProtoView.