Posted by: stelladuffy | March 26, 2013

Dr Who and The Missing Women

So, I posted this to facebook, and there were loads of replies from other women (and some men) equally disgruntled. I posted it on twitter and a similar reaction occurred. Maybe 1/10 said they didn’t think it was intentional and so it was not that bad. The rest, an easy 9/10, agreed that for a series in it’s 50th year, to have NO WOMEN writers or directors was, well, a bit rubbish.
It’s not as if women don’t write fantasy or magic or time travel or even simply drama, or as if we don’t read it, or as if (some, not many) women don’t write the DW books.
I’m the same age as Dr Who. I like to think I have a memory of William Hartnell (I was a VERY advanced 3 year old). And when I see that there are no women writers or directors (that’s 16 jobs, not one of them taken by a woman) I am reminded we are nowhere near as equal as we’d like to think we are, nowhere near as ‘modern’, that a character who cares about the human race above all, is being written and directed in his current incarnation by half of that race.
Yes, I know TV is sexist to its bones (its naked women bones), but still, two hearts, and neither of them female? Shame.

And for the record – yes, I’d love to. There’s this story I wrote about the Thames …

Edited to add, I’ve used this piece in a response to a comment below, but I’d hate people who cared about the disparity (or those who say it doesn’t exist!) to miss the comment. The Dr Who issue has tended to concentrate on the lack of women writers, but as I said above, there are no women directors in this series either. Here’s some numbers on that.


  1. I also have fond memories of Doctor when growing up I liked Betsy the car ( John Pertwee) I would love to see an episode written by you Stella!

  2. Interesting observation. However the current series is written by a gay man and I think it has the most amazingly strong women in it and I applaud them all.

  3. Stephen Moffat isn’t gay. If you mean Russell T Davies, he isn’t the current writer, and hasn’t been for quite some time. And anyway, what does a man’s sexuality have to do with the fact that there are no women writers/directors? Do gay men somehow have an equivalence to women?!

  4. Ah yes, once written by a gay man. I guess he must be the honorary woman then! I agree wholeheartedly with your comments, Stella. Everywhere we look women are still not being given the same opportunities as men. I was talking to my colleagues a few days ago and mentioned how few women are in high positions in the company and was told to look at how many women there were in the first line management team; and there are. Out of 7 there are 4 women, but if you look at the company as a whole there are no women in very senior positions. What concerns me is that it is very often women themselves who seem to see me as a radical feminist because I believe that we have a long way to go before there is anything like equality. But then is it really a surprise? A friend of my youngest daughter was out a few nights ago and got a call from her ex asking her to come back as he wasn’t going to ‘babysit’ all night, even though he could stay over and had done in the past. The terms he uses speak volumes do they not? When do mothers ever talk about ‘babysitting’ their own children? When talking to my daughter about it she was very clear that she had been shocked by his attitude – I was thankful to note – and told her friend that, but even she has some views that don’t sit easily with my feminists leanings, and she has been brought up by 2 feminist lesbians! Our culture as a whole still sees women as secondary to men and many young women do not seem to think it’s important. When I talk to my female colleagues and hear them say ‘but I like a man to open doors for me’ I really think the message has got lost somewhere. When women are still few and far between in positions of power, whether that’s in business or the arts and when even the roles of parents are still so firmly demarcated how can we ever think we have come anywhere near far enough? Don’t even get me started on how women are treated in other countries/cultures… or I won’t be able to stop writing.

  5. I totally agree – and the depressing thing is that it sets examples for the next generation. We make up half the population, but we have a tiny fraction of the world’s wealth and even less power. Just some attempt by programme makers to be aware would be a start. On Dr Who though, what I really want is a woman Doctor!

  6. Here, here. I agree completely and I would even say that the characterization for female companions of recent years has not been up to snuff at all, as I talked about more fully here

    Which is bizarre, seeing as the Doctor Who audios which are being made currently, have some fantastic female characters. Which really leaves Moffat and the other executive producers to blame for this nonsense. As ‘progressive’ as Moffat claims to be, he really has not shown it at all and I think he really hasn’t had his eyes opened properly. Now, I may be wrong, perhaps someone IS pulling his strings and some of these things are not his choice, but since he’s sitting high and mighty in the head writer/exec producer chair, I really doubt how many people are above him when it comes to the running of this show.

  7. Oh well pardon me for being straight and wrong.

  8. I call BS. If there were female writers with the work experience needed who happened to be free and would fit the bill for DW they would be hired. As easy as that. If they aren’t then there aren’t any, fitting the bill, free and with a track record of successful TV writing.

  9. BS? do you mean bullshit? very coy. anyway, just in case you think it really is ‘merely’ a matter of experience, aptitude and skill, here’s something else to tell you that no, it’s not :

    (thanks to Maura McHugh for alerting me to this)

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