Charlie Anders seeks to answer that very question:


(Click on the graph above to go to the full size original graph, which graphs the frequency of stories per season in which the Doctor is portrayed as overthrowing the government or the status quo or foments a rebellion.)

Although the arch-conservatism of the John Pertwee-era Doctor (which continued into the early part of the Tom Baker-era Doctor) is not that surprising (at the time the Doctor did work for the quasi-military U.N.I.T. as its science advisor, after all), who’d have thought that the Sylvester McCoy would be the Che Guevara of Doctors or that the current Doctor would be relatively tame, given that he is a Time Lord without a home world?


  1. #1 Schwartz
    January 6, 2008

    LOL, that is very funny (and interesting).

  2. #2 Janine
    January 6, 2008

    Could it be that with the Pertwee era with the good Doctor trapped on Earth, one could not have the Doctor over throwing various Earth based governments. After a while The Doctor Who Earth would be very different from the concurrent “real” Earth. But imaginary governments on unreal planets; fair game.

  3. #3 Charlie Jane Anders
    January 6, 2008

    Janine, that’s definitely part of the explanation. But it doesn’t explain why the later Jon Pertwee stories and the early Tom Baker stories never show him sweeping into a place and overturning the government. He may give people a few pointers on fixing their system of governance (e.g., Monster of Peladon) but he mostly fights to save people from some external threat.

  4. #4 LC
    January 6, 2008

    Mmm, the examination seems to define ‘the man’ in a bit of a nebulous way though.

    The Pertwee era did have the Doctor overthrowing the ‘evil company’ global chemicals (Green death), the giant spiders (Planet of spiders), the corrupt government of Peladon (Curse of Peladon), the alternate universe nazi british (Inferno) and the bureaucrats from govenment (Claws of Axos).

    As for the current doctor? Does his ‘railing against the man’ even count as in every case RTD mashing the “Reset Button” makes it all go away at the end.

  5. #5 James
    January 6, 2008

    From the article:

    When he visits present-day Earth or our history, he’s an arch-conservative. (He ousts Harriet Jones as prime minister of England in “The Christmas Invasion,” but that’s not the same as destroying the whole government.)

    Can I just say that I think The Doctor derserves some kind of style bonus for unseating a sitting PM with no more than a toxic meme “just six words”. Talk about a Class A effect with a Class F stimulus.

    Also, the Doctor acted out way more during the Thatcher era than any other period.

    Unsurprising, this is the BBC we’re talking about here.

  6. #6 DLC
    January 7, 2008

    I note the similarity of the Dr Who graph with Mann et al’s climatology “Hockey Stick” graph. . . Clear Proof that The Doctor’s more revolutionary activities are CausingGlobal Warming !
    This clearly disproves the long-held misapprehension that placed the blame for Global Warming on Pirates.
    Auntie Beeb has something to answer for, here!

  7. #7 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    January 7, 2008

    I don’t know why you’re surprised about McCoy being the “Che” Doctor. The thing I liked about McCoy’s doctor was that, once he settled into the role, he was a rather dark Doctor, who was constantly *scheming*. He never told anyone everything about what he was planning, and he was constantly manipulating things from the shadows. The image of him that sticks in my mind is him playing chess against himself in the artists studio in “The Silver Nemesis”.

  8. #8 Ginger Yellow
    January 7, 2008

    I think a lot of new Who’s tameness has to do with RTD’s bizarre tendency to turn every present day story into a hideously cheesy Visit Britain advert (see the Xmas special or, most egregiously, Fear Her). Revolutions might put off the tourists.

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