"Doctor Who, Family and National Identity"

Nicol, D. 2020. "Doctor Who, Family and National Identity". Entertainment and Sports Law Journal. 18 (1) 4. https://doi.org/10.16997/eslj.255

Title"Doctor Who, Family and National Identity"
TypeJournal article
AuthorsNicol, D.
Abstract

National identity is often intimately bound to connectedness to, independence from, and constructions of, family. Furthermore family remains integral to neoliberal capitalism such that efforts to develop national identity along capitalist lines are likely to involve engagement with it. Legal changes in Britain over the last forty years reflect these constructions. Doctor Who is a science-fiction programme in which an alien (the Doctor) has adventures with mainly human companions, travelling in time and space in a ship called the TARDIS. As the BBC’s longest-running television drama series, and one with a long-term focus on projecting Britishness, Doctor Who valuably charts how national identity has evolved. In the context of the Doctor’s companions in particular, Doctor Who’s treatment of family has altered starkly over time. This article identifies an orphan companions era in the programme’s early years in which characters’ families were either startlingly unmentioned or dead, leaving the TARDIS ‘family’ unchallenged. After a transitional phase in the 1980s in which each companion’s family assumes only fleeting significance, the programme’s post-2005 reboot ushered in an era of deep engagement with family in which families assume seminal importance. By putting family centre-stage Doctor Who captures the spirit of the age, marking a refashioning of British national identity in which family looms large. This reflects Britain’s transition from social democracy to neoliberalism. Distancing itself from conservatism, however, Doctor Who’s promotion of family goes hand in hand with the programme developing its own more progressive take on what constitutes the ‘good family’.

KeywordsDoctor Who, television, national identity, family, law
Article number4
JournalEntertainment and Sports Law Journal
Journal citation18 (1)
ISSN1748-944X
Year2020
PublisherUniversity of Westminster Press
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.16997/eslj.255
Publication dates
Published29 May 2020

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Under embargo until 12 May 2021

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Under embargo until 12 May 2021
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