Doctor Who is a dick. Or a percentage of a dick, at least

All the Doctors Who

A little while ago, I was having a discussion on Twitter* with @stu_n and @mpphilips about who should be cast as a female Doctor Who, should that ever be something under consideration. My suggestion of Mary Louise Parker did not go down well. This was on the general grounds that Mary Louise Parker ‘is irritating’.

Everything is in the eye of the beholder, etc, but my counter to this point left my conversational partners stunned, I tell you. Stunned. Because I suggested that the Doctor is supposed to be irritating and casting Parker would at least be consistent on those grounds.

Are you stunned by this? Maybe you are. The Doctor is the hero of the piece, not even an anti-hero. He does good things. Surely he should be nice. Or not irritating, anyway.

However, I think it’s actually the case that Doctor Who is a dick, who does all kinds of dickish things but gets away with them because he’s the hero and occasionally has a companion who subverts his dickishness.

Now, he’s not all dick, clearly. In fact, I have a theory that each Doctor lies on a ‘dick-fey’ continuum, with the vast bulk of his personality from incarnation to incarnation being a mix of these two traits. And here’s a handy guide to exactly how much of a dick/fey he is with each incarnation, so you can see how right I am.

  1. Hartnell: Dick who becomes more fey
  2. Troughton: Fey with a hint of dick
  3. Pertwee: Dick
  4. T Baker: Huge dick
  5. Davison: Fey with a hint of dick
  6. C Baker: Colossal dick
  7. McCoy: Fey who becomes more dick
  8. McGann: Fey
  9. Hurt: Dick
  10. Eccleston: Huge dick
  11. Tennant: Dick
  12. Smith: Fey dick
  13. Capaldi: Ultra dick

You’ll note that Doctor number 8 – Paul McGann – is the only one who has no dickish qualities whatsoever and that’s probably because he had so little time on-screen that he never had the chance to display his innate dickishness**.

What do you think? Have I rocked your world? Am I massively off base? Is the Doctor actually all fluffy and lovely and extremely endearing?

* Obvious promotion of my Twitter account to suggest that fun and exciting conversations can be had if you follow me
** If you count audio and book adventures as well, then Doctor 8 is not only the longest running of all the Doctors but gets to show his innate dickishness on many, many occasions.

  • Stuart Nathan

    McGann is, in fact, a bit of a dick in that Night of the Doctor short.

  • You think? I thought he was just fey in that, but maybe my memory is hazy.

    Still, I guess the question with that is: “Is it canon?” (retires to safe distance…)

  • Stuart Nathan

    'Are you a Time Lord?'
    'Yes, but I'm one of the *nice* ones!'

    'Ah, the Sisterhood of Karn! The Guardians of Perpetual Tedium!'

    Of course it's canon. It was on telly and everything.

  • Okay, quite dickish. I hereby promote him to 'fey with a hint of dick'.

    As for whether it's canon, there's no 'of course'. There's never any 'of course' with these things.

    Even being on the telly isn't sufficient because of things like Jim'll Fix It. But it wasn't broadcast as part of a regular TV schedule, only made available on the Internet and via the red button. So is it therefore canon? And if it is, does that make all Big Finish adventures canon, too, given he references all his companions?

    And once you've sorted that out, you can work out how many angels can dance on a dimensionally transcendental pin head…

  • Mark Carroll

    I quite like Mary Louise Parker, but you raise interesting comparison with other loved-but-dickish heroes, like Dr. House for instance. (I am not managing to think of ones who aren't rather clever: if one's going to be a dick, at least be indispensibly correct.)

    I presume it helps if the Doctor is something of a dick so as to bring light to secrets and do what is needed to upset the ignorant/evil status quo, then we can have some good dramatic conflict; by being nice (s)he might not achieve the important things others didn't already manage to do. I'm not even convinced myself of that argument, though.

  • I'd classify House as anti-hero rather than hero, since he doesn't do anything out of altruism. The Doctor tries to do the right thing but is still a dick about it

  • JustStark

    You're definitely right about the Doctor: he's supposed to be, well, let's say 'abrasive'. So if the Doctor were ever to be a she, then she should clearly continue in that vein.

    But Mary Louise Parker? She may have a very cute nose but isn't she ruled out by virtue of being American? I mean that's clearly impossible. you can't have an American Doctor Who. That's just unthinkable.

  • JustStark

    Everything that is officially licensed by the BBC to use the Doctor Who name is part of the Doctor Who canon.


  • Dimensions in Time? Curse of the Fatal Death? Dr Who's Space Adventure Book?

  • JustStark

    Yep, yep, yep.

    (And if you're concerned that some of those contradict each other, well, try making a consistent history of the twenty-first century out of just seasons five and six, and then tell me that the Doctor Who canon is even meant to be the tiniest bit self-consistent.)

  • JustStark

    (And if you're concerned about quality… I don't even know what to say.)

  • And yet Wikipedia says this about Big Finish stories:

    “The canonicity of the audio dramas, as with other Doctor Who spin-off media, is unclear.”

    And if Wikipedia says that, it must be true.