How sexist is Doctor Who?–Part Nine

The David Tennant years

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Welcome to Part Nine of my attempt to analyse the sexism in every Doctor Who story ever, using the Bechdel Test – and my wits. For a reminder of the rules, check the Intro here. Then, going by Doctor:

  1. William Hartnell
  2. Patrick Troughton
  3. Jon Pertwee
  4. Tom Baker
  5. Peter Davison
  6. Colin Baker
  7. Sylvester McCoy / Paul McGann
  8. Christopher Eccleston

A quick reminder of the Test:

  1. It has to have two named female characters
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something besides a man.

 

The Tenth Doctor. David Tennant. Skinny suit. Converse sand shoes. Long coat. And endless cries of squee. Yes, Christopher Eccleston may have made the revived show a success, but Tennant made it a phenomenon. Clearly far more at home in the part than Eccleston ever was (not that Eccleston ever let that show on screen, to be fair), Tennant became Russell T Davies’ best asset in selling the show, both onscreen and off.

In his four years in the part, David Tennant notched up almost as many stories as Tom Baker managed in seven – 37 stories all told, as opposed to Baker’s 41. That’s mostly due to the fact that the new show has self-contained episodes, or at most two-parters. It also means that Tennant’s era offers a better balanced sample for the Bechdel Test than the mere ten stories of Christopher Eccleston. It also means that this is one monster of a blog post, made even longer by a combined Ninth/Tenth Doctor summary at the end to sum up RTD’s era as a whole. Ready?

The Christmas Invasion

CI1CI2CI3CI4

  1. Yes – Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Harriet Jones, Sally Jacobs, Sandra
  2. Yes – Rose and Jackie, on numerous occasions; Harriet and Sally; Rose and Sandra
  3. Yes – Rose and Jackie talk about Harriet Jones, the TARDIS, and the alien invasion; Harriet and Sally talk about the approaching spacecraft

Notes – The first Christmas special actually does pretty well for female characters. As ever, Rose and Jackie have parts to play in resolving the plot, and Harriet is a realistic mixture of good and bad role models. She’s got to be Prime Minister (presumably still the UK’s second one even in the Whoniverse, though that depends on whether it counts Thatcher separately from the female PM in Terror of the Zygons, or counts her at all).

On the minus side, she’s got an aggressive streak of which the Doctor thoroughly disapproves, though later events would prove her to have had a point (if he hadn’t deposed her, the Master wouldn’t have got to be PM in the next series). On the plus side, she specifically makes a point of asking the (presumably junior) technician her name – Sally. Hard to fault this one for gender balance.

New Earth

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  1. Yes – Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Lady Cassandra O’Brien, Matron Casp, Sister Jatt, Novice Hame, Frau Clovis
  2. Yes – Rose and Jackie in the opening scene; Rose and Cassandra at various points; the cat nuns in varying combinations throughout
  3. Yes – Rose and Jackie talk about Rose leaving on her travels; Rose and Cassandra talk about the evolution of humanity; the nuns tend to talk about patient care and the ethics of what they’re up to

Notes – I still think New Earth is a pretty awful script, but you can’t deny it gives the female characters the upper hand – there are only three named male characters in it against seven named females. With RTD having written it specifically for Billie Piper to flex her comedy muscles, there’s a fair bit for Rose to do – though it’s notable that it involves being possessed for half the story like Sarah Jane Smith so frequently was. And Cassandra’s motivation, even more so than the last time, is the pursuit of physical beauty at all costs, which hardly makes her a good role model for women. So, yes, a lot of female characters, and a pass for the Test, but not all that great as a representation of femininity.

Tooth and Claw

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  1. Yes – Rose Tyler, Queen Victoria, Lady Isobel, Flora
  2. Yes – Rose and Flora; Flora and Isobel; Rose and Isobel; Isobel and Victoria; Rose and Victoria
  3. No – all their conversations revolve around a man, or men – the Doctor, the wolf, the Brethren, the soldiers, Sir Robert

Notes – Two very good female characters in Queen Victoria and Lady Isobel (Flora, the maid, gets far less to do or say). Victoria in particular comes over as quite the badass, unflinching in the face of assassination attempts whether they be by gun or werewolf. But the story fails the Test, because every single one of their interactions are about a man, or men.

NB – this one would pass the Test comfortably if you don’t count the Doctor as “a man”

School Reunion

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  1. Yes – Rose Tyler, Sarah Jane Smith, Nina, Melissa
  2. Yes – Rose and Sarah talk many times throughout the ep
  3. Yes – though most of their conversations revolve around the Doctor, they also talk about the rats in the school, the TARDIS, and the Krillitane oil

Notes – a story that’s all about characters – and their relationships with the Doctor – this one does well despite having only a few female characters. Melissa and Nina, as two of the (rather disposable) schoolchildren, don’t get any depth, but Sarah Jane Smith finally gets the writing to match Elisabeth Sladen’s portrayal, and her sparring with Rose is both believable and amusing.

Yes, both are motivated and defined by their relationships with the Doctor, so that might not seem very positive; yet it’s not so much a gender contrast as a Time Lord/human contrast. And some of their conversations don’t revolve around the Doctor, as noted above. Not to mention that vexing issue of whether this newly godlike Doctor still counts as “a man”. NB – since Sarah returns later, I’m counting her as a recurring character rather than a guest.


 

The Girl in the Fireplace

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  1. Yes – Rose Tyler, Reinette, Katherine
  2. Yes – Rose and Reinette, through the Time Windows, on a couple of occasions; Reinette and Katherine (in the gardens)
  3. Yes – Rose and Reinette talk about the spaceship, and the clockwork robots though they do, inevitably, get on to the subject of the Doctor)

Notes – the second script by Steven Moffat again presents us with a very strong central female guest character, though Reinette is much closer to his stock romantic leads than Nancy in The Empty Child. There aren’t that many female characters, but then, there aren’t that many characters at all – there’s only three named male characters, if you count the Doctor, against the three named females. It’s a reasonable pass for the Test, and given that the central conceit of the story is Reinette’s love life (and how it comes to involve the Doctor), it’s perfectly logical that so many of her conversations would be about him or the King.

Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel

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  1. Yes – Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Mrs Moore (real name Angela Price), Rita-Anne, Sally Phelan
  2. Yes – Rose and Jackie in part one; Rose and Mrs Moore in part two; Mrs Moore and Sally in part two
  3. Yes – Rose and Mrs Moore talk about the dummy earpods

Notes – this one just barely scrapes a pass by dint of a three line exchange between Rose and Mrs Moore, concerning how many fake earpods the rebels have. Rose and Jackie talk about Pete, while Mrs Moore and Sally talk about Sally’s fiancé Gareth. Your mileage may vary as to whether Sally counts as a “named female character”, what with her being mostly Cyberman when we meet her, but she’s not essential to passing the Test. On the plus side, Mrs Moore is an excellent female character, and noticeably more capable as a rebel than either Mickey/Ricky or Jake. That’s a minor positive in a script that doesn’t do very well by any of its characters – Tom MacRae’s later effort, The Girl Who Waited, is a much better script.


 

The Idiot’s Lantern

IL1IL2IL3IL4

  1. Yes – Rose Tyler, Rita Connolly, Aunty Betty, Mrs Gallagher
  2. Yes – Rita and Betty talk at one point
  3. Yes – Rita and Betty talk about Rita’s mother

Notes – though Mark Gatiss’ script confronts the issue of gender-based domestic abuse head on with Eddie and Rita Connolly, it doesn’t do very well by its female characters, barely scraping a pass for the Test. Rose spends half the episode without a face, with Tommy acting as her stand in, and doesn’t directly interact with any of the other female characters (you rather get the impression that Tommy was Gatiss’ preferred companion). Rita gets a moment of dignity in standing up to Eddie and throwing him out, but that’s about the most positive aspect of the script in feminist terms. And even then Rose exhorts Tommy to patch things up with his dad (which is fair, given her own experience).

The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit

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  1. Yes – Rose Tyler, Ida Scott, Scooti Manista
  2. Yes – Rose , Ida and Scooti talk in part one,
  3. Yes – Rose , Ida and Scooti talk about the storm; Rose and Scooti talk about the Ood’s servitude

Notes – a fair pass for the Test, but it’s not all that great for female characters. Scooti dies halfway through part one, and Ida spends most of the time in the Pit with the Doctor, so there’s not much chance for the women to interact. The exchanges of dialogue that do pass are both in part one, and amount to little more than ten lines between them; if we were assessing the story as two separate episodes, part two would be a fail. On the plus side, Ida is the science officer of a major project, and Rose gets to spend part two being an ersatz Ripley in a re-enactment of Aliens.

Love and Monsters

LaM1LaM2LaM3LaM4LaM5LaM6

  1. Yes – Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Ursula Blake, Bridget, Bliss, Mrs Croot
  2. Yes – Ursula, Bliss and Bridget talk early on in the story, at one of the first meetings of LINDA
  3. Yes – they’re talking about Elton’s choice of acronym, and about Bridget’s missing daughter

Notes – a lot of female characters, and as ever with Russell T Davies, quite well-drawn. But it’s surprising how little they directly talk to each other in the script. And obviously, given the premise of the story, it’s the search for the Doctor that motivates them all, so most of their dialogue, even to the men, is about him. Jackie never actually meets any of the others, and Rose barely features in this first ‘Doctor-lite’ story. The real central figure is Elton. So, top marks for a lot of female characters, middling marks for giving them much to do.

Fear Her

FH1FH2FH3FH4

  1. Yes – Rose Tyler, Chloe Webber, Trish Webber, Maeve
  2. Yes – Trish and Maeve talk in the opening scene, Trish, Chloe and Rose in various combinations at various points
  3. Yes – Trish and Maeve talk about Maeve’s ‘feeling’, Chloe and Rose talk about Chloe (though Chloe is possessed at this point)

Notes – Matthew Graham’s script is a bit lacklustre, but it’s dominated by strong female characters; the only named man is Kel, the comic relief council workman (and Huw Edwards as himself, I suppose). Having said that, the majority of the conversations between Chloe, Trish and Rose revolve around Chloe’s fearsome dead dad, so there’s still a man at the root of the story, motivating all the women.

Army of Ghosts / Doomsday

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  1. Yes – Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Yvonne Hartman, Adeola Oshodi, Donna Noble (your mileage may vary as to whether you consider Barbara Windsor and Trisha Goddard playing themselves as “named female characters” – I’m not counting them as they’re real people rather than characters, and they’re playing themselves)
  2. Yes – Jackie and Rose on various occasions, Yvonne and Jackie in part one and part two
  3. Yes – Jackie and Yvonne talk about Torchwood and Cyber conversion

Notes – of the named guest female characters, only Yvonne gets written with any depth (Donna only gets four lines in the epilogue), though Rose and Jackie get some good action and dialogue. However, most of Rose and Jackie’s dialogue to each other relates to the Doctor or Pete. Russell T Davies is having so much fun with Daleks battling Cybermen in part two that it’s not surprising the female characters don’t interact much.

The story passes the Test, but isn’t all that great for gender balance; having said that, most of the male characters don’t come off that well either. It’s as if RTD’s fondness for explosive spectacle overrode his normally good grasp of dramatic characterisation. Rose does get a good farewell scene (though as ever it’s all about her feelings for the Doctor), which is then rather undermined by her reappearance a couple of years later.


 

The Runaway Bride

RB1RB2RB3

  1. Yes – Donna Noble, Sylvia Noble, Nerys, Angelica
  2. No – none of the female characters have a conversation. Donna, Sylvia and Nerys have three consecutive lines, but it’s not “talking to each other”
  3. No (see above)

Notes – despite a strongly written female character in Donna (even if she is a sort of composite of Catherine Tate’s comedy characters), this one fails the Test because at no point do any of the named female characters talk to each other. Yes, Donna and the Empress of the Racnoss exchange (a tiny bit of) dialogue, but “Empress” is a title, not a name. Neither Sylvia nor Nerys get much of a character at this point, and Angelica just gets to say “right, sorry”, without actually being pictured. Not Russell’s finest hour for female representation.

Smith and Jones

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  1. Yes – Martha Jones, Francine Jones, Tish Jones, Florence Finnegan, Annalise, Julia Swales
  2. Yes – Martha, Tish, Francine and Annalise all have some kind of phone conversation in the opening scenes, then again after Annalise storms out of Leo’s party; Martha and Swales talk when the hospital is transported to the Moon
  3. Yes – Martha and Swales talk (unsurprisingly) about why the hospital is suddenly on the Moon

Notes – this one’s all about establishing the relationship between Martha and the Doctor, so they spend most of the ep paired off and Martha doesn’t interact much with the other female characters. As with Rose though, she brings a personal backstory with her, in this case including a large family; but both their two conversations in this episode revolve around Martha’s dad, so don’t count for rule 3. Martha herself is a contrast to Rose, though – she’s a bit older, and a medical student at a reasonably advanced level, since she’s interning at the hospital. So a pretty good picture of a professional woman, even though this story just barely passes the Test.


 

The Shakespeare Code

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  1. Yes – Martha Jones, Lilith, Doomfinger, Bloodtide, Dolly Bailey, Queen Elizabeth I
  2. Yes – the ‘three witches’ converse several times
  3. No – they only talk about Shakespeare and the Doctor

Notes – Gareth Roberts’ first script for the show is literate and witty; unfortunately, it fails the Test despite quite a few female characters. Given that the whole plot revolves around William Shakespeare, it’s hardly surprising that he’s the main topic of conversation in the dialogue between the Carrionites, though the appearance of the Doctor leads them to talk about him too.

Martha continues to be a strong character, taking her first trip to the past fairly well in stride, but at no point does she interact with any of the other female characters directly, despite sharing scenes with them on occasion. Unfortunately, this is also the first story to explicitly acknowledge that she too is mooning after the Doctor, despite his utter ignorance of the fact, so it does rather remove some of the independence she previously had.

NB – this one would pass the Test comfortably if you don’t count the Doctor as “a man”.

Gridlock

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  1. Yes – Martha Jones, Novice Hame, Cheen, Valerie, Alice, May, Javit, Sally Calypso
  2. Yes – Martha and Cheen talk several times; Alice and May talk when the Doctor enquires about the car that took Martha
  3. Yes – Martha and Cheen talk about the gun, and the motorway fast lane; Alice and May talk about the cars that recently joined the traffic at Pharmacy Junction

Notes – Russell’s satirical dig at the M4 motorway does pretty well for female representation. In a large cast, named females outnumber males seven to three, and most are quite well-drawn. Not to mention that Alice and May are an elderly, long-married couple, which shows that Russell’s ‘gay agenda’ encompasses more than gay men.


 

Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks

EotD1EotD2EotD3

  1. Yes – Martha Jones, Tallulah, Myrna, Lois
  2. Yes – Myrna and Lois talk in the opening scene; Martha and Tallulah talk in Tallulah’s dressing room in part one, then in the Empire State Building in part two
  3. Yes – Myrna and Lois talk about Tallulah; one of Martha and Tallulah’s conversations is about the psychic paper

Notes – Helen Raynor is still at this point the only woman to have written for Nu-Who, so it’s surprising that this is somewhat lacking in female characterisation. Tallulah, Myrna and Lois are all stereotypical New York showgirls, although to be fair Tallulah gets quite a share of the action in stopping the Daleks. However, virtually all of her conversations with Martha are about the Doctor or Laszlo; it’s only a three line exchange about the psychic paper, and Myrna and Lois’ three lines about Tallulah, that get this one through the Test.

The Lazarus Experiment

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  1. Yes – Martha Jones, Francine Jones, Tish Jones, Lady Thaw
  2. Yes – Martha, Francine and Tish talk several times throughout the episode
  3. No – most of their conversations revolve around the Doctor; the rest around Professor Lazarus or Leo

Notes – a good showing for Martha’s family, properly involved in the action for the first time. Francine is a more protective mother than Jackie Tyler was, though both have slapped the Doctor; Tish has a highly paid job in PR. It’s just a shame that it’s for a man, who also turns out to be a comic-style supervillain. And it’s a shame that in many conversations, not once do they talk about something other than a man.

NB – this one would pass the Test comfortably if you don’t count the Doctor as “a man”.

42

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  1. Yes – Martha Jones, Kath McDonnell, Abi Lerner, Erina Lessak, Francine Jones
  2. Yes – Martha and Francine talk on the phone; Martha and McDonnell talk briefly towards the end
  3. No – nearly every one of the female characters’ conversations is about the Doctor. Martha also asks Francine about the Beatles and Elvis, but they’re definitely male too

NotesTorchwood scribe Chris Chibnall brings his usual lack of subtlety to this story, and fails the Test pretty miserably. If it weren’t for Martha’s calls to her mother, the only interaction between female characters would be three lines between Martha and McDonnell, and even they’re about the Doctor. On the plus side, McDonnell is captain of a spaceship, so that’s impressive; on the minus side, she’s utterly incompetent at it, jeopardising the safety of ship and crew because of her feelings for her husband. Not exactly a glowing portrait of female capability in a crisis.

NB – this one would pass the Test comfortably if you don’t count the Doctor as “a man”.

Human Nature / The Family of Blood

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  1. Yes – Martha Jones, Joan Redfern, Jenny, Lucy Cartwright
  2. Yes – Martha and Jenny talk several times in part one; Martha and Joan talk several times throughout
  3. Yes – Martha and Jenny talk about Suffragettes, and the strange light in the sky

Notes – one of my favourite stories, by one of my favourite writers, this does pretty well by its female characters, but just barely passes rule 3. The reason? Well, given that the premise of the story is everyone looking for the Doctor (including the Doctor) the vast majority of conversations between the interested parties are about him. It’s hard to say whether Jenny and Lucy still count as “female” once taken over by the Family, but they don’t need to for the story to pass the Test. Joan is a marvellous character, well-rounded and believable, and poignantly played by Jessica Hynes; in comparison, Martha, with her increasingly tiresome pining for the Doctor’s affection, looks a bit wanting.

Blink

Blink1Blink2Blink3

  1. Yes – Martha Jones, Sally Sparrow, Kathy Nightingale
  2. Yes – several conversations between Sally and Kathy, before Kathy is spirited away to the past
  3. Yes – they talk about investigating, about the moving Angel, about sad being “happy for deep people”

Notes – that arch-sexist Moffat is at it again, writing a Doctor-lite story in which the strong lead character is a capable woman accompanied by a slightly wimpy but deceptively strong man (prototypes for Amy and Rory?). Refreshingly, Sally doesn’t fancy the Doctor (although she has chemistry with both Billy Shipton and Larry), and none of her conversations with Kathy have anything to do with men. It may introduce Moffat’s ongoing fixation with the phrase “timey-wimey”, but I can’t see anything wrong with it in terms of gender balance or female capability. There are hints that something might happen between Sally and Larry, but even by the end, hints is all they are. She certainly isn’t defined by him.


 

Utopia

Utopia1Utopia2Utopia3

  1. Yes – Martha Jones, Chantho, Kistane Shafe Cane
  2. Yes – Martha and Chantho talk. Once.
  3. No – they talk about Professor Yana, and how much Chantho adores him

Notes – although this kicks off the return of the Master, it’s produced and directed separately, so counts as a story in itself. It’s not a terribly good one for female characters either, with only Chantho as a functional guest (Kistane is little more than an extra). Chantho is plainly meant to mirror the ‘companion’ role for Professor Yana, and irritatingly she, like Martha, is secretly in love with her blithely unaware friend.

The Doctor, meanwhile, spends most of the story catching up with Jack Harkness (even flirting with him), so the story seems dominated by, and driven by, the male characters. Only at the end does a female character get anything meaningful to do, and even Chantho’s shooting of Yana is just a plot device to trigger the Master’s regeneration into John Simm.

The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords

SoD1SoD2SoD3SoD4SoD5SoD6SoD7

  1. Yes – Martha Jones, Francine Jones, Tish Jones, Lucy Saxon, Vivienne Rook, Professor Docherty, Trinity Wells (as with Army of Ghosts / Doomsday, I don’t consider the celebrity cameos by Ann Widdecombe and Sharon Osbourne as ‘characters’ since they aren’t fictional)
  2. Yes – Tish and Vivien, then Lucy and Vivien, in part one; Martha and Francine, variously throughout; Martha and Docherty in part two
  3. Yes – Martha and Docherty talk about the Toclafane

Notes – despite its epic length and a fair number of female characters, this one just barely passes the Test on the basis of one conversation in part two. Since it’s primarily about the Doctor and the Master, most of the conversations between named female characters revolve around one or both of them. To be fair though, Martha finally gets to take the lead role, with the Doctor incapacitated and imprisoned for most of the story’s second half. Although her function is in essence to release him so he can sort it all out. Still, let’s give her that. And at least she finally gives up her futile pursuit of him at the end.

Voyage of the Damned

VotD1VotD2

  1. Yes – Astrid Pern, Foon van Hoff
  2. No – Foon and Astrid only speak twice, and neither two-line exchange can really be considered a conversation
  3. No (see above)

Notes – a bit harsh, perhaps, but while exchanges such as “I’m stuck”/”Come on you can do it!” might constitute “talking to each other”, it doesn’t fit my interpretation of rule 2. As a pastiche of classic cheesy disaster movies, it’s probably not too surprising that the story, like most of its cliché-filled inspirations, fails the Test. Still, even The Poseidon Adventure managed more than two female characters. And no, a lookalike of the Queen shot from behind doesn’t count.

Partners in Crime

PiC1PiC1aPiC2PiC4PiC5PiC6PiC7PiC8

  1. Yes – Donna Noble, Ms Foster, Sylvia Noble, Penny Carter, Stacey Campbell, Claire Pope, Suzette Chambers, Rose Tyler
  2. Yes – various combinations throughout
  3. Yes – Penny and Ms Foster talk about the ‘science’ behind the Adipose pill; Stacey and Donna talk about how effective the pills are; Sylvia berates Donna for not being good enough (the first time of many); Suzette and Sylvia also talk about the Adipose pills

Notes – hardly surprising that this one passes the Test with flying colours; once again, it has more female characters than male ones. The slightly revised character of Donna is much more sympathetic and dynamic than before, and thankfully she’s totally uninterested in the Doctor in “that way”, making her the most trad companion since the show’s return (in a good way).

The ‘villain’ is also a strong, authoritative woman; and in fact it’s questionable whether she should really be considered a villain at all. All pretty good female representation, but if I have to sound a minus note, it’s that so many of them are obsessed with losing weight – presumably to be more attractive to men. Stacey even says, “I’m dumping him. I can do better than him now.” Could be meant as a satirical critique though, so much of Russell’s work is.


 

The Fires of Pompeii

FoP1FoP2FoP2aFoP4FoP3a

  1. Yes – Donna Noble, Metella, Evelina, Spurrina, Thalina
  2. Yes – Evelina and Metella; Metella and Donna
  3. Yes – Evelina and Metella talk about the heat, the volcano, and the sisterhood; Metella and Donna talk about Evelina’s arm

Notes – another one with more female characters than male, and that’s not even counting the unnamed ones – the High Priestess and the Soothsayer (Karen Gillan in an early audition). Women weren’t exactly treated equally in Ancient Rome, but this lot have at least as much agency as, for example, Livia in I Claudius. And faced with a terrible moral dilemma, Donna continues to shine as a character, giving the Doctor a very necessary insight into humanity.

Planet of the Ood

PotO1PotO2

  1. Yes – Donna Noble, Solana Mercurio
  2. Yes – Donna and Solana talk briefly
  3. Yes – they talk about the Ood

Notes – not quite so good with only two female characters, and this one only passes the Test by the skin of its teeth, with four lines of dialogue between Donna and Solana in a conversation that is then taken over by the Doctor. Solana is at least an important character, and far from tokenistic; it’s her function to reflect society’s easy acceptance of this kind of injustice. And in a throwback to the days of Eric Saward, the role itself is actually gender-neutral and could just as easily be played by a man.

The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky

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  1. Yes – Donna Noble, Martha Jones, Sylvia Noble, Jo Nakashima
  2. Yes – Donna and Martha talk on multiple occasions; Donna and Sylvia have their usual row; Martha talks to her clone
  3. Yes (ish) – see below

Notes – ooh, a tricky one! All the conversations between Donna, Martha and Sylvia revolve around the Doctor. Which leaves Martha’s discussion with her clone (ie herself) about Martha’s family. So it all hinges on whether you consider the two versions of Martha as separate characters; since they’re two distinct physical entities, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Either way, another fairly poor showing (in terms of female characters) from Helen Raynor after her Dalek two-parter last year. Still, both Donna and Martha are vital to resolving the plot, so there’s that…


 

The Doctor’s Daughter

DD1DD2DD3

  1. Yes – Donna Noble, Martha Jones, ‘Jenny’
  2. Yes – Jenny and Donna frequently, Martha and Donna occasionally
  3. Yes – Martha and Donna talk about how dirty Martha got on the planetary surface

Notes – considering that this has three very strong female characters, it’s a surprise that it barely scrapes a pass with a four line exchange between Martha and Donna. Every other conversation between the named female characters is about the Doctor. Still, Martha gets to demonstrate her skills at combat medicine (on an unfamiliar species!), Jenny is a badass soldier (though she is engineered that way), and it’s Donna who actually solves the mystery of what’s going on. So even if it doesn’t do that well by the Test, it’s a pretty good showing for female characters.

The Unicorn and the Wasp

UatW1UatW2UatW3UatW4UatW5

  1. Yes – Donna Noble, Agatha Christie, Lady Eddison, Robina Redmond, Mrs Hart, Miss Chandrakala
  2. Yes – Donna and Agatha talk several times, Agatha and all the female characters talk in the denouement
  3. Yes – among other things, Donna and Agatha talk about her books, and Agatha unmasks ‘Robina’ as being the Unicorn

Notes – “Can’t a woman make her own way in the world?” Gareth Roberts’ second script is also based around a famous historical author. But since this one is female, the story passes the Test far more easily than The Shakespeare Code (which failed). Structured as a pastiche of a typical Christie murder plot, with Agatha herself as the sleuth, it portrays the author as a deeply independent woman with a mind like a steel trap. As suspects in the mystery, the other female characters aren’t quite as strong, but their deeply kept secrets hint at some depth to them. One of them’s an infamous jewel thief, for a start.


 

Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead

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  1. Yes – Donna Noble, River Song, Miss Evangelista, Anita, Ella
  2. Yes – various combinations talk multiple times
  3. Yes – Donna and Miss Evangelista talk about the latter’s low opinion of herself; they then talk later, about Donna’s false life in the computer

Notes – that man Moffat again, and the first appearance of the character each side in the sexism debate claims proves their point – River Song. As the author of the Davies/Moffat study asserts, River seems to have been created not as a character in her own right, but as a love interest for the Doctor. But is that true here, when she might have been just a one-off character, or were there plans for her even then? Either way, she’s not – yet – defined by loving the Doctor, even though this is, from her perspective, the end of her story. She’s a strong, capable woman, a professor of archaeology leading a prestigious expedition, and more than prepared to take the lead, ultimately sacrificing herself to save everyone.

Yes, later she becomes more of a plot device, but here she’s exactly what she seems – a very good female character with agency of her own, and very possibly superior to the Doctor. You could argue, in hindsight, that it’s her lifelong relationship with the Doctor that formed her character, but to be fair to this script, it contains only the merest hints to that at this point. For that matter, Miss Evangelista’s a pretty good character too, downtrodden by people’s low opinions of her which Donna is quick to refute. If Moffat is indeed a chauvinist on par with Robert Holmes, there’s precious little evidence of it yet.

Midnight

MN1MN2MN3MN4

  1. Yes – Donna Noble, Sky Silvestry, Dee Dee Blasco, Val Cane
  2. Yes – Sky, Dee Dee and Val in various combinations
  3. Yes – Sky, Dee Dee and Val talk about the noises outside the vehicle; later, Val and Dee Dee talk about Sky’s mysterious possession

Notes – Probably my favourite of RTD’s scripts, this is genuinely creepy; but more importantly for the Test, it has a nearly equal balance of male to female characters, and the female characters are ultimately the ones that drive the plot. There are more exchanges between Sky and the other women after Sky is possessed, though they’re basic repetition; but the story passes the Test quite comfortably without needing those. It also very cleverly demolishes the Doctor’s previously established smug messianic status (established by Russell himself, among others) with the final resolution of the plot falling to the unnamed Hostess. And even the fact that we never learn her name is important and relevant dramatically.

Turn Left

TL1TL2TL3TL4TL5TL6

  1. Yes – Donna Noble, Sylvia Noble, Rose Tyler, Captain Erisa Magambo, Alice Coltrane, Trinity Wells, Veena, Mooky
  2. Yes – mostly Donna and Sylvia, though there are other interactions throughout; significantly, Donna and Rose
  3. Yes – Donna and Sylvia talk about Donna’s job, Donna and the office girls talk about Donna’s job and the Racnoss ship; Rose and Donna talk about leaving London; Rose, Donna and Captain Magambo talk about changing the nexus point where Donna’s decision altered the time stream

Notes – oddly, more “timey-wimey” than Moffat, this is a severely dark look at the flipside of recent whimsical stories, had their perils actually materialised. More pertinently to the Test, as a ‘Doctor-lite’ episode its plot revolves entirely around Donna, who really comes into her own as two different versions of herself – with and without meeting the Doctor. And that presents a bit of a problem – the Donna we know is a moral, capable woman, but the implication is that it’s the Doctor’s influence which made her that way.

However, the script goes to great lengths to prove that, under similarly dire circumstances, Donna had the potential to be that person all along, without the Doctor at all. At this point, she’s her own woman, and not defined by the Doctor; Rose, by contrast, still seems to be. And a quick word for Captain Magambo, who would return in Planet of the Dead – she’s the first proper female UNIT soldier since Winifred Bambera, and every bit as capable (if less flamboyant).

The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End

SE1SE2SE3SE4SE5SE6SE7SE8SE9SE11SE10

  1. Yes – Donna Noble, Sylvia Noble, Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Martha Jones, Francine Jones, Sarah Jane Smith, Harriet Jones, Trinity Wells, Gwen Cooper, Anna Zhou, Suzanne
  2. Yes – various combinations throughout, notably Harriet, Donna, Martha and Sarah on the Subwave Network
  3. Yes – Martha and Suzanne talk about the change in the sky; Donna and Rose talk about the stars going out in the alternate timeline and the parallel universe; Martha and Francine talk about the Osterhagen Key, as do Martha and Anna Zhou

Notes – Russell’s final (non-Special) story is both spectacular and massively self-indulgent, as he brings back pretty much every recurring character he’s ever introduced. As a consequence though, the story passes the Test with flying colours, because almost every one of those recurring characters is female (which means that, despite the plethora of female characters, there’s actually only three named ‘guests’, one of whom is Trinity Wells). They’re also pretty much all very strong women with a vital role in driving the plot; perhaps not surprising for a writer whose grounding in TV drama writing was with soap operas, traditionally the domain of strong female characters.

However, it is perhaps worth noting (and indeed it’s key to the plot, as Davros notes) that all these women are who they are because of the Doctor; however much potential they had in themselves, it’s the Doctor who brought it out. And that’s significant, because however much you respect RTD’s creation of female characters, it’s still the Doctor who defines them. The frequent criticism of Moffat’s creation, River Song, is that she exists only in relation to the Doctor; this story explicitly states that’s every bit as true for all Russell T’s female characters. Given both those things, it’s worth bringing up again whether, in Bechdel terms, you consider the Doctor to be “a man”. Because it’s fairly crucial to how sexist you consider both showrunners to be.

The Next Doctor

ND1ND2

  1. Yes – Mercy Hartigan, Rosita Farisi
  2. Yes – Rosita and Mercy exchange three lines at one point
  3. No – the lines refer to Jackson Lake (“I doubt he paid you to talk”)

Notes – “The Cybermen offered me the one thing I want. Liberation.” All very well to pay lip service to the idea, in a time period where women absolutely lacked agency, but this script neither passes the Test nor serves its female characters very well. Rosita, though engagingly played, is a fairly thin pastiche of the “trad” Doctor Who companion; that’s presumably intentional, but she could have been given some depth. And Miss Hartigan, while yearning for “liberation” comes across as bitter and vengeful rather than egalitarian, so is hardly an ideal depiction of feminism.


 

Planet of the Dead

PotD1PotD2PotD3PotD4

  1. Yes – Lady Christina De Souza, Captain Erisa Magambo, Angela Whittaker, Carmen
  2. No – although all the characters on the bus have a discussion after they arrive on the desert planet, at no point do any two of the females talk directly to each other. And Captain Magambo, back on Earth, barely meets any of them till the end, and doesn’t talk with any of them
  3. No (see above)

Notes – so, a good ratio of female to male characters, but no actual interaction between them, making this a categorical fail for the Test. The lion’s share of the story is given over to the Doctor and Christina, so she spends most of her time talking to him. And the other survivors of the bus are barely given characters at all; Carmen has a deliberate ordinariness to contrast with her (plot-required) psychic abilities. On the plus side, it’s good to see Captain Magambo again, and she gets far more to do here than her brief appearance in Turn Left.

The Waters of Mars

WoM1WoM2WoM3

  1. Yes – Adelaide Brooke, Mia Bennett, Maggie Cain, Steffi Ehrlich, Ulrika Ehrlich, Lisette Ehrlich, Emily
  2. Yes – Adelaide and Emily on the video phone; Adelaide and Maggie; Adelaide and Steffi
  3. Yes – Adelaide talks to Emily about buying a house; Adelaide rebukes Maggie for not calling her ‘Captain’ on open comms; Adelaide and Steffi talk about getting the shuttle ready for evacuation

Notes – a good Test pass for this impressive story, with most of the characters (female and male) given some depth and importance for the plot. RTD was less consistent than Steven Moffat in puncturing the Doctor’s arrogance, but after Midnight this serves as a good reminder of his hubris – and it’s the lead female character who punctures it, resolving the plot in a tragic but necessary way when the Doctor is unwilling to.

The End of Time

EoT1EoT5EoT2EoT3EoT7EoT4EoT8EoT9EoT11EoT10EoT12EoT13EoT14

  1. Yes – Donna Noble, Sylvia Noble, Martha Jones, Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Sarah Jane Smith, Verity Newman, Minnie Hooper, Addams, Abigail Naismith, Lucy Saxon, Miss Trefusis, Nerys, Trinity Wells
  2. Yes – Donna and Sylvia; Rose and Jackie
  3. Yes – Donna and Sylvia talk about Donna’s Christmas present

Notes – after the self-indulgence of bringing back every recurring character in Journey’s End, Russell manages to top that here by doing it again. Consequently, there’s a veritable army of female characters, but most are only cameos and this story still barely passes the Test on the basis of four lines between Donna and Sylvia in part one. Rose and Jackie are seen to talk during the Doctor’s extended farewell tour, but they’re talking about their respective boyfriends, so breaking rule 3. It’s a shame that, with so many well-drawn named female characters, this one can only just scrape a Test pass.

Tenth Doctor summary

Tennant2

Total stories – 37 (counting the two-parters as single stories)

  • Stories that pass all three Bechdel criteria – 28 / 75.7%
  • Stories that only pass two Bechdel criteria – 6 / 16.2%
  • Stories that only pass one Bechdel criteria – 3 / 8.1%
  • Stories that fail all three Bechdel criteria – 0 / 0%

Stories that would have passed all three Bechdel criteria if the Doctor doesn’t count as “a man” – 4 / 10.8%

Total named female guest characters (evil or minor recurring characters counted once despite number of appearances) – 110

Total female companions (including recurring ‘good’ characters) – 9:

  • Rose Tyler
  • Jackie Tyler
  • Harriet Jones
  • Martha Jones
  • Francine Jones
  • Donna Noble
  • Sylvia Noble
  • River Song
  • Sarah Jane Smith

NB – where the Tenth Doctor is concerned, I’m not counting the one-shot characters from the 2009 Specials as ‘companions’, as none of them are seen more than once. And no, neither is River – yet. But she counts as she does return with Matt Smith.

Villainous or minor recurring female characters – 4

  • Lady Cassandra O’Brien
  • Trinity Wells
  • Captain Erisa Magambo
  • Nerys

Total female characters overall – 123

Average ratio of male to female characters – 1.29:1

Story with the largest number of female characters – The End of Time (6 regulars plus 8 named guests)

Stories where the plot is resolved by a female character rather than the Doctor: 11 / 29.7%

  • Blink (Sally Sparrow tricks the Angels into looking at each other)
  • The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords (Martha gets everyone on Earth to simultaneously ‘pray’ for the Doctor’s recovery)
  • Voyage of the Damned (Astrid throws herself and Max Capricorn into a pit with a fork lift truck)
  • The Fires of Pompeii (Donna helps the Doctor make the right decision, both about history and saving the people in Pompeii they’ve met)
  • The Doctor’s Daughter (‘Jenny’ throws herself in front of the bullet meant for the Doctor, demonstrating the folly of mindless war)
  • The Unicorn and the Wasp (Agatha lures the Vespiform to the lake)
  • Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead (River Song sacrifices herself to save the Doctor and all the ‘saved’ humans)
  • Midnight (The Hostess sacrifices herself to throw the possessed Sky out of the truck)
  • Turn Left (Donna ‘dies’ to reset the timeline)
  • The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End (meta-crisis DoctorDonna shuts down the Daleks)
  • The Waters of Mars (Adelaide commits suicide to reset history onto the proper path)

Ninth / Tenth Doctor female companion assessment:

SE3

Rose Tyler – deliberately written to seem ‘ordinary’, to provide a clear audience identification point; but also to show how even ‘ordinary’ people are capable of extraordinary things in the right circumstances. However, her increasing role as ‘love interest’ for the Doctor meant that, right up till the end, she was very much defined by him. She was so into him that at the end of her story she was happy with a sort of ersatz copy (no matter what the original said, that wasn’t him).

NE2

Jackie Tyler – initially a one-note comedy character, and the comedy revolved around her being a man-hungry cougar. However, Jackie was given more depth, pathos and loneliness as the series went on, and arguably works better as an independent woman than her daughter. Still ended up paired off with her ex, though, and not even this universe’s version of him, which sort of skewers that independence.

S&J1

Martha Jones – a more sophisticated woman than Rose (initially anyway) as a slightly older medical student quite a way through her degree. Unfortunately she too ended up pining after the Doctor, which was doubly annoying because he was still pining after Rose and didn’t notice. She did, thankfully, end up having the maturity to realise that was never going to go anywhere, so trumps Rose in that department. However, her acceptance that she’s moved on had to be signalled by the fact that she’d found another man (Tom Milligan) who she then inexplicably dumped as a fiance to end up with Mickey (lazy scriptwriting?).

EoT6

Francine Jones – a somewhat more severe companion’s mother than Jackie, Francine was (refreshingly) not defined in relation to the men in her life, but in relation to her maternal care for her daughter. She had actually divorced her cheating husband, and nothing in the scripts indicated she was in any way desperate to replace him.

SE7

Harriet Jones – a strong female character who developed from an unassuming backbench MP to a strong, arguably ruthless Prime Minister. No indication that she was married, had a love interest, or even wanted one; however, she was only ever defined in relation to her job. Still, that makes her very much an independent woman.

RB1

Donna Noble – older but not necessarily more mature than Rose or Martha, Donna had the (by now refreshing) advantage of having absolutely no romantic interest in the Doctor (though there were several hints that she did at least fancy him). Her forthright (read ‘gobby’) self-expression was also a breath of fresh air, and from the first she served as a vital moral compass to the Doctor, who increasingly seemed to lack one. Of course, she too ended up married, which still seems to be the default ‘happy ending’ in the show even after 50 years.

EoT5

Sylvia Noble – a far less sympathetic mother than either of her predecessors, Sylvia wasn’t actually that well-drawn a character. Her dramatic function seemed primarily to run Donna down, thus giving her a low opinion of herself which her travels caused her to re-assess. Still, you can’t argue that Sylvia didn’t have any notable interest in meeting any other man after the death of her husband.

EoT4

Sarah Jane Smith – Toby Whithouse’s clever script for School Reunion rounded out Sarah as a character; not just from there on, but retrospectively giving more depth to her as she was in the classic series. That depth was, however, revealed to have been an unrequited love for the Doctor, from which she could never recover because nobody else compared. She certainly had become a strong, capable, independent woman (and continued to be in her own series), but her reappearances seemed to emphasise that it was entirely due to the Doctor’s influence.

SitL2

River Song – tricky to assess River from her one appearance in the Tenth Doctor / Russell T Davies era. Steven Moffat’s script hints at her past with the Doctor, which for him is the future; but she’s certainly not defined by him, or introduced merely as a plot device, at this point. I’ll come back and give her another assessment at the end of the Matt Smith post.

AddendumRussell T Davies summary

RTDTennant

Total stories – 47 (counting the two-parters as single stories)

  • Stories that pass all three Bechdel criteria – 36 / 76.6%
  • Stories that only pass two Bechdel criteria – 7 / 14.9%
  • Stories that only pass one Bechdel criteria – 4 / 8.5%
  • Stories that fail all three Bechdel criteria – 0 / 0%

Stories that would have passed all three Bechdel criteria if the Doctor doesn’t count as “a man” – 5 / 10.6%

Total named female guest characters – 131

Total female companions (including recurring ‘good’ characters) – 9:

  • Rose Tyler
  • Jackie Tyler
  • Harriet Jones
  • Martha Jones
  • Francine Jones
  • Donna Noble
  • Sylvia Noble
  • River Song
  • Sarah Jane Smith

Villainous or minor recurring female characters – 6

  • Lady Cassandra O’Brien
  • Margaret Blaine
  • Trinity Wells
  • Novice Hame
  • Captain Erisa Magambo
  • Nerys

Total female characters overall – 145

Average ratio of male to female characters – 1.28:1

Story with the largest number of female characters – The End of Time (6 regulars plus 8 named guests)

Sexism rating for the Tenth Doctor

Well, I did warn you. Over the 37 stories, Tennant had far more possibility of failure than Eccleston’s 10, and 24.2% of them fail the Test. He also has a slightly less impressive ratio of male to female characters, at 1.3:1 (as opposed to Eccleston’s 1.25:1). Still, that’s only a fractional difference, and still beats out the best of the classic series Doctors (McCoy) on every measure but the Test – go figure.

Oh, and RTD overall? A 23.4% Test failure rate. We’ll go into the stats for him in detail (and compare them to Steven Moffat) in the Big Conclusion, to be posted on 22 August, the day before the new series starts.

Rankings of Bechdel failures by Doctor (so far):

  1. Jon Pertwee – 54.2%
  2. Tom Baker – 43.9%
  3. Patrick Troughton – 33.3%
  4. William Hartnell – 31 %
  5. Peter Davison – 30%
  6. David Tennant – 24.2%
  7. Christopher Eccleston – 20%
  8. Colin Baker – 18.8%
  9. Sylvester McCoy – 8.3%

Next time – it’s on to that controversial and divisive figure, Mr Steven Moffat, whose work so far only encompasses one Doctor. Though that Doctor did actually notch up even more stories than David Tennant. Come back next time to discover… how sexist is Matt Smith?

8 thoughts on “How sexist is Doctor Who?–Part Nine”

  1. Although a detailed and well-written article about sexism in the Tenth Doctor’s (and RTD) era, I have a few things that I would like to mention, mainly concerning Rose Tyler. There is not much to say about the facts and numbers connected to the Bechdel Test itself, but as this project also looks at the general sexism of the show, I feel like I have to argue with a couple of things. As I said, Rose Tyler, who you describe as “defined by [The Doctor], and her love for him. First of all, in my opinion the audience got a Rose Tyler who was brave, compassionate, confident, determined, selfish and jealous, even in series 2, or even more than in her first season. The fact that she fell in love with the Doctor did not define her, she was just more open about it with the Tenth Doctor (as he was with her). She was still what I see as a strong female character, still cared about her family, still loved the adventure part of travelling with the Doctor, and often she still was to one to solve the problem. And that is another thing, I think Fear Her definitely counts as a “story where the plot is resolved by a female character rather than the Doctor”, as the Doctor was trapped in a drawing for most of the episode and it was Rose who got him and everyone else out. My point is that the character of Rose Tyler did love the Doctor and also acted like it, but I do not see how it is a problem in a study about sexism. Female characters should be allowed to express their feelings as long as their love for a man does not define them, and as I said above I do not think Rose’s love was in the centre, rather it was her personality and actions, and overall development. I dare say it is sexist to say a woman is no longer a good feminist character if in love. I am not accusing you of being that person, but a lot of people criticizing Rose for her open love are. Same goes for Martha Jones, who also expressed her romantic feelings for the Doctor and got shaming for that, even though she is a very good female character and got over it. Also, one more note: Rose Tyler was not “happy with a sort of ersatz copy”, she protested at Bad Wolf Bay and said that the metacrisis was indeed not her Doctor, it was the Tenth Doctor leaving her with him (which is obviously bad from a feminist point of view, taking away Rose’s choice once again, but it is definitely not the fault of Rose’s character, rather the Doctor’s or even the writing). Rose did kiss him after hearing the wanted words, but she never clearly stated she was happy about the situation and at the end of the day it was not her choice. Thank you for writing this and making the whole project, I still think it is a great idea brilliantly executed, but I had to make this comment to defend fictional women in love.

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    1. Hi Sophie, thanks for some well thought out commentary there. To an extent, when I say Rose is “defined” by the Doctor, I’m playing devil’s advocate, by the rules of some of the more extreme criticism of Steven Moffat’s later episodes. As it happens. I’m pretty much in agreement with you – why should it matter if a woman chooses to be in love with a man? It doesn’t make her any less an independent, thinking person.

      I’m kind of straddling the radical feminist viewpoint, while also trying to bring a little more objectivity to the idea that gender balance has to be a war between genders. I very much agree with you about women in love – why is it that (for example) we should be happier with Madame Vastra being in love with Jenny than Martha being (unrequitedly) in love with the Doctor?

      There certainly is (often) a lack of gender balance in Doctor Who, a show still very much dominated creatively by men. But that doesn’t mean that men contribute nothing in the fiction of the show, or indeed in reality. You make some very good points there, and to be fair, my phrasing of Rose’s ultimate departure with an “ersatz copy” is more sarcastic and bitchy than serious. Thanks for the analysis 🙂

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      1. Thank you for the reply 🙂
        I just wanted to make these points, but I am looking forward to reading the Eleventh Doctor/ Moffat era part and the conclusion. It will be interesting to see how divided is a 50 year old show in terms of sexism. Also, I like that you’re trying to analyse it from different perspectives, this is how you get proper results. The Bechdel Test may be useful but on its own it can be rather inaccurate. So thanks for doing a throughout job!

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  2. In contrast to your own study, Rebecca Moore fails “The Girl in the Fireplace,” “Daleks in Manhattan” and “Evolution of the Daleks,” but give a pass to “The Runaway Bride”.

    So let’s take a closer look:

    Your pass for “The Girl in he Fireplace” is based on the following exchange:

    ROSE: Madame de Pompadour. Please, don’t scream or anything. We haven’t got a lot of time. I’ve come to warn you that they’ll be here in five years.
    REINETTE: Five years?
    ROSE: Some time after your thirty seventh birthday. I er, I can’t give you an exact date. It’s a bit random. But they’re coming. It’s going to happen. In a way, for us, it’s already happening. I’m sorry, it’s hard to explain. The Doctor does this better.
    REINETTE: Then be exact, and I will be attentive.
    ROSE: There isn’t time.
    REINETTE: There are five years.
    ROSE: For you. I haven’t got five minutes.
    REINETTE: Then also be concise.
    ROSE: Er, there’s, say, a vessel, a ship, a sort of sky ship, and it’s full of, well, you. Different bits of your life in different rooms, all jumbled up. I told you it was complicated. Sorry.
    REINETTE: There is a vessel in your world where the days of my life are pressed together like the chapters of a book, so that he may step from one to the other without increase of age while I, weary traveller, must always take the slower path.
    ROSE: He was right about you.
    REINETTE: So, in five years these creatures will return. What can be done?
    ROSE: The Doctor says keep them talking. They’re kind of programmed to respond to you now. You won’t be able to stop them, but you might be able to delay them a bit.
    REINETTE: Until?
    ROSE: Until the Doctor can get there.
    REINETTE: He’s coming, then?
    ROSE: He promises.
    REINETTE: But he cannot make his promises in person?
    ROSE: He’ll be there when you need him. That’s the way it’s got to be.
    REINETTE: It’s the way it’s always been. The monsters and the Doctor. It seems you cannot have one without the other.
    ROSE: Tell me about it. The thing is, you weren’t supposed to have either. Those creatures are messing with history. None of this was ever supposed to happen to you.
    REINETTE: Supposed to happen? What does that mean? It happened, child, and I would not have it any other way. One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel.

    Clearly, Moore fails this because it’s implicit in the conversation that all Rose is doing is giving information to Reinette that she has been told to pass on by the Doctor, and you are counting the first part of the exchange because the Doctor is not explicitly mentioned. Both takes on the story I find valid.

    “Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks,”

    This one is more problematic. You pass episode one on this exchange:

    TALLULAH: Girls, it’s showtime!
    MYRNA: Lois, you spoil my chasse tonight, I’m going to punch you.
    LOIS: Aw, quick complaining, Myrna. Go buy yourself some glasses.
    TALLULAH: Come on, honey. Take a look. Ever been on stage before?
    MARTHA: Oh, a little bit. You know, Shakespeare.
    TALLULAH: How dull is that? Come and see a real show.

    But this contradicts your own rule that states “At a bare minimum, one female character must say something to another, the second respond, and the first respond to that.”

    However, although in contrast Moore has given this a fail, she should have passed it as her study is willing to settle for just a two line exchange between two named female characters.

    You pass episode 2 on this exchange:

    TALLULAH: How come those guys just let us through? How’s that thing work?
    MARTHA: Psychic paper. Shows them whatever I want them to think. According to this, we’re two engineers and an architect.

    This should be a fail, as again, it doesn’t pass your rule as stated above. Equally, Moore fails the episode because although they are discussing psychic paper, it’s in relation to it having fooled “those guys” and indeed, it has been given to Martha by the Doctor. Nevertheless, as Moore is counting each Nu Who episode separately, she should have given “Daleks in Manhattan” a pass.

    As for Moore passing the “The Runaway Bride,” this is clearly down to the fact that there are a number of two line exchanges.

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    1. Hi Alan,
      Yes, you’re right about Girl in the Fireplace – I can certainly see both viewpoints there!

      With Daleks in Manhattan though, I was first thinking of the very opening scene, and you’re right, by my criteria I should have excluded it:

      MYRNA: Where’s Tallulah?
      LOIS: Where do you think?
      (She knocks on the star’s dressing room door.)
      LOIS: Hey, Tallulah, leave him alone!

      It may be three lines between two characters, but it’s not question-answer-response.

      And you’re right about that exchange in part 2 – I was erroneously counting Martha’s line prior to Tallulah’s, which is actually directed to Frank. So, should the story as a whole fail? Well, reviewing it again, I realised the following exchange in part 2 should pass it:

      MARTHA: Wait a minute. Down in the sewers, the Daleks mentioned this energy conductor.
      TALLULAH: What does that mean?
      MARTHA: I don’t know. Maybe like a lightening conductor or. Dalekanium!
      TALLULAH: Oh.
      MARTHA: They said the Dalekanium was in place.

      Yes, they then conclude that “Frank might know”, but the subject of the exchange is clearly the energy conductor. Of course, you might want to exclude it if you think of the Daleks as male – that’s all part of the fun of trying to apply the Test to science fiction 🙂

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      1. “Yes, they then conclude that “Frank might know”, but the subject of the exchange is clearly the energy conductor. Of course, you might want to exclude it if you think of the Daleks as male”

        A Dalek appears to be male, but for the purposes of your study, I would also give this scene a pass.

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    1. Actually a discussion I’ve had quite frequently! When it came to totalling male and female characters to work out the ratios between them, I excluded the Doctor (and the Master, and the Monk etc) from the total ‘named male characters’ on precisely that basis.

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