How sexist is Doctor Who?–50 years of sexism in statistics

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been going through every Doctor Who story from 1963 to now, and assessing their gender balance by applying the Bechdel Test to each of them.


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
  9. David Tennant
  10. Matt Smith

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.


Well, there we are then. Fifty years worth of Doctor Who, subjected to the Bechdel Test to determine how sexist the show is. Some surprising results along the way – who would have thought that, in Bechdel terms, Russell T Davies was a more sexist showrunner than Andrew Cartmel? Some less surprising results too – none of us are going to faint with amazement at the revelation that the 70s was the show’s most sexist era, and Jon Pertwee the most sexist Doctor.

The Bechdel Test is of course a very blunt tool, prone to misdirection and lacking in nuance. So let’s get the big question out of the way early – yes, in Bechdel terms, Steven Moffat’s era is more sexist than Russell T Davies’, just as Rebecca Moore’s original study suggested. Of Moffat’s 39 stories as showrunner, 38.4% of them fail the Test; Russell, with 47 stories overall, fails only 23.4% of the time.


But as I’ve pointed out time and again in the Notes for each story, gender balance is more nuanced than that; and the Test’s results can be seriously skewed by less conventional styles of storytelling. RTD’s narratives were, for a show about time travel, fairly conventionally structured. Moffat, on the other hand, has made a virtue of the show’s central concept, exploiting the head-scratchingly complex possibilities of time paradoxes throughout. Along with his far more arc-heavy storylines, which encompass not just one season at a time, but Matt Smith’s entire run.

So, when you’ve got a named female character popping up for several episodes before we learn her name (eg Madame Kovarian), she can’t be counted until she’s named. And halfway through her second season, we discover that Amy has been replaced by a Ganger. Does she then need to be discounted as a named female character for the episodes prior to this, or do we need to count the previous Ganger duplicates as separate characters (I did)?

There’s also the factor of Moffat’s tendency to have smaller ensembles of characters generally. Remember, RTD cut his teeth on soap operas, and his MO stems from that; all of Moffat’s (well-regarded) stories in that era have far smaller character lists than most. That’s reflected in the fact that, Harriet Jones apart, all of RTD’s older female characters were the mothers of the more important younger ones. Moffat’s recurring mature females, River Song and Kate Stewart, may have been ‘defined by men’ (the Doctor and the Brigadier), but they weren’t defined by their children.

And Moffat, more than Russell, has used his run on the show to examine, deconstruct and dissect the character of the Doctor, and the mythic status such a being would come to hold. Consequently, the third Test criteria is failed frequently, as so many of the conversations between female characters (and male ones, for that matter) revolve around the Doctor. But does he count as ‘a man’?


Indeed, the possibilities that science fantasy offers in terms of gender has often made the Test’s results hazy at best. We know, from a line in Neil Gaiman’s The Doctor’s Wife, that Time Lords, including the Doctor, can change gender when regenerating. So, do we count Time Lord gender as it is in the story being analysed, or discount them from the Test altogether? When they regenerate, does that make them ‘new characters’ (eg Romana, River Song)?

Is a parallel universe version of a familiar character distinct from the original, or the same (eg Inferno)? If the same character meets herself from the future, are they one character or two (eg The Girl Who Waited)? What about that “hermaphrodite hexapod” Alpha Centauri? Or Eldrad the Kastrian, who spends half ‘his’ story as a disembodied hand, then becomes a woman, then a man? Are Cybermen all to be counted as male, even if they’re converted from women (The Age of Steel)?

See? Complicated. And that’s just in Bechdel terms, before you get into the nuance of whether a story passes the Test even though it has a far from positive portrayal of women. Think of Closing Time, in which there are basically only three male characters (the Doctor, Craig and Alfie) and eight females. But the show’s actually about Craig and the Doctor, so the women are little more than cameos; and not always flattering ones at that.


Still, enough of this ‘nuance’ stuff. Let’s find out what we’re interested in – who are the most and least sexist people involved in the show, on screen and off? I’ve refined the results by other factors than a strict Bechdel pass/fail to give a little more detail. If a story fails on all three criteria, it’s a ‘worse’ fail than just one, so for all involved I’ve totted up the amounts of fails for one, two or three criteria, giving 1 point for each instance of one failure, 2 points for each instance of two failures, and 3 points for three. That’s then divided by the number of stories the contributor was involved in to give an overall failure score in terms of severity.

I’ve also, as with each Doctor, calculated the average ratio of male to female characters, again divided by the total stories from each contributor. And to be really anal, I’ve also added those that to the Bechdel Test failure severity to give an overall ‘Total Sexism’ score. So, here goes…


Well, we know the proportion of Bechdel failures from the previous posts:


  1. Paul McGann – 100% (not really fair with his one story, but included here for the sake of completeness)
  2. Jon Pertwee – 54.2%
  3. Tom Baker – 43.9%
  4. Matt Smith – 38.5%
  5. Patrick Troughton – 33.3%
  6. William Hartnell – 31 %
  7. Peter Davison – 30%
  8. David Tennant – 24.3%
  9. Christopher Eccleston – 20%
  10. Colin Baker – 18.8%
  11. Sylvester McCoy – 8.3%

But how do they fare in other terms? If we rate them by severity of Bechdel failures, as detailed above, a few things change:


  1. Tom Baker – 1.1
  2. Jon Pertwee – 1
  3. Paul McGann – 1
  4. Matt Smith – 0.79
  5. Patrick Troughton – 0.71
  6. William Hartnell – 0.62
  7. Peter Davison – 0.5
  8. Colin Baker – 0.45
  9. David Tennant – 0.32
  10. Christopher Eccleston – 0.3
  11. Sylvester McCoy – 0.17

Broadly similar, and McCoy still comes off best. But even though a higher proportion of Pertwee’s stories fail the Test overall, Tom Baker’s failures are generally on more of the Test criteria, so he outranks everyone for failing the Test badly.

How about if we tot them up by the ratio of male to female characters?


  1. Jon Pertwee – 6.7:1
  2. Patrick Troughton – 5.2:1
  3. Tom Baker – 5:1
  4. William Hartnell – 4.3:1
  5. Colin Baker – 3.25:1
  6. Peter Davison – 2.9:1
  7. Paul McGann – 2.3:1
  8. Matt Smith – 2:1
  9. Sylvester McCoy – 1.7:1
  10. David Tennant – 1.3:1
  11. Christopher Eccleston – 1.25:1

Quite a bit of difference there, with both Eccleston and Tennant beating out McCoy for gender balance, while (as expected) Matt Smith comes off worse than McCoy but better than every other classic Doctor. Now let’s add the severity of Bechdel failures to the amount by which male characters outnumber female ones, for a score we can arbitrarily call ‘Total Sexism’. This isn’t out of any particular total, but the higher the number, the worse the gender balance:


  1. Jon Pertwee – 7.7
  2. Tom Baker – 6.1
  3. Patrick Troughton – 5.91
  4. William Hartnell – 4.92
  5. Colin Baker – 3.7
  6. Peter Davison – 3.4
  7. Paul McGann – 3.3
  8. Matt Smith – 2.79
  9. Sylvester McCoy – 1.87
  10. David Tennant – 1.62
  11. Christopher Eccleston – 1.55

As you can see, some notable differences from the chart of basic Bechdel pass/fail. Paul McGann gets a fairer judgement on his one story; Pertwee and Tom Baker still come off worst; Colin Baker stands revealed as worse than we thought, while the Moffat-era antics of Matt Smith now show up as demonstrably less sexist than every classic Doctor but McCoy (although still the worst of the Nu-Who Doctors).

So, you get the picture of the different, more detailed ways we can look at sexism in the show. But the various Doctors don’t come up with the contents of the stories – except possibly Tom Baker, who tended to ignore the script, and William Hartnell, who tended to forget what was in it. To check that out, we need to look at the results for producers, script editors, and writers.


This is where comparing Classic and Nu Who gets trickier. The modern concept of ‘showrunner’ personified by Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat doesn’t really apply pre-2005; back then the creative content of the show was driven by a combination of producer and script editor. With John Nathan-Turner’s long run as producer, it’s fairer to say the script editor did most of it. Conversely, in Nu-Who, producers and script editors have far less of a role in shaping the show’s content than the Executive Producer – ie showrunner.

So, in order to provide a fair comparison, I’m going to include the scores for RTD and Moffat in the lists of both producers and script editors, while excluding those who perform those functions on Nu-Who. Here goes…


First off, the results by proportion of Bechdel failures, with the number of stories noted for each producer:

  1. Peter V Ware (1 story) – 100%
  2. John Wiles (4 stories) – 75%
  3. Philip Hinchcliffe (16 stories) – 68.75%
  4. Derrick Sherwin (2 stories) – 50%
  5. Barry Letts (24 stories) – 50%
  6. Innes Lloyd (16 stories) – 50%
  7. Steven Moffat (39 stories) – 38.46%
  8. Graham Williams (17 stories) – 29.41%
  9. Russell T Davies (47 stories) – 23.4%
  10. John Nathan-Turner (50 stories) – 22%
  11. Peter Bryant (10 stories) – 20%
  12. Verity Lambert (19 stories) – 15.79%


As you can see, the fewer the stories, the more skewed the result can be. Derrick Sherwin fails on 50% of his two stories – ie one failure makes him look pretty bad. Peter V Ware falls foul of the same problem as Paul McGann, for the same story. Conversely, Philip Hinchcliffe and Barry Letts look pretty bad for a high failure rate across so many stories. Let’s refine the results again – how do they rank by severity of Bechdel failures?


  1. Philip Hinchcliffe – 1.69
  2. John Wiles – 1.5
  3. Innes Lloyd – 1.13
  4. Peter V Ware – 1
  5. Derrick Sherwin – 1
  6. Barry Letts – 0.92
  7. Steven Moffat – 0.79
  8. Graham Williams – 0.76
  9. John Nathan-Turner – 0.44
  10. Peter Bryant – 0.4
  11. Russell T Davies – 0.32
  12. Verity Lambert – 0.26

A fairer picture there. Barry Letts does much better this time; yes, 50% of his stories fail the Test, but generally they pass more of the three criteria than Innes Lloyd’s 50% of failures. Philip Hinchcliffe still looks pretty bad. And the show’s very first (and female) producer still leads the way. How do they do for ratio of male to female characters?

  1. Philip Hinchcliffe – 8.9:1
  2. Derrick Sherwin – 6.6:1
  3. Barry Letts – 6.4:1
  4. Innes Lloyd – 4.8:1
  5. John Wiles – 4.6:1
  6. Verity Lambert – 3.8:1
  7. Graham Williams – 3.7:1
  8. Peter Bryant – 3.1:1
  9. John Nathan-Turner – 2.6:1
  10. Peter V Ware – 2.3:1
  11. Steven Moffat – 1.9:1
  12. Russell T Davies – 1.3:1


Hinchcliffe still not looking good by that measure. Barry Letts, with his mostly male UNIT family, doesn’t fare too well either. Sherwin’s back up there – hardly surprising when The War Games has 21 male characters to 3 females, and Spearhead from Space has 12 to 2. And for the first time, Verity Lambert doesn’t come off best, while both Moffat and RTD start to look very good by comparison. Let’s see if adding up those factors for a Total Sexism score changes much:


  1. Philip Hinchcliffe – 10.59
  2. Derrick Sherwin – 7.6
  3. Barry Letts – 7.32
  4. John Wiles – 6.1
  5. Innes Lloyd – 5.93
  6. Graham Williams – 4.46
  7. Verity Lambert – 4.06
  8. Peter Bryant – 3.5
  9. Peter V Ware – 3.3
  10. John Nathan-Turner – 3.04
  11. Steven Moffat – 2.69
  12. Russell T Davies – 1.62

Nope, that didn’t change much at all. Philip Hinchcliffe is still worst off by some margin, though Graham Williams is now less gender balanced than Verity Lambert, and Wiles and Lloyd have swapped. However, Nu-Who looks quantifiably more balanced by all measures, and RTD better than the Moff.

At this point we need to remember that producers aren’t solely responsible for a show’s content; they have to do other things, like sorting out the budget, allocating directors, sometimes even stepping in themselves to fill other roles. The more day-to-day aspect of defining the show’s creative style was usually agreed between the producer and his/her script editor, and sometimes the script editor’s style may have made the producer look worse. So how do they rank?

Script Editors

As noted above, I’ve excluded the Nu-Who script editors, who have less responsibility for the show’s style overall; but included RTD and Moffat, who do. How do they all fare for Bechdel failures generally?

  1. Peter Bryant (4 stories) – 75%
  2. Robert Holmes (21 stories) – 61.9%
  3. Donald Tosh (5 stories) – 60%
  4. Terrance Dicks (28 stories) – 50%
  5. Gerry Davis (15 stories) – 46.67%
  6. Steven Moffat (39 stories) – 38.46%
  7. Anthony Read (8 stories) – 37.5%
  8. Eric Saward (27 stories) – 29.63%
  9. Christopher H Bidmead (7 stories) – 28.57%
  10. Russell T Davies (47 stories) – 23.4%
  11. Derrick Sherwin (6 stories) – 16.67%
  12. Dennis Spooner (6 stories) – 16.67%
  13. David Whitaker (11 stories) – 9.09%
  14. Andrew Cartmel (12 stories) – 8.33%
  15. Victor Pemberton (1 story) – 0%
  16. Douglas Adams (5 stories) – 0%
  17. John Nathan-Turner (1 story) – 0%
  18. Antony Root (3 stories) – 0%


Once again, those with fewer stories have rather skewed results. Poor old Peter Bryant does very badly out of his 4 stories, while John Nathan-Turner looks smugly good for stepping in to script edit Terror of the Vervoids when Eric Saward quit. More relevant are the ones with more stories to analyse; by this token, Steven Moffat is more sexist than Eric Saward, and RTD is more sexist than David Whitaker. And it’s hardly a surprise that Philip Hinchcliffe did so badly in the producer ratings with the result here for his most frequent collaborator, Robert Holmes. Let’s try and even things out by looking at the severity of their Bechdel failures:


  1. Robert Holmes – 1.52
  2. Peter Bryant – 1.5
  3. Donald Tosh – 1.2
  4. Gerry Davis – 1.07
  5. Anthony Read – 1
  6. Terrance Dicks – 0.93
  7. Steven Moffat – 0.79
  8. Christopher H Bidmead – 0.71
  9. Eric Saward – 0.56
  10. Derrick Sherwin – 0.33
  11. Russell T Davies – 0.32
  12. David Whitaker – 0.18
  13. Dennis Spooner – 0.17
  14. Andrew Cartmel – 0.17
  15. Victor Pemberton – 0
  16. Douglas Adams – 0
  17. John Nathan-Turner – 0
  18. Antony Root – 0

Quite a few changes with the addition of that detail. Holmes now comes off worst, while Anthony Read looks considerably less balanced than previously. Dennis Spooner, who also script edited that bastion of political correctness The Professionals, still looks pretty good. However, those with fewer stories still get unfairly good or bad results (Bryant, Adams). Let’s see if the ratio of male to female characters will change anything:


  1. Robert Holmes – 7.65:1
  2. Terrance Dicks – 6.8:1
  3. Peter Bryant – 5.7:1
  4. David Whitaker – 4.7:1
  5. Victor Pemberton – 4.5:1
  6. Gerry Davis – 4:1
  7. Derrick Sherwin – 4:1
  8. Donald Tosh – 3.6:1
  9. Christopher H Bidmead – 3.5:1
  10. Anthony Read – 3.4:1
  11. Eric Saward – 3.2:1
  12. Douglas Adams – 3.1:1
  13. John Nathan-Turner – 3:1
  14. Steven Moffat – 1.9:1
  15. Dennis Spooner – 1.7:1
  16. Andrew Cartmel – 1.7:1
  17. Russell T Davies – 1.3:1
  18. Antony Root – 1.25:1

Well, Robert Holmes still tops that list, with an impressive dearth of female characters in the stories he edited. Quite a few differences elsewhere though. Terrance Dicks may pass the Test more frequently than some, but his balance of genders in character terms isn’t too impressive. And while Douglas Adams and Victor Pemberton lead the way in Test passes, neither is too impressive by this standard. Moffat and RTD both look a lot better in these terms, and surprisingly Dennis Spooner’s still doing pretty well. It’s beginning to look pretty damning for Peter Bryant though. Let’s see how they do for Total Sexism:

  1. Robert Holmes – 9.17
  2. Terrance Dicks – 7.73
  3. Peter Bryant – 7.2
  4. Gerry Davis – 5.07
  5. David Whitaker – 4.88
  6. Donald Tosh – 4.8
  7. Victor Pemberton – 4.5
  8. Anthony Read – 4.4
  9. Derrick Sherwin – 4.33
  10. Christopher H Bidmead – 4.21
  11. Eric Saward – 3.76
  12. Douglas Adams – 3.1
  13. John Nathan-Turner – 3
  14. Steven Moffat – 2.69
  15. Dennis Spooner – 1.87
  16. Andrew Cartmel – 1.87
  17. Russell T Davies – 1.62
  18. Antony Root – 1.25

So Steven Moffat doesn’t rank too well even by the standards of the classic show, beaten out by Cartmel (no surprise there), Dennis Spooner (quite a surprise) and Antony Root. However, he’s quite a lot better than Robert Holmes, which doesn’t surprise me – I found Holmes’ stories as a writer did pretty badly both in Bechdel and gender balance terms (even though he’s probably my favourite writer on the classic show). RTD does predictably well, though not as well as Antony Root – though their forty-seven and three stories respectively don’t provide a very useful basis for comparison. No surprise to see Andrew Cartmel as one of the better editors, only barely beaten by RTD; something of a surprise that Dennis Spooner still comes off so well.


A bigger surprise is how badly Terrance Dicks fares; though it’s important to remember that the script editor doesn’t actually write the scripts (mostly), and perhaps Terrance did less overhauling than some. So let’s go down to the detail, and see how the actual writers do.

Script Writers

It gets a little more complex here. Over fifty years and 245 stories, there’s been a LOT of writers; but most of them have done only one or two stories. To keep this list manageable, I’ve decided to only include those who’ve written at least three. I chose that figure so as to include some influential and well-remembered writers who only wrote that many – for example Chris Boucher, Christopher H Bidmead and John Lucarotti. It does exclude, for example, Christopher Bailey, who wrote two stories, and Rob Shearman, who wrote one. But I’ll try and make all the data available for perusal – this is just an overview.

Also, where writers normally write in pairs, but have also worked separately, I’ve given them separate entries including however many they’ve done – for example Gerry Davis wrote four stories, but three of them were with Kit Pedler; so Gerry gets judged on all four, and Kit on the three he co-wrote. Conversely, Pip & Jane Baker, who never worked separately, are counted together.

Right, that’s all that out of the way, now let’s see how the writers do. First off – how do they fare on purely failing of the Bechdel Test?


  1. Kit Pedler (3 stories) – 66.67%
  2. Robert Sloman (3 stories) – 66.67%
  3. Johnny Byrne (3 stories) – 66.67%
  4. Robert Holmes (17 stories) – 64.71%
  5. Dave Martin (8 stories) – 62.5%
  6. Gareth Roberts (5 stories) – 60%
  7. Bob Baker (9 stories) – 55.56%
  8. Gerry Davis (4 stories) – 50%
  9. Louis Marks (4 stories) – 50%
  10. Brian Hayles (6 stories) – 50%
  11. Mark Gatiss (6 stories) – 50%
  12. Toby Whithouse (4 stories) – 50%
  13. Terry Nation (11 stories) – 45.45%
  14. David Whitaker (8 stories) – 37.5%
  15. Peter Grimwade (3 stories) – 33.3%
  16. Dennis Spooner (3 stories) – 33.3%
  17. Chris Boucher (3 stories) – 33.3%
  18. Terence Dudley (3 stories) – 33.3%
  19. John Lucarotti (3 stories) – 33.3%
  20. Ian Stuart Black (3 stories) – 33.3%
  21. Pip & Jane Baker (4 stories) – 25%
  22. Eric Saward (4 stories) – 25%
  23. Chris Chibnall (4 stories) – 25%
  24. Russell T Davies (25 stories) – 20%
  25. Steven Moffat (21 stories) 19.05%
  26. Malcolm Hulke (7 stories) – 14.29%
  27. Terrance Dicks (6 stories) – 0%
  28. Christopher H Bidmead (3 stories) – 0%
  29. David Fisher (4 stories) – 0%

Once again, a fairly crude measure, skewed by those with fewer stories to judge on. However, Robert Holmes is once again not looking too good, while on the flip side, Terrance Dicks is looking perfect – along with Christopher H Bidmead and David Fisher, he has the impressive distinction of having written multiple stories and not failed the Test once.

Meanwhile, in Nu-Who, looking at RTD and Moffat purely as scriptwriters seems to have changed the picture for their use of gender balance. They’re almost neck and neck, with (surprisingly) Moffat just taking the edge as ever so slightly less sexist. That can’t be true, can it? Let’s see how they do when we assess them by severity of Test failures:

  1. Kit Pedler – 2
  2. Robert Holmes – 1.53
  3. Dave Martin – 1.5
  4. Gerry Davis – 1.5
  5. Louis Marks – 1.5
  6. Bob Baker – 1.33
  7. Brian Hayles – 1.17
  8. Mark Gatiss – 1.17
  9. Johnny Byrne – 1
  10. Gareth Roberts – 1
  11. Chris Boucher – 1
  12. Terry Nation – 0.91
  13. Toby Whithouse – 0.75
  14. Pip & Jane Baker – 0.75
  15. Robert Sloman – 0.67
  16. Peter Grimwade – 0.67
  17. Terence Dudley – 0.67
  18. John Lucarotti – 0.67
  19. Ian Stuart Black – 0.67
  20. David Whitaker – 0.5
  21. Eric Saward – 0.5
  22. Malcolm Hulke – 0.43
  23. Dennis Spooner – 0.33
  24. Russell T Davies – 0.32
  25. Chris Chibnall – 0.25
  26. Steven Moffat – 0.19
  27. Terrance Dicks – 0
  28. Christopher H Bidmead – 0
  29. David Fisher – 0


Quite a few changes in the middle, but broadly similar at the top and bottom. Interestingly, there’s not much of a distinction between classic and Nu writers, with both Mark Gatiss and Gareth Roberts popping up in the top ten. Kit Pedler still does worse than Robert Holmes, though he only has three stories to do badly in as opposed to Holmes’ seventeen. Since this assesses the severity of Test failures, Dicks, Bidmead and Fisher still do best, as they have no Test failures to be severe or otherwise. And of the hotly contested modern two, RTD edges further up the sexism list by these criteria, his Test failures working out more severe (as a scriptwriter) than Steven Moffat. Even Chris Chibnall does better, though again there’s the validity issue of comparing Chibnall’s four stories to RTD’s twenty-five.

OK then, let’s step away from the Test and look at the writers from the other angle: what’s their ratio of male to female characters?

  1. Kit Pedler – 8:1
  2. Gerry Davis – 5.8:1
  3. Terry Nation – 5.8:1
  4. Malcolm Hulke – 5.4:1
  5. Dave Martin – 5:1
  6. Bob Baker – 4.8:1
  7. Peter Grimwade – 4.8:1
  8. Dennis Spooner – 4.7:1
  9. Robert Holmes – 4.6:1
  10. Robert Sloman – 4.4:1
  11. Chris Boucher – 4:1
  12. Louis Marks – 3.7:1
  13. Terence Dudley – 3.4:1
  14. John Lucarotti – 3.25:1
  15. David Whitaker – 3.1:1
  16. Ian Stuart Black – 3:1
  17. Johnny Byrne – 2.9:1
  18. Pip & Jane Baker – 2.75:1
  19. Brian Hayles – 2.7:1
  20. Terrance Dicks – 2.7:1
  21. Christopher H Bidmead – 2.25:1
  22. Steven Moffat – 2.1:1
  23. Toby Whithouse – 1.8:1
  24. David Fisher – 1.8:1
  25. Mark Gatiss – 1.6:1
  26. Eric Saward – 1.6:1
  27. Chris Chibnall – 1.3:1
  28. Gareth Roberts – 1.1:1
  29. Russell T Davies – 1.1:1


Not surprisingly, quite a difference when we look at female representation outside the strict confines of the Test. From this viewpoint, there’s a very clear distinction between classic and Nu Who; the post-2005 writers have more female characters than almost all of the classic writers, with the exception of David Fisher and (surprisingly) Eric Saward. Kit Pedler still comes off worst though – in fact as we’ve seen, classic Cybermen stories do pretty badly for gender balance. But let’s add those figures to the Test failure severity figures, and see if the results for Total Sexism change anything.


  1. Kit Pedler – 2
  2. Gerry Davis – 7.3
  3. Terry Nation – 6.71
  4. Dave Martin – 6.5
  5. Bob Baker – 6.13
  6. Robert Holmes – 6.13
  7. Malcolm Hulke – 5.83
  8. Peter Grimwade – 5.47
  9. Louis Marks – 5.2
  10. Robert Sloman – 5.07
  11. Dennis Spooner – 5.03
  12. Chris Boucher – 5
  13. Terence Dudley – 4.07
  14. John Lucarotti – 3.92
  15. Johnny Byrne – 3.9
  16. Brian Hayles – 3.87
  17. Ian Stuart Black – 3.67
  18. David Whitaker – 3.6
  19. Pip & Jane Baker – 3.5
  20. Mark Gatiss – 2.77
  21. Terrance Dicks – 2.7
  22. Toby Whithouse – 2.55
  23. Steven Moffat – 2.29
  24. Christopher H Bidmead – 2.25
  25. Eric Saward – 2.1
  26. Gareth Roberts – 2.1
  27. David Fisher – 1.8
  28. Chris Chibnall – 1.55
  29. Russell T Davies – 1.42

Actually not much. Kit Pedler’s still the show’s most sexist writer (by these arbitrary standards), but with only three stories, he can’t do that much damage. Malcolm Hulke does a lot better here, but Robert Holmes does rather worse than before, revealed as more sexist than Peter Grimwade or Dennis Spooner.

There’s still a fairly clear distinction between pre and post-2005 writers, though Terrance Dicks can hold his head up as being less sexist than Mark Gatiss. RTD is unsurprisingly the least sexist writer in the show’s history (by my rather arbitrary standards) with Moffat trailing by a fair margin. David Fisher still does well, mainly courtesy of Stones of Blood and Creature from the Pit. And who would have thought that Chris Chibnall and Eric Saward were so inclusive?


Well, that’s it for the Doctor Who Bechdel Project – all the rankings I think are significant, though I collected reams of data which can be sorted in numerous ways. It’s available as an Excel spreadsheet here, on the off chance you want to discover which Dalek story is the most sexist, or which story directed by Douglas Camfield, or which story with music by Paddy Kingsland. There are separate worksheet tabs down the bottom, in case you want to see all the stats by Doctor, Producer, Writer, and so on – including absolutely all of them. It’s read-only, but you can sort and filter the data however you like (I think). Have fun with that.

I have to thank Rebecca Moore, for coming up with the original Moffat/RTD study which inspired this one. She and I differed in some of the ways we applied the Test, but of those two showrunners, we’re in agreement! One of the factors she considered and I didn’t was the screentime for each female character – mainly because it would have taken a very long time indeed to watch every story in the show’s history (I did it once, it took several years). What saved me from having to do that was this truly excellent transcript site, to who I owe enormous thanks.

Have a look at my data – disagree and debate if you like, that’s what fandom is for! Oh, and one last thing – I wondered what, by these standards, was the most sexist story ever. It would have to fail the Test on all three criteria, and have a very bad ratio of male to female characters. Would it be by Robert Holmes? Would it star Jon Pertwee? Would it be from the 70s? Well, surprisingly, only the last of those was true. Failing all three Test criteria, with a male: female character ratio of 10:1, the most sexist story ever is… Planet of Evil. And it always seemed perfectly respectable to me!


6 thoughts on “How sexist is Doctor Who?–50 years of sexism in statistics”

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