In a recent television interview government MP George Christensen claimed to be a lifelong Doctor Who fan. According to George his earliest memory of Doctor Who is watching ‘The Brain of Morbius’ on his grandparents’ grainy black and white television.
Like George, I’m a YUGE Doctor Who fan. So much of a fan in fact that I can tell you that George would have watched that show in 1986.
As any lifelong Doctor Who fan would know, ‘Brain of Morbius’ was a touch too violent for the Australian Classification Board. It was therefore not shown on Australian television until a heavily edited version was screened in the adult time slot of 8pm in early 1980, when George was less than two. The first time it was shown in the regular 6:30 children’s time slot was in 1986, when George would have been about seven.
That’s about the same age I was when I watched ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, my earliest Doctor Who memory.
Now apart from being Doctor Who fans, George and I don’t have very much in common. In fact his politics and mine are about as different as you can get. So how did two people who became lifelong followers of the same TV show end up on the opposite side of politics? It’s not as if Doctor Who has shied away from political themes in the past. Environmentalism, pacifism, tolerance and gender equality have featured heavily throughout the show’s history.
Maybe it stems from the first shows we watched. ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ is the origin story of the Doctor’s greatest enemy and parallels the rise of Nazism. ‘Brain of Morbius’ is a Lovecraftian horror story where the titular villain is driven off a cliff by an all-female cult of religious fanatics. Make of that what you will.
Both shows did star Tom Baker in the lead role however. If there’s one thing that could span the political chasm between myself and George, it’s that iconic scarf. That’s the appeal of Doctor Who, everyone can take something from it.
But does everyone have something to give back to Doctor Who? Maybe not. Here’s why I think that George Christensen should never be let into a Tardis:
George is an outspoken opponent of Muslim immigration, often speaking at Reclaim Australia rallies and the better dressed but equally racist Q Society. He claims we are “at war with radical Islam”.
So it’s probably safe to assume that if George had had his way in Britain in 1946 it is unlikely he would have allowed an eight year old Muslim immigrant called Waris Hussain and his family to enter the country. Which would have been a shame as Waris went on to direct the first ever Doctor Who serial, An Unearthly Child, in 1963. As well as most of the epic fourth serial, Marco Polo, in 1964.
George isn’t too keen on women either, if the opinion piece he wrote, ”The truth is that women are bloody stupid”, is anything to go by. The piece appeared in a student magazine edited by George in 1998, which also contained a number of anti-Semitic and homophobic articles.
It’s just as well George wasn’t in charge of the BBC at the time they hired their first female producer, Verity Lambert. She was hired 1963 to produce a children’s television show called Doctor Who, which was expected to last for thirteen weeks. Lambert was also Jewish, as was Carol Ann Ford, who played the Doctor’s first companion.
George is quite an outspoken opponent of LGBTI rights. That probably wouldn’t have sat well with John Nathan-Turner who was openly gay in an era where Boy George still hadn’t officially come out. Nathan-Turner produced Doctor Who from 1980 to 1989.
During that time he managed to keep the show running despite numerous cuts to his budget and attempts to cancel the show. In fact it’s fair to say that without his efforts the show would have been canned long before Christensen tuned into it on a black and white television in 1986.
The man who brought Doctor Who back to our screens in 2005, Russell T Davies, is also gay, as are a number of characters and companions featured in the revived series.
George was probably too young to pick up on the anti-Thatcher themes that permeated the Sylvester McCoy era, or known that many of the Doctor’s speeches in that era were copied from the CND policy platform.
Who knows what the Doctor would make of George’s aggressive opposition to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program? Most baffling of all though is that George is a member of a government who holds public broadcasting in contempt.
It’s difficult to imagine a show as iconic as Doctor Who originating anywhere other than the BBC, but they’re not the only public broadcaster that George has to thank for his favourite show. Without the ABC, which he and the government he is part of have attacked, denigrated and underfunded on an ongoing basis, Australians, myself and George included, would probably never have known about Doctor Who. That’s a parallel universe I never want to travel to.
So I hope that George Christensen enjoys tonight’s episode as much as I do. No doubt we’ll take some very different things from it. One thing we should all take from it however is that we’ll be watching tonight’s show thanks to people who are nothing like George Christensen.