The Girls who waited? Female companions and gender in Doctor Who

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


Science fiction, because it deals with the novel and the strange, has the potential to offer something new in terms of gender representation. This doesn’t mean it always delivers on this potential, however. Doctor Who, as well as being SF with cult status and a large fan following, is also, especially in its current incarnation, a mainstream TV drama from a public service broadcaster. How does this affect its representation of gender? If television fiction is to be relevant and credible to audiences, it needs to negotiate questions of identity in relation to changes and developments in our understanding of ourselves and our society. Here I examine Doctor Who in the broader context of TV drama, as well as in terms of changes to the TV industry over the run of the show, in order to highlight and analyse certain aspects of the series’ gender representation, focusing largely on the female ‘companions’. Emphasis is particularly on how the rebooted Doctor Who tries to do things differently, yet recent press coverage around the casting of the new Doctor suggests that it is failing to offer responsible contemporary representation
Period4 Sept 2013
Event titleDoctor Who: Walking in Eternity
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionRegional


  • Gender
  • television
  • Doctor Who
  • female characters
  • science fiction