Doctor Who in China. Part IV

What is the experience of Doctor Who fans in China? As an English teacher working in Beijing, Doctor Who in History contributor Mark Wilson got the opportunity to find out. Over the next four blog posts he muses on the stirrings of fandom, emotional connections and why 13 is the right number for change in …

Doctor Who in China   


Emotional Impact and Thirteen

Whilst I would call myself a ‘Whovian’ in the sense I am a fan of the show, I have not read any Doctor Who novels, nor listened to many audio plays. Lydia, on the other hand, has read ‘Divided Loyalties’ and listened to the audio play ‘Only the Monstrous’. Christie is currently reading ‘Only Human’ and has also purchased ‘How to Be a Time Lord’ and ‘The Companion’s Companion’. Hermione has read ‘Summer Falls’ and ’12 Doctors, 12 Stories’. She has bought (but not yet read), some Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor stories. Both Chenyuan and Xingyuan have read ‘Shada’ and listened to some Big Finish plays. Lijie has also listened to read or listened to some Torchwood-stories.


I remember when Capaldi was announced as the Doctor. The BBC had a special programme to announce it. I presumed that this would be the same for the announcement of the Thirteenth. Also, because I’ve been in China, I missed much of the discussion, if it existed at all, as to who might be announced as the new Doctor. As such, when Jodie Whittaker was announced I was shocked. Not because of her gender but because I was watching the news at the time and wasn’t expecting the announcement at all to happen when it did. That being said, I am really pleased Jodie will be the new Doctor. I have watched Broadchurch, but I haven’t seen a lot of her other work. I think it’s great to have a female Doctor and the show will be even better because of that.


Angela expressed sadness that Peter was leaving. She was happy that there will be a female Doctor, but thought that Olivia Coleman would be a better choice. She says, however, she will get through this, because, after all, ‘this is Doctor Who, and it will never let people down’. Ceeva, was ‘very thrilled indeed’ to have Jodie as the new Doctor, especially because she, like most fans, wants to be the Doctor, and she can visualise that better with a female in the lead. I think that’s why it’s so important to have a female Doctor after all this time. It can be a positive role model for all. Christie couldn’t stop shaking at the announcement, she was so happy, whilst Hermione thinks the dynamism will be interesting to see and that it will help develop gender equality and feminism. She acknowledges that the show ‘has always been famous for charity, supporting [the] LGBT community and gender equality, so it’s nice to keep the support going’. She goes on to say that the show is all about adapting to change, and this is just another change in the long history of the show. Both Chenyuan and Xingyuan have watched Broadchurch and were over the moon at the selection, and they hadn’t been that happy for a while. Xingyuan also notes that the number thirteen is not a ‘normal number’ so it seems right that the thirteenth is a Time Lady. Interestingly, all those who answered my questions were female, which reflects the broader appeal of the show, I think, but also that they can now have a role model in the Thirteenth Doctor, in a way they did not have to opportunity to have with the other Doctors.

Although these are just a small group of Chinese Whovians, they have each been touched and influenced in a different way by the show and, in their comments, they reveal an international appeal. Several of Lydia’s friends, for instance, write Doctor Who fan-fiction in Chinese. Hermione is a Doctor Who­ cosplayer, mainly dressing as Clara Oswald. She also has a YouTube channel where she does Doctor Who-related videos. Chenyuan says that the break in the show, between 1989 and 2005 (with the exception of the 1996 television movie) actually did the series a world of good, as it allowed the series to return fresher and with new elements (and also with better special effects).  Angela likes the constant change which the series brings. ‘In the end, I’d say Doctor Who can always surprise me; even when I almost lose my passion for it, the next story will amaze me with fantastic adventures. That’s why it has been in existence for more than half a century, and that’s why we love it’. But perhaps Xingyuan really expresses the views held by most die-hard Whovians. ‘I’d say Doctor Who has changed my life completely, either good or bad, I will thank it forever’.

Thank you to all the respondents who provided interesting and informative answers to the questions I asked.


The writers of Doctor Who and History focus on a different aspect of history as it expressed thematically in the show. Mark Wilson‘s chapter is all about the environment, pesticides and pollution. BAMarkWilson“As environmental awareness grew in post-World War 2 Britain, so Doctor Who incorporated this topic into its stories. My chapter describes three stories – one from the First Doctor’s era (1963), and two from the Third Doctor’s (1973). .”

Doctor Who and History is available on Amazon UK  Amazon US  McFarland shop and also available on Kindle. Check out the McFarland catalogue.

When Sydney Newman conceived the idea for Doctor Who in 1963, he envisioned a show that would entertain as well as educate. Historical adventures were part of his vision-the Doctor and his companions would visit and observe, but not interfere with, events in history. That plan was dropped early on. Not only has the Doctor happily meddled with historical events for decades, his adventures-on television, in films, novels, comics, books and games-reflect how we regard our own place in history. This collection of new essays examines how the Doctor engages with history and inspires reflections upon it history. Topics includes reconstruction of lost historical serials, reflections on Britain’s colonial past, the subversion of nostalgia for village life, the depiction of Norse myths, alternate history, and the impact of historical decisions on the present.

Book Format Paperback
Number of Pages 193
Author Fleiner, Carey, October, Dene
Publisher McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication Date August, 2017
ISBN-13 9781476666563
ISBN-10 1476666563

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