On Saturday, Doctor Who returns, kicking off the second part of the seventh series with a James-Bond inspired episode that sees the Doctor and Clara whizzing round London on a motorbike. Which is exciting if you like interesting drama with witty banter and thoughtful concepts. But less exciting if you like interesting dramas that include women on their writing teams.
Because season seven of Doctor Who will feature no female scribes at all. Not in the bombastic dinosaurs and cowboys episodes that aired last year, and not in any of the new episodes we’re about to receive. In fact, Doctor Who hasn’t aired an episode written by a woman since 2008, 60 episodes ago. There hasn’t been a single female-penned episode in the Moffat era, and in all the time since the show was rebooted in 2005 only one, Helen Raynor, has ever written for the show.
Dramatist and author Stella Duffy – who has noted the absence of women writers, and indeed directors, from Doctor Who on her blog – thinks that there needs to be a conscious effort to recruit writers from outside the usual small pool of male writers. “Try harder. Stop assuming that men can do the job well enough. If women are saying they feel left out (and they do), if women are saying they feel marginalised (and they do), if women are saying they do not see their voices on screen … Listen to them and do something about it,” Duffy says.
“We can knock and knock, but if they won’t let us in, we’ll never get to see how big the Tardis really might be inside. Right now, the Tardis only holds men, so maybe it’s not that big, after all.”