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BBC expertly shuts down viewer complaints about Doctor Who trans character

The BBC has expertly shut down Doctor Who complaints levied against a transgender character introduced in a recent episode.

In the November 2023 instalment titled “The Star Beast”, which reunited David Tennant’s Doctor and Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble, Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney made her debut in the show, playing Donna’s daughter Rose.

One scene in the episode, which was written by returning showrunner Russell T Davies, featured a frank discussion about Rose’s trans identity after she is misgendered, with another one showing her being deadnamed by bullies. “Deadnaming” is a term used to describe the act of calling someone the name they used before they transitioned.

While many viewers praised the inclusion of such scenes, which were described as “natural” and “educational”, they also found themselves the source of 144 complaints to the BBC – something the corporation has now responded to.

Deadline has since highlighted an update on the BBC’s complaints response website, which reads: “As regular viewers of Doctor Who will be aware, the show has and will always continue to proudly celebrate diversity and reflect the world we live in. We are always mindful of the content within our episodes.”

Davies, who is overseeing the new era of the long-running sci-fi series, said in November of on-screen trans representation: “[There are] newspapers of absolute hate, and venom, and destruction, and violence who would rather see that sort of thing wiped off the screen [and] destroyed. Shame on you, and good luck to you in your lonely lives.”

Speaking on companion show Doctor Who: Unleashed, Davies explained the decision to incorporate Finney’s trans identity into the show. “It becomes a vital part of the plot that Rose contains the ‘he’ and the ‘she’ and the neither and the both, and that’s a new future. Rose goes beyond words, beyond definitions.”

He continued: “Homophobia and transphobia happens when it’s something you’ve never seen before. You can temper that reaction and change it when you introduce these images to people happily and normally and calmly when they’re young. Then it just becomes normal.”

The first full-length adventure for new Doctor Who lead, Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa, was broadcast on Christmas Day 2023, and received a rapturous response from fans.

‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Heartstopper’ star Yasmin Finney (BBC)
‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Heartstopper’ star Yasmin Finney (BBC)

While Tennant and Tate’s time on the show is complete, Finney will recur as Rose in the forthcoming series, which is set to launch in May.