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Thought for the Week – 26th November 2023

The Theology of Dr Who

Dr Who is 60. We did not have a TV when the programme first came out and in any case, I am too young to have remembered the first Doctor, William Hartnell. I can just remember the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton and I recall being very scared by an episode I watched at my grandparents where he met up the with Yeti, the Abominable Snowmen. Reading about this on Wikipedia has renewed shivers. But it is mainly Jon Pertwee, the 3rd Doctor who I remember. I was entertained, but never especially scared and I certainly did think of the programme as being remotely spiritual. But that was then, now I’m a vicar and I do see many things differently.

The Doctor travels through time and space to help humanity and fight evil.  Somewhere in this, there are connections with eternity, a reality outside of us and a sense that we need help to redeem ourselves. Doctor Who was written as children’s entertainment and for 60 years it has (mostly) succeeded, a remarkable achievement. But perhaps that is because it touches on some very deep themes that are timeless and relevant to people of every age. With periodic re-incarnations of the Doctor, it may owe more to Eastern religious thought than the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but perhaps unwittingly it does point to a wish for a saviour, human but somehow not human. Are you looking to Advent?

Rev David Poyner