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Sylvester McCoy says Doctor Who has always been political as classic series lands on BritBox

McCoy says stories from his late '80s era were "about the problems of the time"

Doctor Who - Sylvester McCoy
Published: Saturday, 21st December 2019 at 9:00 am

Classic Doctor Who is coming to streaming platform BritBox from Boxing Day – and if you've never dipped into the show pre-2005, you might find it's not so different to the BBC sci-fi series as it exists today.


Though certain critics have alleged that the most recent series, starring Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, was too 'politically correct', seventh Doctor actor Sylvester McCoy told that the show has always had social issues at its heart.

Asked which of his stories would be a good jumping on point for new fans watching on BritBox, McCoy said, "Well, I think the Dalek one [1988's Remembrance of the Daleks] – it was a particularly good one. But also, there was another layer in it. It was a story about race and division. And I was very proud that we did that, because that was one of the things we wanted to do.

"Because when I watched Patrick Troughton all those years ago, you know, when the BBC was 'Auntie BBC' and it was a bit straight-laced, Doctor Who was definitely not of that ilk, and it was slightly rebellious. It was part of the swinging ‘60s philosophy of life. And that’s what I loved. I was 20-odd, so that’s what attracted me.

"So we wanted to bring a bit of something like that back into my era of Doctor Who. The stories... There was an anti-Thatcher one [1988's The Happiness Patrol]. There was one about housing [1987's Paradise Towers]. It was about the problems of the time."

McCoy even has a theory on why political themes and reflecting the world as it is now is so important to Doctor Who. "If you’re a young writer of science-fiction, you know, it’s people looking forwards, and therefore there will be criticism of the present, because they want to get to the future as quickly as possible," he said.

McCoy's thoughts chime with those of current Who boss Chris Chibnall, who said in December 2018, "“I think you want to be writing about the world that we live in. The show is not a standalone thing, it’s a response to the times that we’re living in and the world that we’re in.

“And when it comes to things that affect people’s lives – I think particularly things that children and young adults are going through – that feels really important."


New and classic Doctor Who – absolutely the same show at heart(s).

The classic series of Doctor Who will be available on BritBox from Boxing Day (Thursday, 26th December)

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