Maybe it was because my first exposure to Doctor Who was when I was young, or because Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee in particular never held even the remotest of sexual interest for me, but I have always tended to think of the Doctor as somewhat outside of or beyond sex. Sure, I am willing to recognise that there is sexual tension between Doctors and their companions, but I would never have thought about the Doctor in that way. It is just wrong. And despite the fact that our current Doctors are younger and more attractive, I still can’t bring myself to consider the Doctor an object of sexual interest.
Hence, I have felt a certain discomfort with the new Doctor Who. I loved it when it came back and particularly the way it incorporated old lore into a new shiny approach (though I did miss the old control room of the tardis. but that is a minor point). And while the Doctor and Rose were obviously close, the presence of Mickey and the general construct around the relationship allowed me to view it as a spiritual and intellectual closeness, not a sexual one. A little bit of underlying, unspoken sexual tension is fine.
But then along came Martha Jones. And I hated her. Not because she was intrinsically bad as a character. No, she was smart and attractive and capable, so all good there. But all that was nothing against the whole unrequited love aspect of the series. It was just painful. Painful because it turned an otherwise intelligent woman into a drooling idiot and because it violated that unspoken agreement that the Doctor is not there for sex. Everytime she did the whole he-just-doesn’t-care-I’m-alive rubbish it made me wince, particularly because OBVIOUSLY, he did care about her – the Doctor always cares about his companions, just NOT IN THAT WAY.
So the arrival of Donna was a fabulous relief – back to a no-nonsense Doctor-companion relationship. I wondered whether the Doctor Who powers realised they had pushed that envelope into the realm of discomfort with the running joke of the season involving people constantly assuming they were married, and the definite negative reaction from both. THe interesting thing was that the appearance of Professor River Song who seems to have had some sort of relationship with the Doctor didn’t actually worry me – she seemed so tough and businesslike, not sappy and annoying. And yet she may have been more than the usual travelling companion, signalling a time where the Doctor almost settles down, or something.
As we get an even younger Doctor with another young, attractive female companion, one wonders whether the whole sexual tension thing will again rise to the surface. Let’s really hope that no one thinks it is a good idea for him to have an actual relationship with kissing. Eewk – I might have to stop watching then!