BBC rejects Doctor Who complaints over trans representation to ‘proudly celebrate diversity’

A still from the BBC's Doctor Who special that shows the titular Time Lord (played by David Tennant) standing alongside Rose, a trans character played by Yasmin Finney

The BBC has hit back at complaints from Doctor Who viewers who argued that including Yasmin Finney’s trans character in the 60th anniversary special was “inappropriate”. 

The broadcaster received a measly 144 complaints from disgruntled viewers over the inclusion of Heartstopper star Finney’s trans character Rose in “The Star Beast” special, which aired on 25 November. 

The special was watched by more than 7.6 million people, meaning the complaints made up only a tiny proportion of the Doctor Who audience. 

Some viewers whined that Finney’s character was “anti-male” while others claimed it was “inappropriate” to have trans representation on screen. 

But the BBC has brushed off those complaints in a Tuesday (2 January) update on its complaints response website

“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,” the BBC said. “We are always mindful of the content within our episodes.”

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The British broadcaster added it also received messages from viewers who felt there are “too few” trans people represented in Doctor Who

Doctor Who has been notable for its inclusionary storylines over the past few years. 

After decades of white men playing the titular Time Lord, Jodie Whittaker became the first woman to take the helm of the TARDIS in 2017. Her time on Doctor Who also saw the first LGBTQ+ relationship that the Doctor had with a companion.

With the show’s latest Christmas episode, fans finally got acquainted with the newest Doctor, played by Ncuti Gatwa – the 15th Doctor and the first Black, openly queer to take on the leading role in the series history

Still, the inclusion of a trans character Rose, played by Finney, in recent episodes appeared to be too much for a small margin of Doctor Who viewers. 

In the 2023 specials, Rose is the teenage daughter of one time Doctor Who companion Donna (Catherine Tate) and husband Shaun (Karl Collins), and her family is supportive of her transition though she encounters bias elsewhere in her life. 

Before “The Star Beast” even aired, showrunner Russell T Davies said some critics “full of absolute hate, and venom, and destruction, and violence” would like to see “that sort of thing wiped off the screen entirely”. 

Directly addressing the haters, Davies declared: “Shame on you and good luck to you in your lonely lives.”

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