BBC Responds To Criticism Of Recent Doctor Who Episode


The most recent episode of Doctor Who season 12 was last Sunday’s “Can You Hear Me?”, a spooky adventure which evolved into an exploration of depression. In particular, its main message was to encourage discussing personal problems and fears with others. This went down very well with viewers, except for one scene which was widely panned.

Towards the episode’s close, Bradley Walsh’s Graham opened up to the Doctor that he fears his cancer might one day return, with him clearly looking for some words of encouragement from the 2000-year-old Time Lord. Instead, the Doctor made the excuse that she’s too “socially awkward” in this regeneration to come up with the right thing to say, but she might try again later.

Some fans complained to the BBC over the perceived mishandling of this moment, which seemed to undercut what the episode as a whole was trying to say. And this was the official response to the criticisms:

“We never set out to upset our viewers with what we show and this episode tackled some sensitive themes… When Graham opened up to the Doctor about his fear of his cancer returning her response was never meant to be dismissive. The Doctor’s friend was scared, and we see her struggling to deal with the severity of the situation.

“The intention of the scene was to acknowledge how hard it can be to deal with conversations on this subject matter. When faced with these situations, people don’t always have the right words to say at the right time, and this can often lead to feelings of guilt. By showing the Doctor struggling to find the right words, the intention was to sympathise with all those who may have found themselves in a similar position.”

This explanation, that the writers wished to highlight that it’s also OK when you don’t know what to say to a friend in need, as long as you’re there for them and listening, is a sound one. After all, this is another area of the wider issue of talking about depression that needs to be discussed. However, I’d suggest that the reason the Doctor/Graham interaction didn’t work for a lot of people is because it felt like it was played for laughs, which undercut what was trying to be said.

Again, though, the rest of the episode handled its subject matter with sensitivity, and there are many out there who enjoyed this contentious Doctor Who scene. Maybe you were even one of them.

Source: Radio Times