If the Doctor can travel through all time and space, why do they always return to the same places? Doctor Who needs more location diversity.
Season 11 of Doctor Who will be coming to our screens soon, and it’s incredibly exciting to know that we’ll soon get to meet a female Doctor, and her new companions. But the main roles aren’t the only ones that are becoming more diverse — so is the crew, and hopefully, so are the stories.
Doctor Who is famous for being particularly innovative when it comes to making new, mostly-stand-alone episodes every week that are poignant and enjoyable on their own. But although we get to travel to different planets and cities with the Doctor, there’s still a noticeable lack of location diversity in the series. Throughout the seasons, we’ve visited the UK, the USA, Italy and the Netherlands. That’s it.
It’s understandable — Doctor Who is a UK-based show and the BBC has easier access to film episodes there. And BBC America probably makes it much easier to film in the USA when necessary. But times are changing, and at this point the choice to stick to the familiar isn’t exactly justifiable. Doctor Who is one of the biggest, most renowned shows, and its budget is incredibly high… not to mention the very premise of the show, which is that all time and space is available to the TARDIS!
In the meantime, BBC America’s award-winning new show, Killing Eve, heavily featured at least five European countries and a variety of actors from each place. Sense8, a show which didn’t garner nearly as much advertisement as Doctor Who, filmed in at least eight different countries each season. Game of Thrones travelled to six countries to shoot. Is it really still a budget issue?
They wouldn’t even necessarily have to go far. For the episode in which the Tenth Doctor met Shakespeare, the show built a set to look like a 16th century city. “The Fires of Pompeii” clearly wasn’t filmed in Pompeii. If we’re travelling through space and time, couldn’t an ancient Chinese city be built as well? What about an Aztec pyramid?
Even other parts of Europe, to which travelling would be cheap, like Austria, Poland, and Russia, or other nearby places like Morocco, Turkey, and Israel, could be possibilities. The rich history of these places and their unique looks would make those episodes stand out for years to come. What about the Russian Space Program? The Ottoman Empire? Anything featuring Turkey’s amazing architecture? There’s so much that could be talked about, and there are so many opportunities to bring alien life into history.
How amazing would it be if we got to travel to parts of the world and moments in history previously undiscovered on screen? Could we travel to the New World at the beginning of colonization — a bit grim, but meaningful nonetheless? Or further back, to the great Incan Empire and their amazing technology? Could Doctor Who explore the theories that the Vikings met Native American civilizations long before the Americas were ‘discovered’?
And what about bringing the Doctor into ancient Asia, to the Forbidden City, or Tokyo, or South Korea? Imagine the Doctor and her friends dressed up in the ancient attire from those places, against local actors who already have experience with historical shows. What about South Asia? Or Africa — there’s a wealth of history there that has never been explored beyond wishy-washy attempts at Egypt. What about Ethiopia, the only African country never colonized? And what about all the Queens of African kingdoms?
We don’t even need big sets… it could all happen in those countries, in present-day Earth.
Doctor Who has always been an innovative show that isn’t afraid of being ambitious and staying true to its happy-go-lucky, world-embracing spirit. We need stories that give us that sense of wonder as we rediscover amazing things about the world around us. And of course we also want to see other planets… but there’s a lot of wonder to be had here on Earth, as well.
Season 11 will be groundbreaking in many ways. Let’s hope the diversity that’s being brought to the show’s cast and crew continues to improve the variety of stories we’re telling, so that the show can expand and really reflect the whole world.