Russell T. Davies Explains Doctor Who’s Big Davros Retcon

Last week, Doctor Who gave David Tennant’s 14th Doctor his surprise debut in a special scene recorded for the charity telethon Children in Need—one that took the Doctor back to the very genesis of their greatest foe, the Daleks. But in doing so, it also made a big change to their creator, one that returning showrunner Russell T. Davies intends to keep.

In the brief scene—depicting the early days of Kaled scientists developing the travel casing that would eventually transform them into the mutated Daleks—fans saw Julian Bleach reprise his role as Davros, the Daleks’ creator. But Davros was very different to how we’ve largely seen him: no longer scarred, and no longer in a Dalek-esque wheelchair aid. This wasn’t just an early version of the villain; according to Davies, the intent behind that is to keep Davros as such going forward—to push against back the trope of largely associating physical disabilities with villainous characters.

Sneak Peek Of BRAND NEW Doctor Who Unleashed with David Tennant! l Children In Need

“We had long conversations about bringing Davros back, because he’s a fantastic character,” Davies said as part of an interview broadcast in Doctor Who Unleashed, which accompanied the release of the short scene on the BBC iPlayer. “Time and society and culture and taste has moved on. And there’s a problem with the Davros of old in that he’s a wheelchair user, who is evil. And I had problems with that. And a lot of us on the production team had problems with that, of associating disability with evil. And trust me, there’s a very long tradition of this [in media].”

“I’m not blaming people in the past at all,” Davies continued. “But the world changes. And when the world changes, Doctor Who has to change as well.”

Davies’ return to Doctor Who is already advocating to bring more disabled actors in playing disabled characters—Ruth Madeley, an actress who uses a wheelchair, is set to appear in the trio of 60th anniversary specials as a wheelchair-using supporting character named Shirley Anne Bingham. But the move to overhaul Davros—a major character, albeit rarely seen, having last appeared in 2015’s “The Magician’s Apprentice”—marks a significant step that Davies is willing and capable of having Doctor Who address past representations of society in order to better reflect the world it is made in.

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