Doctor Who has always contained a rich current of religious themes and ideas. In its very first episode it asked how humans rationalise the seemingly supernatural, as two snooping school teachers refused to accept that the TARDIS was real. More recently it has toyed with the mystery of Doctor’s real name, perhaps an echo of ancient religions and rituals in which knowledge of the secret name of a god, angel or demon was thought to grant a mortal power over the entity.
But why does Doctor Who intersect with religion so often, and what do such instances tell us about the society that produces the show and the viewers who engage with it?
The writers of Time and Relative Dimensions in Faith attempt to answer these questions through an in-depth analysis of the various treatments of religion throughout every era of the show’s history. While the majority of chapters focus on televisual Doctor Who, the authors also look at audios, novels and the response of fandom. Their analyses – all written in an accessible but academically-thorough style – reveal that examining religion in a long-running series such as Doctor Who can contribute to a number of key debates within faith communities and religious history.
Most importantly, it provides another way of looking at why Doctor Who continues to inspire, to engage and to excite generations of passionate fans, whatever their position on faith.
The contributors are drawn from the UK, the USA and Australia, and their approaches are similarly diverse. Chapters have been written by film scholars and sociologists; theologians and historians; rhetoricians, philosophers and anthropologists. Some write from the perspective of a particular faith or belief; some write from the perspective of no religious belief. All, however, demonstrate a solid knowledge of and affection for the brilliance of Doctor Who.