‘Doctor Who’ Showrunner Russell T Davies Claims Davros’ Original Look Was “Associating Disability With Evil”, Mocks Fans Who Disagree
Fans who tuned into the recent BBC Children in Need broadcast to catch a glimpse at Doctor Who‘s upcoming trilogy of 60th anniversary specials may have noticed that the series will soon be making a major change to one of its most iconic antagonists, Davros.
First introduced to the series’ canon in the 1975 serial Genesis of the Daleks, one of the defining features of the robotic creatures’ original creator has forever been his heavily scarred and disfigured appearance, explained in canon as the result of a nuclear attack launched by a group of Thal warriors during their war against his own Kaled people.
But in the supplemental episode Destination: Skaro, which aired on November 17th as part of the aforementioned BBC charity special, the villain – as once again portrayed by the character’s regular ‘Revival Era’ actor Julian Bleach – was depicted without either his injuries or his signature wheelchair.
While many fans speculated that this look at the ‘pre-nuclear attack’ Davros was merely a brief Easter Egg allowed by the episode’s taking place at an earlier point in the universe’s timeline, current and returning showrunner Russell T Davies later revealed that, in deference to modern sensibilities, it was actually a preview of the villain’s new and permanent canon appearance.
“We had long conversations about bringing Davros back, because he’s a fantastic character,” explained Davies during a post-premiere episode of the behind-the-scenes show Doctor Who Unleashed. “Time and society and culture and taste have moved on, and there’s a problem with the old Davros: he’s a wheelchair user who is evil. I had problems with that. A lot of us on the production team did too, associating disability with evil. Trust me, there’s a very long tradition of this.”
“I’m not blaming people in the past at all, but the world changes,” he continued. “And when the world changes, Doctor Who has to change as well. So we made the choice to bring back Davros without the facial scarring and without the wheelchair – or his support unit, which functions as a wheelchair.”
“I say, this is how we see Davros now,” Davies ultimately asserted. “This is what he looks like. This is 2023. This is our lens. This is our eye. Things used to be black and white; they’re not anymore. Davros used to look like that, and now he looks like this. We are absolutely standing by that.”
Following the airing of this interview, a number of Doctor Who fans took to Instagram – the showrunner’s social media platform of choice – to directly express to Davies their disagreement with his rationale.
However, rather than ignore or engage in good faith those who disagreed with argument, Davies instead chose to meet a pair of them with flippant mockery.
One user, @robygardiner, argued, “Davros isn’t a ‘wheelchair user’, he’s a partially mutated Kaled in a life support system, halfway between Kaled and Dalek. Like I was perfectly fine seeing Davros pre-accident, I think a lot of fans have wanted to see this for some time, but to insist that this is for ‘better representation of disabled people’ is just utterly bizarre. If we’re now going to pretend, as you suggest, Davros was never in the chair… or he just ‘got better’, well, that undermines one of the greatest villains Who ever created.”
In turn, Davies simply and dismissively asserted, “tough”.
Likewise, asked “Will you be changing the Cybermen next so it doesn’t upset our friends with prosthetic limbs?” by user @Dwboy14, Davies snarkily shot back, “oh poor baby”.
The first of Doctor Who‘s upcoming 60th anniversary specials, The Star Beast, is currently set to premiere on November 25th via BBC One for Irish and UK fans and Disney Plus for those across globe.