Davros’ new look in Children in Need minisode divides Doctor Who fanbase

Davros’ new look in Children in Need minisode divides Doctor Who fanbase
Russell T Davies explains change to iconic Doctor Who character

While Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies recently said the villainous Daleks “need a good pause” in terms of their appearances on the beloved BBC series, fans were treated to a new story involving their creator Davros as part of Friday’s Children in Need – and it’s ended up dividing opinion amongst fans.

That’s because the minisode, which stars David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor and comedian Mawaan Rizwan as Kaled officer Mr Castavillian, sees the evil mastermind (a return for actor Julian Bleach) without his black support unit which has defined his appearance in the long-running franchise for decades.

Speaking on the first episode of Unleashed (essentially the new version of Doctor Who: Confidential), Davies explained: “Time and society and culture and taste has moved on, and there’s a problem with Davros of old in that he’s a wheelchair user who is evil, and I had problems with that … of associating disability with evil.

“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, this is what he looks like.’”

The showrunner, who returned to helm the series he brought back following the departure of writer Chris Chibnall, went on to add it was a decision which the production team are “absolutely standing by”, and one which was “absolutely vital” to make for Children in Need.

“It’s a night where issues of disability or otherness or being excluded from society, it’s come right to the front of the conversation,” he said.

Davies defended his decision again when writing back to one fan criticising the move on Instagram, responding simply with: "Tough".

The change to the iconic character’s appearance has also left Whovians divided on Twitter/X.

While others – including, most importantly, many disabled fans - have welcomed the move:

It was also noted that Chibnall’s predecessor, Steven Moffat, depicted Davros being thrown out of his chair, which some have suggested didn’t help matters:

The plot of the minisode – which comes ahead of three 60th anniversary specials airing in November and December - revolves around the Doctor gatecrashing the genesis of the Daleks with his Tardis, ripping off a Dalek’s claw arm (to later replace it with the iconic plunger) and accidentally giving the monsters their name as a flustered Mr Castavillian takes notes to share with Davros.

In Doctor Who lore, Davros starts using a wheelchair after his laboratory is bombed by the Kaleds’ arch nemeses, the Thals, leaving him injured.

Though it’s not the first time we’ve seen Davros without his black chair (which is essentially the lower half of a Dalek), as “The Magician’s Apprentice” during Peter Capaldi’s time as the Doctor introduced the scientist as a child, trapped in a field with deadly “hand mines”.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

How to join the indy100's free WhatsApp channel

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)