Warning: This article contains mild spoilers for the second Doctor Who anniversary special, “Wild Blue Yonder”.
Doctor Who, the beloved BBC franchise about a time-travelling alien who protects Earth and other planets from extra-terrestrial threats, has left right-wingers forgetting the word ‘fiction’ in science fiction and complaining about its portrayal of Isaac Newton by an actor of Indian heritage.
“Wild Blue Yonder”, the second of the show’s three 60th anniversary specials (which reunite David Tennant and Catherine Tate as the Doctor and Donna Noble respectively), opened with an out-of-control Tardis planting itself in the apple tree which triggers the famous scientist’s discovery of gravity.
Or rather, “mavity”. We’re not going to explain that here for those who haven’t seen the episode – spoilers, as the Doctor’s wife River Song would say.
Of course, this isn’t actually how Newton (played by It’s A Sin actor Nathaniel Curtis) came up with the theory – emphasis again on science fiction – yet conservatives are outraged that a show with a large artistic licence cast someone who isn’t white to play the physicist.
Paul Golding, leader of the far-right party Britain First, fumed: “The BBC has turned Sir Isaac Newton into a Black man. Historical revisionism at its most sinister.”
Political commentator Darren Grimes, meanwhile, wrote: “Doctor Who is now gay and Sir Isaac Newton is suddenly mixed race. Alongside pronouns and trans characters.
“The Doctor Who production team seem to be running the [Defund the BBC] campaign for us!”
And GB News contributor Paul Embery shared a picture of Newton in the show and went on to describe the casting as “patronising nonsense”.
Thankfully, fans of the show were on hand to quickly ridicule complainants:
Isaac Newton wasn't Asian, you're right.\n\nBut Charles Dickens didn't blow up ghosts.\nAgatha Christie didn't fight off a Giant Wasp.\nMary Seacole didn't treat Sontarans.\nVan Gogh didn't stab an invisible chicken.\n\nIt's #DoctorWho. Get a grip.\nAnd they say *we're* the snowflakes...
I\u2019d like to see inside the brains of people who can believe in Daleks, a talking robot dog, a flying police box and even Captain Mike Yates as a dashing ladies\u2019 man, but lose their shit if Isaac Newton is played by an actor of colour. #DoctorWho
Racists complaining that Nathaniel Curtis played Isaac Newton as an apple fell on him & he had a conversation with time travellers who led him to name his force \u201cmavity\u201d: your complaint about which bit of that is not historically accurate reveals much about you #DoctorWho
Yes Isaac Newton was an ethnic minority but Isaac Newton can be a six armed yeti for all I care if the writing is the best it\u2019s been in 13 years #DoctorWho
Loving how the racists are imploding over a black Isaac Newton in Dr Who, saying it's unrealistic.\n\nI mean, they also had an alien flying to the edge of the universe in a blue police box, where they met aliens from outside the universe who were like Morph, but THAT was fine.
Writer and showrunner Russell T Davies - who has returned for the specials and future series with incoming Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa – also appeared to reaffirm the Doctor’s fluctuating sexuality, as the time traveller and his companion both agreed that they found Newton “hot”.
The trilogy of anniversary specials concludes next Saturday with “The Giggle”, which sees the return of classic Who villain The Toymaker, played by Neil Patrick Harris.