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Plugging Into the Papal Mainframe: The Political Role of the Church in Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who

Crome, Andrew (2018) Plugging Into the Papal Mainframe: The Political Role of the Church in Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who. Journal of Popular Television, 6 (2). pp. 213-226. ISSN 2046-9861

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Abstract

This article examines the presentation of the organized Church in British science fiction show Doctor Who (1963–89, 1996, 2005–present), its implications for debates on the place of religion on British television and the political roles the series imagines for the Church. From 2010, the Church was shown to survive as an important political force into the fifty-first century, having evolved into a paramilitary body. Over subsequent series, splinter groups were portrayed as dangerous militarized sectarians, until the Church’s final appearance as a galactic peace-keeping force with theological trappings in 2013. This article argues that Doctor Who presents a variety of images of the Church reflecting both hopes and fears about its role in the public sphere: from radicalized apocalyptic cults to a stabilizing force, demonstrating an imaginative interpretation of ideas found in contemporary political theology. In an era in which the volume of directly religious programming continues to decline, this article argues that theological reflection can be found, albeit unintentionally, within popular drama.

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