Doctor Who Same-Sex Relationship Will Be Handled 'Delicately'

I would say it's been a long time coming, but this is "Doctor Who" we're talking about and attempting to quantify this series in terms of time would probably be a fool's errand. Nevertheless, even longtime fans would likely agree that Jodie Whittaker's portrayal of the good Doctor can at least be partially defined by the feeling of "Better late than never." The actor's casting as the Thirteenth Doctor in 2017 finally broke new ground, shattering the boy's club image of the franchise where, to that point, women had been mostly relegated as the main hero's companions or other supporting characters too often. Now, on the cusp of Whittaker bringing her largely enjoyable run to a close, the creative team behind the "Doctor Who" specials are reassuring fans that another major milestone in terms of representation will be treated carefully.

That, of course, refers to the burgeoning romance between the Doctor herself and her longtime companion Yasmin "Yaz" Khan (Mandip Gill). Even with 'shippers clueing in on the chemistry between the two at an early point (long before the characters themselves did, in fact) and christening Thirteen and Yaz as "Thasmin," it took until this past January's New Year's Day special for the series to finally turn the subtext into text and have Yaz actually admit her own feelings for the Doctor for the first time. With only two more specials to go before Whittaker's Doctor is due for another regeneration, the clock is definitely ticking on this somewhat fleeting love story. But co-writer Ella Road, for one, is promising that the same-sex relationship will be handled "delicately" by all involved.

'The reason I started writing was because I had stuff to say'

The romance that has been years in the making is finally set up to become a reality, though only at the tail-end of Whittaker's all-too-brief interval as the Doctor. But then again, somewhat bittersweet stories aren't exactly new to "Doctor Who," are they? In an interview with RadioTimes.com, co-writer Ella Road addressed the significance of the moment when Yaz opened her eyes about how she felt for Thirteen. Looking back at the New Year's Day special, Road had this to say:

"I mean, I guess once those conversations had been opened up, they need to be continued. I think that we were all keen to make sure that we were handling all of that stuff delicately.
Basically, there were conversations that needed to be had based on what was happening in the episode before. And so we continued to have them. But, yeah, that's all I can say."

Along with showrunner Chris Chibnall, Road worked on the upcoming spring special "Legend of the Sea Devils," which will presumably make some time in between all the fantasy zaniness to focus on the emotions at the heart of these characters. According to Road, "For me, again, it was like being able to engage with human relationship conversations amid the epicness the fun of all the swashbuckling. It was a really fun challenge."

Anyone tasked with charting the final chapters of a particular Doctor will likely feel all sorts of pressure, both external and internal, and that probably goes double for those bearing the responsibility of guiding a romance that means so much to the LGBTQ+ community that follows the series so passionately. As Road puts it, the key to staying on track is actually rather simple.

"For me, whatever the project is, I need to believe in what it's saying at the heart of it. I believe that escapism is desperately important, particularly in the times that we're living in. I want to work in the space of thrills and spectacle and escapism.

But I also can't lose sight of the fact that the reason I started writing was because I had stuff to say — and I still have stuff to say."

"Doctor Who: Legend of the Sea Devils" will air April 17, 2022 on BBC.