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Doctor Who Does Cli-Fi

Doctor Who Does Cli-Fi (Climate Fiction)
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Doctor Who is set to tackle the climate crisis, according to an interview with Russel T. Davies. The interview was hosted by Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s Chief Content Officer, as part of the Climate Creatives 2022 event.

Russell T. Davies has worked on popular shows including Torchwood, Years and Years, and It’s a Sin. Davies is returning as a showrunner for Doctor Who, and was invited to speak about climate storytelling in TV dramas. This is something Davies has already done in the past with climate elements in the TV show Years and Years.

In the interview, Davies said “How could you not” talk about the climate crisis, when writing about the modern world. He believes we’ll reach a point where we’ll question how we weren’t talking about climate change all the time.

Cli-Fi themes in Doctor Who

Davies labelled climate change as “the vastest subject in the world.” He believes that it’s important to listen to your audience, who are engaged with the climate emergency. As well as incorporating optimism and hope in Doctor Who, he feels it’s remiss not to include climate breakdown into a storyline – otherwise it would be letting a younger audience down “hugely”.

Charlotte Moore said that the premise of Doctor Who is to, “Break the space-time continuum and save planet earth.” As such, cli-fi themes are a seemingly natural fit for the show to incorporate and address. Cli-fi, or climate fiction, is the genre of fiction concerned with exploring the climate crisis and its impacts.

While Davies wasn’t able to give away too much about how this would be portrayed, he did say that climate change, “has to become part of the whole atmosphere of the show”. This is because climate change affects everything and everyone and will continue to do so; “It’s the world we’re living in now.”

Cli-Fi on TV

Speaking about the future, Davies said that he “eagerly awaits” a new wave of cli-fi dramas. Davies said it’s in the hands of TV Commissioners to search out these writers who’ll tackle subjects like the climate crisis, and said that he believes younger writers will be coming forward with answers to these issues.

Both Davies and Moore remained fairly tight-lipped, but mentioned a future show which would address the issue head on. As such, there could a new cli-fi programme in the wings and we’ll have to wait to hear more about this show in due course.

Cli-Fi goes mainstream in 2022

Earlier this year, I wrote that it was time to declare that the cli-fi revolution had finally arrived. I spoke about how the cli-fi film Don’t Look Up had broken streaming records. I wrote about the new Good Energy Playbook, which seeks to help screenwriters incorporate the climate crisis in their writing. I gave an example of another Netflix cli-fi programme, The Pentaverate, starring Mike Myers, showing how even comedies were incorporating climate change into their storylines. That Doctor Who will be joining the ranks of cli-fi TV shows is yet another indicator of how the dial has shifted and how cli-fi is becoming mainstream – and not a second too soon.

Climate Creatives 2022

The Climate Creatives 2022 event was hosted by the BBC, and delivered in partnership with Albert, the BFI, Creative UK, the Royal Television Society and Doc Society. The interview with Russel T. Davies is available to watch here.

My new cli-fi children’s picture book is Nanook and the Melting Arctic. Nanook is a caring polar bear who lives in the Arctic. But when his igloo starts melting, Nanook must find a way to save his friends and his home. He knows that the people who can help are also those who’ve caused the problem and he must find a way to convince leaders to act on the climate crisis. You can purchase Nanook from Amazon’s global stores including Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Published inCli-FiThe Climate Crisis