When discussing asexuality in film, Doctor Who is perhaps the most obvious choice. However, there is still some debate as to whether the doctor is actually asexual.
As with the change in actors, the doctor’s personality changes slightly with each regeneration. In recent times, even the doctor’s gender has changed. It’s not completely unfeasible to think that their sexuality might change as well.
Matt Smith (11th doctor) explicitly stated that his doctor is asexual. As he describes: “His brain doesn’t work in that way. He would find (sex) weird and peculiar. He is quite asexual.” But does that apply to every doctor?
Typical of the times, the classic Doctor Who episodes didn’t really mention sex at all. The only possible exception to this would be Patrick Troughton (2nd doctor) with his assistant, who did show some casual “flirting”. But this doesn’t necessarily disprove the theory of him being asexual.
Christopher Eccleston (9th doctor), was the first doctor who was outwardly asexual. I believe it was the very first episode that Jackie tried to coax him into intimacy, and he completely turned her down. As the series progresses, his clear disinterest in intimate relationships continues.
It was only when he regenerated as David Tennant (10th Doctor) that he started to develop an interest in Rose. But even so, this seems to be solely based on romantic attraction. When Rose tries to kiss him, he completely backs off. His clone is the only one who actually kisses her in the end. Whenever sex is brought up (mostly by Jack), he just seems to roll his eyes.
When other people show interest in him, he seems completely freaked out. Even after having multiple people try to kiss him throughout the show. When questioned on his intentions (most notably in the situation with Donna that always makes me laugh), he always says that they are “just mates”. It is clear that he is not interested in pursuing things further with anyone.
The only real claim to the title is of course Queen Elizabeth 1. The doctor jokingly states that “her nickname is no longer the virgin queen”. However, it is later discovered that he inadvertently got into this situation because he was trying to trick her into revealing that she was an alien. Whether they actually had sex is still debatable.
Steven Moffat (the producer) states: “I never said – not once, not ever – that the relationship was unconsummated!“ This again neither confirms nor denies that they had a more intimate relationship. Either way, it is clear that he did not actually want to have sex with her, so it still supports the theory that he is asexual.
Meeting River, however, puts a bit of a spanner in the works. Although it’s not really set in stone, there are some flirtatious moments which suggest that the doctor might be attracted to her. They do end up getting married after all, even if it was only to save the planet. However, it is important to note that she is half time lord. So does this mean that he is not asexual after all, but that he is just not attracted to humans?
Unfortunately, since there are no other time lords except his one mortal enemy, it is rather hard to tell. There are some mentions of the doctor having children on Gallifrey. However, this is actually a reference to the classic episode “Remembrance of the Daleks”, where we meet his granddaughter Susan. This also helps to explain the situation in more detail.
We learn that one of the rulers of Gallifrey placed a curse on the population that would leave them sterile. In order to continue the population, another time lord creates a “genetic loom” that allows time lords to genetically conceive children without having sex. We later find that both the doctor and his children were conceived in this way. He is also said to “adopt” another child. So none of them were conceived naturally.
This might suggest that all time lords are asexual. But it does not explain how children were conceived before the creation of the loom. So I would only suggest that all time lords created on the loom are asexual (including the doctor). Perhaps in that sense, they “evolved” to be asexual. But that’s just a theory!
It could equally be argued that as well as making time lords sterile, the curse also removed sexual desire. However, this curse was present throughout the doctor’s time on Gallifrey, and was never fully resolved, so we cannot know for sure. By time lord standards, he was still a child when he left the planet, so it is safe to assume that he did not have sex before then.
Taking this all into consideration, it becomes clear that the doctor is definitely asexual and aromantic towards humans, and likely demisexual and demiromantic towards time lords. Overall I think that would make him… graysexual? However, since he is the last of the time lords (with the one exception who later dies), there is not much chance of that happening any time soon. So for all intents and purposes, he should be considered asexual.
Next month, I will be discussing asexuality in Lucifer. Feel free to watch along with us or join in the discussion on 15th March!