Doctor Who: Legend of the Sea Devils – queer relationship explored

Posted Filed under

In an interview in Doctor Who Magazine 576, Legend of the Sea Devils co-writer Ella Road described how she explored the possibility of a queer relationship between the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and companion Yaz (Mandip Gill).

“It’s not a huge part of the episode,” Ella Road explained as she described her enjoyment of writing the scenes. “but I think it’s good to be able to include these real relationship questions that people can relate to, outside the whole sci-fi aspect of the show. The question of whether or not to enjoy a relationship for what it is now, versus worrying about the future – that’s a very universal thing.”

When one person in a relationship has been around for millennia and her body can completely change into an entirely new form and the other person is a very young adult human, questions about the future of the relationship are especially daunting.

“It also felt really special to be able to write a queer relationship in the series,” Road continued. “As a queer person myself, it felt like I’d been handed the opportunity to explore something in a way that was quite subtle, actually, and quite delicate.”

From the events in the Doctor Who New Year’s special Eve of the Daleks, fans are aware that Yaz confessed to Dan that she has romantic feelings for the Doctor and Dan has relayed this information to the Doctor. John Bishop, who plays Dan, explained further in a BBC press release.

“I think it was probably a surprise to both the Doctor and Yaz that it was so obvious to [Dan] that there was feelings between them. And I think as a character he is probably not the most obvious persons to be the matchmaker. Because he comes in as an ordinary bloke you would suspect is so bemused by the world that he’s in is too busy to absorb what’s going on around him to notice. But because the bond between them is so clear, and because I think as well as he says to Yaz in the New Year’s special – sometimes if you’ve got feelings for somebody you just have to act on them because otherwise if you don’t it will be too late.”

Mandip Gill told Radio Times that a Doctor/Yaz romance would be addressed in the special.

“Yes. That’s where I think the heart [of the special] is, the understanding, the emotion that [showrunner Chris Chibnall] is so good at writing. So I won’t tell you which way it goes, but we obviously have to touch upon that again. It wouldn’t make sense not to. But I mean, that’s in the midst of everything else that’s going on – and you know, the sword fight with the Sea Devils and all that kind of stuff.”

Chris Chibnall described how the relationship unfolds in a BBC press release.

“Dan has cottoned onto the dynamic between the Doctor and Yaz and from a distance, observed what they haven’t been admitting to themselves. I think really, in Eve of the Daleks, both Yaz and the Doctor have hinted that they have feelings that they are suppressing and keeping quiet about. So there are some conversations that need to be had and you’ll see those conversations developing and taking place in Legend of the Sea Devils. The Doctor and Yaz have something to talk about!”

Mandip Gill explained in the same press release how Yaz and the Doctor’s feelings are addressed.

“So the relationship between the Doctor and Yaz has definitely developed further. There’s not an awful lot I can say about it but there’s a lot of bravery, there’s a lot of emotion and a lot of understanding, and openness. Conversations are not concluded in this episode, but they still definitely have advanced from where they were at the New Year’s episode. There’s a lot of open and honest conversations.”

Written by Chris Chibnall and Ella Road, directed by Haolu Wang and starring Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop, Crystal Yu, Arthur Lee, Marlowe Chan-Reeves and Craige Els, Legend of the Sea Devils airs Easter Sunday, 17 April, at 7:10pm BST on BBC One and at 2:10pm and again at 8:00pm EDT on BBC America.