Doctor Who Banned In China

Stuart Beaton is back guest blogging about Doctor Who and China. Somehow I’d think they’d go hand in hand, but Stuart has other thoughts about this. When he’s not guest blogging here, he can be found at Here’s Stu:

Greetings from China, “The Middle Kingdom” – a place that hasn’t really advanced that much since William Hartnell (The first Doctor Who) came to annoy Marco Polo all those years ago.

I teach “English Speaking And Listening” to groups of Post-Grad Med Students here, and, bored to the back teeth with trying to get them to talk, I made the fateful decision to show them “The Impossible Astronaut” and the behind the scenes show that went with it.

Armed with a memory stick, I put the video on the big screen, and took a seat up at the back of the room. After a while, the conversation in the room started to get a bit heated, and then suddenly one of the students leapt to his feet, raced to the front, and paused the episode.

There followed a four minute rant in Mandarin, in which, I’m told (not being in anyway fluent in Chinese myself), this particular cardiologist decried both the programme, my choice in showing it, my parents’ marital status, and a few other interesting things. He then made a great show of leaving the room, and slamming the door behind him.

Cautiously making my way up to the lectern, I began to find out what had just occurred.

It seems that the Central Communist Party here has outlawed TV shows and movies that use time travel as a plot line. According to them, programmes that do so, “erode historical integrity”, and encourage people to rewrite things as they see fit.

Ironic, given the fast and loose way that Chinese history has been spun about in the last sixty-odd years.

click to enlarge

So, standing there like a bunny in the headlights, I asked if anyone else objected to seeing the rest of the show. After all, I didn’t want anyone else to feel like they were taking part in something morally suspect.

“No, turn it back on!”, came the overwhelming reply, “that guy’s always doing things like this – he wants to get promoted in the Party.”

The rest of the lesson went on without any incident… and the next week I showed “Day Of The Moon”. It’s strange to think that the very watching of Doctor Who can be an act of political rebellion.

That being the case, I’m going to keep breaking this strange law as often as I can.

Allons-y La Revolution!


  1. Someone who lives in Hong Kong, China says

    That’s the official reason they give you. The real reason is that China is trying to work on a working time machine and rewrite history as they see fit. I don’t know what it has to do with banning TV, but any excuse for anything, right?

    The time machine, which I might add, doesn’t work.

    • Icicle says

      Hello I’m from Hong Kong but I watch doctor who through putlocker TV shows and I am a hugeeeeee fan (karenandthebabes <3) but honestly though, I don't understand why they don't have DW in HK.

  2. says

    That is hilarious, Stuart! And I love how all the other students wanted to keep watching it. I’m still giggling to myself.

    Actually, I have a terrible confession. I have never watched DR. WHO, but I’ve heard so much about this show, I really need to get my act together. This post just makes me more determined to see what all the fuss is about.

    • says

      It’s definitely worth taking the time to start watching Doctor Who, especially when they’re getting writers like Neil Gaiman in to do episodes.

      Actually, the current series is being run by the guy behind Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Sherlock”, who is also the head writer (Stephen Moffat) with another old hand from behind and in front of the camera (“League Of Gentlemen’s” Mark Gatiss).

      There’s enough of it about – BCC America screens it (and the Torchwood series), and it’s out there on P2P sites… oh, and DVD.

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