Doctor Who breaks new ground with Doctor’s first same-sex kiss in show’s entire 60-year run

Doctor Who breaks new ground in its latest episode, as the Time Lord has his first same-sex kiss in the franchise’s 60-year history.

The new era of the BBC sci-fi series kicked off last month, with Ncuti Gatwa fully stepping into the shoes of the 15th Doctor.

The Sex Education and Barbie star bagged the role in 2022, becoming the first Black actor to portray the supernatural time-traveller.

On Saturday’s Bridgerton-themed episode (8 June), the Doctor falls for a dashing anti-hero named Rogue (Jonathan Groff) after a night of flirting and ballroom dancing.

In his four-star review of the episode, titled “Rogue”, critic Ed Power commended the writers Kate Herron and Briony Redman for committing to an LGBTQ storyline for the Doctor, compared to previous iterations of the character.

He writes: “‘Rogue’ is certainly an improvement on the Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall years, which skirted the possibility of the Doctor being attracted to assistant Yaz – but never had the chutzpah to go the distance.”

Ncuti Gatwa and Jonathan Groff in Doctor Who (James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios)
Ncuti Gatwa and Jonathan Groff in Doctor Who (James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios)

Yaz (played by Pearl Mackie) was the companion to Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor, and was portrayed as gay.

Doctor Who has long been a cultural touchstone for people in the queer community for generations, with some pointing to the flexibility in the Doctor’s age, gender and physical form as evidence of the character’s essential queerness.

The show has also featured several characters and actors from across the LGBTQ spectrum over the years, including trans Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney, who played Rose Noble in last year’s specials, and non-binary performer and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars champion Jinkx Monsoon, who played the personification of music, “the Maestro”, earlier in the season.

As well as Yaz, queer characters in the show have included the lesbian Victorian married couple Jenny Flint and Madame Vastra (Catrin Stewart and Neve McIntosh) , and pansexual Torchwood agent Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).

In a piece for Indy Voices, writer Max Wallis wrote about his appreciation of Gatwa’s performance and how the show has been a “lifeline” for many queer people such as himself.

“It is at its heart a TV show about a time-travelling gender-bending alien with two hearts who is older than time, has worn more faces than Joan Collins, and has slept with everyone from Houdini to Queen Elizabeth I. Gatwa seems to understand this better than most people, and plays the role as definitively queer.

“It’s camp. It’s extra. And it’s glorious.”

Doctor Who airs on Saturday at 6.45pm on BBC One. It is available now on BBC iPlayer.