Doctor Who: The Highlanders

This second episode of the Patrick Troughton era, “The Highlanders” witnessed the arrival of a companion who would be with the Second Doctor throughout the rest of his stint: Jamie McCrimmon. This episode also witnessed something that William Hartnell had done, but which Patrick Troughton did much more comically: impersonations and disguises.

The episode featured strong female characters, eschewing the tendency of much science fiction (from which Doctor Who itself has not been immune) to have female characters provide shrieking reactions to monsters and people who find themselves captured or in danger and wait for males to come and rescue them. Even in the few years since the show’s beginning, one can see how the show reflects more progressive gender attitudes.

Listening to the episode, I found myself wondering how viewers in England and Scotland felt about its treatment of war between the two nations. Was this controversial territory, I wonder? If this episode had the potential to be controversial in one notoriously touchy area, namely politics and the history of conflicts between peoples and territories, the next will offer criticism of religion in a manner that seems to me to be unprecedented in the show’s history.


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