Nu Who Bechdel List

The Bechdel Test applied to the 2005-2012 Doctor Who
I saw another list of Bechdel tested Nu Who recently, but it seemed pretty inaccurate to me.  So I went through every single episode individually and tried it myself.  These are my results, which kind of vague “citations” of how it passes the test.  I used the “named” version of the test, just to be hardcore!
I usually just list one example of test-passingness, because I didn’t look for every example.  If you know more examples, let me know, I’ll check them and put them on!
If you see any flaws, please point them out and I’ll check, then edit the list!
The rules:
1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

 

Rose
Rose and Jackie talk about things like work and the cat-flap. – 3

End of the World
Rose talks to Cassandra about Earth and Raffalo about plumbing! – 3

The Unquiet Dead
Rose and Gwyneth talk about the Big Bad Wolf and the Gelth – 3

Aliens of London
Rose and Jackie talk about Rose disappearing – 3

World War 3
Rose and Harriet Jones talk – 3

Dalek
Rose just talks to the boys, I think – 1

The Long Game
This one only just scrapes by when Cathica and Suki chat about floor 500 – 3

Father’s Day
Little Rose and Jackie “talk” about Pete.  Barely makes a – 2

The Empty Child 
Rose and Nancy don’t get a chance to talk here – 1

The Doctor Dances
Rose and Nancy chat about the war and the future – 3

Boom Town
Blon and Cathy talk about the reactor blowing up, and irritable bowels – 3

Bad Wolf
Um…Rose talks to the Ann-Droid about peroxide – 3

Parting of the Ways
Rose and Jackie talk about Pete and the Doctor and…life travelling with the Doctor…could that make this a 3?  I’m hesitant.  Lets go with a – 2

 

Season Average: 2.5/3

 

The Christmas Invasion
Rose and Jackie talk about Harriet Jones – 3

New Earth
Cassandra and Rose talk about the human race and body image – 3

Tooth and Claw
I don’t think any two women talk about anything other than the dudes in this one – 2

School Reunion
Rose talks to Sarah about the Doctor – 2

Girl in the Fireplace
Rose and Reinette talk mainly about the Doctor, so – 2

Rise of the Cybermen
Rose and Jackie talk about Pete – 2

Age of Steel
Jackie and Rose have a couple of brief exchanges about Jackie being alive – 3

The Idiot’s Lantern
Rose talks to the Wire about the weather.  Barely counts!  - 3

The Impossible Planet 
There are 3 main female characters, but I don’t think any of them have a conversation – 1

The Satan Pit
Ida and Rose talk about the Doctor – 2

Love & Monsters
I believe the ladies of LINDA only talk about the Doctor in group discussions – 2

Fear Her
Trish and Rose talk about Chloe – 3

Army of Ghosts
Rose and Jackie talk about how Rose is changing; Adeola and Yvonne talk about work; Jackie and Yvonne talk about groceries – 3

Doomsday
Rose and Jackie talk about the Doctor; Jackie and Yvonne talk about Torchwood and Cybermen – 3


Season Average: 2.4/3

 

The Runaway Bride
Donna and her mum talk about her disappearing act – 3

Smith and Jones
Martha talks to Tish about the rain going upwards – 3

The Shakespeare Code 
The witches talk to each other, basically just about the Doctor and Will – 2

Gridlock
Martha talks to Cheen about life in the gridlock – 3

Daleks in Manhattan
Martha and Tallulah talk about their men – 2

Evolution of the Daleks
Tallulah and Martha talk about the psychic paper and dalekanium – 3

The Lazarus Experiment
Tish and Martha talk about the event, and to her mum about missing her – 3

42
Martha phones her mum to ask her questions for the thingy – 3

Human Nature
Martha talks to Jenny about flying away – 3

Family of Blood
Martha talks to Joan about passing medical exams – 3

Blink
the adventures of Sparrow and Nightingale! – 3

Utopia
Martha talks to Chan-Tho about swearing – 3

Sound of Drums
Vivian Rook talks to Tish about having alone time with Lucy Saxon – 3

Last of the Time Lords
Martha talks to Docherty about Toclafane and flowers – 3

 

Season Average: 2.8/3

 

Voyage of the Damned
Foon and Astrid don’t talk, I think – 1

Partners in Crime
Donna and Sylvia talk about the 1980s, Penny and Foster talk about fat – 3

Fires of Pompeii
Evelina and Donna talk about the future – 3

Planet of the Ood
Mercurio and Donna have a brief exchange about the “Noble Corporation” – 3

Sontaran Stratagem 
Donna and Martha talk about their families (I don’t think that counts as “about a man”) – 3

Poison Sky
Martha and Clone Martha talk about poison gas and life – 3

The Doctor’s Daughter
Donna and Jenny talk about travelling, which, to be fair, isn’t talking about the Doctor – 3

Unicorn and the Wasp
Donna and Agetha Christie talk about her books – 3

Silence in the Library
Donna and Evangelista talk about how thick E is – 3

Forest of the Dead
Donna and Evangelista talk about being in the matrix thingy – 3

Midnight 
Pretty much all the women in this story at least talk to each other, but in a group discussion – 3

Turn Left
Donna talks to Sylvia about many things like getting a job; Rose talks to Donna about being the most important person ever – 3

The Stolen Earth
Martha, Harriet, and Sarah talk about the subwave network.  Its being used to contact the Doctor, but I think its more to the point that they’re all being mechanical whizzes and awesome – 3

Journey’s End
Martha talks to Francine about daleks and the key and stuff, if nothing else – 3


Season Average: 2.8/3

 

The Next Doctor
Hartigan and Rosita talk about Rosita being a prostitute – 3

Planet of the Dead
They women talk to each other but its so vague and brief I’d feel bad putting it on here.  But this story is at least half women, and they’re pretty diverse and interesting characters too.  Oh well  - 1

Waters of Mars
Brook talks to multiple crew members about various things that aren’t a dude – 3

End of Time Part 1
Sylvia and Donna talk about presents – 3

End of Time Part 2
Donna talks to Nerys about being a peach – 3


Specials Average: 2.6/3

 

Eleventh Hour
Amy and Jeff’s Grandma talk about something other than a man, but Jeff’s nan isn’t named!  Dr. Ramsden is named, but she doesn’t talk to Amy.  And Amy talks to Prisoner Zero, who spends most of its time as a woman.  So this one is really hard to rate.  It gets at least a 1.   – 1

The Beast Below
Amy talks to Mandy about keep out signs and the like – 3

Victory of the Daleks
Amy and Breen are named, though they don’t really talk to each other.  Breen talks to an unamed woman a couple of times, but that doesn’t count, i suppose – 1

Time of Angels
River and Amy talk about the catacombs and the injection, and the “well done” for beating the angel thing – 3

Flesh and Stone
River and Amy talk a bit about Amy’s counting down illness or whatever – 3

Vampires of Venice 
Isabella and Amy talk about being in the vampirey place, and Amy and Rosanna talk too  - 3

Amy’s Choice
Amy and Mrs. Poggit don’t talk – 1

The Hungry Earth 
Alaya talks to Ambrose about her son and Amy – 2

Cold Blood
Nasreen and Amy talk about how to bring the Silurians to the surface – 3

Vincent and the Doctor
yeah – 0

The Lodger
Amy and Sophie are named, but they don’t chat – 1

The Pandorica Opens
River and Liz talk about the Doctor; Amy and River talk about the crash of the byzantium and stonehenge – 3

The Big Bang
Amelia, Aunt Sharon, and the therapist chat about stars – 3


Season Average: 2/3

 

A Christmas Carol
Isabella and Abigail talk about christmas dinner – 3

Impossible Astronaut
Amy and River talk about the Doctor; Joy and Amy talk about the Silent.  If the Silent counts as a man, that makes this – 2

Day of the Moon 
Amy talked to Melody about shooting her, but Melody wasn’t named in this episode.  Ugh, so I dunno.  I mean, River’s named, and the little girl IS River.  And the whole point of the “not named” thing is that not being named makes the character less relevant.  However, Melody Pond is probably the most relevant character to the whole story.  So I’m gonna go with – 2

Curse of Black Spot
I guess the Siren doesn’t count as a “named character”.  Madame Kovarian is in the episode, but unnamed.  - 0

The Doctor’s Wife
Auntie and Idris talk about Idris “dying” – 3

The Rebel Flesh 
Jenny talks to Miranda, and Miranda and Ganger Miranda chat – 3

The Almost People
Miranda and Miranda chat again – 3

A Good Man Goes to War
Amy talks to Lorna Bucket about the baby and stuffs.  Oh and Vastra and Jenny talk their kinky lesbian interspecies talk – 3

Let’s Kill Hitler
Amelia tells Mels off for stealing a bus and otherwise being generally naughty – 3

Night Terrors
Amy, Claire, and Mrs. Rossiter are all named, and Amy has a conversation with an unnamed woman, but I guess that only gives it a – 1

The Girl Who Waited
Ok, so the thing about this episode is that Amy is only one person.  However, not only are there two Amys who talk to each other, its vital to the whole concept of the story that their lives are as valid as one another’s.  So I have to argue that this gets a – 2

God Complex
Amy and Rita chat briefly about a clown and things  - 2

Closing Time
Kelly and Shona at the start talking about closing the shop and the electricity, though that’s interspersed between talking about Kelly’s wanting to go on her date or whatever. There are at least two other named women in this story. – 2

Wedding of River Song
Amy talks to Madame Kovarian about stealing Melody before she murders her – 3


Season Average: 2.2/3

 

The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe
Madge talks to Lily.  Madge talks to that Androzani lady a bunch, but I guess she’s only named in the credits.  So I think this only gets a – 2

 

Davies era average: 2.7/3

Moffat era average: 2.1/3

 

 

19 comments

  1. rebecca says:

    This is great. The Bechdel Test is pretty arbitrary (as you point out yourself with some of these – there are episodes that are certainly strong on female characters, where the characters just don’t happen to have a conversation that meets the test’s requirements), but I think taking an average like this gives you a good bead on how strongly women are represented overall. It’s very interesting to see the numbers drop significantly in the Moffat era despite storylines involving both Amy and River.

    • Ritch Ludlow says:

      Yeah, I kind of wish all the fandoms would do this, so we could measure them against one another. Sherlock would lose hard.

      I did notice quite often in Doctor Who there’ll be a few strong women and they just have separate plot threads, so they don’t end up really talking to each other. But the number of women in the story vs men is usually pretty well balanced.

      I’m sooooo curious to see how the classic era measures up to it.

      • rebecca says:

        Oh God, yeah, Sherlock. I love Sherlock a lot, and it might be hard to do any sort of Sherlock Holmes adaptation that would be Bechdel-compliant, but if you look at the women that ARE there… Irene is arguably a strong character, but they turned her from an opera singer into basically a high-class prostitute. And then there’s Molly, who’s entire existence is defined by her sad crush on Sherlock. Yeah, not a great show for female characters at all.

        I wonder how the various post-TOS Star Trek shows would measure up…

        • Ritch Ludlow says:

          Well, the american Sherlock Holmes show they’re starting might do better, since Watson’s a woman. And that’s the whole problem isn’t it, with Sherlock Holmes: EVERYONE is a man, except Irene Adler, who is in one short story (in which she stands to correct Holmes’ misogyny by being the only person to properly ever beat him).

          The new Star Trek relaunch is a bit dodgy too, but again, you just have to make a choice; either diverge from the original and make some of the men into women, or just try to work around the inherent old fashioned-ness of it.

          I suppose that’s a strong suit of Classic Doctor Who: the regular cast is usually half female.

  2. R. Taylor says:

    In Amy’s Choice, doesn’t at least one of the elderly ladies have a name? I can’t remember what it is of course, but I’d swear Rory calls one of them by name because she’s his patient.

  3. Kmasca says:

    In the God Complex Rita and Amy are separated from the others while the Doctor tries to trap the beast. They exchange comments about the clown on the bed and also about Harry screaming, which I would say qualifies for a 2. Later Rita tells Amy she shouldn’t have looked in Room 7, which is consequential to the plot and not about a man but very brief – you could class it as a 3 if you were feeling generous.

    More generally I think there might be some inconsistency here in the rounding up/down of averages – I get 2.7 for RTD vs 2.1 for Moffat, although that doesn’t change the trend of less representation in Moffat’s series.

    The modal value for both writers is 3, which is a good thing.

  4. [...] [toread] Doctor Her » Nu Who Bechdel Listshared: July 9thfrom Doctor Her http://doctorher.com none [...]

  5. Alice says:

    If you just look at the episode that passes the hole test and get a 3, it’s 44 of 60 episodes for RTD and 14 of 28 episodes for Moffat. That’s a pretty big drop.

  6. [...] 12th:Nu Who Bechdel List [Doctor Her] An interesting look at the representation of women in Doctor Who, using the Bechdel Test. It looks [...]

  7. Loki says:

    The Snowmen – Clara and kids; 3

    The Bells of St. John – Clara and friends; 3

    The Rings of Akhaten – Clara and Mary; 3

  8. [...] Och det är en ascool person som gjort detta. [...]

  9. Loki says:

    Cold War – 0, obviously

    Hide – 3, at the end with Hila and Emma

    • Anonymous says:

      Not so late as that: Clara and Emma talk about Emma being psychic, the ghost, tea vs whiskey, etc. all much earlier.
      Obviously it only one counts, but it’s not like it barely scrapes though in the final minutes.

  10. Kristin King says:

    Clara talked to the TARDIS in “Hide.” Please let that count; I love the TARDIS. :)

  11. Dexterized says:

    The “ghosts” episode with Clara was such an example of what the writers (a.k.a Moffat) think is the difference between men and women.

    Clara and Emma go to one corner to chat and stuff.

    The Doctor and the Professor go to another room, also to chat.

    And then you have a beautiful parallel between the two duos.

    Clara and Emma talk about the Doctor and the Professor. That’s it, they find time for themselves and instead of talking about the 100 things that are happening to them at the moment, Emma talks about her crush on the professor and asks Clara about her relationship status with the Doctor.

    And then we cut to the Doctor and the Professor talking about their lives, the professor’s career, emotions, mistakes.

    The women talk about men, and the men talk about life. And the parallel was so obvious it’s ridiculous.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Girl in the Fireplace
    Rose and Reinette talk mainly about the Doctor, so – 2

    REINETTE: Oh, Catherine, you are too wicked.
    CATHERINE: Oh, speaking of wicked, I hear Madame de Chateauroux is ill and close to death.
    REINETTE: Yes. I am devastated.
    KATHERINE: Oh, indeed. I myself am frequently inconsolable.

    KATHERINE: Is something wrong, my dear?
    REINETTE: Not wrong, no.
    KATHERINE: Every woman in Paris knows your ambitions.
    REINETTE: Every woman in Paris shares them.

    REINETTE: Five years?
    ROSE: Some time after your thirty seventh birthday. I er, I can’t give you an exact date. It’s a bit random. But they’re coming. It’s going to happen. In a way, for us, it’s already happening. I’m sorry, it’s hard to explain.

    REINETTE: Then be exact, and I will be attentive.
    ROSE: There isn’t time.
    REINETTE: There are five years.
    ROSE: For you. I haven’t got five minutes.
    REINETTE: Then also be concise.
    ROSE: Er, there’s, say, a vessel, a ship, a sort of sky ship, and it’s full of, well, you. Different bits of your life in different rooms, all jumbled up. I told you it was complicated. Sorry.

    ROSE: Tell me about it. The thing is, you weren’t supposed to have either. Those creatures are messing with history. None of this was ever supposed to happen to you.
    REINETTE: Supposed to happen? What does that mean? It happened, child, and I would not have it any other way.

    REINETTE: Those screams. Is that my future?
    ROSE: Yeah. I’m sorry.
    REINETTE: Then I must take the slower path.

    I dispute that assertion.

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