Before Captain Jack… Classic Who's Lavender Mob

Because it wasn't NuWho who invented homosexuality.



Captain Jack is a character that would never have happened in the original Doctor Who. Certainly not as a semi-regular companion, let alone lead hero in his own spin-off series. Brazenly gay/bi/pan/whatever (labels as we know them don't exist in Jack's native century), Jack's a chiseled poster boy for NuWho's liberal agenda of putting all-inclusiveness into the laps of its teatime family audience.


But is this entirely new? On the surface, the number of obviously LGBT characters in Classic Who can be counted on one hand – the pronoun-defying hermaphrodite Alpha Centauri – but reading between the lines… Jack – You Are Not Alone.


Marco & Guiliano (The Masque Of Mandragora)

Guiliano and Marco in The Masque of Mandragora

Without a doubt, the single, most homoerotic relationship in Classic Who is Marco and his companion Guiliano (the latter played by a young Tim Piggot-Smith, in his second Who gig). There's no Brokeback Mountain-style, spit-for-lube scene, which would probably have finished Mrs Whitehouse off, but it's a sensitively underplayed depiction of a very intimate relationship between two geezers. Producer Philip Hinchcliffe makes it clear that Marco fancies Sarah in the Target novelisation, but I don't buy it. Neither does Count Federico, who tries to hit Marco where it hurts by torturing Guiliano and threatening to have him cut up into tiny pieces.


Adam Colby (Image Of The Fendahl)

Adam Colby in Image of the Fendahl

Put simply, Adam Colby is super, thanks for asking. He's the epitome of what Canadian gay comedian, Scott Thompson, calls the "alpha fag", dismissing every situation that falls before his path with a withering, "colour me bothered" one-liner. From his acidic put-down of the Doctor as "some sort of wandering Armageddon peddler," to his eye-rolling reaction to Fendelman's fiendish time computer, "I always say, if you've seen one jukebox, you've seen them all…" Colby isn't flaming, but he is quietly fabulous, and his demeanour provides sharp relief in a story where his colleagues are giving it plenty of melodrama.


Harrison Chase (The Seeds Of Doom)

Harrison Chase - Seeds of Doom

Ostensibly, Chase is your typical, epicene supervillain – he's so utterly monomaniacal, any kind of gratification or desire has been transferred into his singular obsession, in this case plantlife. But he is - and there's no PC way of putting this - a screaming queen. He's one nostril flare away from the full Kenneth Williams when he's losing his rag over his "incompetents," like a theatre luvvie bitching about having to slum it in local rep. Actor Tony Beckley had "previous" with this kind of role, having played Camp Freddie in The Italian Job and Peter the Dutchman in Get Carter. Chase is essentially an aristocratic bastard version of these two turned up to 11.


Amelia Rumford & Vivien Fey (The Stones Of Blood)

Emilia Rumford and Vivien Fey in Stones of Blood

There's a lot of knowing fun to be had and eyebrows to be arched with Professor Rumford and Vivien Fey's unconventional partnership. Their cosy living arrangements at Rose Cottage (house speciality: sausage sandwiches before bedtime), as well as trouser suit-wearing Vivien Fay's camp asides about the uselessness of men, and of course the fun to be had with a bicycle seat... Lest we sound too much like sniggering schoolboys, it's clear from the DVD production notes that writer David Fisher did his background research for this story, and thus worth noting that one of Vivien's aliases is "Mrs Trefusis," aka Violet Trefusis, the English socialite and writer who had a longstanding love affair with Vita Sackville-West (romanticised in Virgina Woolf's gender-bending fantasy Orlando).


Professor Whitaker (Invasion Of The Dinosaurs)

Professor Whitaker in Invasion of the Dinosaurs

In Genesis Of The Daleks Peter Miles nailed camp menace to perfection with a Herr Flick of the wrist; in Dinosaurs he's a nondescript bad guy, but Malcolm Hulke, presumably in a fit of end-of-term "Screw you Barry and Terrance, I'm going home!" frivolity, made Whitaker as gay as a window in the Target novelisation. If he's not giggling girlishly, casually waving a manicured hand or admiring the Doctor's physique, he's nominating Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward as his time-scooped, desert island dishes. The Incredible Hulke also had similar fun in his novelisation of The Green Death, projecting a pseudo-gay relationship between BOSS and his conduit Stevens, with the supercomputer at one point intoning the wedding march ("Do you, Stevens, take this computer…"), and on another occasion quoting - yup - Oscar Wilde.


Dr Judson (The Curse Of Fenric)

Dr Judson in The Curse of Fenric

According to writer Ian Briggs, scientist, Dr Judson, was partly inspired by Alan Turing, pioneer of computer science for his work on the ENIGMA codes. In Fenric, Judson is embittered by his disability, whereas Turing struggled with his homosexuality. The Target novelisation - very much of a prototype of the New Adventures - adds an extra dimension to the relationship between Judson and Commander Millington, when a flashback to their schooldays reveals that it was Millington's sexual jealousy that led to the "accident" that caused Judson's disability. Turing himself met the Eighth Doctor in BBC novel The Turing Test, and in a later novel The Domino Effect, the Doctor claims that Turing was "more than a friend" (!)…


Colin & Robin (Arc Of Infinity)

Colin and Robin in Arc of Infinity

Basically, episode one is an extended homage to European gay porn. A travelogue shot on cheap-looking videotape following two young backpackers' attempts to find somewhere to bed down for the night accompanied by a naff synth score, deciding to try their chances in a "pump house" ("No one ever comes here, except the odd gardener during the day" – ba-chicka-wow!). There's a bit of awkward banter leaden with sexual tension ("Are you really going to sleep like that?" "Well, what's the matter with that?" "You're still fully dressed." "I'm not taking any chances!" "At least take your socks off!"), and then the chicken arrives… (okay, it's more of a turkey…) There are gayer moments in JNT-era Who – the skinheads in Silly Nemesis, Nyssa spending a whole episode making a vibrator – but not many.


James Gent



Before Captain Jack… Classic Who's Lavender Mob
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