The other day, there was another rare intersection of the worlds of Dr. Who and Jane Austen, in brand new Season 9, Episode 1 of Dr. Who on BBC One. I say “another”, because there was an episode a long time ago, in an early incarnation of the Dr. Who show, when the good doctor traveled back to 1814 and somehow Jane Austen got involved in the action. I haven’t seen that episode, because I’ve never watched Dr. Who.
But Twitter chatter the past few days nonetheless piqued my curiosity, and alerted me to the curious fact that in that brand new Season 9, Episode 1, Clara Oswin Oswald (played by Jenna Coleman for the past few seasons) who is apparently Dr. Who’s twentysomething colleague in his wild adventures, drops a risqué bon mot on her uncomprehending class of 10 year olds, at 11:13, as you can see here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXKbqtWnvFI
“Now, where was I? Jane Austen—amazing writer---brilliant comic observer—and strictly amongst ourselves, a phenomenal kisser….”
That 12-second interlude has triggered a number of Tweets since Episode 1 aired on BBC One, and the reaction is pretty much all positive, as the (mostly female) Tweeters find the notion of a bisexual Clara, and also of a bisexual Jane Austen, intriguing.
For those who follow my blog, you know that this fits right in with my notion that Jane Austen was herself probably lesbian or bisexual:
My wild guess would be Moffat, because I found an online article from 2012, when he apparently took over the reins of the show, here…
…with the headline “Forget Jane Austen, says Dr. Who writer Steven Moffat, the classics ‘aren’t cool’ ”,
That headline is a little misleading, as Moffat’s point is that classics aren’t cool to preteen children, and that the key to getting them to the point of being good enough readers to be able to understand and appreciate Jane Austen when they’re older and more mature, is for them to read anything that they like enough to want to read often. So he himself thought Jane Austen’s writing WAS cool!
And…relating that provocatively worded advice back to Clara’s provocative teasing comment about Jane Austen’s osculatory prowess, I suspect that Moffat gave Clara that line so that her 10 year old students would look suitably bewildered, given that they would have no idea that her implication was that she had encountered Jane Austen during her time traveling with Dr. Who, and that female-female sparks had flown between them. In a way, he was having a private joke with a sexual twist. And I have been saying, in dozens of different ways, that there is a great deal of sex hidden in plain sight just beneath the surface of Jane Austen’s novels, which has not only been invisible to any children reading them, but also (because of the Myth of Jane Austen that says that Jane Austen did not put sex in her novels) invisible (or rather, unimaginable) to most adult Janeites as well.
So, kudos to whoever at Dr. Who HQ was responsible for that welcome bit of cross-fertilization between two of the most popular fictional worlds created by English writers, which are both still entertaining viewers throughout the world.
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter