In the Doctor Who episode ‘The Witchfinders’ (2018) the Doctor, in her first female incarnation, is transported to seventeenth century Lancashire in the midst of witch trials. In this environment the Doctor, as a woman, is unable to call herself a witchfinder or a doctor. The ‘witches’ and their female accuser are similarly trapped by their gender into taking on the only roles available to them. As the Doctor says, ‘these are hard times for women; if we’re not being drowned we’re being patronised to death’.
A screening of ‘The Witchfinders’ will be preceded by a talk on women and witchcraft, and how ‘witches’ have been portrayed in both positive and negative lights in previous episodes of Doctor Who.
Amanda Potter is a Research Fellow at the Open University, where she was awarded her PhD in 2014 for her thesis on viewer reception of classical myth on television. Amanda’s research interests include viewer engagement with the classical world via film and television, and gender, feminism and classics. She has published on myth, literature and history in various television series including Doctor Who, Wonder Woman, Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones.
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