"It’s all a bit Harry Potter”: the bard, the Doctor and the cultural TARDIS in Doctor Who: the Shakespeare Code

Jones, Kelly (2015) "It’s all a bit Harry Potter”: the bard, the Doctor and the cultural TARDIS in Doctor Who: the Shakespeare Code. The Journal of Popular Culture, 48 (2). pp. 240-251. ISSN 0022-3840

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/jpcu.12254

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


This article explores the representation of Shakespeare’s authorship and its relationship to popular theatrical and television culture in Doctor Who: The Shakespeare Code (2007). The episode offers a playful interrogation of Shakespeare’s iconic status, situated within a perceived dichotomy of elite ‘literary’ and popular ‘performance’ cultures. Like many representations of Shakespeare as a fictional character, The Shakespeare Code is highly conservative in its portrayal of the Bard as the key exemplar of literary authority in the Western Canon. However, as the episode proceeds, it becomes clear that the potency of Shakespeare’s words requires the vehicle of the theatre in order to unleash their power. Whilst the episode initially foregrounds Shakespeare’s status as a literary - and an emphatically masculine - genius, it similarly demonstrates how this literary potency is realised to be dependent upon its integration with popular and performed cultural forms, both in the shape of an Elizabethan theatrical performance, and the Doctor Who series itself. However, whilst demonstrating the power of such assimilation, the episode seems in no way to promote a permanent integration and a collapse of the dichotomy of popular and elite, literary and theatrical cultures; rather, by suggesting the devastation that such nihilism could create, it forcefully and significantly rejects the premise of a postmodern condition that would incite such a collapse, and that Shakespeare must necessarily remain to be seen as, what Douglas Lanier asserts to be, ‘popular culture’s Other’.

Keywords:Shakespeare, popular culture, Doctor Who, bmjgoldcheck, NotOAChecked
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
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ID Code:10002
Deposited On:19 Jun 2013 08:37

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