British actor Matt Smith (aka the 11th Dr. Who) will soon play gay writer Christopher Isherwood in a stage production based on Isherwood’s memoir, Christopher And His Kind. The memoir follows the writer as he traipses around Europe sleeping with working class boys and helping his Aryan boyfriend Heinz escape the Nazi draft board. It might seem an odd move for Smith to go from science-fiction hero to slutty gay memoirist, except that Dr. Who is already a pretty gay show.
Dr. Who is the longest running and most successful sci-fi TV series of all time. That is has an enormous LGBT fan base is either cause or effect. The time- and planet-hopping doctor comes from an alien race with 13 lives (making him easy to replace whenever need be) and queer fans have created a very lengthy webpage dedicated entirely to recounting Dr. Who‘s every single LGBT moment. The good doctor keeps his hands full with single-sex communities, gender-bending aliens, S&M-esque hostage scenarios, and lots of intimate moments with his traveling companions.
When Queer As Folk creator Russell T. Davies took over as lead writer in the series’ 2005 revival, the show became even gayer with openly LGBT characters like bisexual Captain Jack Harkness (played by gay actor John Barrowman). Harkness is a randy fellow smitten by the Doc; he served alongside the 10th Doctor (played by actor David Tennant who took his stage name from gay Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant). And while Dr. Who himself doesn’t tend to get romantically involved (his alien race isn’t always well attuned to human emotions), if his 11th incarnation is gonna play as the famous gay author, he’d better get started.
Isherwood’s works have been adapted several times to stage and screen with the movies Cabaret, Tom Ford’s A Single Man, and the stage play I Am A Camera. But all those adaptations are based on books Isherwood wrote in the 50s and 60s when he had to encode homosexuality or else face non-publication and persecution. His 1976 memoir marked the first time he openly discussed his gay exploits and though he never gets very explicit, it’s likely that audiences may get a peek at Dr. Who’s sonic screwdriver.