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The Doctor’s complex relationship with robots has been tested in numerous perilous encounters…

We might think the Doctor to be endlessly empathic, a bleeding-hearts type who takes a principled stand against prejudice and oppression whenever and wherever he finds it. And there’d be truth in that. But everyone has a blind spot, and here’s his: The Doctor is a robophobe.

He doesn’t like robots, and artificial intelligences in general. He tries to hide it, but often he just can’t help himself. Take, for example, the Second Doctor’s vulgar abuse of the reception machines at International Electromatics’ London HQ in The Invasion (1968). When he first realises he’s speaking to a female-voiced electronic intelligence via the telephone, he tells it, “Ah, shut up, you stupid machine!” – and slams down the receiver in disgust, claiming to have been in conversation with a “stupid simple-minded computer”. Later, when the female-voiced automated receptionist in the IE lobby asks him, not unreasonably, to make an appointment with someone in authority, he again says, “Oh shut up, you stupid machine!” – then mutters to himself, “Diabolical inventions…”

Twice more in the same episode he refers to “stupid machines” and “that stupid computer”. That’s two ‘shut ups’ and six ‘stupids’ in total – but imagine if he’d slammed down the receiver and claimed to have been in conversation with a ‘stupid simple-minded woman’, or told a human receptionist, ‘Oh shut up, you stupid woman!’ – then muttered to himself: ‘Diabolical creatures…’ We’d know to call out his prejudice then, wouldn’t we?

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Robots have been an essential part of Doctor Who for six decades. The latest issue of Panini’s lavish Doctor Who bookazine includes features on classic robot stories such as Galaxy 4, Pyramids of Mars and The Robots of Death. Other highlights include interviews with the actors, writers and directors who helped to create some of these episodes. Packed with exclusive content and rare images, this 116-page bookazine is a must-have for fans