Interacial relationships on Dr. Who/Torchwood

So I’m working my way through the first few seasons of Torchwood and Dr. Who, and I am noticing that there appears to be an extraordinary number of inter-racial relationships, at least relative to what I see in my day to day experience in the US. With the first one or two that I saw I was encouraged that BBC was showing such relationships as a normal part of everyday life and a breaking of stereotypes. But once I noticed that it seems at least 50% of the relationships are interracial it becomes unrealistic (not that time traveling police boxes are more realistic) and almost ludicrous and could be part of a drinking game. Drink if the 3rd Doctor reverses the polarity, Drink if the 4 Doctor uses a service shaft to escape, Drink if the tenth Doctor meets an interracial couple.

I guess my first question, primarily to British dopers, is whether my perception that this is an unrealistic portrayal of British demographics is correct, or if there really are that high a percentage of Interracial couples?

If I am correct, is it just Dr Who and Torchwood, or are other BBC shows also actively promoting interracial relations?

Further is this something that the producers have come out an stated that they are explicitly trying to do or is it just something they have done passively?

Disclaimer: as far as I am concerned people should be able to be in a relationship/marry anyone they want regardless of gender or race. I draw the line a inter-species dating and alien-human hybrids squick me out.

Finally is this in reaction to particularly strong anti-miscegenation sentiment in Britain that they are trying to counteract or is it based on generally rejecting racial stereotypes?

Interracial? Cap’n Jack episodes of Who promote interspecies relations!

Captain Jack makes Captain Kirk look like a shy virgin.

My own cursory observations of British television (including “Ab Fab”, “EastEnders”, “Primeval” and occasional others is that inter-racial dating/coupling seems to be much more common in Merry Ol’ than it is in the colonies. I don’t know if it’s genuinely exemplary of the Brits or it’s just P.C.-ness taken to extreme at the BBC, but it’s not just a “Doctor Who” phenom.

Besides, as the Doctor once told Rose (regarding Jacks’ fluid sexuality) - in the future, as humanity has more frequent interactions with extraterrestrial (and more distinctly alien creatures), there tends to be a lot less fuss over superficial human distinctions. When humans begin having “interactions” with six-eyed, tentacled slime creatures from Rigel-4 (for example), same-sex or inter-racial couples looks distinctly less exotic.

While there was, and still is, some prejudice against miscegenation in the U.K., it has never been illegal as it was in many states of the United States.

Well one of those shows isn’t even on the BBC (in the uk anyway, BBCA shows stuff from the other UK networks too), so I don’t think we can blame them.

Actually this is typically an American observation. I have noticed that in many shows or movies made in the US, when there’s a white guy/black guy duo, the black guy always has a black girlfriend, the white guy gets a little more choice (but rarely a black gf). And it is nominal black, usually the lady will be quite clear skinned but still “officially black”. I always thought it looked kind of weird, especially when the feeling I got was that if you had any other kind of gf, both black audiences and white ones would feel outraged or uncomfortable (that last bit is my own take).
British shows are usually very good in having a black character that, contrary to US shows, is not characterized by the color of his skin (whereas in many US shows you have the feeling the black actors kind of got the job because of the quotas).

The foremost exception to all of the above is The Wire.

Unless 50% of the British population is black, it’s impossible for 50% of all relationships to be interracial. If 50% of black people were dating white people, black people would largely cease to exist within a couple of generations.

Interracial relationships may well be higher among the Brits, but I suspect that 90% of what you are seeing is the BBC using pro-interracism propaganda, in much the same way as they won’t allow anyone to smoke on camera. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think it is true.

Are you assuming a relationship only contains 2 people? :smiley:
Only slightly more seriously, it’s also possible that each relationship is interracial and that there are a lot of single white people.
Not to mention that there are more ethnic groups than just “white” and “black”, so it wouldn’t be a 50/50 split anyway.
(Obviously these are not realistic possibilities. I just wanted to counter the idea that they are “impossible”.)

Inter-racial relationships are very common here, but I always thought they were in the US too I mean you’d never know it going on TV, but the real-life Americans I know aren’t segregated like that.

Mind you, I can’t think of that many inter-racial relationships in Torchwood.

Oh, just noticed that you included Dr Who too. The main ones I can think of there are where one person’s black British and the other’s white, and that is extremely common. Inter-religious relationships are more uncommon, but race? It just wouldn’t be noted by any but he most ardent racists.

I still think mixing it up with something not compatible with your DNA is a step too far (maybe I’m just old fashioned that way), but getting to my original comments, most of what I was noticing was based on contemporary earth.

True, but given the rise of the British national party I was wondering if the current state of affairs in Britain regarding race relations on this subject might be worse than in the US.

I’ve noted it also, but unlike the OP, I find it sort of endearing.

I live in the Bible Belt and have an adopted biracial brother, so I tend to notice things like that when I see them on tv shows.

It always struck me as more of a “these are characters with relationships rather than variously-skin-colored-stereotypes with relationships” but that may be me projecting my personal preference.

Extremist parties like that tend to rise up (temporarily) only once none of the main parties represent their bigoted interests and the general populace don’t accept them either; if the BNP’s stance was common, there’d be no need for the BNP. If that makes sense.

I think that Americans may be more self segregating than you think. There are inter-racial relationships here, and they are viewed without stigma by any but the troglodyte faction, but they are not too common based on my experience, and might be noticed even if wasn’t frowned upon. From your statements it sounds like its more common on your side of the pond.

Also as pointed out by you and Capitaine Zombie, it may be that I am so used to sterilized TV from the states that I am noticing it as unusual and so it seems more common on the screen than it actually is. For example if a show had its characters go to the bathroom as often as people do in real life the show would appear to have a bathroom fetish. It may just be that they hire actors and place them in rolls regardless of race, leading to more white/black matches than occur in a self segregating society like the us.
Regarding inter-racial relationships on torchwood, I’m also including relationships among the walk-on characters/victims. Two that immediately come to mind are

Between Ianto and the cyberwoman, and between Beth and her husband in Sleeper.

Just to be clear again, I don’t mind it and actually am glad to see it, it just seems unrealistic to my American eyes.

It might be that they stand out to you in Torchwood because they’re just not that well done, so less believable.

What about that woman who married the cat man in New New New New New New York?
Yuck, I could never do that. Sure the cat guy was a nice enough dude, but I’d be sneezing way too much.

And Ally McBeal. Ally had a romance – and was shown in bed with – Jess L. Martin before he left for Law and Order. And, what was more remarkable, was that nobody on the show commented on it. It was the first time I could remember a US TV show that showed an interracial couple without making it a dramatic plot point.

Yeah, I’d second the above.



They’re more like some pond scum bubbling along the fringe of the tub.


I read somewhere that in the UK more than half of the black male population was in an interracial relationship.

We do take a more relaxed view of it here. It is quite common.