Russell T Davies

On this date in 1963, Stephen Russell Davies was born in Swansea, Wales. As a child he was called by his middle name, and he later adopted the professional name “Russell T Davies” in order to avoid confusion with a BBC Radio 4 presenter also named “Russell Davies.” As a child, Davies studied and acted with the West Glamorgan Youth Theatre in Swansea, where he also learned playwriting. In 1984, he graduated from Oxford with a degree in English, then studied television direction at the BBC. He began to write and direct for television soon after, with his first big break in 1999, “Queer as Folk,” a drama about gay men living in Manchester he created for the UK's Channel 4. Davies was the showrunner and executive producer for the first four seasons of the revived “Doctor Who” on the BBC (2005-2009), a family science fiction action-adventure show which he enlivened with deep characterization and occasional irreligious themes. He continues to produce two "Doctor Who" spinoffs, “The Sarah Jane Adventures” (started in 2007), a children's adventure show, and the more adult “Torchwood,” now an international co-production between BBC Worldwide, BBC Cymru Wales and Starz. Other TV shows and miniseries Davies has written or produced include “Casanova” (2005), “The Second Coming” (2003), “Bob & Rose,” (2001), “Dark Season” (1991) and “On the Waterfront” (1988-1989).

Davies, an out gay man and atheist, often inserts atheist and homosexual themes into his work. “The only way I can write — whether that's good or bad — is to put my worldview into everything. I have to challenge that worldview from time to time, but in terms of the atheism of the show, I find that very powerful.” (The Boston Phoenix, July 24, 2009). He frequently depicts religion as nonexistent or very different in the future, and religious mores are challenged by portraying homosexual encounters as non-controversial in the past and present as well as the future. In a nod to contemporary atheism, Richard Dawkins appears as himself as a talking head in the "Doctor Who" episode, “The Stolen Earth.” “Torchwood,” according to Davies, has even more of an atheist outlook, portraying humans on Earth having to deal with alien threats on their own.

Photo by Tony Hassall under CC 2.0

"[R]eligion is banned on Platform One. Yes, I'm deeply atheist. If they haven't reached that point by the Year Five Billion, then I give up! When did the Doctor do that speech about believing in things that are invisible? It's Episode 5, isn't it? That's another bit of atheism chucked in. That's what I believe, so that's what you're going to get. Tough, really. To get rid of those so-called agendas, you've got to get rid of me."

—Russell T Davies, Doctor Who Magazine (Issue 360, Sept. 14, 2005)

Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski

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