Doctor Who and faith: How two key stories explore it

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The Curse of Fenric, along with The God Complex, is a key story in exploring the nature of faith.
(Photo credit: Doctor Who/BBC.
Image obtained from: official Doctor Who Website.)

Whether its faith in a deity, faith in an idea, or faith in a person, these two Doctor Who stories have explored the importance of faith in all its forms.

Over decades worth of stories, Doctor Who has unsurprisingly explored some interesting and weighty themes over the years. Themes that are almost an essential part of the human condition. These include love, hope, courage and so many more. Two stories in particular have always stood out to me for exploring a considerably huge theme: faith.

On the surface, Seventh Doctor story The Curse of Fenric and Eleventh Doctor story The God Complex appear to be very different. The former is an adventure set during World War 2, as the Doctor investigates an ancient evil connected to Vikings and vampires.

The God Complex meanwhile is a strange and at times almost surreal story set at a seemingly infinite hotel, with a group of radically different characters stuck together and being targeted one by one by some kind of beast.

But despite the outward differences in terms of plot between these two stories, they both feature a heavy exploration of the nature of faith. In all of its many forms.

Religious faith

This is perhaps the first thing we think of when we think of “faith”, and both The Curse of Fenric and The God Complex do explore this. It’s definitely featured more heavily in the earlier story, however. Particularly with the character of Reverend Wainwright.

Wainwright has a truly fantastic story. Despite his position in the church, he truly struggles with his beliefs in a time of war. It’s not even because of innocent people being killed by the Germans that’s causing him to have doubts. Rather, its innocent Germans being killed by the British that he has trouble reconciling with his beliefs, both in God and in humanity.

A crisis of faith is always interesting to explore, particularly in stories that feature battles between good and evil. Wainwright is one of the more memorable guest characters because of how well his story is explored, as well as a great performance by Nicholas Parsons.

The God Complex also explores this to some extent, particularly with the character of Rita. While her faith isn’t a central part of the story, it is focused on and is clearly an important part of her. However, like The Curse of Fenric, this episode was also keen to explore faith in various other forms, too.

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