The Lesbian Kiss In "Doctor Who" Was Not Shown When Broadcast In Asia

A spokesperson for the BBC told BuzzFeed that the “brief edit” was made to comply with “broadcast regulations in Asia”. Update: The broadcasting code the BBC has to abide by says that homosexual subplots are only suitable for over-18s.

1. In the first episode of the new Doctor Who series, Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) was forced to hold her breath to protect herself from being killed by robots. / Doctor Who / BBC Wales

Her wife, Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), a reptilian alien, had to hold her breath too, but offered to share her breath with Jenny to keep her alive.

2. So naturally this was followed by a close-up kiss.

BBC / Doctor Who /

The kiss was visible to viewers for only a few seconds. Six complaints about the kiss were received by Ofcom, the British broadcast regulator, but it decided not to investigate, The Guardian reported.

3. The kiss was well received by UK fans.

5. However, BBC Entertainment, which broadcasts Doctor Who in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and South Korea, cut the kiss from the broadcast. / Scott Bryan (BuzzFeed)

The South China Morning Post first reported that the BBC had edited out the kiss on Saturday.

6. BBC Worldwide owns the BBC Entertainment channel.

In a statement, BBC Worldwide told BuzzFeed that “in order to comply with broadcast regulations in Asia where our BBC Entertainment channel airs, BBC Worldwide made a brief edit to the first episode of Doctor Who Series 8, but did so without detracting from the storyline”.

BBC Entertainment relays its broadcast to these Asian territories from Singapore, so would therefore have to follow the broadcasting code of the Singapore Media Development Authority (MDA). If the channel did air the on-screen kiss, the BBC would be liable to receive a fine. BBC Entertainment also has to make sure that the channel complies with broadcasting rules in all of the countries that any of its programmes are shown in.

7. So what specific regulation does the kiss break? The Singapore MDA lists the following rules for its free-to-air broadcasts.

9. If BBC Entertainment has a subscription licence, it would have to follow this regulation.

The website Pink News interviewed Betty Grisoni from Les Peches, a lesbian social group based in Hong Kong, who said that there has been no censorship of Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint’s relationship on-screen until now.

10. Update — 1 September 7.45pm BST: BBC Worldwide had to comply with subscription licence MDA regulations, so that Doctor Who did not breach the code.

The rules state that “homosexual themes” can be allowed for audiences over 18 years of age (listed in their regulations as M18). As Doctor Who is a family show and is not directly aimed at an adult audience, the scene could not be shown.

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