Why does Dr Who have a science fiction warning?

If you’ve watched Dr Who recently you might have noticed that it comes with a content warning: A warning that it contains science fiction themes.

No matter how many times I look at that warning and contemplate what it is there for, I can’t get my head around it.

Is it a genuine warning, in case people are not aware that what they are about to see is not real? But then why don’t murder mysteries (or reality TV!) come with similar warnings? This program, for example, contains ‘mystery themes’, or ‘romance themes’. Why is only potentially bad for someone under 15 to see content with science fiction themes?

Is it because Dr Who can be scary? If that were the intent behind the warning, I’d understand it – I spent many a childhood hour watching Dr Who from behind the safety of a comforting cushion, and still have nightmares about the Pyramids of Mars episode. But then why not say that it contains scenes people might find frightening? Or warn of horror themes? Because ‘science fiction themes’ does not convey, to me at least, the idea that the show will be intrinsically scary.

I understand the intent behind the officially condoned warnings under the Australian Classification system. Warnings for nudity, sex, or drug-use have the weight of an apparent logic behind them. But ‘science fiction themes’ – where’s the logic in that?

Trawling through iView for other science fiction series, is no help because they just have warnings of the usual stuff – ‘coarse language’ for example. Only Dr Who seems to have a warning about science fiction themes.

For that matter what is a ‘science fiction theme’? At a simplistic level, it’s a science fiction show so of course it has science fiction themes; but does Dr Who have some special status that makes its themes especially science-fiction-y?

Maybe it’s an obscure joke? Someone playing to the fact that Dr Who can be nothing but science fiction? But it doesn’t seem to be presented as a joke. It seems like a genuine, albeit genuinely weird, content warning, I am being obtuse and not seeing the humour?

All these questions and I can’t find an answer. I hate that. Someone help me please!

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