When the Doctor’s newest companion, Ryan Sinclair, entered the Whoniverse, plenty of viewers had never heard of dyspraxia – a condition that affects fine and gross motor skills. Many that had heard of it had previously written it off as a minor annoyance in people’s lives.
Dyspraxia has been theorised as caused by a disruption between messages from the brain to the body. A sufferer may struggle to organise themselves, take part in physical activity, drive a car; sometimes even speech can be a challenge. It affects up to 10% of the population, with 2% being severely affected. Ryan’s dyspraxia was characterised in the first episode by difficulty in riding a bike and climbing ladders.
Chris Chibnall, head writer and executive producer of the new series, introduced dyspraxia into the show to raise awareness of the condition, which affects his nephew. At a series 11 screening, he said:
“It’s a relatively common thing among kids, so I think it’s important to see that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. That’s the most important thing about Doctor Who and you will see that [idea] happen a lot across this year”.