Andrew Crome is an academic, whose interests range from 17th and 18th century apocalyptic through to Doctor Who.

Crome was born in London, but his family moved to St Andrews when he was seven. As a teenager, he followed several Welsh bands; his enthusiasm for Catatonia led him to some smaller acts, including Big Leaves, who recorded partly in Welsh. He thinks this was partly why Ceredigion was an attractive destination for him. He came to the University of Wales, Lampeter, to study Theology and Ancient History. He remembers being very conscious of the history of the institution and its sense of tradition. He also recalls a core of academics who seemed to embody the place.  

After his graduation, Crome moved on to postgraduate study. His PhD, awarded by the University of Manchester in 2009, was entitled Jews and the literal sense: hermeneutical approaches in the apocalyptic commentaries of Thomas Brightman (1562-1607). Crome’s first academic post was as temporary Lecturer in Religions and Theology, still at Manchester. After this he spent a year as  Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow, Trinity College Dublin. He then returned to the University of Manchester to become Lecturer in the History of Christianity. In 2016, he moved across the city to become Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at Manchester Metropolitan University.  

There are two distinct sides to Crome’s research. On one hand, he describes himself as a historian of apocalyptic thought, focusing on the British and Atlantic world from the 17th to 19th centuries. His book The restoration of the Jews (Springer, 2014) was the first detailed examination of the life and works of Thomas Brightman, a Tudor and early Stuart biblical commentator. In Christian Zionism and English national identity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), Crome examined why British Christians, from the 17th century onwards, believed their nation had a special mission to restore the Jews to Palestine. Lewis commented ‘This is a carefully researched and superbly written contribution …. It builds on previous work by scores of scholars but offers new and penetrating insights into the ways British Protestants conceived of the Jews and of their role in the unfolding of British history.’ 

In complete contrast, Crome also works on 21st century popular culture. He believes that popular entertainment can be a significant alternative source of information about religion, arguing that scores of shows use religious themes as a basis for their plots. Along with writing on apocalyptic pop culture, Crome is probably best known for writing about Doctor Who, a series he started watching as a small boy. He also remembers reading the Target book range; his fascination with the show arose through the printed word as well as the television episodes themselves. Crome was co-editor of Religion and Doctor Who (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2013), a collection of essays timed to coincide with the programme’s fiftieth anniversary. Crome believes that ‘In many ways, Doctor Who charts British attitudes to religion over the course of those 50 years,’ and that ‘Religion has always had some role within the universes of Doctor Who and I would argue there is a good case for using Doctor Who to teach religious studies.’  He comments that science fiction fans are used to thinking about big ideas. Many are interested in the role religion plays in fictional societies and in engaging in the philosophical and theological elements arising from that. The Daleks have been portrayed as religious fundamentalists and, more recently, the Church of England as a paramilitary group. The episode in which Jon Pertwee’s Doctor regenerated into Tom Baker was set in a Tibetan Buddhist meditation centre.  

More broadly, Crome has researched contemporary fandom, (defined as a collective identity based on a shared enthusiasm for some aspect of mass culture and regular participation in group activities arising from this).  He has particularly examined My Little Pony, a line of toys marketed by Hasbro Inc. and accompanied by various cartoon specials and series. Since 2010, the franchise has generated a huge fandom, ‘Bronies,’ largely males aged between fifteen and thirty-five. In his work on the subject, Crome has challenged the view that sees fandom as a secular replacement for religion. In complete contrast, he sees that Christian fans have been able to produce religious fan works, including art, fiction and even fan-themed church services. It is possible for fandom to operate as a shared language, meaning the wider fan community can engage with theological works. 

More recently, Crome has written about the depiction of priests on contemporary British television; he examined Broadchurch, Broken, Fleabag and Rev. In contrast with the old stereotype of the bumbling cleric, these newer series demonstrate the central role of the clergy in inner-city parishes and actively engage with theological issues.  

Crome has written for NME and for the BBC website. He has appeared on BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 and Radio Manchester, as well as a number of other local radio stations. He has also been interviewed by The Times, The Independent and USA Today about his research. 

 

Sources 

Manchester Metropolitan University. (2021). Dr Andrew Crome. Retrieved January 13 2021 from https://www.mmu.ac.uk/hpp/staff/profile/index.php?id=2591 

Deacy, C. (Interviewer). (2019, October 22). Andy Crome [Audio podcast]. Retrieved January 11 2021 from https://audioboom.com/posts/7402647-andy-crome 

Lewis, D. (2019). Christian Zionism and English national identity, 1600-1805. By Andrew Crome. New York: Palgrave-McMillan, 2018. vi + 305 pp. $109 hardcover. Church History, 88(3),850-852. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0009640719002245 

Balstrup, S. (2018). Crome, Andrew and James McGrath (eds.), Time and relative dimensions in faith: religion and Doctor Who. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 31(3). https://doi.org/10.1558/jasr.38769 

Williams, J. (2013, November 1). Let Doctor Who teach us about religion says Christianity expert – TV favourite ‘charts changing attitudes’ Daleks ‘are depicted as religious zealots.’ Manchester Evening News. Retrieved January 13 2021 from https://infoweb-newsbank-com.ezproxy.uwtsd.ac.uk/resources/doc/nb/news/149CE868968C3F50?p=UKNB 

Crome, A. (2014, August 20). New series of Doctor Who promises to be great for teaching religious studies. The Conversation. Retrieved January 13 2021 from https://theconversation.com/new-series-of-doctor-who-promises-to-be-great-for-teaching-religious-studies-30428 

Chandler, D., & Munday, R. fandom. In A Dictionary of Social Media.  Retrieved 13 Jan. 2021, from https://www-oxfordreference-com.ezproxy.uwtsd.ac.uk/view/10.1093/acref/9780191803093.001.0001/acref-9780191803093-e-466. 

Crome, A. (2014). Reconsidering religion and fandom: Christian fan works in My Little Pony fandom. Culture and Religion, 15(4),399-418. Retrieved January 13 2021 from http://e-space.mmu.ac.uk/619586/ 

Crome, A. (2020). “Wonderful”, “hot”, “good” priests: clergy on contemporary TV and the new visibility of religion thesis. Religions, 11(1),38. Retrieved January 14 2021 from https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010038