'Doctor Who: 6 Most Memorable Historical Episodes In NuWho

by Kristy Anderson 8 months ago in tv

Time for a History lesson

'Doctor Who: 6 Most Memorable Historical Episodes In NuWho
The Doctor gave Vincent hope. Credit: BBC

After a not so happy jaunt to the future in 'Orphan 55', The Thirteenth Doctor and her companions take a trip to the past in the fourth episode of Series Twelve, 'Nikola Tesla's Night Of Terror'. The episode featured not just one, but two important historical figures, rival inventors Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison.

Historical stories were important in the early days of Doctor Who, when the show was supposed to be a little more educational, and 'Nikola Tesla's Night Of Terror' is far from the first episode in the revived series to revisit the Historical format.

Here are some other memorable Doctor Who historical episodes

1. The Shakespeare Code (Series 3, Episode 2)

After promising Martha Jones a single trip in the TARDIS to thank her for helping him save Royal Hope Hospital in the previous episode, The Doctor takes her to the Globe Theatre in 1599, where they watch an early performance of Love's Labour's Lost. After the performance, the pair meet William Shakespeare himself.

Shakespeare is supposed to be working on a sequel, Love's Labour's Won, set to debut the following night. Unfortunately, the play's ending is rewritten into a spell by witch-like aliens known as the Carrionites, who plan to use the play as a ceremony to free the rest of their species from captivity. With a little help from The Doctor and Martha, Shakespeare composes a new Sonnet that reverses the spell, sucking the Carrionites through a portal and re-imprisoning them. Unfortunately, the portal also takes all the copies of Love's Labour's Won.

'The Shakespeare Code' is memorable for a few reasons, such as the running joke of The Doctor 'inspiring' Shakespeare, and a string of Harry Potter references, culminating in the brilliant moment where Martha shouts 'Expelliarmus!' to complete Shakespeare's new sonnet when he gets stuck on the final word.

2. Victory Of The Daleks (Series 5, Episode 3)

Answering a call from Winston Churchill, The recently regenerated Eleventh Doctor and his companion, Amy Pond, venture into the Cabinet War Rooms of World War II. Churchill wants The Doctor's opinion on the British Army's 'Ironside' project. The Doctor is horrified to discover that the 'Ironsides', supposedly new battle robots developed by Edwin Bracewell, are actually undercover Daleks.

Some Whovians would say 'Victory Of The Daleks' is memorable for the wrong reasons, such as the introduction of the widely despised multi-coloured Paradigm Daleks, often referred to as the 'Power Ranger' Daleks by fans. It is also probably the least historically accurate episode to appear on this list. However, Ian McNiece's portrayal of Winston Churchill won him praise. He reprised the role twice, once in the series five episode 'The Pandorica Opens', and later in series six finale 'The Wedding Of River Song'.

3. Rosa (Series 11, Episode 3)

The Thirteenth Doctor makes an unexpected pit-stop in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, while trying to get her new friends Ryan, Graham, and Yaz home to Sheffield. They quickly encounter Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks. Krasko, a racist time-traveller, seeks to derail the Civil Rights movement, altering things just enough so that Rosa never makes her historic refusal to give up her seat on the bus. It is up to The Doctor and her new companions to ensure history unfolds as it is supposed to.

Rosa is widely considered to be one of the best episodes of Doctor Who in recent years. It reminds us all that even small actions can have a big impact.

4. The Unicorn And The Wasp (Series 4, Episode 7)

The Tenth Doctor and Donna attend a dinner party at the home of Lady Clemency Eddison, where they meet famous author Agatha Christie. The Doctor realises that they are meeting Agatha just one day before she is due to mysteriously disappear for ten days. Before they can deal with that mystery, they are dragged into another when a guest is found dead in Lady Eddison's library.

'The Unicorn And The Wasp' is probably best remembered for the scene above, in which Donna Noble awkwardly kisses The Doctor, who requires a shock to make his body detoxify after his drink is spiked with Cyanide. Like 'The Shakespeare Code', 'The Unicorn And The Wasp' also toys with real History, providing a fictional explanation for Agatha Christie's real-life disappearance.

5. The Demons of Punjab (Series 11, Episode 6)

Curious after receiving a broken watch from her Nani, Umbreen, Yaz convinces The Doctor to take her on a trip to her family's past. They arrive on the eve of Umbreen's Wedding, but discover a few little problems. Prem, the man Umbreen is marrying, is not Yaz's Grandfather, it is also the Eve of the Partition of India.. and there might be aliens attacking.

'Demons Of The Punjab' has been praised for it's high production values, and it's sensitive portrayal of a bloody part of history that not everyone remembers.

6. Vincent And The Doctor (Series 5, Episode 10)

When The Eleventh Doctor spots a strange creature hidden in one of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings, he and Amy travel to 1890 to investigate, soon crossing paths with the brilliant but troubled artist. The monster is defeated relatively early in the episode, leaving time for The Doctor and Amy to get to know Vincent and how he sees the world.

'Vincent And The Doctor' is not just one of Doctor Who's greatest historical episodes, but one of the show's greatest episodes overall. It often rates highly in fan polls. Nearly ten years after the episode first aired, the scene in which The Doctor takes Vincent to see an exhibition of his work still packs an emotional punch.

Time will tell where 'Nikola Tesla's Night Of Terror' fits among the great Doctor Who historicals.

Kristy Anderson
Kristy Anderson
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Kristy Anderson

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