When Doctor Who was created in 1963 part of its remit was that half the episodes of each series should be about historical events; this weeks ‘Rosa’ firmly fits into that category. It’s a testament to the shows longevity that the Rosa Parks incident would have still been fresh in the mind in 1963 and a sad reflection of the post Brexit result Donald Trump election world we live in today that the story still feels contemporary. In fact in the days leading up to the episode footage of a fat white man demanding a black not be allowed to next to him emerge on the internet.
It’s very hard to cover a subject a sensitive as this in a family friendly sci-fi show. So it was a relief that the writers show runner Chris Chibnall and former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman did such a wonderful job. If you remove the sci-fi elements the story of the lead up to Rosa’s act of defiance are pretty much historically accurate. The subject matter was also handled with the create level of sensitivity and reverence it deserves.
Vinette Robinson’s portrayal of Rosa was also beautifully understated and realistic. The stoic look of on her face as she refused to move brought me to tears. You also felt the pain of the ‘Doctor’ and companions as unable to help they let history take its course.
Jodie also continues to shine as the ‘Doctor’. Throughout the episode she managed to walk the tightrope of the seriousness the subject matter deserves and the lighter moments it needed. The look she gives Bradley Walsh’s ‘Graham’ when he puts his arm around her after they pretended to be a couple was hilarious thanks in main to Jodie’s perfect comic timing.
A historic episode on a sensitive subject in a sci-fi franchise; what a disaster this could have been. The fact that it wasn’t is testament to all involved. Three episodes in and series 11 is shaping up well.
Rated out of 10: 9