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Doctor Who review: 'Rosa will have sparked important conversations across Britain'

Monday 22nd October 2018
Doctor_who_rosa

The new Doctor Who series hit its stride on Sunday.

The third episode, Rosa, brought tighter pacing, a cast really starting to gel together, and subject that mattered.

The gang found themselves stranded in Montgomery, Alabama, days before Rosa Parks (Vinette Robinson) was due to refuse to give up her seat on a segregated bus—a gesture that became a turning point in the struggle civil rights. But they weren’t the only time travellers in town, with an alt-right hipster (Joshua Bowman) returning from the future to rewrite history in the service of white supremacy.

If the new series is to succeed in becoming must-watch television, then this is the way to do it. Rosa will have sparked conversations about racism and anti-racism in living rooms, workplaces and schools across Britain.

If anything, it’s shocking that Doctor Who never did Black History Month sooner, its format perfectly suited to re-examining the past. More shocking still is that guest co-writer Malorie Blackman, best known for her young adult anti-racist dystopian book series Noughts and Crosses, is the first black person ever to write an episode.

The episode rapidly established a toxic atmosphere of pervasive racism that was repulsive, threatening and believable. The characters’ initial shock gave way to an ability to adapt that highlighted the persistence of racism today, like how Ryan (Tosin Cole) gets stopped by the police far more than his white mates. This insistence on looking the past and its implications square in the face was a welcome change from too many time travel stories that reduce difficult histories to nostalgic romps, Doctor Who’s lovable-eccentric-uncle version of Winston Churchill being a prime example.

Blackman’s savvy script rightly reinstated the lifelong commitment to a broader movement that many retellings of Rosa Parks’ story bury, and subtly linked this to a contemporary threat more frightening than any rubber-masked alien. Its limitations were those of the format, requiring a time-travel plot capable of being resolved in under an hour. This relied on a level of gullibility from some characters that strained credibility harder than any of the sci-fi stuff, and a misleading butterflies-and-hurricanes insistence on every little detail being just right that slightly undermined its message about a long struggle. That’s a price well worth paying.

Rosa represents a huge step in the right direction, hopefully setting a precedent for more adventures in socially engaged history for the masses.

Next Doctor Who odds

Michaela Coel 7/1
Kris Marshall 7/1
Maxine Peake 8/1
Natalie Dormer 8/1
Tom Rosenthal 10/1
David Harewood 11/1
Vicky Mcclure 12/1
Phoebe Waller-Bridge 14/1
James Norton 14/1
Tilda Swinton 16/1
Richard Rankin 16/1
Jenna Coleman 20/1
Olivia Colman 20/1
Andrew Buchan 25/1
Paterson Joseph 25/1
Ben Whishaw 33/1
James Purefoy 33/1
Maisie Williams 33/1
Robert Carlyle 33/1
Richard Ayoade 33/1
Tom Ellis 33/1
Joanne Froggatt 33/1
Richard Madden 33/1
Zawe Ashton 33/1
Lara Pulver 33/1
Suranne Jones 33/1
Amanda Mealing 33/1
Sheridan Smith 33/1
Katie Mcgrath 33/1
Rory Kinnear 40/1
Alice Eve 40/1
Catherine Tate 40/1
Daniel Kaluuya 40/1
Andy Serkis 40/1
Charlotte Rampling 40/1
Russell Tovey 40/1
Andrew Scott 40/1
Michelle Dockery 40/1
Helen Mirren 40/1
Sacha Dhawan 40/1
Alexandra Roach 40/1
Eddie Izzard 50/1
Gillian Anderson 50/1
Frank Milham 50/1
Helena Bonham Carter 50/1
Ben Daniels 50/1
Alfred Enoch 50/1
Idris Elba 50/1
James Darcy 50/1
Gemma Arterton 50/1
Sanjeev Bhaskar 50/1
Russell Brand 50/1
David Walliams 50/1
Adrian Lester 50/1
Carey Mulligan 50/1
James Corden 80/1
Stephen Fry 80/1
Benedict Cumberbatch 80/1
Domhnall Gleeson 80/1
Alan Davies 80/1
Alan Carr 100/1
Katie Hopkins 110/1
Katie Price 110/1

Next Doctor Who odds

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Odds correct as of 11th Apr, 14:39 . Odds are subject to change.
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