Doctor Who fans rave about Sunday night’s Rosa Parks episode

Doctor Who delighted fans last night after the episode tackled the topic of racism in America as the Time Lord came face to face with civil rights hero Rosa Parks.

The episode began with the Doctor and her team landing in Montgomery, Alabama, where they experienced first-hand the brutal discrimination faced by the African American community during the 1950s.

It was written by author and former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, who has written over 60 books for children and young adults, including the Noughts and Crosses series and Pig-Heart Boy – which was adapted by the BBC in 1999. 

It is believed to be the first episode in the show’s 37 seasons to be written by a non-white person, and Blackman has become the sixth women to ever write an episode.

Fans were divided last night after Doctor Who tackled the topic of racism in America when the Time Lord came face to face with Rosa Parks just days before her bus protest

Fans were divided last night after Doctor Who tackled the topic of racism in America when the Time Lord came face to face with Rosa Parks just days before her bus protest

Fans were divided last night after Doctor Who tackled the topic of racism in America when the Time Lord came face to face with Rosa Parks just days before her bus protest

Whovians took to Twitter in their droves to discuss the episode during and after it aired, with many congratulating the writers for such a relevant and important episode celebrating the life of the prominent civil rights activist.

But some accused the writers of a ‘boring’ episode focusing on the historical rather than the sci-fi elements the show is best known for. 

While the episode did have its alien element in the form of a time-travelling criminal messing with history, it predominantly centred around our gang keeping Rosa, played by Vinette Robinson, on-track to refuse to give up her seat on the bus and therefore changing history.

One wrote: ‘Rosa’ really might be the best episode of Doctor Who. It took me through the gamut of emotions and I’m still struck. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m insisting everyone watch it, fan or otherwise.’

Another said: ‘Tonight’s Doctor Who… I can’t ever recall this show approaching social issues like this before. No metaphor, no dressing it up, just confronting the past head on and making clear that it’s still relevant today. Show’s grown up.’  

Going down in history: Doctor Who tackled the topic of racism in America in its latest episode, as our gang came face to face with Rosa Parks just days before her bus protest

Going down in history: Doctor Who tackled the topic of racism in America in its latest episode, as our gang came face to face with Rosa Parks just days before her bus protest

Going down in history: Doctor Who tackled the topic of racism in America in its latest episode, as our gang came face to face with Rosa Parks just days before her bus protest

Another said: ‘In 1963, #DoctorWho was conceived as a series designed to educate children by visiting significant historical events.

‘In 2018, millions of children are learning about the heroism of Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement through the show. A story so relevant to here and now.’

But not everyone agreed. One viewer replied: ‘Yes, all through the handy lens of BBC historical revisionism, showing us how racist we all are. The fanbase wants a proper Dr back. #NotMyDoctor.’   

The episode began with the Doctor and her gang landing in Montgomery, Alabama, where they experienced first-hand the brutal discrimination faced by the African American community during the 1950s

The episode began with the Doctor and her gang landing in Montgomery, Alabama, where they experienced first-hand the brutal discrimination faced by the African American community during the 1950s

The episode began with the Doctor and her gang landing in Montgomery, Alabama, where they experienced first-hand the brutal discrimination faced by the African American community during the 1950s

Back in time: After accidentally landing in Montgomery, Alabama, we see the group experience first-hand the brutal discrimination faced by the African American community

Back in time: After accidentally landing in Montgomery, Alabama, we see the group experience first-hand the brutal discrimination faced by the African American community

Back in time: After accidentally landing in Montgomery, Alabama, we see the group experience first-hand the brutal discrimination faced by the African American community

In the episode, the Doctor is suspicious of why they were sent to America, especially as she picks up Artron energy that hints at an alien presence around Rosa.

At one point the team are asked to leave a restaurant, with the waitress saying they don’t serve black people or Mexicans – although Yaz is not Mexican but of Asian descent.

The episode then introduces the villain – a leather-jacket clad figure following Rosa  around, played by Josh Bowman.

But some accused the writers of a 'boring' episode focusing on the historical rather than the sci-fi elements the show is best known for

But some accused the writers of a 'boring' episode focusing on the historical rather than the sci-fi elements the show is best known for

But some accused the writers of a ‘boring’ episode focusing on the historical rather than the sci-fi elements the show is best known for

Fans were divided last night after Doctor Who tackled the topic of racism in America when the Time Lord came face to face with Rosa Parks just days before her bus protest. The villain was played by Josh Bowman

Fans were divided last night after Doctor Who tackled the topic of racism in America when the Time Lord came face to face with Rosa Parks just days before her bus protest. The villain was played by Josh Bowman

Fans were divided last night after Doctor Who tackled the topic of racism in America when the Time Lord came face to face with Rosa Parks just days before her bus protest. The villain was played by Josh Bowman

The gang soon figure out that this alien – Krasko – is trying to alter history so that Rosa doesn’t refuse to give up her seat. 

After dodging a suspicious police officer, sidekicks Yaz and Ryan candidly speak about the discrimination they still face today. 

A large chunk of the episode was taken up by the group putting everything in place to make sure Rosa does get on that bus.

The episode  was written by author and former Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman, who has written over 60 books for children and young adults, including the Noughts and Crosses series and Pig-Heart Boy - which was adapted by the BBC in 1999

The episode  was written by author and former Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman, who has written over 60 books for children and young adults, including the Noughts and Crosses series and Pig-Heart Boy - which was adapted by the BBC in 1999

The episode  was written by author and former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, who has written over 60 books for children and young adults, including the Noughts and Crosses series and Pig-Heart Boy – which was adapted by the BBC in 1999

Despite the gang saying they didn’t want to get involved in history, for the plan to work they are forced to stay on the bus when Rosa is ordered to move – sparking a tense moment that mirrored the programme’s opening.

But she does not move, and thus history follows its natural course with her arrest by police – beautifully scored by Andra Ray’s Rise Up.

The episode ends with the Doctor explaining what happened to Rosa, and in a Who twist reveals she named an asteroid after her millions of years later.

Iconic: A large chunk of the episode is then taken up by our gang putting everything in place to make sure Rosa does get on that bus

Iconic: A large chunk of the episode is then taken up by our gang putting everything in place to make sure Rosa does get on that bus

Iconic: A large chunk of the episode is then taken up by our gang putting everything in place to make sure Rosa does get on that bus

WHO IS ROSA PARKS?

Born in 1913, Rosa Parks was an iconic figure in the Civil Rights Movement, who for many years was an Alabama citizen working as a seamstress.

In 1955 she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus, breaking a law which required African Americans to do so thanks to segregation on public transport.

By staying seated she was arrested by police, sparking mass protests and ‘bus boycotts’ across Alabama, which led to bus segregation ending in the state 381 days later.

While Rosa was only fined for the crime, its impact lasted for many years, and eventually inspired Martin Luther King to take a similar stand, leading to the Civil Rights Act in 1964 which outlawed discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin

Rosa moved to Michigan with her husband after losing her job thanks to the protest, but eventually set up a new life for herself as a secretary in the U.S. Representative John Conyer’s congressional office, and was awarded the Congressional Medal for her work in 1999.

Rosa Parks died on October 24th, 2005 at the age of 92, just a year after being diagnosed with progressive dementia.

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