Vinette Robinson (Rosa Parks), Joshua Bowman (Krasko), Trevor White (James Blake), Richard Lothian (Mr Steele), Mason Gareth Marks (Police Officer), Ray Sesay (Martin Luther King Jr), Aki Omoshaybi (Fred Gray), David Dukas (Elias Griffin Jr), Morgan Deare (Arthur), Jessica Claire Preddy (Waitress)
|Written by||Malorie Blackman & Chris Chibnall|
|Directed by||Mark Tonderai|
|Produced by||Nikki Wilson, Adam Friedlander & Alex Mercer|
The Doctor takes her companions on their first journey back in time – to the dangerous, racially segregated world of Alabama in the 1950s. They encounter one of the era’s heroes, black civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks, but also discover a plot to change the course of history. Vinette Robinson (Sherlock, The A Word) guest stars in an episode by acclaimed children’s author Malorie Blackman.
It is 1943, Alabama in America. Rosa Parks is boarding a bus on her way home from work. She pays the fee but the bus driver demands she go around and get on the bus by the side entrance, given “coloured” people are forced to sit at the back while whites sit at the front. She refuses, leading the bus driver to force her from the bus and drive off without her.
By 1955, the Doctor lands her TARDIS in Alabama, remarking to Graham, Ryan and Yaz that their location is not Sheffield as planned for the ninth time. Graham corrects her it was the fourteenth attempt. However, the Doctor deduces they have come to their new location – Alabama – as there is artron energy soaking up the city.
Exiting the TARDIS, they wander around, the Doctor scanning the surroundings with her sonic screwdriver for traces of artron. While walking, a woman drops her glove. Ryan notices, picks it up and goes to return it to her. Upon touching her arm, the woman’s husband, Mr. Steele strikes Ryan in the face, warning Ryan not to touch his wife again. The Doctor, Graham and Yaz race to help. Mr. Steele insults Ryan, the Doctor recalling the racial discrimination present in America against coloured people. Graham defends Ryan, who remarks he was only returning the glove. Disgusted by Graham being Ryan’s grandfather, Steele goes to escalate when Rosa Parks interjects, calming the man by promising to have his new suit tailored for him soon. With that, Mr. Steele departs with his wife. The group thank Rosa, who proceeds to chide them, telling them how people like Ryan and herself are discriminated, baffled the group do not recall what happened to Emmett Till.
Rosa leaves, the Doctor quickly scanning her, finding artron energy is flooding around her. Meanwhile, Krasko finds the Doctor’s TARDIS. Unable to get in, he blasts it with an energy weapon only to find it further shielded. Disgruntled, he leaves it be.
Elsewhere, the Doctor and the gang convene at slims diner. There, Ryan and Yaz discuss learning about Rosa Parks at school, awed by the fact she refused to give up her seat on a bus on December first, 1955, resulting in her arrest and the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott, an event that led to the end of racial segregation on public transport in America. Reading a newspaper, the Doctor corrects them that Rosa has yet to commit her act of; the date in question is tomorrow. Concerned, the group wonder what to do. However, Graham notes how silent the diner has become. Looking around, the other customers are staring at them. A waitress walks over, stating to Ryan they don’t serve “negroes” and also remarks Yaz is “Mexican” so can’t eat there either. Realising the diner also enforces racial segregation, the group leaves, Ryan angered he has travelled in time to the one place he is hated most in time.
The Doctor has lent a mobile phone to Elvis, who in turn lends the device to Frank Sinatra, against the Doctor’s wishes.
The Doctor teases herself as the identity of Banksy.
Yaz is revealed to be of Pakistani descent. The waitress at Slim’s Bar thinks she’s Mexican.
The body of Emmett Till was found in a river in Mississippi.
Graham identifies himself under the false name of Steve Jobs to a policeman.
Krasko was imprisoned at the Stormcage Containment Facility.
Yaz states that 53 years in the future, America will have a black leader as president.
The Doctor and friends arrive on Wednesday, 30 November 1955, one day before Rosa Parks made history. On Thursday, 1 December, she refuses to give up her seat, and Rosa is arrested for sitting in a “whites only” section of the bus.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott begins on the following Monday, 5 December 1955.
On 21 December 1956, the racial segregation of buses in Montgomery ends.
The Civil Rights Movement was led by Martin Luther King.
In 1999, Bill Clinton gives Rosa Parks the Congressional Medal of Honor for her services to the advancement of black people’s rights in America.
Based on the device’s settings, the Doctor thinks that Krasko sent his suitcase to the 79th century with his displacement weapon.
Yaz has previously been called a “Paki” and a “terrorist”.
Black people are often referred to, in 1955 Alabama, as “negroes” or “coloureds”.
Dr King is the minister at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
The stop where Rosa is arrested is by the Empire Theatre.
The TARDIS lands in an alley next to Jefferson Drug Store.
The Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan visit Slim’s Bar, part of Kimberley Hotel.
The group stay at Sahara Springs Motel.
The cover of a Montgomery City Lines Inc. bus timetable shows stops Bainbridge St. and Cleveland Ave..
An August 1954 telephone directory lists phone numbers for parts of Montgomery, including the areas of Young Place, Greenacres, Ridgefield and Hillwood.
A map of Montgomery shows that it is located on the Alabama River.
The Doctor tells Elias Griffin Jr he’s won an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas, to see Frank Sinatra.
The Doctor takes her companions to see Asteroid 284996, named Rosaparks.
Goods advertised outside Slim’s Bar include Pressburg, RPW Motor Oils, and Sampson Liquors.
Krasko has a vortex manipulator and a temporal displacement weapon.
He also keeps an information brick, a multi-intercepting surveillance device, and a backup charger for the displacement gun, in his suitcase.
Krasko recognises the Doctor’s “blue box” in the alley as a TARDIS, and thinks that it might be worth a lot of money.
After Stormcage, Krasko had a neural restricter implanted into his brain, preventing the criminal from inflicting harm on others.
Graham claims he and the Doctor are pitching a 21st century mobile phone as an invention.
- Rosa was the third episode of season 11.
- Krasko has a vortex manipulator. (Utopia) The Doctor comments that it is “cheap and nasty time travel”, resembling her eleventh incarnation‘s view of the device. (The Big Bang) Missy also referred to it as such. (The Magician’s Apprentice)
- Krasko was imprisoned in the Stormcage Containment Facility. River Song was also imprisoned there. (Flesh and Stone/The Time of Angels, The Pandorica Opens, The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon, A Good Man Goes to War)
- Ryan recalls his grandmother, Grace O’Brien‘s, death. (The Woman Who Fell to Earth)
- Yaz remarks on how dangerous it is for her and Ryan to walk around Alabama given their racial ethnicity. Martha Jones held similar reservations in Elizabethan England, (The Shakespeare Code) as did Bill Potts in the Regency era. (Thin Ice)
- The Doctor mentions how the TARDIS feeds on artron energy. (Four to Doomsday, The Doctor’s Wife)
- The Doctor remarks how she intended to return GrahamRyan and Yaz to Sheffield. (The Ghost Monument)
- The TARDIS shows events from history in a similar way to the Time-Space Visualiser. (The Chase)
- The Doctor is still not used to being addressed as a woman. (The Woman Who Fell to Earth, The Ghost Monument)
- Yaz remarks on how years later there is a black president. (The End of Time)
- Graham discovers he was a part of the original history of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, similar to how Donna Noble and the Tenth Doctor became part of events when causing the volcanic eruption at Pompeii. (The Fires of Pompeii)
- This episode came with a warning on iPlayer subtitles that: “In this episode, there are familiar prejudices to face for the Doctor‘s friends.”
- Rosa, along with The Ghost Monument, was filmed in South Africa in January 2018, with Out of Africa Entertainment, a local production company.
- This was the first televised story since The Day Of The Doctor in 2013 to feature a real world historical figure.
- The episode didn’t feature the Doctor Who theme over the ending credits, replacing it instead with “Rise Up” by Andra Day, the same song used in the sequence of Rosa’s arrest. It is the second episode to not feature the Doctor Who theme in the ending credits, following Part Four of Earthshock.
- The Doctor has encountered time travellers attempting to alter history before. (The Time Meddler)
- Graham refers to the Doctor as “Doc” several times. Unlike her first, (The Five Doctors) ninth, (The Doctor Dances) and tenth incarnations (Dreamland) the Thirteenth Doctor does not seem annoyed by the abbreviation.
- Ryan‘s response when told that the diner doesn’t serve “negroes” is “Good, because I don’t eat them”, a quote from the real life Muhammad Ali.