Doctor Who: BBC Comp Video Celebrates Show's Historical Adventures

Doctor Who has always done historical stories where The Doctor and the TARDIS crew go back in time and meet someone famous. That has always been part of the show's original brief to "educate and inform". It was a way to teach kids about history. So of course, the BBC has put up a compilation video of some of the episodes set in past history.

Doctor Who: Compilation of Historical Episodes at their Most Fun
"Doctor Who": the Doctor and Amy meet Van Gogh, BBC

Once again, the compilation only uses clips from the new show. We don't get the 1st episode where the 1st Doctor kidnaps his granddaughter's high school teachers and whisks them back to the Stone Age. There's nobody famous in that era that we've ever heard of, but the Doctor and company do introduce fire to the caveman, so it's all good. We don't get the stories set in the St. Bartholomew Massacre, the Crusades, no Daleks causing the Mary Celeste to become an abandoned ghost ship, and so forth. Those were shot in black and white and with the BBC's tiny budget. What we get here are stories from current-generation showrunners Russell T. Davies, Steven Moffat, and Chris Chibnall.

Thus, we have the 9th Doctor (Chris Eccleston) and Rose (Billie Piper) going back to 19th Century Wales and meeting Charles Dickens, played by Simon Callow, as they end up in a story that pastiches and pays homage to Dickens' penchant for ghost stories. There's the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose protecting Queen Victoria from werewolves that came from outer space, leaving the Queen to form the Torchwood Institute to combat alien menaces like, well, The Doctor. There's the Doctor and Martha (Freema Agyeman) meeting Shakespeare and fighting three alien sorceresses who end up inspiring the witches in Macbeth. There's the Doctor meeting and falling in love with Madame de Pompidou (Sophia Myles) in Pre-Revolutionary France. There's the 12th Doctor (Peter Capaldi) insisting on a dick-swinging contest with Robin Hood in the middle of a legendary chapter in the legend of Robin Hood. There's the 11th Doctor turning the question of whether or not to kill Hitler into slapstick farce. There's the 13th Doctor posing as a witch hunter and having to protect the vile King Charles and his bloodlust. There's the 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and fam meeting Rosa Parks and making sure her bus ride goes the way it was supposed to. Oh, and the 10th Doctor and Martha revealing the mystery of Agatha Christie's missing week into an encounter with an alien wasp in a murder mystery.

If there's one takeaway from the recent historical episodes, it's that Davies and Moffat gleefully wrote them as in-jokes that reflected the major chapters in their subjects' true histories. Chibnall's tend to be more somber and less surprising, which is consistent with his run. Doctor Who is always going to do historical episodes because it's one of the reasons the show exists. Here's hoping there's a return to fun and funnier historical stories when Davies returns to the show.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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