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Rosa was the third episode of series 11 of Doctor Who.

Set just prior to Rosa Parks' arrest for refusing to surrender her seat to a white passenger, this story dealt with heavy themes, and included blatant depictions of racism, mainly directed at the Doctor's companions Ryan and Yaz.

Synopsis Edit

Attempting to return home to Sheffield, the TARDIS instead drops the Thirteenth Doctor and friends in 1955 Alabama, where somebody is planning on meddling with time. Meeting seamstress Rosa Parks, the Doctor and her friends must work together to correct the flow of time and keep events in order before things go horribly wrong.

Plot Edit

It is 1943, Alabama in America. Rosa Parks is boarding a bus on her way home from work. She pays the fee and begins heading to the already crowded back of the bus, where "coloured" people are forced to sit while white people sit at the front. However, the driver stops her, telling Rosa to get off and get on through the back door. Rosa tells the driver she believes that she shouldn't have to use the front door to pay for her ride, and then get off the bus only to enter through the back door; in short its a waste of time for African-Americans. The driver ignorantly shouts for her to get off, making Rosa lose her grip on her purse. She sits down in the White's Only section, but only to pick up her purse. She coldly tells the driver that he better not hit her. He yells for her to get off the bus. She complies and gets off to use the back door; however, the driver leaves without her.

In 1955, the Thirteenth 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 begins to escalate the situation 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 Slim's Bar. 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 1 December 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" or "Mexicans" (referring to Yaz). Realising the diner also enforces racial segregation, the group leave, disgusted. Ryan complains that he has travelled in time to the one place he is hated most in time.

Searching, the group find hidden technology in a warehouse. Scanning it, the Doctor finds it is from the far future, meaning another time traveller is present. On cue, Krasko comes in and starts firing at them with his temporal weapon. The group flee outside as materials in the room disappear in time.

The group take refuge at a whites-only motel instead, where the Doctor proceeds to write on the wall to figure out their problems, to Graham's protests. However, they were followed by a police officer, who knocks on the door. Locking Ryan and Yaz in the bathroom (as they are not legally allowed to be there) the officer comes in, searching the room as the Doctor and Graham make up a story that they are inventors pitching a new idea while in town as their reason for being there. Unconvinced, the officer enters the bathroom but Ryan and Yaz are gone. Disgruntled, he leaves. Outside the back, Ryan and Yaz are hidden behind a dumpster, both irritated they have to hide because of their skin colour. Ryan remarks how it is worse than back home, where he says he is stopped while driving more than his white friends. Yaz agrees, noting how some people call her a "Paki" and terrorist for going to a Mosque. The Doctor and Graham return, calling them back in.

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Cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


South Africa crew
General production staff

Art department

Camera and lighting department

Hair and make-up


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

References Edit

People Edit

History/Events Edit

Derogatory terms Edit

Foods and beverages Edit

Locations Edit

Businesses Edit

Technology Edit

Story notes Edit

Ratings Edit

  • 6.39 million (UK overnight)[4]
  • 8.37 million (UK final)[5]

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

  • Olga FitzRoy's name is incorrectly written in the end credits as 'Olga FitxRoy'.
  • When Ryan is forced to use the back door of the bus, he enters using the backdoor, but behind him we see the inside of the front of the bus.
If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

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Blu-ray releases Edit

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Digital releases Edit

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External links Edit

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Footnotes Edit

  1. Doctor Who was filming near you. The Citizen (9 October 2018). Retrieved on 22 October 2018.
  2. Filmography. Out of Africa. Retrieved on 22 October 2018.
  3. Oprah Talks to Muhammad AliRetrieved October 25, 2018.
  4. Doctor Who Ratings overnight
  5. Final week ratings