Rosa (Doctor Who)

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279 – "Rosa"
Doctor Who episode
Directed byMark Tonderai
Written byMalorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall
Script editorFiona McAllister
Produced byNikki Wilson
Executive producer(s)
  • Chris Chibnall
  • Matt Strevens
  • Sam Hoyle
Music bySegun Akinola
SeriesSeries 11
Running time50 minutes
First broadcast21 October 2018 (2018-10-21)
← Preceded by
"The Ghost Monument"
Followed by →
"Arachnids in the UK"
List of Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Rosa" is the third episode of the eleventh series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who. It was written by Malorie Blackman and executive producer Chris Chibnall, and directed by Mark Tonderai, and was first broadcast on BBC One on 21 October 2018.

In the episode, alien time traveller the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), and her companions Graham O'Brien (Bradley Walsh), Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), and Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), arrive in Alabama in 1955, and find themselves seeking to stop time-travelling criminal Krasko (Joshua Bowman) from preventing Rosa Parks (Vinette Robinson) influencing the American civil rights movement during the Montgomery bus boycott. The episode's plot concerns racial segregation in the United States at the time, including the law upheld in Alabama regarding municipal transit during this period.

The closing credits of "Rosa" were played out with the single "Rise Up" by Andra Day, making it one of few episodes in the programme's history not to end with the traditional closing theme. The episode was watched by 8.41 million viewers, and received positive reviews from critics.


"Rosa" centres on Rosa Parks' historic refusal to give up her seat on a segregated bus in 1955, which drew the involvement of Martin Luther King Jr. (behind Parks in this image).

When the Thirteenth Doctor attempts to return to present-day Sheffield, the TARDIS instead brings her and her friends to Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Before attempting to leave, the Doctor finds that there are traces of artron energy in the area from another time travel device. Deciding to investigate, the group learn that they have arrived the day before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat as bus driver James F. Blake demanded on 1 December, effectively influencing the civil rights movement. Tracing the energy, the group locate a suitcase of equipment from the future, but are unable to learn more when they are forced to flee when its owner attempts to hit them with a time displacement device. The Doctor suspects he is trying to alter Parks' history.

Leaving her friends to research everything behind the critical moment on 1 December, the Doctor returns to examine the suitcase's contents, before using it to shield herself from its owner — a rehabilitated mass murderer named Krasko. The Doctor learns that Krasko seeks to prevent the Montgomery bus boycott from occurring, but cannot simply kill Parks, since his neural implants prevent him from killing any living being. The Doctor is unable to convince him to abandon his plan, despite taking his time displacement device and destroying his vortex manipulator. When the Doctor learns that Krasko had arranged for Blake to take the day off, she and her friends focus on keeping history on track despite Krasko working to counter their efforts.

Ryan encounters Krasko blocking the bus route with a car after removing false notices at bus stops, learning that Krasko succeeded in keeping the bus from reaching its passenger quota. Ryan learns that Krasko's actions are motivated by his deeply racist views, and uses the criminal's own displacement device to send him into the past to stop him completely. Removing the blockade, he and the others rejoin the Doctor on the bus as passengers before reaching Empire Theater. As the moment arrives, the Doctor realises they have become integral to events, and is forced to keep them aboard the bus. After witnessing Parks being arrested by the police for violating segregation laws, the group return to the TARDIS where the Doctor shows them the impact Rosa has had on history, leading to an asteroid being named in her honour in the future.


The prison of Stormcage, mentioned in "Rosa" when the Thirteenth Doctor recognises a tattoo on the arm of Krasko, was featured in episodes of the Eleventh Doctor, primarily as the place where River Song serves time for the "murder" of her husband.[1]


Co-written by Blackman, she became the first person of colour writer to work on the programme in its entire history (something almost accomplished by Robin Mukherjee 29 years earlier, during the run of the original series with the unmade Alixion).[2]


After the premiere episode, "The Woman Who Fell to Earth", was broadcast, it was confirmed that Vinette Robinson and Joshua Bowman would be among a number of guest actors that would appear in the series.[3][4] Vinette Robinson previously appeared on Doctor Who as Abi Lerner in Series 3 episode "42", also written by Chris Chibnall.[5]

Actor Morgan Deare, playing Arthur in this episode, also previously appeared on Doctor Who, as Hawk in the November 1987 three-episode serial Delta and the Bannermen.[6]


The closing credits for "Rosa" were played out with the single "Rise Up" by Andra Day.[7] It is one of few episodes in the programme's history not to end with the traditional closing theme.


The third episode of the 11th season of Doctor Who being filmed in Cape Town at Greenmarket Square. The scene depicts Rosa Parks being escorted off a bus, initiating the Montgomery bus boycott.

The episode was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa.[8]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Rotten Tomatoes (Average Score)7.99[9]
Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer)97%[9]
Review scores
Entertainment WeeklyB[10]
Daily Mirror[11]
New York Magazine[12]
Radio Times[13]
The A.V. ClubB+[14]
The Telegraph[15]
The Independent[16]
TV Fanatic[17]


"Rosa" was watched by 6.39 million viewers overnight, accounting for an audience share of 29.6%, making it the second-highest overnight viewership for the night, and fifth for the week on overnights across all channels.[18][19] The episode had an Audience Appreciation Index score of 83.[19] The episode received an official total of 8.41 million viewers across all UK channels, making it the 4th most watched programme of the week.[20]

In the United States, the broadcast on BBC America had 808,000 viewers for the night.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

"Rosa" was met with positive reviews from critics. It holds an approval rating of 97% based on 30 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 7.99/10. The critical consensus reads "First time Doctor Who writer Malorie Blackman pens an insightful installment that returns the show to its educational roots and serves as a reminder of how powerful purposeful science fiction can be."[9]

In February 2019, the episode won the Visionary Arts Organisation Award for Television Show of the Year at the BAFTA in London.[22][23] In April 2019, the episode was announced as a finalist (nominee) in the category of Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form for the 2019 Hugo Awards.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Did you spot this River Song Easter Egg in Doctor Who?". Radio Times.
  2. ^ "Doctor Who episodes and spin-offs that never happened". 19 June 2011.
  3. ^ Fullerton, Huw (7 October 2018). "Doctor Who casts Mark Addy, Chris Noth and Julie Hesmondhalgh in mysterious new roles". Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Doctor Who – Series 11 – Episode 2 Rosa". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 28 October 2018. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  5. ^ Dixon, Emily (21 October 2018). "'Doctor Who's Rosa Parks Actor Vinette Robinson Has Also Appeared In 'Sherlock' & 'The A Word'". Bustle. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Who's On TV on Twitter".
  7. ^ Jones, Paul (21 October 2018). "What was the song playing over the Doctor Who end credits on Rosa?". Radio Times. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  8. ^ Spencer, Samuel (21 October 2018). "Doctor Who season 11 cast: Who is playing Rosa Parks? Who is Vinette Robinson?". Express.
  9. ^ a b c "Doctor Who – Season 11, Episode 3". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  10. ^ "'Doctor Who' recap: The Doctor meets Rosa Parks in a poignant trip to the past". Entertainment Weekly.
  11. ^ Knight, Lewis (21 October 2018). "Doctor Who review: Rosa Parks meets Jodie Whittaker's Doctor". Daily Mirror.
  12. ^ Ruediger, Ross (22 October 2018). "Doctor Who Recap: Big Trouble in the Deep South". New York Magazine.
  13. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (21 October 2018). "Doctor Who Rosa review: "it feels like a throwback to the earliest days of Doctor Who"". Radio Times.
  14. ^ Siede, Caroline (21 October 2018). "A powerful Doctor Who ensures Rosa Parks is the hero of her own story". The A.V. Club.
  15. ^ Tate, Gabriel (21 October 2018). "Doctor Who: Rosa, review – a well-intended but poorly executed riff on history". The Telegraph – via
  16. ^ Power, Ed (21 October 2018). "Doctor Who, Rosa, review: A thoughtful look at the civil rights movement". The Independent.
  17. ^ "Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 3 Review: Rosa". TV Fanatic. 22 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Doctor Who Series 11 (2018) UK Ratings Accumulator". Doctor Who TV. 22 October 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  19. ^ a b "Rosa". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  20. ^ Marcus (30 October 2018). "Rosa - Official Ratings". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  21. ^ "UPDATED: SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 10.21.2018". Showbuzz Daily. 23 October 2018. Archived from the original on 23 October 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  22. ^ Marcus (9 February 2019). "Rosa Wins Visionary Arts Award". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  23. ^ Fullerton, Huw (9 February 2019). "Doctor Who picks up special award for Malorie Blackman episode "Rosa"". RadioTimes. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  24. ^ unknown, Cheryl (2 April 2019). "2019 Hugo Award & 1944 Retro Hugo Award Finalists". Retrieved 8 April 2019.

External links[edit]