Doctor Who stories to watch during isolation – Picked by the Cast and Crew

It’s safe to say that what the world needs right now is the Doctor. If you’re like us, and stuck in isolation with not much to do, you’re probably itching to watch some Doctor Who.

We sought advice from those closest to the show – the show-runners, writers, cast and crew – to bring you a list of their favourite and most comforting Doctor Who episodes to watch during this unprecedented time.

The Pirate Planet | Russell T Davies

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‘Given the length of this isolation, I’d say all of them!’ jokes former show-runner Russell T Davies. ‘But… The Pirate Planet. Enormous fun. Curiously underestimated, it rarely makes the list of favourite episodes – when it outstrips most of TV!’

Heaven Sent | Joy Wilkinson

Heaven Sent

The Witchfinders writer, Joy Wilkinson, chooses Heaven Sent as her isolation episode. ‘I’m a big fan of Heaven Sent‘ she says. ‘It seems apt as a tale of bravery, tenacity and resilience against all odds, over a long time, alone. And I especially love how it’s embedded in the form that restrictions force creativity – in storytelling, as in life.’

Vincent and the Doctor | Matt Strevens

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‘I think now is the perfect time to revisit Vincent and the Doctor.” says current executive producer, Matt Strevens. ‘I love the historicals and this one is one of the best’ he explains. ‘It’s funny and witty and action packed, as always, but the metaphor of fighting your own monsters and the way it deals with mental health is perfection. I also defy anyone to keep a dry eye as the Doctor and Amy take Vincent (one of the great guest performances from Tony Curran) to the Musee d’Orsay to see his legacy. Despite the subject matter it’s totally uplifting and life affirming. A comfort watch must!’

The Green Death | Terror of the Autons | Dalek

Katy Manning

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70’s companion actress Katy Manning has not one, but three suggestions for us. ‘My first suggestion is Dalek by Robert Shearman’ she tells us. ‘This is one of my favourites of the new Who series from the brilliant Russell T Davies. This features daleks just the way I find them most disturbing – void of any human look or connection! With Christopher Eccleston & Billie Piper, such a perfect team!’ She then goes on to tell us her favourites from her run of the show. ‘From my era with Jon Pertwee I’d pick The Terror of the Autons with the introduction of the Master. I also love the character growth of Jo Grant and the wonderful relationship that blossomed between her Doctor (Jon Pertwee) that pays off so touchingly in The Green Death – both earth bound episodes which show awareness on the problem of plastics & pollution.’

The Lodger | Emily Cook

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‘Wouldn’t it be brilliant fun to be stuck in quarantine with the Doctor and Craig?’ Says Doctor Who Magazine’s Emily Cook. ‘If only for the fact that the Doctor makes amazing omelettes, which are my all-time favourite food!’ perfect lockdown dinner anyone?

‘I think Matt Smith and James Corden have amazing chemistry in this episode. Also, seeing the Doctor attempting to live a normal life never fails to cheer me up. I love domestic Doctor Who!’ Anyone for an indoor game of football or hallway cat chat?

Androids of Tara | City of Death | The Ribos Operation

Paul Cornell

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Fathers Day and Human Nature writer, Paul Cornell, couldn’t just pick one story! ‘I’d opt for anything with Tom Baker and Romana under Graham Williams, especially Androids of Tara, The Ribos Operation or City of Death. The most civilised and comfortable Who, all nonchalant clowning, expert detail and gorgeous world-building.’

The Girl in the Fireplace | Vinay Patel

‘It was the episode someone tried to introduce me to New series Doctor Who through – try saying that when you’re drunk!’ 13th Doctor writer Vinay Patel tells us. ‘I hadn’t paid attention – “he’s on a horse now?!” – but during my own journey through the series I was struck by how *full* it was. Creepy and funny and moving all at once – Doctor Who at its best.’

Robots of Death | Louise Jameson

Robots of Death

When we asked Leela actress Louise Jameson what her chosen lockdown story would be she picked a Leela classic, Robots of Death. ‘Especially the scene where Tom (The fourth Doctor) tries to explain why the TARDIS is bigger on the inside. All these years on and I still chuckle. What a glorious piece of writing!’ Leela and the fourth Doctor in a space murder mystery? Perfect comfort viewing!

Beverly Sandford | The Eleventh Hour

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Doctor Who author Beverly Sanford chooses The Eleventh Hour. ‘It’s a perfect episode, with the exact right amount of wonderfully silly japes and makes you fall in love with the eleventh Doctor instantly – even though you’re still pining for the tenth Doctor.’ Fish Custard always cheers us up.

Time Ladies Pick

Kezia | The Shakespeare Code

Shakespeare Code

I’m a sucker for a period drama, so the Doctor and Martha bumping into William Shakespeare is right up my street. And paired with witchcraft?! What larks! I love how quick witted and fun this story is – it knows exactly what it’s doing and doesn’t take itself too seriously, not even for a second. The joy of watching this Shakespeare flirt outrageously with both Martha and the Doctor and the fair maiden in ultimate hag-mode (not unlike me WFH at the mo) never fail to make me chuckle. This is a story that fits you like a cosy jumper; warming and comforting down to a T.

Beth | Arachnids in the UK

Arachnids in the UK

Arachnids in the UK has all the elements of my favourite comfort Who. It’s set on Earth in the 21st century, we get a sneak peak into the companion’s family lives and there’s an invasion to investigate. At the heart of the story is an important message on environmentalism and capitalism – one of the things that Doctor Who does best. On top of that, there are terrifying giant spiders and and a mystery to figure out. It fills me with joy and nostalgia for a world where the TARDIS lands on an ordinary estate – where anything magnificent can happen!

There we have it – a perfect playlist of Doctor Who episodes picked by the wonderful people behind our favourite show. You can find all of the classic episodes mentioned on Britbox, and the new series ones on BBC iPlayer.

What is your favourite comfort episode of Doctor Who? Let us know @thetimeladies_ or email us at thetimeladies@yahoo.com

Time Ladies Tales: The Doctor’s New Clothes

The Doctor strolled through the TARDIS wardrobe, ducking between fur coats and swerving around a huge hat stand. She grabbed a long, colourful scarf from a nearby hanger, wrapped it around her neck and twirled around the bigger on the inside closet.

“Too long”, She whispered to herself. “Always got in the way” she muttered, louder this time sending echoes bouncing from the TARDIS walls. The TARDIS responded with a deep hum, sounding disgruntled at the Doctor’s thoughts.
“Well yes, I suppose the colours are very me!” she responded gleefully, tossing the scarf away as she did so.

She began madly digging around through rails of bright clothing, offerings from all around time and space. She sifted through space-suits, roman tunics and pin-striped suits until she finally landed on what she was looking for.
She held up a black, simple T-shirt with a rainbow of colours embellished onto the front. Her eyes lit up as she threw it on and looked in the mirror. Perfect, but not quite bright enough.

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Standing in the ‘bottom half’ section, she pulled on skirts, shorts and jeans before deciding on a pair of bright teal trousers that sat cropped above her ankle. Grabbing a pair of comfortable brown boots, she threw them on her feet ready for all the running she was bound to do.

‘Braces…’ She’d always loved a pair of braces. Very Doctor. She grabbed a mustard yellow set from the shelves and carefully adorned her outfit with them. She pondered on what was missing before coming to the realisation that she hadn’t yet picked out a coat.

Her old self had been so plain, she thought. Deciding this wouldn’t do anymore, she ran clumsily up a nearby spiral staircase and landed in a sea of coats, rows upon rows of them. ‘Fur?’ she wondered out loud. ‘Too warm’ she answered to herself. Her eyes darted over the textures and features of the items, pieces from distant planets and civilisations beckoning to her.

‘Long! Long and colourful!’ she buzzed, and the TARDIS hummed in agreement. She tossed the velvet coats aside, muttering that it had ‘been done too many times’. She picked up a yellow rain mac left behind by an old friend, but decided remembering can sometimes be too painful.

New. She needed something new for her brand-new body and persona. Finally, out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a light blue coat swishing from the rails she had been lunging through. From the lapels flashed bright rainbow colours that matched her T-shirt and reached down to the bottom of the garment. She pulled it on excitedly and swirled and danced in front of the TARDIS mirrors once again. Her smile stretched from ear to ear as her outfit had finally come together.

‘Oh, Brilliant!’ The thirteenth Doctor explained, ready for exciting new adventures.

The Hooded Woman (A 13th Doctor story)

Callie Wright paced the dark, dank alleyways around the backstreets of London, itching to get out of the pouring rain. Looking up at the lights, she paused briefly and admired her surroundings. She had always loved London. No matter how dark, grey or scary it looked, she saw beauty in it. The land of opportunity they called it. Some opportunity, she thought. Forty plus hours stuck in the four boring walls she called her office, getting paid *just* enough to cover rent and bills. She pushed the thought out of her mind as she crossed a busy street teeming with traffic and Londoners who were also manically trying to get home during rush hour. Figuring out the quickest way to get home to her small, cosy flat, she took a shortcut down a tiny cobblestoned alleyway. The tapping of her brogues on the uneven ground comforted her, as all other noise seemed to disappear entirely. It was eerily black. Shadows upon shadows climbed the patchy stone walls around her. Speeding up, she almost ran around the corner to a better lit, slightly less terrifying road. An old, blue police telephone box sat under a flickering yellow streetlight, battered and weathered. She wondered how long that had been there. It didn’t look terribly out of place but there was something just… Off. Realising she had stopped in her tracks, her mind drifted toward the bottle of Pinot Grigio calling her from her kitchen. Just a few more minutes and she’d be tucked up on the warm sofa, forgetting the woes of her day. 

A group of teenagers passed loudly screaming profanities at no one in particular, and she thanked her stars that they had left her alone. The wind and rain picked up suddenly, making it almost impossible to move through. Callie felt a chill down her spine as her whole body went cold. Rounding a corner, she stopped suddenly as a hooded figure moved towards her. Dark and outlined in a long cloak, it was as if time had stopped. Callie couldn’t take her eyes off the rapidly approaching shadow. Slowly, the figure stopped and reached for their hood, revealing a woman. Startlingly beautiful, she had deep brown eyes and blonde hair cut into a perfect bob. There was a strangeness about her, almost as if her eyes were older than the rest of her. ‘Callie Wright?’ The woman said. Frozen to the spot, Callie felt a strange sense of trust towards the stranger, as if they had met before. ‘Uh… Yeah. Yes, that’s me,’ Callie replied. The woman’s expression suddenly turned deadly serious, and Callie noticed a small red question mark on the collar of her shirt peeking out from her cloak. ‘I have an important message for you. Please, whatever you do, listen to me. Callie, your life could depend on it’ Callie felt her heart beating so hard that it might burst right out of her chest. The woman carried on. ‘You have to remember, Callie. Whatever you do… Don’t blink!’ 

(Image credit to Sam Bentley!)