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
‘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
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
‘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
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
‘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
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
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
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
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 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 email@example.com