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

Forbidden Planet x Doctor Who Winter Collection

Our friends at Forbidden Planet are regularly treating us to unique Doctor Who merch, and their new winter collection is no exception! They’ve given us an exclusive look at the new designs for their next batch of Who themed t-shirts so that you can be the very first to get your eyes and hands on the collection. We say treat yo’self…

Blink & You’re Dead

“Don’t blink!”

The Weeping Angels are posed to break free. Even this great t-shirt can’t contain them.

Heed the Doctor’s warning. Blink and you’re dead!

A UK exclusive to Forbidden Planet.

Doctor Who - Blink & You're Dead

Release date: Monday 2nd September

RRP: £15.99

BUY NOW

 

Tour Dates

Vworp vworp! It’s the TARDIS experience… on tour!

Celebrating multiple faces across multiple dates, taking the cosmos by storm. Now at a time and dimension near you!

This fun Doctor Who t-shirt is inspired by classic band t-shirts of yester-year.

Release date: 25th October

RRP: £17.99

PRE-ORDER

 

High Council Of Time Lords

Behold the seal of the High Council of Time Lords.

Printed in metallic gold ink, this is one t-shirt no Doctor Who fan can be without.

Release date: 25th October

RRP: £15.99

PRE-ORDER

 

Every Companion Ever

Celebrate the history of Doctor Who with this unique tee, exclusive to Forbidden Planet.

Featuring all of the Doctor’s travelling friends from over 50 years of television adventures – from Susan, Ian and Barbara all the way through to Graham, Yaz and Ryan.

This beautiful design brings them together on one glorious t-shirt.

Release date: 29th November

RRP: £15.99

PRE-ORDER

 

Dalek Blue Prints

“Seek, locate, annihilate!”

Dalek blue prints, on a beautiful t-shirt.

One for Dalek fans everywhere!

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Release date: 29th November

RRP: £15.99

PRE-ORDER

 

This Is Team TARDIS

The Doctor, Graham, Yaz and Ryan – it’s Team TARDIS!

Four times the fun, this t-shirt is only available at Forbidden Planet.

Release date: 27th December

RRP: £15.99

PRE-ORDER

 

There’s something for everyone in this extensive collection!

You can find the collection at one of the 9 Forbidden Planet stores across the UK: London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Coventry, Croydon, Liverpool, Newcastle or Southampton

or at ForbiddenPlanet.com

 

International Friendship Day: My Friend the Doctor

by Beth Axford

Dear Doctor,

Down here on planet Earth we like to celebrate things. In the turbulent times we’re living in, it’s easy to forget the amazing things we have, so we celebrate them with special days and events. From doughnuts and cats, to kissing or sleeping – there is a dedicated day for everything you could possibly think of. Today – July 30th, is quite the important one. It’s International Friendship Day!

I enjoy the warmth and positivity of a day like this, when everyone is reminded of one of the most important things in life: friendship. There are posts all over social media, friend dates being had, and moments taken to appreciate. So, I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate you and the friendship *we* have.

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Doctor, you are always there for me. You make me smile, laugh and cry (in a good way). You make me feel safe and loved, even when things aren’t that great. Your adventures empower me to take a stand and do what is right, even when everybody else just runs away.

Your friendship means everything to me and thousands of others. Your kindness reverberates through our souls. Even during those weeks in the year that you do not grace us with your weekly presence, there are plenty of other places where your adventures are documented that we can enjoy. There are hundreds of people out there collecting and documenting your travels, sharing them with us so that we can be by your side always.

Some of these people are my friends too – you’ve let me reach more amazing people than I could ever imagine. When you can’t be there for me because you’re too busy saving the world, they are. When you’re stuck on a different planet or recording your adventures on camera, we have each other. This is one of the greatest gifts your friendship has given me.

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Good friendships are meant to teach you and help you grow. Doctor, you have taught me so much. Every day I learn to be a better person and I wouldn’t have had such good foundations for this if it wasn’t for you (and my mum, probably.) Your intelligence and bravery inspire me to try harder every second of the day. You touch so many people and never stop to be thanked – I aspire to one day be like you.

You’re also not perfect. You are flawed, as we all are. Sometimes you do the wrong thing. You get angry and mess things up, or make stupid mistakes. You wallow and get sad and don’t always deal with things in the best way. But that’s okay – its how you deal with it and grow that really matters. You are so inspiring, Doctor! You make me feel like it’s okay to not be perfect, as long as I am trying my best.

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Doctor, we need your friendship now more than ever.
There are people out there who are choosing unkindness, intolerance and inequality. These people are ruling our countries. They decide who we can love and who we can be, where we can settle, and even the future of the earth we live on. Others do not quite have that power, but have authority in their own corners. Some of them even claim to be your friend, but we know that you would never condone their behaviour. I hope these people choose to do what is right and follow what you really stand for; hope, love and acceptance. I will never stop fighting to make the world a better place and that is because of you. Please continue to teach your lessons and show us that these people will never win.

I hope you’re spending this International Friendship day somewhere up there in space, eating custard creams with Yaz, Ryan and Graham. I’ve sent this via a Kerblam man, but if it doesn’t turn up, it will be circulating the internet here on earth – I hope it makes its way to you.

Thank you for being my friend, Doctor – it really means more than you know.

Talking to the writers behind Big Finish’s ‘The Eighth of March’ for #IWD

By Beth Axford

The 8th of March marked International Women’s Day – a time to celebrate women everywhere and highlight the ongoing movement to achieve equal rights. To celebrate, we’ve teamed up with Big Finish to bring you a look at their new The Eighth of March audio boxset, written exclusively by women and starring our favourite female characters from Doctor Who. We’ve also partnered with The Who Shelf and contributed a post on how women are written in the exciting new set.

Consisting of four standalone stories, The Eighth of March features previous companions River Song, Leela and Ace as well as Big Finish companion Bernice Summerfield. The Paternoster gang and the ladies from UNIT also feature, making it the ultimate celebration of the women of Doctor Who!

Lisa McMullin, writer of Emancipation

How did you become a part of The Eighth of March boxset?
Matt Fitton (script editor) knew I’d been wanting to have a go at a River story and approached me with the idea of pairing her with a classic companion. I immediately loved the idea of River with Leela – they are such contrasting characters – so I pitched a story idea for the two of them and away we went.

What was the process of writing the story like? How were the characters, plots and themes chosen?
I always start with character. The joy (and challenge) of writing for Who characters is that they have already been drawn so brilliantly. So you’ve got River, a wonderfully erudite character and Leela, a thoroughly instinctive character – one woman who uses her head, the other who follows her heart. What if they have to work together? I wanted River to know everything about Leela but for Leela not to trust River as far as she could throw her. It’s a classic ‘odd couple’ set up. And from then you think about what sort of situation might bring them together – what might they have to face that would reveal the things which unite them rather than divide them? And the story then reveals the themes – sacrifice, oppression, emancipation. The idea of religion as oppressor is something which recurs in Who a lot and I’m interested in the way religions (all religions) treat women – and River and Leela can both connect personally to this.


What was your favourite part of the project?
I loved it all – but I did get a bit giddy at the recording. As a writer, to be there whilst these fantastic actors are making your script sound SO much better than you could have hoped, is thrilling. They originated these characters and know them better than anyone and watching them perform was joyous. I was a fan long before I thought I’d be a writer – you can’t imagine how exciting it is to write for Big Finish.

Who is your favourite female character from Doctor Who?
I’m not choosing. There are too many. But River and Leela are right up there.

There are themes of the importance of female relationships in Emancipation – was this something you purposely added in, or was it a natural progression of the characters?
A bit of both. But mostly everything stems from character and situation – for me, anyway, the way the characters respond to the situations reveals the themes. I realised right at the end that one of the main themes is about identity and having the autonomy to define yourself. Both River and Leela are quite unique in that they have both made conscious efforts to forge lives for themselves outside of their connection to The Doctor. For International Women’s Day, that’s a message I’d like to promote – don’t be defined by your relationship to anybody else – you are important in your own right.

 

Sarah Grochala, writer of Narcissus

There are themes regarding self-love, conventional beauty standards and how women are perceived in society throughout Narcissus, why did you feel it was important to portray this in The Eighth of March boxset?
I was interested in a comment that was made in the TV series about how Osgood’s sister was prettier than her. It implied that Osgood was a little insecure about her appearance. This seemed in stark contrast to how the character is presented in other moments as independent, self-sufficient and incredibly sure of herself in terms of her intelligence. I wanted to explore this potential vulnerability in Osgood a little more. When the other members around UNIT can clearly see Osgood’s value regardless of her appearance, it was interesting to me that she should be insecure about this one more superficial aspect of herself. I was also interested in the world of elite dating sites. Online dating is always a little bit like shopping, you’re selling yourself as a product and you’re judging potential partners on a range of personal qualities almost like you would if you were purchasing a car or a piece of furniture. The elite dating sites take this a step further as you have to be validated by the site as a special person in order to join. I was interested in the level of vanity and/or insecurity that the existence of these elite sites point to and how a malign force might take advantage of this.

How did you become a part of The Eighth of March boxset?
I heard that they were looking for women to write for Big Finish so I got in touch. I’ve been a fan of Dr Who since I was a child so it seemed like a great opportunity.

What was the process of writing the story like? How were the characters, plots and themes chosen?
I was given a pretty free rein. I was allocated the UNIT characters, which I was really thrilled about. There were a few basic parameters. The story had to take place eon the 8 March and, obviously, being UNIT it had to be modern day earth. I then suggested a number of plot lines and the Narcissus one was chosen. I then rewatched all the TV UNIT appearances and listened or read all the Big Finish stories so that I got a clear sense of how the characters’ stories were developing. I wrote a couple of drafts of the script and got a few notes from my script editor, which I then incorporated into the piece.


What was your favourite part of the project?
Probably having a chance to be at the recording and hear the whole piece coming together. The cast and the crew were absolutely brilliant and really brought the whole piece to life.

Who is your favourite female character from Doctor Who and why?
As a child it was definitely Romana. It’s difficult to remember exactly why my 7 year old self liked her so much but I suspect it was because she felt more of the Doctor’s equal than other companions had been. In the new series, it’s River Song, for similar reasons.

You can purchase The Eighth of March from Big Finish Productions here.
Read Beth’s review of The Eighth of March on our favourite blog for Doctor Who books – The Who Shelf!

 

What has Doctor Who given you? 55 stories for 55 years

To celebrate the 55th birthday of Doctor Who we asked our wonderful Twitter followers to share what the show has given them. And what a response. From career inspiration, relationships, a sense of self… it seems there’s no end to what the Doctor has done for us. We chose 55 answers we particularly loved – see if you can spot yourself!

Happy birthday Doctor Who, from us at the Time Ladies and everyone below. We love you.

Don’t forget, we’ll be shouting out our 5 favourite entries, who will each win a prize.
Want to join the conversation like everyone above? Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.