Doctor Who

Doctor Who

As someone who can travel anywhere in time, the Doctor has often had the chance to hang out with famous people whilst travelling the universe... The Time Lord has lent a mobile phone to Elvis, is on first-name terms with Frank Sinatra (well, his first name anyway), and has ended up married to the Queen of England at least once. Here are ten of the greatest historical figures the Doctor has met over the years...



Marco Polo

Appeared in: Marco Polo (1964)

Marco Polo was an explorer who set out from Venice in the 13th century to see the world. He had reached central Asia when he encountered another wanderer – the Doctor! As he was having a bit of bother with a damaged TARDIS at the time, the Doctor, his granddaughter Susan, and their friends Ian and Barbara had no choice but to join Polo’s epic quest. They all headed for the imperial palace of mighty Kublai Khan in Peking, where Polo planned to present his boss with the TARDIS to buy his freedom. When they got there, the Doctor lost his ship to the emperor in a game of backgammon, but Polo later slipped him the keys and he legged it. Luckily, the Emperor forgave Polo and let him go on his way.

Marco Polo (Mark Eden) and the First Doctor (William Hartnell) in the missing Doctor Who story, Marco Polo (1964).
Marco Polo (Mark Eden) and the First Doctor (William Hartnell) in the missing Doctor Who story, Marco Polo (1964).

Agatha Christie

Appeared in: The Unicorn and the Wasp (2008)

The brilliant crime author Agatha Christie went missing for 11 days in 1926, and nobody ever knew where she’d got to – until the Doctor and his mate Donna Noble bumped into her on the very day she vanished! At the time, people thought she’d gone to ground after finding out her husband had been unfaithful. But the Doctor discovered that actually, her mind had been linked to a large alien wasp, and she was so stressed out about it all that she passed out and lost her memory. Obviously!

Agatha Christie (Fenella Woolgar) in Unicorn and the Wasp (2008).
Agatha Christie (Fenella Woolgar) in Unicorn and the Wasp (2008).

William Shakespeare

Appeared in: The Shakespeare Code (2007)

When Shakespeare started writing a sequel to his play, Love’s Labour’s Lost in 1599, he had no idea that he was actually under the influence of a trio of nasty space witches called the Carrionites. The words he wrote were actually a mathematical formula that would release their witchy sisters from inter-dimensional jail to wreak havoc. The Doctor and Martha Jones stopped them, but every single copy of Love’s Labour’s Won ended up being sucked into the Carrionite dimension, never to be seen again! Probably just as well.

William Shakespeare (Dean Lennox Kelly) in The Shakespeare Code (2007).
William Shakespeare (Dean Lennox Kelly) in The Shakespeare Code (2007).

Queen Elizabeth I

Appeared in: The Shakespeare Code (2007), The Day of the Doctor (2013)

No sooner had the Doctor sorted out Shakespeare’s woes than Queen Elizabeth herself stormed into the Globe Theatre, demanding that the Doctor’s head be chopped off! And who can blame her – the Doctor, that old rogue, had married her in 1562 then flounced off to sort out the Time War. That was quite an intense day, and he just clean forgot to go back for her. Rude!

As a bonus, the Doctor saw both William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I on the Time-Space Visualiser, where she was giving the playwright notes (The Chase 1965).

Queen Elizabeth I (Joanna Page) in The Day of the Doctor (2013).
Queen Elizabeth I (Joanna Page) in The Day of the Doctor (2013).

Vincent Van Gogh

Appeared in: Vincent and the Doctor (2010), The Pandorica Opens (2010)

The Doctor and Amy Pond were worried when they popped into the Musée d'Orsay in Paris to admire some of Van Gogh’s artwork – there was an evil face that shouldn’t have been there in one of the works. They headed to 1890, when Vincent painted it, to investigate, and found the great artist in dire straits – out of money and struggling to cope with life. After outsmarting a rampaging Krafayis, the Doctor broke every rule in the book and took Vincent to the future, to show him how much his work meant to the world.

Vincent Van Gogh (Tony Curran) in Vincent and the Doctor (2010).
Vincent Van Gogh (Tony Curran) in Vincent and the Doctor (2010).

Queen Victoria

Appeared in: Tooth and Claw (2006)

Queen Vic thought she was going to have a peaceful stopover at Torchwood House in 1879. She couldn’t possibly have expected that an alien werewolf would be waiting there, hoping to give her a good biting, seize the throne and unleash the Empire of the Wolf. Luckily for her, the Doctor and Rose Tyler were also in the area, and they saw off the beast. They didn’t get a lot of thanks for their efforts, though – the grumpy old Queen banished them from Earth and had the Doctor listed as an enemy of the Crown. Charming! A portrait of Queen Victoria found its way to the red planet in The Empress of Mars (2017).

Queen Victoria (Pauline Collins) in Tooth and Claw (2006).
Queen Victoria (Pauline Collins) in Tooth and Claw (2006).

Charles Dickens

Appeared in: The Unquiet Dead (2005), The Wedding of River Song (2011)

Dickens was another popular writer who got tangled up with the Doctor’s alien exploits. He was in Cardiff in 1869 to do a reading from A Christmas Carol when some gassy Gelth let rip through the theatre. The Gelth had lost their physical forms in the Time War and were floating around looking for dead bodies to inhabit. Dickens was fascinated by the amazing things he’d seen and vowed to work the Gelth into his next novel, but he died before he could finish it.

Charles Dickens (Simon Callow) in The Unquiet Dead (2005).
Charles Dickens (Simon Callow) in The Unquiet Dead (2005).

Madame de Pompadour

Appeared in: The Girl in the Fireplace (2006)

Stuck in the 18th century after ending up on the wrong side of a time window disguised as a fireplace, the Doctor formed a close relationship with Reinette – also known as Madame de Pompadour, a member of the French court and mistress of Louis XV. The Doctor met Reinette at different points of her life by repeatedly passing through the time windows, and he was soon enchanted by her bright, spirited nature. He invited her to join him in the TARDIS, but the last time he passed through the window, it was too late – Reinette had died, leaving the Doctor devastated.

Madame de Pompadour (Sophia Myles) in The Girl in the Fireplace (2006).
Madame de Pompadour (Sophia Myles) in The Girl in the Fireplace (2006).

Winston Churchill

Appeared in: The Beast Below (2010), Victory of the Daleks (2010), The Pandorica Opens (2010), The Wedding of River Song (2011)

Britain’s legendary wartime Prime Minister had something at his disposal most people don’t know about – a direct hotline to the TARDIS! He used it to summon the Doctor to 1941, when war was raging all over the world. Churchill had a new weapon one of his scientists had supposedly created, and wanted the Doctor’s advice on whether or not to use it. Just as well he asked, really, because his Ironsides were actually khaki-coloured Daleks, and their real aim was to destroy London!

Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice) in Victory of the Daleks (2010).
Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice) in Victory of the Daleks (2010).

Rosa Parks

Appeared in: Rosa (2018)

When the Doctor and her gang travel into the past, it’s really important that they don’t change any established history. Arriving in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, they met Rosa Parks, just before she was due to stage her famous protest on a segregated bus, kick-starting the Civil Rights Movement and changing the world forever. Their resolve to stay out of the action was tested when Krasko, a racist murderer from the far future, travelled back in time to make sure Rosa’s protest, and all the good things it led to, never happened. Eventually, they made sure that Rosa was in the right place at the right time to make history. The Doctor, Graham and Yaz were all heartbroken to be among the people on the bus who forced Rosa to take her stand, but they knew it was the only way.

Rosa Parks (Vinette Robinson) in Rosa (2018).
Rosa Parks (Vinette Robinson) in Rosa (2018).


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