Dr Who makes history come alive

As was the case with millions of others, I sat down with my family to watch the Dr Who episode dramatizing the historic feats of US civil rights campaigner, Rosa Parks.

It was a work of remarkable poignancy which managed to tell Park’s story dramatically and faithfully whilst at the same time remaining within the conventions of science fiction.

It is interesting, and perhaps significant, as journalist Dan Martin pointed out, that this was the first ever episode to be written by a person of colour (former children’s laureate, Malorie Blackman co-wrote with Chris Chibnall) and only the eighth from a female writer.

Most notable in the episode was the way in which the racism of 1950’s Alabama was portrayed. At times it wasn’t an easy watch – the scenes on the bus where Parks was verbally abused were shocking to my 8 and 10 year olds.

They simply couldn’t understand why any human being would judge another by the colour of their skin. It had a life affirming, uplifting ending and as so many people have said, you can imagine the episode being used in schools as a teaching aid.

But anyone under the misapprehension that those days are completely consigned to the dustbin of history only had to look at the following days news to be quickly disabused of the notion.

Footage taken from a mobile phone aboard a Ryan air flight from Barcelona to Stansted showed 77 year old Delsie Gayle being subjected to the vilest of racial abuse before being moved from her seat at the request of her abuser.

Rosa Parks died in 2005 at the age of 92. But her fight, sadly and grimly, still goes on.