Doctor Who season 11 served up one of the show’s most powerful episodes ever a couple of weeks ago with “Rosa,” in which the TARDIS travelled back to 1950s Alabama and the characters experienced the terrible racism that was rife in the state at the time. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know that the episode climaxed with the Doctor and her friends witnessing Rosa Parks’ historic protest on a bus, forced to be complicit in her arrest as a way of keeping the timeline on track.
Answering a fan’s question on a Reddit AMA, star Mandip Gill – who plays Yaz Khan – admitted that this particular scene was quite tough to film, as she couldn’t stop herself from crying due to the intense emotion of it. She credited her co-star Vinette Robinson and the supporting artists who filled out the bus for making it feel so real.
“You know the scene when we’re in the bus? I kept crying. I kept looking back at Vinette [who played Rosa Parks]. I didn’t want Yaz to be crying in that moment that goes on to change history. I could not look at Vinette without crying. It just felt so real. The supporting artists were so brilliant and the set was amazing. I just couldn’t stop crying.”
Fans felt much the same watching this sequence at home as Gill did while filming it. Audiences poured onto social media afterwards to praise the episode for tackling difficult themes head on and not sugar-coating anything for the younger viewership. As I said in my review, “Rosa” was such an all-round well-crafted piece of drama that it’s hard to see it being topped by another episode this run, but I look forward to finding out what showrunner Chris Chibnall serves up nonetheless.
For Gill, there’s one upcoming episode that she’s particularly excited about having the fans watch. “There’s another episode which is historical, which I’m really excited about,” the actress teased on Reddit. From what we know, it’s possible she’s referring to episode 6, “Demons of the Punjab,” which will see Yaz encounter her grandmother during the Partition of India.
Before then, though, Doctor Who season 11 continues with “The Tsuranga Conundrum” this Sunday on BBC America.