20 Historical Figures Who Have Appeared In ‘Doctor Who’

Agatha Christie meets Donna and the Doctor

It’s very important to Doctor Who that the TARDIS can travel back in time to a recognizable point in human history. After all, we don’t know what last week on Skaro or Mondas can have been like, or 20 years from now, for that matter, so to prove to your audience that all of history is there for the exploring, you need to intact with history as we understand it now. And that involves mixing with some very recognizable faces.

Let’s start with some writers. How about this fella, who was born exactly 200 years ago, next Tuesday:

Charles Dickens – The Unquiet Dead (Ninth Doctor, 2005)


And who could forget…

Agatha Christie – The Unicorn and the Wasp (Tenth Doctor, 2008)


And maybe the greatest of them all:

William Shakespeare – The Shakespeare Code (Tenth Doctor, 2007)

Followed by the biggest, most recognizable face of the 20th Century.

Adolf Hitler – Let’s Kill Hitler (Eleventh Doctor, 2011)

And his opponent…

Winston Churchill – The Beast Below, Victory of the Daleks, The Pandorica Opens, The Wedding of River Song (Eleventh Doctor, 2010/2011)

Meanwhile, back at the very beginnings of recorded history:

Lucius Caecilius Iucundus – The Fires of Pompeii (Tenth Doctor, 2008)

And from an external fire to an internal one:

Vincent Van Gogh – Vincent and the Doctor, The Pandorica Opens (Eleventh Doctor, 2010/2011)


And from a righteous leader…

Richard the Lionheart – The Crusade (First Doctor, 1965)


…to a rotten one…

King John I – The King’s Demons (Fifth Doctor, 1983)


…to an iconic one (two meetings and the whiff of romance, no less)…

Elizabeth The First – The Chase/The Shakespeare Code (First Doctor/Tenth Doctor, 1965/2007)

…to a furious Merry Monarch…

Charles II  – The Impossible Astronaut (Eleventh Doctor, 2011)

And while we’re doing the queens…

Queen Victoria – Tooth and Claw (Tenth Doctor, 2006)

and other members of the royal court:

Madame De Pompadour – The Girl In The Fireplace (Tenth Doctor, 2006)

And a robotic version of a lady who just acts like a sovereign:

Anne Robinson – Bad Wolf (Ninth Doctor, 2005)


Oh and here’s an American leader:

Richard Nixon – The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon (Eleventh Doctor, 2010)

And here’s a real rogue in a landscape of fictional characters:

Blackbeard – The Mind Robber (Second Doctor, 1968)


And another real pirate:

Henry Avery – Curse of the Black Spot (Eleventh Doctor, 2011)


Speaking of rogues, here’s the entire gunfight at the OK Corrall:

Wyatt Earp et al – The Gunfighters (First Doctor, 1965)

And one of the most famous travelers and traders in history:

Marco Polo – Marco Polo (First Doctor, 1964)

And the inventor of the steam locomotive:

George Stephenson – Mark of the Rani (Sixth Doctor, 1985)


And that’s before we factor in all of the famous people in history that the Doctor has name-dropped. But that’s another story for another day….

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser is a British writer, broadcaster and the the author of the book Stuff Brits Like. He is Anglophenia's resident Brit blogger, having written BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog, the Top of the Pops website, and for NME, the Guardian and elsewhere. Favorite topics include slang, Doctor Who and cramming as much music into Anglophenia as he can manage. He invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic
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