9 Doctor Who Episodes Set During the Victorian Era

Doctor Who Episodes Set During the Victorian Era
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Melina Druga

Author, Freelance Writer, History Enthusiast -- Educating and empowering through writing
Melina Druga
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It’s no secret I love history and historical fiction, but I also love science fiction, specifically sci-fi television shows.  One of my favorites is Doctor Who.  Maybe it’s the brainy yet quirky and socially awkward main character.  Maybe it’s the dash of humor in every adventure.  Or maybe it’s the time travel.  After all, what better connects all my loves than an episode about time travel?  This list of Doctor Who episodes set during the Victorian era are from the series’ return in 2005 to the present.  Some episodes from the original series also visited the Victorians, but I did not see those episodes and opted not to include them here.  The episodes are in random order.

Six Doctor Who Episodes Set During the Victorian Era

Tooth and Claw

The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and companion Rose (Billie Piper) have plans to travel to 1979 for a concert but accidently end up in 1879 Scotland.  While walking through the moors, they are intercepted by Queen Victoria’s guards.   The Doctor pretends to be a Scottish physician who has been chasing after Rose.  Along with the queen, they travel to the Torchwood estate.

At the estate, everything is not as it seems.  The household is in fear, and monks are knocking soldiers unconscious and taking women to the cellar and holding them prisoner.  Also being held prisoner is a man who hints at being an alien or a werewolf or both.

The moon starts to transform the man, and it is up to the household to stop the beast.

The Doctor and Rose defeat the werewolf.  The queen is grateful but appalled by the pair’s flippant attitude, so she banishes them from the empire.

The Unquiet Dead

Set in 1869, the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose meet Charles Dickens.

While mourning his grandmother at a funeral parlor, a man is attacked by her corpse.  The corpse somehow has been taken over by a blue vapor.  He seeks the help of a clairvoyant who says the old woman’s dying wish was to see Dickens.  The author happens to be giving a reading of A Christmas Carol at a nearby theatre.  While attending the reading, the vapor leaves the old lady’s body which causes a panic.  The Doctor and Rose investigate.

Back at the funeral parlor, corpses are overcome with vapor.  The Doctor believes there is something alive in the funeral parlor’s gas pipes as the building is located on the Cardiff Rift, a source of energy.  He believes the pipes are inhabited by gaseous aliens.  This revelation at first shocks Dickens.

The clairvoyant is able to speak to the aliens and determines they need help.  The aliens begin coming through the rift, and all seems lost.  Dickens, however, has an idea that ultimately saves the day.

The Crimson Horror

In 1893, Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) and Strax (Dan Starkey) investigate a mysterious condition that turns people into statues with red skin.  Their investigation leads them to a community that is preparing for the apocalypse.  Going undercover, Jenny finds the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) partially transformed and being kept prisoner.

He explains the mysterious condition is a sort of preservation process and that it didn’t completely work on him because he isn’t human.  After begin released, he is able to reverse his condition as well as the condition of his companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) who had been completely transformed.

It is revealed that the Crimson Horror is caused by a parasite that Vastra’s people, the Silurians, considered a threat millions of years ago.

The gang stop the parasite from completing its mission of poisoning the Earth.

The Snowmen

Depressed after the lost of his companions Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), the Eleventh Doctor spends some time in 1892 with Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax.

Outside an inn, the Doctor runs into a woman named Clara who asks him about a mysterious snowman that mysteriously appeared in the alley.  The Doctor tries to avoid her questions, but Clara pursues him. The Doctor attempts to get Strax to erase Clara’s memory, but Strax keeps erasing his own memory.  The trio is interrupted by sentient snow that manifests itself as menacing snowmen.

After showing Clara how to defeat the snowmen, he sends her away but she won’t take “no” for an answer.  She again follows him and discovers the Tardis.   When she learns information she thinks he will find helpful, she returns.

Eventually the information sparks the Doctor out of his depression, and he asks Clara to be his next companion although she dies before being able to travel with him.

Deep Breath

A newly regenerated and highly confused Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara crash land in London while inside the throat of a T-Rex.  After the T-Rex coughs out the stuck Tardis, they meet Madame Vastra and Jenny.

Vastra takes the Doctor and Clara back to her home so the Doctor can rest.  He won’t stay there for long, however, after waking and escaping out the window.

Clara is conflicted over the Doctor’s new identity and can’t understand why he is so different.

Meanwhile, a robot steals a man’s eyes, and there are mysterious cases of spontaneous combustion in the city.

Clara and the Doctor are both drawn to meet at a restaurant based on a newspaper ad each thinks the other placed.  There, they must solve the mystery of the robot’s purpose and why he’s stealing organs.

The Next Doctor

The Tenth Doctor lands in 1851 and meets a man who calls himself The Doctor.  Initially, the Doctor believes the man may be one of his future incarnations.  The man can neither confirm or deny this as he has no memory, he says, since the Cybermen attacked.

When the doctors go on an investigation, the Doctor begins to doubt that the man is really one of his incarnations.  Before the mystery can be solved, the Cybermen attack.

It is revealed that the man is in fact not a Time Lord but is named Jackson Lake, one of the Cybermen’s first victims.  The Doctor confronts Lake, and Lake regains his memories and realizes he is not the real doctor.  His memories contain helpful information, and together the Doctor and Lake defeat the Cybermen.

Three Honorable Mentions

Vincent and the Doctor

While not set in England, the episode does take place in 1890.

After spotting something strange in a Vincent Van Gogh painting at a museum exhibition, the Eleventh Doctor and Amy travel to Paris to meet Van Gogh and solve the mystery.

While the adventure does revolve around an alien, the real point of the episode is to highlight the effects of chronic depression.

Empress of Mars

The Twelfth Doctor and companions Bill (Pearl Mackie) and Nardole (Matt Lucas) travel to Mars to investigate the message “God Save the Queen” found under the ice by NASA.  In an underground cavern, they meet British soldiers who found an alien space ship in South Africa in 1881 and hitched a ride to Mars.

A Good Man Goes to War

Only a small portion of this episode was set in the past.  The reason Jack the Ripper stopped his murderous spree is explained.  Madame Vastra ate him.  He was tasty but a bit stringy.

Do you have a favorite Doctor Who episode?  Leave a comment below.

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2 thoughts on “9 Doctor Who Episodes Set During the Victorian Era”

  1. Some fun episodes listed here. I always enjoyed Strax – he made me laugh. The episode with Van Gogh is so moving, yes, it has it\’s sort of kooky angle, but really, the ending is very touching – I cry every time.

    1. The Van Gogh episode is my favorite episode featuring the Eleventh Doctor. Maybe it’s because of the time period, or the fact it addresses depression, or maybe it’s the fact that history could not be changed.

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