This week’s episode of Doctor Who saw a particularly inspiring speech from Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, as the Time Lord took baddie Lord Sutcliffe (Nicholas Burns) to task for his callousness in scenes that for many will echo the actor’s headline-grabbing anti-war speech from the previous series (in 2015 episode The Zygon Inversion).
The lecture comes about after Sutcliffe explains the reasoning for feeding members of the public to the creature he has chained beneath the frozen Thames, with the enormous fish producing incredibly powerful fuel that runs Sutcliffe’s mills.
The Doctor, in turn, is disgusted by Sutcliffe’s reasoning, delivering a charged retort about the value of human life and a progressive society that’s just as relevant to modern politics as it is to the Regency period the Doctor and Bill (Pearl Mackie) are visiting.
The Doctor: I preferred it when you were alien.
Sutcliffe: When I was…
The Doctor: Well, that would explain the lack of humanity. What makes you so sure your life is worth more than those people out there on the ice? Is it the money? The accident of birth, that puts you inside the big, fancy house.
Sutcliffe: I help move this country forward. I move this Empire forward.
The Doctor: Human progress isn’t measured by industry. It’s measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life. A life without privilege. The boy who died on the river, that boy’s value is your value. That’s what defines an age, that’s… what defines a species.
Sutcliffe: What a beautiful speech. The rhythm and vocabulary, quite outstanding. It’s enough to move anyone with an ounce of compassion.
So it’s really not your day, is it?
Of course, the speech does little to move Sutcliffe from his evil schemes, but it does serve to impress companion Bill, who had previously expressed anger at the Doctor’s blunt attitude towards the death of a child.
Asking about the Doctor’s age, she says: “I just wanted to know how long it takes before you can make a speech like you just made. It was worth the wait.”
We’re sure that after an episode that went to the heart of the Doctor’s morality, many fans will feel the same.
Doctor Who continues on BBC1 on Saturdays at 7:20pm