Doctor Who series 11’s third episode features a compelling guest performance from Vinette Robinson as Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks – but did you know she’s actually been in the series before?
Yes, 12 long years ago Robinson made her Who debut during the David Tennant era in an episode called 42, which saw the Doctor and Martha (Freema Agyeman) hunted by a mysterious organism through a sweltering spaceship.
In that story, Robinson played Abi Lerner, a medical officer who became the second victim of the sentient star that was taking over the crew of the S.S. Pentallian – and while her role wasn’t huge, it was notable for being part of the Doctor Who writing debut for current showrunner Chris Chibnall (who co-wrote the new Rosa Parks episode with Malorie Blackman).
In other words, when taking over the sci-fi series this year Chibnall brought back one of the people that was there at the beginning of his own Who journey in 2006, and there’s a lovely circularity to her inclusion.
Vinette Robinson in Doctor Who: 42
And if you’re STILL wondering where else you might know Robinson from outside of Who, there are a few possibilities. One of her most prominent roles is as Sgt. Sally Donovan in Sherlock (coincidentally co-created by ex-Who writer and showrunner Steven Moffat), and she also recent cropped up in the 2016 series of Black Mirror on Netflix.
She’s also appeared in sci-fi movie Morgan, Vera, Death in Paradise, The A Word, Waterloo Road and Party Animals (alongside Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith) among many other projects – though after watching the latest episode, you might struggle to think of her as anyone but the famous Mrs Parks.