This year’s Doctor Who has been notably light on Easter Eggs and callbacks, with new boss Chris Chibnall preferring to create standalone stories that don’t hearken to the series’ past so as not to alienate new viewers.
However, that all changes with series 11’s seventh episode Kerblam!, which includes all sorts of references to Doctor Who episodes past – including some specific nods to fan-favourite Doctors Matt Smith and David Tennant.
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Kerblam! kicks off when the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) receives a mysterious package from the titular intergalactic delivery company, which she speculates might have taken some time to reach her (and was revealed in an early clip shown during the 2018 Children in Need broadcast).
“I don’t remember ordering anything – must have been a while back,” the Doctor says, before discovering the box contains a relic from one of her previous incarnations – a fez very like the ones favoured by Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, who spent quite a long time wearing or attempting to wear them during his tenure.
Presumably, this particular fez was ordered by the Doctor in her predecessor’s body the last time she was in the Kerblam! galaxy – and even a couple of incarnations later, she couldn’t resist trying it on.
“What do you think – still me?” she asks her friends – and while she fell slightly short of declaring “I wear a fez now, fezzes are cool,” it’s definitely still a look the Time Lord can pull off, and a brilliant callback to the Matt Smith era.
But in this episode the Eleventh Doctor isn’t the only former incarnation to get a shout-out, with David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor receiving a subtle nod after Yaz accuses the Doctor of being the sort of child who’d poke a wasp’s nest just to see what happened.
“Talking about wasps,” the Doctor replies, “did I ever tell you about me and Agatha Christie?”
This is a clear callback to 2008 episode The Unicorn and the Wasp, which saw Tennant’s Doctor meet the famed novelist alongside companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) as an alien wasp committed a series of Whodunnit murders – another great little Easter egg for Who fans.
Other fun little nods in the episode include a veiled reference to former sidekick and mechanical dog K-9 – “some of my best friends are robots,” the Doctor notes – and yet more use of the Time Lord’s Venusian aikido, and overall it’s great to see the series paying tribute to its long and storied past once more.
Sure, it’s nice that the stories are more accessible now – but sometimes it is just so satisfying to notice a few little in-jokes.
Doctor Who continues on BBC1 on Sundays
This article was originally published on 18 November 2018