When does Doctor Who meet historical figures who are alive today?


In a recent episode of Doctor Who, we see a lovely sequence where The Doctor has a nice chat with Paul McCartney of The Beatles. Great larks! The Doctor often meets real people - Dickens, Shakespeare, Rosa Parks. But, crucially, all those people are dead by the time the episode airs.

Macca is unusual because we could, theoretically, call him and ask what it was like meeting The Doctor1.

So, how many times has The Doctor met a historical figure who is alive in the viewers' time?

Not many, by my count. There are a few people who play themselves (like Brian Cox and the band McFly) but don't actually meet The Doctor. There are many people who are real, but dead (like Agatha Christie). If I stick to the main TV series, I think the contenders are...

Ncuti Gatwa's Doctor saved the life of Davina McCall in 2023's The Church on Ruby Road, and met Paul McCartney in 2024's The Devil's Chord.

Peter Capaldi's 2017 Extremis features The Doctor meeting The Pope. Now which Pope is a matter for dispute. But he sure looks like Francis.

Screenshot of The Pope and The Doctor meeting.

Matt Smith's Doctor meets Patrick Moore (died 2012) on a Zoom call in 2010's The Eleventh Hour .

Video call showing Patrick Moore.

Sylvester McCoy's 1988 story The Silver Nemesis sees him sort of meet both the musician Courtney Pine and almost Queen Elizabeth II (died 2022). The Queen mentions knowing The Doctor towards the end of 2007's The Voyage of The Damned

We do not talk about Colin Baker's 1985 story A Fix with Sontarans!

William Hartnell's Doctor meets Bing Crosby and Charlie Chaplain (both died 1977) in the 1965 story The Dalek's Master Plan which, sadly, is lost to the ages. While there are photos, I don't think a clip survives.

Are there any others that I missed? Stick a note in the comments!


  1. I've tried, but his office aren't returning my calls. 

Share this post on…

What are your reckons?

All comments are moderated and may not be published immediately. Your email address will not be published.Allowed HTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> <p> <pre> <br> <img src="" alt="" title="" srcset="">