Doctor Who star Tosin Cole has defended the Rosa Parks episode of the show.

The actor has reacted to criticism that the programme became “too preachy” with its examination of the Civil Rights struggle.

Cole, who plays Ryan Sinclair in the series, believes Doctor Who should be educating and inspiring a younger audience.

Tosin Cole in character as Ryan
Tosin Cole in character as Ryan (Henrik Knudsen)

The actor does not believe the show is preaching, but reflecting historical and contemporary society, and sparking conversations about race and equality.

He said: “It’s current. It’s one of the most current things going on today. Those issues are still going on now.

“That’s why it was so refreshing to see that.

BBC 1’s Doctor Who episode featuring Rosa Parks
BBC 1’s Doctor Who episode featuring Rosa Parks (BBC)

“Seeing someone who was having a struggle years ago, and to still see that struggle today in a new way, it hits home.

“I don’t think it was preaching. I think it was reigniting that fire, like these issues are still going on today, it’s going on now. Let’s be aware of what’s going on.

“It’s refreshing to do that to a younger audience, and also to a family so you can have that conversation within a household.

“It’s good to have those conversations and let kids know the past.”

Fellow cast member Bradley Walsh said the episode would have won an award if it was a standalone drama, and did not contain aliens.

The historic show nevertheless caused anxiety among the production team on the BBC series.

Showrunner Chris Chibnall was concerned about the idea of visiting a moment in history which was so topical.

He said: “We worried. Absolutely had sleepless nights. I worried about it from the start.

“We really wanted to tell that story. It was part of the reason that I took the job doing the show, was to tell stories like that.”

The showrunner has promised more historical episodes in the upcoming series of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who will return with a new series in early 2020.