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Feature: Doctor Who

Christmas Fear

Merry Christmas The first festive Doctor Who in many a year brings killer Christmas trees and a brand new Doctor! The Christmas Invasion is almost here…

It’s 40 years since Doctor Who was last an integral part of the nation’s Christmas Day celebrations. Back then it was William Hartnell in the title role, in an oddly Dalek-free episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan, visiting a police station not unlike the one in Z-Cars and enjoying a pantomime chase around a Hollywood set.

With the show so lovingly rebranded as one of the BBC’s flagship productions, it has now earned the honour of again taking one of the most prestigious broadcast slots over the festive period. The Christmas Invasion is Doctor Who’s first one-off 60-minute special (another will be produced in 2006), and it reflects the series’ standing as the TV equivalent of the Harry Potter series. It’s a programme that has found favour across a broad range of demographics, big, bold entertainment that shocks as much as it amuses, and imaginative Science Fiction made with high production values. So, no doubt the logic goes, why should the BBC buy in a blockbuster movie when it has its own ingenious award-winning TV show with a hungry audience of millions?

Sandwiched between two episodes of EastEnders (and most probably competing against ITV’s hottest property, Coronation Street), the special will herald David Tennant’s début as the tenth Doctor. Almost. That was the plan, until a one-off scene was commissioned for Children in Need (and broadcast on November 18th), the 15-minute ‘story’ taking place after the Doctor’s regeneration in The Parting of the Ways. But the festive special is likely to be promoted as Tennant’s proper introduction – and expect the BBC’s publicity machine to go into overdrive for the event…

The Christmas Invasion is written by the show’s executive producer, guiding light and saviour, Russell T Davies. “I love the title,” he laughs. “What else could you call it? It will be a great, adventure that's really big in scale. It will be Christmassy – there's nothing I like more than a Christmas special set at Christmas!

“There's a big story in it for Rose as well as a massive threat to the Earth going on beneath the surface, so Christmas as usual!”

With the Doctor still suffering the after-effects of his regeneration, the TARDIS returns to Earth, arriving back at Rose’s council estate. The festive period is just beginning, but the Doctor, recuperating in his pyjamas, is too ill to enjoy it, while his companion attempts to come to terms with the fact that her best friend has changed his identity. But as Rose shares some quality time with her family and friends (Camille Coduri is back as Jackie Tyler, along with Noel Clarke as Mickey), an alien force is stirring. The Sycorax invasion is beginning…

So what else can we expect from the story? “I can tell you that the words ‘Arthur Dent’ are said in the Christmas special,” reveals Davies, rather teasingly.

“It's got scary Christmas trees, Santa attacks, there's an invasion, and the Doctor stays in bed for a long, long time,” Billie Piper recently told the press. “I am carrying most of the show.”

by David Richardson

Read the full story in
Cult Times #123

Image © Visual Imagination, Doctor Who © BBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #123
December 2005
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