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Feature: Doctor Who

Peering ahead

As the series blasts back to television with its first specially-written Christmas episode in 40 years, we meet new Doctor David Tennant and returning companion Billie Piper for a fireside chat!

Christmas Day in the early evening: traditionally it’s the most competitive time slot of the year on television. The BBC will play only its biggest card, and in 2005 that ace is Doctor Who, which has been reborn as the people’s programme of choice. The show was recently voted Best Drama at the National Television Awards, the first season ratings peaked at 11 million, and the positive word of mouth hasn’t abated in the months that it has been off the air. There’s little doubt that it will be a family favourite over the Christmas period, and the BBC must silently be hoping that it will top the charts with figures reminiscent of Only Fools and Horses at its height.

Written by guiding light Russell T Davies, the 60-minute special The Christmas Invasion marks David Tennant’s proper début as the Tenth Doctor. He made a small appearance in the closing moments of Season One’s finale The Parting of the Ways, the end result of the almost volcanic effects of a regeneration. A small vignette recently broadcast on Children in Need revealed what happened next: Rose’s (Billie Piper) baffling reaction to this stranger, the crippling effects of the process going wrong, and the TARDIS heading for a crash landing on Earth…

It’s Christmas Eve, and Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) is preparing for the big day when she hears the familiar roar of the TARDIS engines. Mickey (Noel Clarke) hears them too. As the pair come running, an awful sight meets their eyes as the Police Box careers out of control from the sky, smashing into ground at the Powell Estate. The Doctor and his companion emerge, but the Time Lord is gravely sick and packed off to bed. Anyone expecting Tennant to blaze onto the screen is in for a surprise, because The Christmas Invasion belongs to Rose…

“The regeneration process is a severe biological process which takes a fair bit of time,” explains Tennant. “This is not good news for Rose and the rest of the world, because whilst he’s going through this, the Earth is being invaded by the Sycorax.”

“Rose just feels so unloved and isolated at the start of the episode,” offers Piper.

“She’s returned home to her mother and Mickey and as ever they are there for her. But she feels like she’s lost her best friend. The Earth is being invaded and Rose has no control over the situation. The Doctor, who is still going through the regeneration process, isn’t there to give her the answers and she’s scared.”

“It’s a very difficult time for Rose,” concurs Tennant. “The Doctor hadn’t prepared her for the changes he’d undergo. So while he is recuperating, Rose is trying to fathom out how she can save the world. She’s also trying to understand how she feels about him now.”

The Children in Need mini-episode touched upon the pair’s shifting relationship: Rose bluntly admitted she wanted her old Doctor back. His replacement asked if she wanted to leave him. Through the course of The Christmas Invasion their relationship is put to the test.

by David Richardson

There's much more on the Christmas Special and on the new series in
Starburst Special #73

Photo © BBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Starburst Special #73
Doctor Who 2006
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