Having an opinion about one’s favourite story, season and Doctor is par for the course for your classic Whovian. But ever since BBC Wales came along and started producing Nu-Who, we have also had Christmas Specials to contend with. Instead of spouting age-old beliefs formed aeons ago, we have had to reactivate our grey matter and say something new. We have had to decide where we stand on Xmas Who. What is the perfect Christmas episode of Doctor Who?
We, of course, take it as a huge compliment that our little show is worthy of consideration as festive fare. The dark days of the Eighties, when Doctor Who was tottering along the lane towards oblivion, have left their mark. It is hard to believe that Auntie Beeb, who acted so cruelly towards both Who and Whovians back then, now lavish love and attention on our beloved show and flaunt it as a ratings winner against ITV.
The nearest thing that Doctor Who got to a Christmas episode in the olden days was old Billy Hartnell breaking the fourth wall and wishing viewers at home a “Merry Christmas” at the end of a Sixties Dalek episode, which just happened to fall on the twenty fifth of December. Or should we consider 1981 spin-off “K9 and Company” as a classic attempt at a Christmas episode? I don’t know. I have never bothered to form an opinion.
So what is my view of Nu Who at Xmas? What do I expect from my Yuletide shot of Whovian goodness? Well, it goes without saying that a skillfully crafted plot is paramount. Top-notch direction, acting, incidental music and SFX are also called for. After all, it is the least we expect from any episode of Doctor Who, Christmas or otherwise.
On Christmas Day many a non-Whovian are plonked on the sofa in front of the telly, stuffed with mince pies n’ turkey and verging on comatose. It is they who we aim to please. They represent the general public and they all add up to form viewing figures. Christmas Doctor Who has to be a crowd pleaser. And, personally speaking, if you are watching Who with your granny and grandad, aunties and uncles, you feel judged. As if both you and the show are on trial. Why on earth does he obsess about this show? A good Christmas outing will provide the answer. On Christmas Day, Doctor Who has to win the hearts and minds of the general viewing public. And defend a Whovian’s reputation!
I expect action sequences and noisy and colourful set pieces on Christmas Day. Push my tellybox to its limits. Have me glued to the screen. Make me feel real emotions. I want to laugh and cry.
Sprinkle the episode with Christmas. Give me fir trees, snowballs, tinsel and Rudolph. I want big name actors to bless our show with their theatrical talents and bump up the ratings at the same time.
I don’t want the episode to be throwaway – I would like it to be unashamedly canon and add something to Whovian lore. Lastly, the Christmas episode should be entertaining and instantly rewatchable. I want to be able to enjoy it again and again and again. Especially when there is a long wait for a new series to be endured.
Will ‘Last Christmas’ tick all the boxes? I believe so. As an out and out Moffan, I doubt our übertalented show-runner will let us down. Or, for that matter, his lead actor. If the BBC expect Capaldi to stay on board, they need to come up with the goods on the scripting front.
This year, the signs are good. The story is set in the Artic – you can’t get more snowy or Christmassy than that. Nick Frost is our Yuletide big name, playing Father Christmas. Jenna Coleman will be the show’s emotional heart and is sure to have us weeping into our Christmas puddings. I, myself, am hoping for a return of the Ice Warriors, a most appropriate Christmas villain, I am sure you will agree.
And so, this classic Whovian has managed to form an opinion of what the ideal Christmas episode should be. My job is done. It just goes to show that it ain’t easy being an old-school Whovian in a Nu-Who world. Our long-cherished views and opinions had become set in stone, after Doctor Who was axed in the Eighties. However, given the continual flow of brand-new episodes over the last ten years, we now need to reassess and reappraise them. And with Doctor Who back on our telly at Christmas, what better time is there to start?