Doctor Who has had many themes within its episodes, from love and loss, to horror and fear. Despite these slightly melancholic and varied layers, the series has almost always excelled when Christmas comes around.
From Christopher Eccleston’s run in 2005, the show has had a Christmas special every year – that is until 2017 when Peter Capaldi’s last ever episode Twice Upon A Time aired on Christmas Day.
The show still has specials, but now they seem to be taking on the form of New Year specials, rather than Christmas episodes.
The Christmas Invasion – S2, E1
David Tennant’s first episode as The Doctor – and what an episode it was!
While The Doctor regenerates and takes a kip in Rose’s (Billie Piper) room, all hell breaks loose in London – on Christmas Eve no less.
This episode is comedic, festive, and gratifying as once again, The Doctor saves the day; not before he spends most of this chaotic episode asleep, though.
The Doctor isn’t really one for Christmas as he spends a lot of time alone, but Christmas with Rose, her mother Jackie (Camille Coduri), and boyfriend Mickey (Noel Clarke) is rather heartwarming; despite the previous events that include Jackie almost being “killed by a Christmas tree!”.
The story, set on Earth, shows the wonderful festivities celebrated by humans, aside from the aliens dressed like Santa who use trumpets as weapons, and the giant alien spaceship hovering over London…
Voyage of the Damned – S4, E1
Doctor Who really outdid itself with this Christmas special – it’s simply fantastic.
When The Doctor’s (Tennant) TARDIS crashes into the Titanic, he stows away on board as an ‘average guest’ – but this isn’t the Titanic, it’s a massive spaceship that looks like the famous vessel carrying thousands of tourists.
While The Doctor explores the lobby of the ship, he gets caught up in a small group who have tickets to teleport down to Earth and have a look around – they all seem to love how Earth does Christmas.
This episode is brilliant as of course we humans know the Christmas traditions like the backs of our hands, but the leader of the group, Mr Copper (Clive Swift) seems to have his facts about Christmas a little mixed up…
He tells the group that every festive season, the country of Great Britain go to war with the country of Turkey, and then “eat the Turkey people”… this is one of the few things he gets hilariously wrong about Christmas traditions.
The Snowmen – S7, E6
This episode now sees Matt Smith now taking on the role of The Doctor, and he does quite the job.
Following The Doctor after the loss of his previous companions, we see he is a little down in the dumps and seldom helps anyone anymore.
The Doctor meets an inquisitive woman from 1892 named Clara (Jenna Coleman), and through her curiosity and goodwill, The Doctor decides to help once again!
The episode takes place at Christmas, 1892 and the villain of it all? Snow that can mimic human bodies and speech, create evil-looking snowmen out of thin air, all voiced by Ian McKellen. Sound chaotic? That’s because it is, in the best kind of way.
The snowmen with their razor-sharp teeth (somehow) combined with Clara discovering new life does exist, and The Doctor trying to figure out how she’s so calm, makes for a perfect Christmas special.
The Time of The Doctor – S7, E16
This Christmas special is slightly sadder than you would expect for an episode like this – but festive specials don’t always serve as a simple adventure for The Doctor.
These specials are also used to portray significant parts of The Doctor’s life, to highlight a regeneration, or something that has come out of his past to haunt him.
This special focuses on Smith’s Doctor for the final time. The Doctor, sending Clara (a different version than the one mentioned, now from modern times) away and living in a town called Christmas in order to protect it, gets old.
The Doctor ages while defending Christmas for over 300 years, and has grown tired and is ready to go, as he is on his final body. However, perhaps the most Christmassy part of this episode is when a miracle happens.
Clara saves the day by asking the Time Lords (whom The Doctor is protecting the town from) to “save him”. Thus, The Doctor is given another life and regenerates into a new Doctor – Peter Capaldi.
The Husbands of River Song – S9, E14
Now with Peter Capaldi as the brooding and dry-humoured Doctor, and without a companion, he goes on a solo mission responding to a crashed ship’s cry for help – all while trying to avoid Christmastime.
The Doctor is once again feeling miserable as he has lost yet another companion, but he bumps into the one person that he would never get tired of seeing – River Song (Alex Kingston).
Song is The Doctor’s wife, but she thinks he is dead and has not seen his new face – but once she realises who he is, they are back to their mischievous ways, together.
This Christmas episode once again doesn’t really revolve around the holidays, but the snow and the singing we hear at the end of the episode echo Christmas throughout your home, and the joy the relationship between these characters give you (including Matt Lucas!)
Used to highlight the relationship between Song and The Doctor, this special gives viewers closure in some way that the impossible couple got one last, beautiful, 24-year-long night together on an alien planet.
Twice Upon A Time – S10, E14
This episode is Capaldi’s last. The end of Season 10 and the end of Capaldi’s brilliant version of The Doctor.
We get to meet the first-ever version of The Doctor, played by William Hartnell originally but since he sadly passed away, David Bradley stepped in to fill the role as the first Doctor.
Both versions of The Doctor meet, and both are resisting regeneration. This special is simply fantastic, as both of the lead characters spend time getting to know one another, despite being the same person!
But, despite everything else that occurs during this special, the scene in which both Doctors witness Christmas Day 1914 is truly perfect. In the middle of no man’s land, unseen, The Doctors witness the coming together of enemies and hear the singing of Christmas carols and see the soldiers playing football – this Christmas special has heart, and a lot of it.
Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal
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