No Doctor Who Christmas episode?! What the heck! I’ve just heard the news that there’ll be no festive Who on Christmas Day this year. Since Doctor Who returned in 2005 we have been treated to a yuletide story every year. It’s a staple of the holiday schedules as much as Christmas EastEnders (depressing), Coronation Street (hmm), Mrs Brown’s Boys (god, no), the family film (yay!) and the Queen’s Speech. Her Majesty’s speech has never been the same since being published before the day. But I digress, my opinions on other shows aren’t the subject of this article! I must say the news came as a bit of a shock. I, like many others, thought Christmas Who was part and parcel (ahem!) of the evening’s televisual feast.
I’ve been a Who fan ever since I was little, (more years ago than I care to remember!) I remember the Eighties where the BBC were embarrassed by the show’s popularity. The lengths they went to to get the show cancelled are definitely another article! So, on top of moving the show from Saturday to Sunday, the news that they’re ditching the Christmas episode is nothing short of worrying.
Why no Christmas episode?
And breathe. Let’s take an objective view of the situation. Since Chibnall became showrunner, things have changed. I wasn’t sure of casting a female Doctor but Jodie’s turned out great. I wasn’t sure of the change in broadcast day but that’s been fine too. So perhaps the loss of the Christmas episode won’t be that bad. 2018 has been a big upheaval for Doctor Who fans who have witnessed a lot of big changes to the show. People don’t like change especially when the Beeb hold the good Doctor’s purse-strings.
Rumours abound over the quote that the reason was they had run out of ideas for a Christmas-themed episode. Whether this is accurate or not, previous showrunner Steven Moffat has been vocal about the difficulty in trying to form a story around a seasonal theme. Yes, okay it is a tricky proposition to annually produce a themed story but with this flexible format it’s not impossible. There’s no reason why someone other than the showrunner could be tasked at crafting a decent story. It doesn’t even have to be set on Christmas Day. We have all of time and space, people! Do something big! Something special!
The harsh truth
As much as I hate to admit it, the Christmas Doctor Whos have been, by and large, a bit of a let down. The idea of a Christmas episode has often been better than its realisation. Please take a look at my article Doctor Who Christmas Specials Rated for my full breakdown. The Christmas teatime slot is important if you want to draw new viewers in or to act as a showcase to non-fans what they are missing. It’s like an acceptable window into the programme for overly fed relatives to relax in front of. But time after time, the Christmas story is cringe-making and not well thought through. This is not a good use of the slot to draw in new viewers and worse, it serves to embarrass the regular fans.
New Year’s Day Special!
So no Christmas episode to round off the year and to enjoy with family after a hearty dinner. But we do have a New Year’s Day special to look forward to instead. Chris Chibnall puts a favourable spin on the news.