Ian Berriman spends his Christ­mas Day grum­bling at light en­ter­tain­ment

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So I love Doc­tor Who. Al­ways have. Al­ways will. But there’s one type of episode I strug­gle to work up any en­thu­si­asm about: the Christ­mas spe­cials. Don’t get me wrong: I’m pleased that the ad­vent of this re­cent tra­di­tion means we get an ex­tra ad­ven­ture ev­ery year. But does that yule­tide trip in the blue box re­ally have to be so damn Christ­massy?

The thing is, Doc­tor Who is fun­da­men­tally not a Christ­mas show. This is the sub­ject of much re­vi­sion­ism th­ese days, but it re­mains a fact. It’s why, for the com­plete 26- year run of the orig­i­nal se­ries, no­body ever dreamed of such a thing. It’s why the very no­tion of a Christ­mas spe­cial came as such a sur­prise when the first one was an­nounced in 2005.

For me, Doc­tor Who is an au­tum­nal show, a thing of shad­ows, not nat­u­rally cosy or heart- warm­ing. Christ­mas TV is a very dif­fer­ent beast; okay, for the res­i­dents of Al­bert Square the 25th may mean ag­o­nis­ing gloom, but gen­er­ally it means cloy­ing sen­ti­men­tal­ity wrapped in tinsel.

It’s also tire­somely uni­form. Since ev­ery se­ries feels com­pelled to dress it­self in fes­tive trap­pings, the sched­ule all looks alike. The great joy of Doc­tor Who is that it’s so dif­fer­ent from week to week – and so un­like any other se­ries. The more Christ­mas trees and an­gels and snow­men are shoe­horned into the show, the more or­di­nary it starts to look. That’s why my favourite Christ­mas spe­cial is the one which down­plays all that: part one of “The End Of Time”.

Couldn’t we follow the ex­am­ple of the BBC’s clas­sic Ghost Story For Christ­mas strand of the ’ 70s in­stead, which adapted spooky tales by the

Doc­tor Who is sim­ply not a Christ­mas show

likes of MR James? Placed in the midst of the sickly sweet­ness of the De­cem­ber 25th sched­ules, some­thing prop­erly chill­ing would be a wel­come palate cleanser. And you can be cer­tain it’d still be a rat­ings smash.

This year, at least, there is a ray of hope: in Peter Ca­paldi we fi­nally have a mod­ern Doc­tor whose at­ti­tude to the fes­tive sea­son will surely be the same as mine: a scowl­ing, “Bah, hum­bug!” I’m kinda hop­ing he gives Nick Frost’s Santa Claus a Glas­gow kiss…

Some­thing tells us Time Lords don’t re­ally get Christ­mas.

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