Ian Berriman spends his Christmas Day grumbling at light entertainment
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.