Outside the box
It’s a Boxing Day treat as Alex Kingston joins Peter Capaldi in the TARDIS for a story that’s been dubbed the raunchiest episode of Doctor Who, DAVID MILLS reports
IN 10 years, Doctor Who’s Christmas special has established itself as both a ratings hit and a Yuletide tradition, as much a part of the season’s festivities as a seafood lunch or a game of backyard cricket.
Since the first Christmas special in 2005, the show’s writers have used the episode to either shake up the show’s narrative arc, or to explore the lighter side of the Doctor’s adventures in time and space.
This time around, the showrunners promise to do a bit of both.
This year’s special reunites the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) with his sometime love interest Professor River Song (Alex Kingston), who has tangled with two previous incarnations of the Time Lord.
“The thing about River Song in this episode is that she doesn’t really recognise the Doctor,” Capaldi says.
“He can’t convince her that he is who he is, so he sees something different about her … and he gets a bit annoyed that he’s not getting enough flirting or affection.”
Capaldi describes the special as a “fun romp” – Little Britain’s Matt Lucas has a starring role – but he baulks at a recent UK press assessment that it’s the raunchiest episode of Doctor Who ever made.
“It may well be the raunchiest episode we’ve ever seen; it doesn’t say much for the raunchiness of other episodes,” he says.
Working with Kingston, who first shot to fame as a screen doctor (on ER), was a delight and a challenge. “I haven’t worked with Alex at all and, of course, I was slightly intimidated because she’s a Doctor Who veteran; she’s worked with [previous Doctors] Matt Smith and David Tennant,” he says.
“But everyone kept saying, ‘You’ll love her, she’s absolutely lovely,’ and that proved to be the case.”
The special also acts as the bridge between the current show arc, which ended with the departure of the Doctor’s long-term companion Clara (Jenna Coleman), and next year’s season, which will introduce a new TARDIS traveller to viewers.
“As always with Doctor Who, there’s always something else going on and specifically at the conclusion of [the Christmas special] there’s a slightly more melancholic tone that sets in,” Capaldi says.
As for the identity of the new companion, Capaldi is evasive.
“The thing with Doctor Who is that sometimes things are as surprising to me as they are to the public,” he says.
“I suspect that person has not been chosen yet, but I’m not also sure whether or not it’s somebody who might have been around.
“I mean, I myself was in the show previously (in the David Tennant era episode The Fires of Pompeii).
“Doctor Who is a great show to work on, and if people are good and terrific actors and fun to work with, we always want to get them back.”
With two seasons in the TARDIS behind him, Capaldi is approaching the three-year limit that most actors in the role have enjoyed. So how long is he staying?
“I take it as it comes. I really enjoy doing the show, and as long as people like me and want me to be in the role I’ll be happy to do it,” he says.