List of Doctor Who Christmas and New Year's specials
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The show has been a large influence in the media since its inception in 1963. Along with the regular series, special Christmas episodes were broadcast every year between 2005, the year of the programme's revival, and 2017's "Twice Upon a Time". The special episodes were moved to New Year's Day in 2019.
During the first run of the programme (1963 to 1989), special episodes were not a frequent occurrence. During the third season, the twelve-part serial The Daleks' Master Plan was broadcast weekly over the 1965-66 Christmas period, with its seventh and eighth episodes scheduled for Christmas and New Year's Day respectively. The former, entitled "The Feast of Steven", was scripted as a comic interlude in the style of a pantomime, in the middle of an otherwise epic adventure. In its final scene, as the Doctor and his companions celebrate Christmas with a toast, the Doctor (William Hartnell) turns to the camera and breaks the fourth wall by saying "Incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home." The following episode, "Volcano", returns to the main narrative of The Daleks' Masterplan, although its ending briefly features a contemporary New Year's Eve. No subsequent episodes of the series' original run were broadcast on Christmas Day; the first episodes of Day of the Daleks (1972) and The Face of Evil (1977) were first shown on New Year's Day, but make no reference to the holiday season.
|Special||Story||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
|1||167||"The Christmas Invasion"||James Hawes||Russell T Davies||25 December 2005||2X||9.84||84|
|Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and the newly-regenerated Tenth Doctor return to Rose's house, where Rose, her mother Jackie (Camille Coduri) and her former boyfriend Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) carry him inside to rest. When out shopping, Rose and Mickey are attacked by Santa robots; the Doctor theorises that energy from his regeneration has lured them here. Prime Minister Harriet Jones (Penelope Wilton) is threatened by the leader of the Sycorax to give them half of the Earth's population as slaves; Harriet tries to negotiate and is transmatted on their ship. Rose, Mickey, and Jackie drag the Doctor onto the TARDIS, but the TARDIS is detected by the Sycorax and they transport it to their ship, with Rose, Mickey, and the Doctor inside. After the Doctor has fully recovered, he challenges the Sycorax leader to a sword fight for the future of the Earth, which he eventually wins. However, the Sycorax ship is destroyed against the Doctor's wishes by Harriet Jones, who had called Torchwood on the matter.|
|2||178||"The Runaway Bride"||Euros Lyn||Russell T Davies||25 December 2006||3X||9.35||84|
|Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), a woman about to walk down the aisle on her wedding day, suddenly materialises in the TARDIS, much to the shock of both her and the Doctor, who has just said his final goodbyes to Rose Tyler. While trying to get her back to her wedding, the Time Lord discovers that Noble has unwittingly been placed into the center of an alien plot to release an alien spider's offspring trapped in the centre of the Earth, which would thereby destroy the planet. The two must face the Empress of Racnoss (Sarah Parish), the alien spider and the last of her kind, together to stop it.|
|3||188||"Voyage of the Damned"||James Strong||Russell T Davies||25 December 2007||4X||13.31||86|
|The Doctor finds his TARDIS colliding with an interstellar replica of the famous ocean liner Titanic orbiting present-day Earth, during a Christmas party. With the help of a waitress named Astrid (Kylie Minogue) and several passengers, the Doctor must take on an enemy called the Heavenly Host as the lives of the Titanic crew and those on Earth are in danger. The angels have been tasked with killing everyone aboard and crashing the space liner into the Earth. The reason why is not obvious though the ship's owner, Max Capricorn, has his reasons. Can the Doctor stop the Christmas inferno?|
|4||199||"The Next Doctor"||Andy Goddard||Russell T Davies||25 December 2008||4.14||13.10||86|
|This special sees the return of the Cybermen (of the design of the parallel universe's Cybus Industries Cybermen), following their previous appearance in the two-part finale of series two in 2006, "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday". Having fallen back in time to Victorian London, the Cybermen create a huge "Cyber-King" with child labour and the help of Miss Hartigan (Dervla Kirwan). Meanwhile Jackson Lake (David Morrissey) has accidentally absorbed the Doctor's memories and thinks himself to be the Doctor.|
|5a||202a||The End of Time, Part One||Euros Lyn||Russell T Davies||25 December 2009||4.17||12.04||87|
|On the Ood-Sphere in 4226, the Ood warn the Doctor that the Master has returned, heralding "the end of time". On Earth, a cult of women resurrect the Master, but Lucy Saxon sabotages the ceremony, causing the Master to be brought back with incredible strength but constant hunger. Arriving back on Earth on Christmas Eve, the Doctor encounters Wilfred Mott. The Doctor finds the Master at wastelands outside London, and learns that the Master has been suffering from hearing the sound of drums. The Master is taken by armed troops and placed in custody of Joshua Naismith. Naismith has recovered a broken alien "Immortality Gate" and wants the Master to fix its programming. The Doctor regroups with Wilfred; a woman in white warns Wilfred to arm himself to before departing. At Naismith's mansion, the Doctor and Wilfred meet two Vinvocci disguised as humans, who assert the Gate is a harmless medical device from their homeworld. The Master activates the Gate, which he has reprogrammed to replace all of humankind's DNA with his own; only Wilfred and Donna are unchanged, and Donna remembers the Doctor. Elsewhere, the Lord President of the Time Lords asserts their plan can continue, and that the Time Lords will return.|
|5b||202b||The End of Time, Part Two||Euros Lyn||Russell T Davies||1 January 2010||4.18||12.27||89|
|The Doctor and Wilfred become fugitives from the Masters, and take refuge on the Vinvocci spacecraft. The Lord President implants the sound of drums in the Master's head as a child, and launches a whitepoint star to Earth, to be used to create a link that allows the Time Lords to bring Gallifrey to Earth. The Lord President and an ensemble of Time Lords appear in Naismith's mansion. The Doctor and the Vinvocci bring the ship to land, the Doctor jumps from it. The Doctor debates between shooting the Master or the Lord President. The Doctor spots the same woman in white Wilfred had seen, who silently communicates to him. The Doctor fires the gun at the whitepoint star, shattering it. As Gallifrey is pulled back, the Lord President, Rassilon, attempts to kill the Doctor, but the Master intervenes, and humanity is restored as Gallifrey returns. The Doctor finds Wilfred is now trapped in one of the Gate's control rooms that is about to be flooded by radiation. The Doctor sacrifices himself, and absorbs the radiation, but knows that his body will soon regenerate. After returning Wilfred, the Doctor visits past companions and acquaintances. Inside his TARDIS, the Doctor sets the TARDIS in flight before regenerating into the new Doctor.|
|6||213||"A Christmas Carol"||Toby Haynes||Steven Moffat||25 December 2010||2.X||12.11||83|
|A space liner containing 4,000 people and Amy and Rory on their honeymoon becomes caught in an electrified cloud. The Doctor, summoned by Amy, lands on the planet beneath and discovers that the atmosphere is controlled by the miserly Kazran Sardick (Michael Gambon) who refuses to let the ship safely land. The Doctor travels back to Kazran's youth and attempts to alter his past to make him kinder, spending time adventuring with young Kazran and a young woman named Abigail (Katherine Jenkins), who was released from a cryogenic chamber as her singing abilities calm the sharks which occupy the atmosphere. However, Abigail was suffering from an incurable disease, and Kazran grows up bitter that she cannot be let out again or she will die; but, the Doctor shows Kazran's younger self what he would become and he decides to release the ship. Unfortunately, Kazran's personality has changed too much for the atmosphere controls to recognize him, and the Doctor must convince Kazran to release Abigail so she can sing and calm the atmosphere, and the two enjoy their last time together..|
|7||225||"The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe"||Farren Blackburn||Steven Moffat||25 December 2011||X11||10.77||84|
|The Doctor crash-lands on Earth in 1938. He is helped back to the TARDIS by Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner). Three years later, Madge's husband Reg (Alexander Armstrong) has disappeared while piloting an Avro Lancaster bomber in the Second World War, but she keeps it a secret from her two children, Lily (Holly Earl) and Cyril (Maurice Cole). They evacuate London to stay at a house in Dorset, where the Doctor masquerades as the caretaker. Cyril is lured through a present, which is a portal to a winter planet. Looking for Cyril, the Doctor and Lily and later Madge enter the box; Madge encounters miners, who plan to harvest the trees. Lily and the Doctor follow Cyril's tracks to a tower where wooden humanoids attempt to put a crown on Cyril, which will allow the souls of the trees to escape. When Madge arrives, she is deemed strong enough to pilot the top of the tower to safety. When they land, Reg is alive as he had followed the light from the tower and landed safely. The Doctor turns down Christmas dinner with the family and visits Amy and Rory, two years after he last saw them.|
|8||231||"The Snowmen"||Saul Metzstein||Steven Moffat||25 December 2012||–||9.87||87|
|Depressed after the loss of Amy and Rory, the Doctor hides himself in Victorian London. The "Great Intelligence", a form of "memory snow" which can mirror the thoughts of anything around it, hatches a plot to create an army of ice people. While Strax drives the Doctor around, they run into Clara, a barmaid. The Doctor refuses to investigate the snowmen and returns to the TARDIS, in a cloud above London, accessible via a staircase. Clara soon returns to her job as a governess and learns of the danger to all of humanity. She turns to the Doctor for help and he takes action. With Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax, the Doctor and Clara defeat the Great Intelligence and its human servant. In the process, the Doctor regains his enthusiasm, deciding to take Clara on as his companion. However, Clara is thrown off the edge of a cloud and falls to her death. The Doctor discovers Clara's full name – Clara Oswin Oswald – and realises that Clara is the same person as Oswin Oswald. Concluding that she is likely still alive in some other time and leaves in the TARDIS to find her.|
|9||241||"The Time of the Doctor"||Jamie Payne||Steven Moffat||25 December 2013||–||11.14||83|
|A message echoing through all of time and space emanates from the farming town of Christmas on the planet Trenzalore, where a prophecy states the Doctor will spend the last of his years. With the help of the Papal Mainframe, the Doctor and Clara travel to the village and discover that the message is being sent from Gallifrey by the Time Lords. Sending Clara home, he proceeds to spend hundreds of years fighting and defending Trenzalore against hordes of aliens determined to prevent the Time Lords from returning. Clara returns to find the Daleks are the last remaining aliens, and that the Doctor has fought for so long, with no more regenerations, that he is on the cusp of dying of old age. As the Doctor faces his last stand, Clara convinces the Time Lords to give the Doctor a new regeneration cycle. The Doctor begins to regenerate, destroying the Daleks and ending the war. Clara returns to the TARDIS to find a rejuvenated Doctor about to finish his regeneration. After vowing to remember the incarnation he was and hallucinating a final goodbye to Amy Pond, he finally regenerates into the Twelfth Doctor, as the TARDIS suddenly begins crashing.|
|10||253||"Last Christmas"||Paul Wilmshurst||Steven Moffat||25 December 2014||–||8.28||82|
|Clara is awakened and discovers Santa Claus on her rooftop. As she tries to deny his existence, the Doctor arrives and takes her away in the TARDIS. At the North Pole, a group of scientists work on trying to save their fellow base personnel who have been taken over by crab-like creatures. The Doctor and Clara arrive at the base and come under attack from the crabs, only to be rescued by Santa. The Doctor realizes the creatures are Dream Crabs, alien crabs that induce a dream state while devouring a person's brain. The Doctor realizes everyone is in a dream, with Santa being part of it. They escape when they dream that Santa is flying them home. One by one they wake up and their crabs die, until only Clara is left. The Doctor awakens and removes the crab from Clara, only to discover that it has been 62 years for her since they last met. Santa appears and the Doctor realizes he is still dreaming. Back in reality, the Doctor finds Clara at her normal age. He asks Clara if she wants to rejoin him aboard the TARDIS; she accepts.|
|11||263||"The Husbands of River Song"||Douglas Mackinnon||Steven Moffat||25 December 2015||–||7.69||82|
|The Doctor is on the planet Mendorax Dellora in 5343, where due to a case of mistaken identity he is recruited by his former companion and wife River Song to assist her in removing a diamond from the head of King Hydroflax after his maligned attempt to steal it. Surprised that River cannot identify his newest face, the Doctor struggles to break the news to her while learning how she acts on her own – and how many other lovers she has had. The Doctor and River bring the head of Hydroflax to the starship Harmony and Redemption to sell it, and a series of events cause River to discover the Doctor's identity. The starship is caught in a meteor strike and crashes into the planet Darillium, where the Doctor and River are fated to have their final date together before River dies meeting a younger Doctor. Having deliberately held it off for as long as possible, the Doctor finally decides to give in and arranges for a restaurant to be constructed on the planet. The Doctor and River then have their final date together, which lasts for 24 years – the span of a night on Darillium.|
|12||264||"The Return of Doctor Mysterio"||Ed Bazalgette||Steven Moffat||25 December 2016||–||7.83||82|
|The Doctor, with Nardole, investigates the New York branch of "Harmony Shoal", a multinational research company. Also investigating is journalist Lucy Fletcher, and they discover that Harmony Shoal is transplanting alien brains into humans. One of the alien workers finds the three, but they are rescued by the superhero called the Ghost, an alter ego for Grant Gordon, whom the Doctor met several years beforehand when Grant was a child and accidentally turned him into a superhero. Grant is also a nanny working for Lucy. However Lucy is unaware of Grant's true identity. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Nardole find the aliens' ship, but soon discover that the ship has been turned into a bomb that will crash into New York as part of a complex plan to implant the alien brains into world leaders, thereby giving them control of the Earth. However, the Doctor aims the ship towards New York earlier than planned and the collision is stopped by Grant, revealing his identity to Lucy. After he and Lucy announce their love for each other, Grant throws the ship into the sun. UNIT then shuts down Harmony Shoal, but an alien brain implants itself into a UNIT soldier.|
|13||276||"Twice Upon a Time"||Rachel Talalay||Steven Moffat||25 December 2017||–||7.92||81|
|Wandering back to his TARDIS at the South Pole, the First Doctor refuses to regenerate. He encounters the Twelfth Doctor outside his own TARDIS in a similar state of mind. The pair are approached by a displaced, confused and injured First World War British captain. All three are abducted by a spaceship, where inside they meet Bill Potts. They are offered freedom by the ship's glass-like holographic pilot in exchange for allowing the return of the captain. They escape and take the First Doctor's TARDIS to Villengard. Alone, the Twelfth Doctor meets with the rogue Dalek Rusty. Given access to the Dalek Hivemind, the Doctor learns that the pilot and its ship, known as Testimony is designed to extract people when they died, and archive their memories; Bill is one such avatar. The Doctors agree to return the captain to his timeline. The First Doctor informs the Twelfth that he is prepared to regenerate, and returns to his TARDIS. After being alone with Bill's avatar, the Doctor returns to the TARDIS and regenerates after relaying advice to his next incarnation. After the Thirteenth Doctor examines her reflection, the TARDIS suffers "multiple operations failures". Tumbling out of the ship, the console room explodes and the TARDIS dematerialises, as the Doctor plummets towards the Earth.|
|Thirteenth Doctor |
|14||287||"Resolution"||Wayne Yip||Chris Chibnall||1 January 2019||–||7.13||80|
|On New Year's Day 2019 in Sheffield, archaeologists Lin and Mitch unintentionally revive a deadly intelligence that has been separated and dormant on Earth since the 9th century. The Doctor is alerted to its presence, and lands the TARDIS at Lin and Mitch's dig. The Doctor takes a sample of the creature's slime, while the squid-like creature attaches itself to Lin's back. At Graham and Ryan's home, the latter's father Aaron returns. Ryan agrees to talk to him, while the Doctor discovers that the creature she faces is a Dalek. Controlling Lin, the Dalek steals a ray gun belonging to its race from an archive base and constructs a makeshift Dalek casing out of scrap metal. The Doctor and her friends find Lin, freed from the Dalek's control, and the Doctor confronts the rebuilt creature. The Dalek flies off and attempts to summon a battle fleet, but the Doctor follows and defeats it with the help of Aaron's microwave oven. The exposed mutant creature possesses Aaron in an attempt to force the Doctor to take it to Skaro, but she releases it into a supernova instead.|
Home media release
- Dee, Christel (14 November 2018). "Doctor Who festive special to air on New Year's Day". Doctor Who TV. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
- Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith; Howe, David J.; Walker, Stephen James. "Doctor Who: The Classic Series — The Daleks' Master Plan". BBC Doctor Who website. BBC. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
- "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News.
- "Doctor Who News: Doctor Who - The Ten Christmas Specials". Doctor Who News. 1 October 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.