'Doctor Who' Is Bringing Back the Christmas Special (Thank Goodness)

Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson in the promotional posters for Doctor Who Season 14

Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson in the promotional posters for Doctor Who Season 14

(Photo: BBC)

Santa is bringing Doctor Who fans all sorts of goodies this holiday season. Not only are two of the three 60th anniversary specials already set to air in December, but this year will also mark the return of a beloved seasonal tradition: The Christmas special. 

In truth, this news isn't that surprising --- Davies was basically telling the world about his plan to bring back the Christmas installments before he even officially took the show over (again) from outgoing showrunner Chris Chibnall --- but it's a confirmation that's likely to make longtime fans very happy as Doctor Who hasn't had a proper Christmas episode since Peter Capaldi's final episode "Twice Upon a Time" back in 2017. For whatever reason, it seems that Chibnall wasn’t a fan of the Christmas special tradition and, beginning with Season 11’s “Resolution,” he essentially transformed the hour into a New Year’s installment that felt a lot more like a regular episode that just happened to air on a holiday than something specifically tied to the season in which it was broadcast. 

Davies, as many viewers will remember, loves a holiday episode, complete with the sort of big moments (David Tennant's debut in "The Christmas Invasion") and buzzy guest stars (Catherine Tate originally appeared in "The Runaway Bride" and Kylie Minogue guest-starred in "Voyage of the Damned) that draw in audiences both new and old. These installments have featured everything from deadly Christmas trees and murderous Santas to gold-plated android angels. They also established the often hilarious tradition that saw London constantly getting attacked by aliens on Christmas Day.  Whatever this year's Christmas installment turns out to be, it's basically guaranteed to be a good time. 

According to the Disney+ announcement that laid out the streamer's festive programming slate, Doctor Who's next Christmas installment will stream on the service (and presumably on the BBC in the U.K. and Ireland) on December 25. The episode is called "The Church on Ruby Road," and will serve as the first proper adventure for Ncuti Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor. Judging by the title, it seems safe to assume that "The Church on Ruby Road" will also introduce us to new companion Ruby Sunday, and will likely serve as an origin story of sorts for Millie Gibson's character before the pair head off in the TARDIS on adventures through space and time. 

Gatwa's Doctor will first be seen during the series' upcoming 60th anniversary celebrations, though the scope of his involvement in the specials is not known. The three 60th anniversary specials will see Tennant and Tate reunite to battle Neil Patrick Harris's villainous Toymaker --- and hopefully deal with the part where Donna's memories were wiped way back at the end of Season 4. Why Tennant's Fourteenth Doctor exists, why he looks so much like the Time Lord's Tenth incarnation, and what the Toymaker wants with Donna are questions only future episodes can answer, but we do know one thing for sure: At some point, Tennant's Doctor will regenerate into Gatwa's and a new era of the show will be born. 

The Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials will kick off with "The Star Beast" on Saturday, November 25 on BBC One in the U.K. and Ireland and Disney+ everywhere else. It will be followed by "Wild Blue Yonder" on December 2 and "The Giggle" on December 9. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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