It takes a lot of good memories and a culturally ingrained cautious optimism for something to become part of Christmas tradition (Also see: extended family, vegetables, the Queen). Seven years after its festive debut, Doctor Who returns to BBC1 this Christmas with ‘The Snowmen’, with Matt Smith’s normally exuberant Doctor at an uncharacteristic low ebb.
After the dramatic departure of his previous companions, (a pair of psychotic Scottish legs and an amiable puffer-jacket), the good Doctor is seemingly hanging about in Victorian London in fancy dress, waiting for a lady with a bit of hutzpah to motivate him into saving the world one more time.
It says something about the enduring fondness in which Doctor Who is held nationally that it has been welcomed so readily into the hyper-competitive fold of Christmas television. Of course, over the decades, the show has been no stranger to Christmas – as early as 1965’s ‘The Dalek Master Plan’, First Doctor William Hartnell broke the forth wall to wish ‘a merry Christmas to all you at home!’; thankfully, the show has come a long way since those simpler, halcyon days.
From David Tennant’s pyjama-clad seasonal debut in 2005’s ‘The Christmas Invasion’, to 2012- Matt Smith’s silly but damaged Doctor has proven popular, and the programme has gone on to huge success internationally, being broadcast in 206 territories. That isn’t to say that the show is at its best in its current era- it certainly hasn’t been without its critics, and after over two years of Amy and Rory, the imminent arrival of a new companion is a hotly anticipated turning point in the shows modern history.
So, all eyes on new friend Clara, played by Waterloo Road alumnus Jenna Louise Coleman. Hold up- wasn’t she in it before? Indeed. Miss Coleman’s debut was in Series 7’s hectic opener ‘Asylum of the Daleks’, in which she played the canon’s first sassy Dalek, and then promptly died. Answers on a postcard for that one; head writer and professional troll Steven Moffat is not known for his readily accessible plots or, quite honestly, his character writing. Fan complaints about the over-complexity and lack of emotional context in Amy and Rory’s storylines held so little truth that Moffat fled Twitter to avoid them, but it looks like this ‘tricksy hobbit’ of a showrunner may continue to frustrate those who wish for less complex adventures.
Regardless, the show marches on to unparalleled success, with ratings remaining buoyant and with much support from a financially stretched BBC. So, in that warm, cloying atmosphere of Christmas day evening, food babies gestating, get the family around the television for the new best Christmas tradition: another magical, snow-bound adventure with Britain’s favourite benevolent alien.