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Anyone else annoyed by the Doctor regenerating on Christmas Day?

June 10, 2017


Getting back to important matters…. is anyone else annoyed by the fact that The Doctor will be regenerating on Christmas Day?

As it happens, I’m not a fan of Christmas specials in any case.  With the exception of a bizarre breaking of the fourth wall in the course of The Daleks’ Master Plan back  in 1965-6, classic era Doctors did not celebrate Christmas.  Some Christmas specials have been pleasant enough, but I think it’s becoming that sort of annual obligation that’s showing a degree of strain.  How many Christmassy narratives remain to given a Whovian subversion?

But the problem with the Doctor Who Christmas Special is not just the content but the context.  Christmas Day generally involves a house full of people eating and drinking and laughing and singing and talking.  Then of course, the phone starts ringing as far flung relatives jostle for deserved attention.  A brand new Doctor Who adventure should be all about “silence in the house – I’m trying to pay attention”.  Television viewing on Christmas Day should consist of the familiar and the affectionate – old movies – movies you know back to front and inside out – movies that can be interrupted easily.  Everything from It’s a Wonderful Life to Die Hard.  In short, Christmas TV is about loving stuff you already know.  It is not about absorbing critical new information.

And a regeneration episode is all about absorbing critical information.  It is all about wide-eyed gasping at strange new possibilities.  It is not an experience compatible with the constant pouring of drinks and the slow digestion of bird.

It will be sad enough to have to be saying goodbye to Peter Capaldi on Christmas Day (or any other day) in any case.  Peter Capaldi has been the best Doctor of the twenty-first century, a Doctor who can redeem a weak story with his sheer presence.   Having to part with him is going to be a bit of a downer in any case, a less than festive experience.  (I’m aware of the Eastenders Christmas special convention – actually referred to by the Tenth Doctor at one point – of enjoying the televisual spectacle of people whose Christmas is much much worse than your own.)    The fact is, however, that Christmas Day nearly always involves sharing a room with people who are liable to be less devoted Whovians than oneself.  They won’t care as much about the pathos of Peter Capaldi as you will.  They will talk.  They will laugh.  They will intrude upon your grief.

And then you’ll start to feel bad about yourself for being so sad and focused in the midst of an otherwise jolly room.  I’m going to feel that I owe it to Peter Capaldi to be somber and attentive to his heroic departure.  But I will simultaneously feel that I owe it to the other people in the room to be jolly and festive.   And also pour them drinks.

In other words – the idea of a Doctor regenerating in the midst of Christmas festivities is wrong.  Just wrong.

Bizarrely, I’d actually forgotten when I wrote this that Matt Smith regenerated into Peter Capaldi on Christmas Day.  I’ve just been reminded of the fact.  And I’ve also been reminded of how annoying it was not being able to focus properly on the episode.  What with it being Christmas n’all.



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  1. On the whole I have found the Christmas specials to mostly be mundane or plain bad, with only a few since Moff took over raising the grain (Christmas Carol, The Snowmen and Last Christmas). I felt that Time of the Doctor suffered thanks to the Xmas wrapping. Here’s hoping Capaldi has a better set up

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