It may be hard to remember, or even inconceivable for younger fans, but there was a time when [Doctor Who](series:200668) didn't even register on the radar - as far as the BBC Christmas schedule was concerned. The fact the show is now a pivotal part of the Christmas Day line up, is even more remarkably, given the way it disappeared from our screens ( with very little fan fare ) in December 1989. So let's raise a glass, open the jelly babies and celebrate the very best of our now traditional Whovian Christmas treat!
The Christmas Invasion 2005 - UK Rating 9.84 million
Our first, and some may argue finest Christmas Special, was the stuff Whovians could previously only ever dream of. The show was back, bigger than ever, and now it had been given a prestigious spot in the BBC Christmas schedule. Riding the crest of a wave, built up since the shows return, Doctor Who was now the respected TV hit we always knew it could be - if handled correctly. Featuring a deadly Christmas tree and Santa robots, the mixture of domestic and fantastical was never more potent. The main highlight, is one David Tennant, who swans into proceedings to steal the show with barely 15 minutes of screen time remaining. Quoting the Lion King, defeating the Scyroax and bringing down Harriet Jones' Government - our new Doctor does not give second chances. The wonderful Song For Ten made its début, and as say their goodbyes to Jackie and Mickey, Tennant and Piper seem set to steal a million fan hearts. The stuff of legend.
The Runaway Bride 2006 - UK Rating 9.35 million
Russell T Davies knew how to incorporate a great action sequence into the Christmas special, and the TARDIS motorway chase is one of his very best. While we all sighed at the casting of Catherine Tate, Russell The T Davies knew exactly what he was doing, and we were all proved spectacularly wrong as Donna Noble - although perhaps not quite as much in this episode - eventually endeared herself to all. The Empress of the Racnoss is a fantastic creation, and the Tenth Doctor's recent loss is wonderfully played by David Tennant, with his delivery of " Rose " in the final moments truly heart wrenching.
Voyage of the Damned 2007 - UK Rating 13.8 million
As Steven Moffat has commented, Series 3 of Doctor Who saw David Tennant become one of British TV's favourite leading men. With a proportion of the audience tuning in simply for a dose of Tennant, teaming him with the UK's favourite pop princess, Kylie Minogue - proved ratings gold. Endless articles have been written to debate the merits of the highest rated episode of Doctor Who since its return, and this is not one of them. Including the spine-tingling " I'm the Doctor " speech, the action packed robot attack on the gantry, and a dream companion meeting a sticky end - this is perfect Christmas Day entertainment. A frothy, action packed romp, this raised expectations for the now annual Doctor Who festive episode.
The Next Doctor 2008 - UK Rating 13.1 million
Tennant mania showed no signs of waining, as the tease campaign over his replacement began in earnest. David Morrissey is perfectly cast as Jackson Lake, the grieving husband and father who - thanks to an altercation with some Cybermen - believes he is our time travelling hero. Dervia Kirwan excels as the devilish Miss Hartigan, and the graveyard rampage sequence is both terrifying and electric. The Tenth Doctor is at his action hero best, as he rescues Lake's captive son from the Cybermen, before defeating Hartigan and her transformer wannabe - The Cyberking. It's another rollicking romp, ending with a fine speech from Lake - acting almost as an ode to the Doctor.
The End Of Time Part One 2009 - UK Rating 12.04 million
It seems unfair to judge Tennant's epic closing adventure without its generally greater second part, yet The End Of Time Part One has its worthy moments. The Tenth Doctor admitting his mistake from The Waters Of Mars to Wilf, the comedic interlude with the Silver Cloak crew , and the stunning reveal at the end of the first confrontation between the Tenth Doctor and the Master. John Simm is excellent here, as his deranged version of the Master is as unpredictable and unsettlingly as ever. The Master removing mankind from exsitence - to be replaced by a billion versions of himself - would have made for a fabulous cliffhanger on its own - yet Davies trumps everything with the return of the Time Lords. A satisfying lead in to Tennant's final bow, it sets everything in place for the final epic confrontation...
A Christmas Carol 2010 - UK Rating 12.11 million
An unusual tale and something of a culture shock, compared to the bombastic nature of previous specials, Smith's début Christmas outing has a lot of heart. Part Monty Python, part Douglas Adams, the cast are universally excellent in this offbeat yet likeable tale - with pop diva Katherine Jenkins doing exactly what is required of her. While Matt Smith delivers a virtuoso performance, beginning with his pitch perfect chimney entrance, Michael Gambon is particularly unpleasant as Kazran Sardick - the Scrooge of our story who will be shown the error of his ways before morning. The Doctor must bend the laws of time if he is to save Amy, Rory and over 4000 people from their deaths, while facing a flying shark, fog swimming fish and marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Ending with a haunting song from Jenkins and Murray Gold, these are just some of the elements which make, A Christmas Carol, such a Yuletide treat.
The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe 2011 - UK Rating 10.77 million
Mmmmmm. This is a celebration right? Well, Smith is great and the closing scene with Amy and Rory is particularly touching, as is the return of Madge Arwell's husband. While some of the effects work seems a tad off, the Wooden King and Queen look great, and the forest is effectively realised. We can only speculate as to how better things may have played out, if Miranda Hart had been allowed to take part as planned. Oh, and plus points for the ( intentional? ) nod to the 1988 Poison hit " Every Rose Has Its Thorn. " Moving on.
The Snowmen 2012 - UK Rating 9.87 million
Steven Moffat's finest Christmas Special may have been lumbered with a ridiculously early tea-time slot in the UK, yet it still managed to achieve a sizeable audience for its 17:15 broadcast. The perfect jumping on point for newbies, Jenna Coleman is delightful as the Victorian version of Clara Oswald - a barmaid come Governess who manages to coax the Doctor out of his enforced isolation. Strax and the Eleventh Doctor work hilariously well together, and the nods to Sherlock Holmes are sublime, with Smith portraying all the hallmarks of a classic Doctor - as he faces Simeon while cosplaying as the fictional detective. The chase leading to Clara's first scene within the TARDIS is another fine moment, as is the Doctor's realisation of her true identify by the gravestone. A success on almost every level - I'm tempted to quote the entire episode as a highlight -The Snowmen simply delights.
The Time of the Doctor - UK TV Rating 11.14 million
Matt Smith's swansong suffers from being only one hour in length, to truly convey the emotional impact of the Doctor's time on Trenzalore, the siege deserved an episode of its own. Rumours suggest Matt Smith's injury caused several late amendments to the script, and it's a shame his pomp and vigour are buried under a ton of latex, as he sees off the Daleks in the climatic bell tower scene. If only the regeneration had reset immediately, then Smith could have played a riff on his legendary " I am The Doctor " moment from The Eleventh Hour - how fittingly it would have been to see him go out to that tune. However I am splitting hairs, as what we did get had some beautiful moments. The reappearance of the crack in the universe proves electric, and the entire scene with Clara, Handles and the Doctor - on the bell tower as the Cyberhead fulfils his last command - is truly moving. And of course we have the final moments in the TARDIS, as Amy Pond bids her raggedy man goodnight, following Matt Smith's momentous monologue.
You don't know what you've got, till it's gone.
Last Christmas 2014 - UK Rating ???
So how will Peter Capaldi fare in his first Christmas outing? The Mircale on 34th Street meets Alien vibe is promising, as is the rather neat clip showcasing Nick Frost's turn as Father Christmas. How will the 12th Doctor and Clara resolve the manner of their parting at the end of Death In Heaven? I and the millions of fans, whose Christmas now revolves around the good Doctor, can't wait to find out...