That noise... I never realised how much I love it... After nearly two months away from our screens, Doctor Who returns with a Christmas cracker of an episode. Here's our spoiler free review of Last Christmas.
Traditionally Doctor Who Christmas Specials have been almost standalone stories. Intended for the masses who are crashing in front of the TV with tummies full of turkey, trimmings and tipples (hic). There'd be moments for the faithful Whovians amongst the crowd, but as a whole if Granny is only tuning in once a year she'd be able to enjoy the adventure without the need for a whole lot of priming.
Last Christmas bucks the trend somewhat. Essentially it's episode 13 of Doctor Who series 8, with added sprinkles of festive cheer throughout. Those who haven't watched Peter Capaldi's debut year are bought up to speed on the current situation quite well and without it being too forced into proceedings, but for those who have sat enthralled every Saturday night for the recent 12 week run then this closing chapter is possibly just what you would've put at the top of your Christmas list.
For those concerned that the 6.15pm broadcast time meant we'd be getting a cute and cuddly kid friendly Christmas outing, fear not! This one's surprisingly scary, right up there with the best of them for chills. It most definitely continues the series 8 horror theme, upping the ante at times with Steven Moffat delivering one of the most Hinchcliffe-esque era scripts the show has seen since the mid 1970s. There are homages to several classic horror staples (maybe Sue Vertue bought her husband the Alien DVD box set last Christmas as he's taken some inspiration there), with some being a lot more disturbing than others - like Listen, sometimes what you don't see can affect you a lot more. The Dream Crabs really are the stuff of nightmares, one of the best new 'monsters' we've seen in recent years. If your kids were up all night with excitement on Christmas Eve, then they may well be getting a second sleepless night, albeit for entirely different reasons.
It's been no secret that Nick Frost is playing Santa Claus in this one. What can I say? He's Nick Frost! He does exactly what it says on the tin. He's a joy to watch, and certainly won't spoil any child's vision of Santa. In fact he will possibly enlightening them with some clever answers on how he goes about his business in just one night. I always thought the Doctor and Santa had something in common - makes sense really.
But surprisingly, and quite sensibly, the main focus of Last Christmas is not with Santa and his Elves but on the group of scientists trapped at the North Pole. This is where most of the action is set, and not flying around all over the place works to this story's advantage. Yes it's the classic 'Polar Base Under Siege' tale, but with enough twists, turns and suspense that it will have you on the edge of your seat, ensuring that those glasses of Christmas champagne (hic) won't cause you to doze off for a quick Christmas snooze.
At this point in their time on Doctor Who together it almost goes without saying that Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman are tremendous throughout. As usual, neither of them ever miss a beat. Thinking back to December 25th last year when we first met the Twelfth Doctor, I was well aware of Capaldi's previous work so I was confident he'd be fantastic. However, prior to series 8 I feel we'd only seen glimpses of Jenna Coleman's potential as Clara, so she has been the biggest surprise for me. And lo and behold, she surprises here too! I seem to find myself saying this time and time again, but she honestly does some of her best work in this episode, particularly towards the end.
Last Christmas is scary, exciting, emotional and ambitious. It will leave some weeping tears of Christmas joy, and others just weeping. It's one of the very best Christmas specials the show has given us over the last decade, and is the perfect closing chapter for series 8
Last Christmas premieres on BBC One, Christmas Day at 6:15pm