Looking back at THE RUNAWAY BRIDE

Christopher Morley gets the spider catcher...

Any fan of Peter Davison's era as the Fifth Doctor, or perhaps more specifically his quest to get Tegan Jovanka back to the Heathrow Airport of the Eighties in time to finally start that job as an air hostess in The Visitation may well empathise with the pickle in which he'll find himself five selves later! Fittingly, the two cross paths in Time Crash, the parallels between them made all the more apparent....

Donna Noble's supposed to be getting hitched on Christmas Eve yet finds herself dragged aboard the TARDIS on what should be the happiest day of her life. Well, she'll gain a husband & then get to open her Christmas presents the day after. Amazingly the runaway bride is remarkably quick to accept the reality of the situation in which she finds herself. The Doctor happens to be an alien? Not a problem. Though he most certainly isn't from Mars! She's stood in a time machine that looks like a police box from 1963? No big deal. Once again though, the Time Lord fluffs his lines when it comes to the actual destination- just as he had in The Visitation, At least this isn't as bad as missing Heathrow by a good few years! Easily done, we suppose.

Instead of landing at the church, he finds he's taken her down Oxford Street. Brilliant if you've got a bit of last minute festive shopping to do. And lets face it, if anyone should know how the festive season works, it should be the Doctor- he would later ( in Voyage Of The Damned) claim to have got the last room at that famous inn in Bethlehem, muscling in before Mary & Joseph on the very night the infant Christ was delivered. A detail which most Nativity plays curiously omit!

Before he can pop back & apologise to Jesus for that particular slight, though, he's got to get Donna to her wedding, as well as contending with robot Santas- of course, he'd first come across the evil metallic Saint Nicks shortly after his regeneration in The Christmas Invasion.

And now they're back to disgrace the good name of the man they're fashioned after. Rumour has it that the BBC received letters of complaint from a disgruntled Mr S.Claus of the North Pole in the aftermath, though he was placated with a hand-delivered basket of mince pies & bottle of sherry from the Doctor himself, with the promise of a future appearance alongside him in a big festive special....

Donna's decision to attempt to hail a cab leads to quite a set piece after its revealed that one of the killer Kris Kringles moonlights as a taxi driver. What could possibly offer a spectacular chase against a vehicle more used to picking up fares & sitting in traffic?

It's the TARDIS, which to our knowledge has never done either.

Ms Noble doesn't even know the bad Santa's have tried this sort of thing before, having been getting over a hangover at the time of The Christmas Invasion- a dilemma many of us can relate to after a few too many drinks & a massive dinner pre-Doctor Who on Christmas Day if we're honest.

Taking the time to get to know his then-temporary companion, the Doctor learns she met Lance, her intended husband, working at HC Clements- how lovely. Hold on to any urge to go 'aww' though. You'll see why in a minute!

He's a bad man, & not in the Jeremy Kyle 'love rat' sense. The Empress of the Racnoss has been using him as a pawn in her scheme!

What she probably thought was a nice gesture as he brought her coffee at the office is revealed as part of a grand plan to stuff Donna's body with Huon particles- allowing her race to be reborn. The Doctor thought them dead thanks to the Time War & will subsequently put them to rest for good...

The seed is sown for the return of the Master, ' orders from Mr Saxon' a portent of his rise from Defence Secretary to Prime Minister following a regeneration of his own. Donna will also return for Series 4 following the exit of Martha Jones, running into the Doctor once more in Series 4 opener Partners in Crime, becoming his companion full-time & staying by his side until the aptly titled Journey's End, during the course of which the Ood prophecy of the ' Doctor-Donna' comes true in quite a fashion. Though not without cost- the process nearly burning up her mental capacity.

"All those wonderful things she did". The Doctor "just wanted a mate" & he got one, long before the start of the mystery of River Song meant things got serious & he finally got himself a wife- albeit one he'd already seen die!

Love, eh? Confusing business indeed. Never mind that though. As a great man in a mirrored hat once said, its Christ-maaaasss!!!

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