An Important Ranking Of The DOCTOR WHO CHRISTMAS SPECIALS (Redux) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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An Important Ranking Of The DOCTOR WHO CHRISTMAS SPECIALS (Redux)

Before The Return of Doctor Mysterio arrives on our screens Wil revisits the previous festive offerings from the world of Who and updates his countdown in order of preference.

"I carry a M&S Cyberman Head novelty clutch bag now. Clutch bags are cool!"

It has become the backbone of the BBC Christmas output and a tradition in households up and down the country. It's the time to gather round with the family, tummies full of turkey and relax with the Doctor. We are just so used to it now that it's hard to imagine a Christmas without Who, but apart from one solitary episode back in 1965 the good Doctor had never graced our screens on Christmas Day until Russell T Davies brought him dragging and screaming into the Noughties.

Eleven (largely) glorious Christmas episodes later, it's time to rank them from worst to best...

11. The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe
Such a shame. I think this is one of the weakest Doctor Who stories since its return in 2005. Set at Christmas time 1941, the Doctor helps two children try to have a merry Christmas despite the presumed death of their father. The episode feels pitched to a much younger audience than most of the Matt Smith era and the lack of a decent foe hurts the story. Trees! I'll just say, trees!! Many of the guest stars weren't well utilised, and it's also one of the few Who episodes that would've benefited from being a little (lot) shorter!

10. The Husbands of River Song
Perhaps Sir Steven of Moffat had forgotten that a Christmas special would be needed from his own pen and quill last year? Perhaps he had no new ideas so milked the last drop out of one that had already been wrung out dry. Multiple times! Perhaps one of his children had Big Hero 6 on in the background as he started to write? Perhaps, with David Walliams so busy being everywhere always, no-one else was looking to employ Matt Lucas for a seasonal job? Perhaps this could've been better?

It wasn't.

To clarify though, both Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston are first rate throughout, it's just a poor story and some dubious supporting characters that bring The Husbands Of River Song down. Truthfully, I don't think that Capaldi has been well served by the Moff when it comes to Christmas specials. I'd like to tell you I'm holding out hope that this year's offering will be superior - and I will as always go in anticipating and hoping for the Who magic that has entertained me for more than thirty five years - but the trailers and clips for The Return Of Doctor Mysterio aren't looking the most promising.

Thankfully, from here on out it's all pretty good so I can always have one of these festive adventures on standby if needed...

9. The Runaway Bride
I guess you'd be quite annoyed and shouty if someone, or something, had transported you away from your wedding, but Catherine Tate's introduction as Donna Noble was a bit of an annoying one. If Russell 'Tussell' Davies was trying to make us miss Rose more and sympathise with poor old David Tennant then he certainly succeeded. Tennant was his usual brilliant self and Tate mellowed in just enough time to make you think "she'd make a good companion". The Racnoss Empress looked amazing but had a bit of an annoying voice, which for me, although probably quite unjustified, brought back memories of Sil!

8. The Next Doctor
I'd not really enjoyed the Cybermen in new-Who until 2014's Dark Water/Death In Heaven series 8 finale, for me that's the only essential Cyber-episode there has been in the last decade. But Cybermen aside this one turned out to be an enjoyable 60 minutes. The Doctor returns to London on Christmas Eve 1851 where he meets another man claiming to be The Doctor, played wonderfully by David Morrisey. The reveal of his TARDIS, or Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style, was a definite highlight of the show. Also guest starring is Dervla Kirwan who makes an excellent vileness, I think one of the best the show has seen.

7. Last Christmas
This was a difficult one for me to position as when I watched it live Christmas Day 2015 I loved it. Totally loved it. I got caught up in it and was transfixed for the whole hour. Plus I was so happy that Clara stayed (yeah, I love her - whacha gonna do? You can't imagine how pleased I am that she's out there somewhere in a rickety old TARDIS Diner.), it was very nearly a punch-the-air-in-delight moment when Santa turned up in old Clara's house. Then last Christmas (good title for an episode, oh wait... hang on...) I watched all the festive specials again and this one just wasn't quite as enjoyable as I remembered it to be. It was very nearly in eighth position as I went back and forwards with The Next Doctor. It's still a good episode, but not top 5 material. Or even top 6.

6. Voyage Of The Damned
Or the one with Kylie in it. Or the one with The Titanic in space in it.

The country tuned in together and it was watched by about 40 billion people, or something like that. Tennant was in his 'Imperial Phase' at this time. He could do no wrong and had the kind of following that hadn't been seen in Doctor Who since Tom Baker's time. Although her acting was criticised by much of the press, Kylie isn't bad at all really. Russell Tovey was a welcome guest star as Midshipman Alonso Frame. The Doctor finally found an Alonso! "Allons-y, Alonso!". It promised to be epic and overall the episode delivered.

5. The End Of Time
This two part Christmas special is often criticised as being too sentimental, personally I love that kind of thing but I do understand that argument when it comes to the last 10 minutes of part two. However the episode broadcast on Christmas day was brilliant. I think I'd be quite content if Bernard Cribbins had stayed on and been the Doctor's companion for years and years afterwards.

The return of The Master and The Time Lords gives The Doctor more than enough to cope with, all set against a Christmassy backdrop. The mood was obviously a little sombre but we were leading up to a regeneration of course, so it was quite apt. All in all, I think it was a perfect ending to both the David Tennant and Russell 'Tiberius' Davies era.

4. A Christmas Carol
Steven Grand Moff Tarkin's first attempt at a Christmas Who leant heavily on Dickensian themes, as the Doctor uses time travel to encourage Sardick (Michael Gambon) to change his Scrooge-like ways. The whole episode looked amazing, the planet had an unusual atmosphere that included fish swimming in its fog, and Katherine Jenkins’ made for an inspired choice of guest star with her amazing voice being utilised superbly.

3. The Christmas Invasion
The first Christmas special after Doctor Who returned to our screens in 2005, broadcast prime-time Christmas day for the first time ever, and the debut outing for new Doctor David Tennant. So no pressure then!

Thing is, our new Doctor was asleep through half of it. Billie Piper's Rose carries the show so well, supported perfectly by Camille Coduri and Noel Clarke. But make no mistake, when the Doctor awakens it's clear Who's in charge (see what I did there!). There are killer Christmas trees, psycho Santas and an invasion by the Sycorax. Highlights of the episode include the Doctor quoting the lyrics from The Circle Of Life and his mimicking responding to the Sycorax Leader when asked "I demand to know who you are", "I don't know!".

2. The Snowmen
Steven 'Tin Tin' Moffy clearly learned from his previous years Christmas disaster and turned the 2012 episode into one of the very best yet. The Doctor has retired from all that saving the world malarkey and is now living on a cloud in Victorian London. The episode never lets up and is packed with treats. Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are on hand to bring the Doctor new mysteries. Clara makes another appearance. Richard E Grant is superb as Dr. Walter Simeon and Ian McKellen lends his voice to the Great Intelligence. What more could you want?

Oh hang on, because Moff The Hoople even puts in a nice nod to his other show - that one with Benedict Cumberbatch! Overall it's truly quite magical, perfectly Christmassy, and would be a bugger to top...

1. The Time Of The Doctor
I'm an absolute sucker for this episode. I sat there in awe for the whole 60 minutes Christmas evening 2013, and then went online to discover the world and his wife declaring it the "Worst Episode Ever!" I just can't understand the negativity at all, it prompted me to write this little thing about my love of The Time Of The Doctor.

For me, The Time Of The Doctor was the perfect, perfect ending for the Matt Smith era. Packed full of so many memorable moments from nudity, the wig, wooden cybermen, that amazing regeneration and Peter Capaldi. Moffrey Baratheon (I'm aware that one didn't quite work but let's go with it) tied up a lot of his loose plot threads and delivered a script which had me blubbing like a baby twice (yeah, I'm man enough to own that); Matt Smith's final monologue as he undoes the bow-tie, and his goodbye to Handles. I freaking love Handles.

Honorary mentions go to The Unquiet Dead - the Christopher Eccleston episode was actually broadcast 9 April 2005 but set on Christmas Eve - and the William Hartnell episode The Feast of Steven, which was broadcast Christmas Day 1965. It would be unfair of me to include this one as I've never seen it. It's missing, presumed wiped but it sounds absolutely mad. At one time the TARDIS lands on a 1920’s film-set where mistaken identity gags ensue. At the end of the Doctor produces some drinks for him and his companions and then famously breaks the fourth wall by saying "Incidentally a happy Christmas to all of you at home."

So which is your favourite Doctor Who Christmas episode? And how would you rank them?
Let us know in the comments below.

And incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home...

Geek. Lover. Fighter. Dwarf. Follow Wil on Twitter.

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