Doctor Who and the
Victorian era is a match made in heaven. There is something about the
reign of Queen Victoria that remains eerie and has stayed in this
Country’s imagination to this day. Charles Dickens
remains arguably the most imaginative and inspirational writer to have
ever put quill to paper and hightened the mystery and darkness of the
time he lived in, where some characters who shared the same London air
as he, have passed into myth and legend. He wrote A
Christmas Carol, one of
the greatest novels of all time - released six days before December 25th,
and has already seen itself parodied by our favourite Science Fiction
|The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) - 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang' (1977).
It is no surprise that a couple of the greatest Doctor Who stories of
all time have immersed themselves into the 19th century.
In 1967’s The
Evil of the Daleks, the sight of Skaro’s finest rolling through the
hallways of a Victorian house juxtaposed with the ancient and futuristic, scared many.
1977’s classic; The Talons of Weng-Chiang,
sees The Fourth Doctor's costume fit the dark smoke-filled streets of London like a chain shackles
Marley’s ghost, adapting his costume to blend in with his surroundings
for the only time in his seven years in the TARDIS. But it is when
Doctor Who meets Dickensian Christmas that the show’s majesty really
comes to the fore. The smoke and snow makes for a dark, intriguing and
slightly dangerous area that you shouldn’t go near and nothing is more
frightening than a London side alley where something sinister awaits
It’s such a magnificent time of the year and of our history to have an
adventure. In the 1800s, Britain was experiencing a nostalgic boom in
the way the festive season was celebrated. The erection of a Christmas
Tree became a more common sight, having been introduced by Queen
Victoria’s Husband, the German Prince Albert, coupled with the release
of Dickens’ masterpiece, where he popularised the saying ‘Merry
Christmas!’ and created the famous phrase, ‘Bah! Humbug!’ it seems to us
such an iconic picture. The snow falling heavily blanketing a cold, dark
town, yet illuminated by carol singers and warm fires whilst all walks of
life pass the toy shops where young children salivate over the wooden
craftsmanship of skilled toymakers. That is the scenario that is
represented by mantelpiece
ornaments that would stay in our lofts the
rest of the year but if you look at it closely, imagine how a blue
would fit in the setting? It fits perfectly. Doctor Who and a
Victorian Christmas go hand in hand - and as we know, it has been done
|Charles Dickens (Simon Callow) - 'The Unquiet Dead' (2005).
Cast your mind back to that glorious Easter of 2005. Doctor Who was back
and had blasted any doubters of its immediate success fully into the
stratosphere. We had met a young girl on a council estate and the menace
Nestenes and then hurtled forward in time to the year five
billion to meet a vast array of aliens and a piece of skin that was as
cunning as she was greedy, but it wasn’t until the third episode that,
in my eyes, the programme was well and truly back. Mark Gatiss’
Unquiet Dead was a tale that sits highly on my list of stories and was a
perfect blend of horror, humour and the hint of the humbugs of the
season, which mainly come from old Charlie boy himself!
Not only did The Ninth Doctor set foot on the virginal snow of the 1800s
but his successor also landed in Victorian London for the 2008 Christmas
Special ‘The Next Doctor.’ This time,
The Tenth Doctor, travelling alone
in the TARDIS, fights the Cybermen and after defeating The Cyber King,
allows a man who mistakenly took his identity to talk him into a turkey
dinner. This is a century-old man, who, in his grief and loneliness, has
sought solace in the festivities of the season and still remains hard to
the hand of
friendship from a stranger but then changes his mind as realises that
Christmas really is a time to be with people, not alone like Scrooge or
even Charles Dickens himself, as he had intended before the incident with the
Of course, The Eleventh Doctor has also dipped into the Dickensian
spirit before too, but with a twist. This time he left our world and
landed on an unnamed planet where he encountered a character not so
dissimilar to Ebenezer Scrooge and acted as the ghost of Christmas past,
present and future to save his companions Amy and Rory and the
passengers of a ship hurtling towards the planet.
|The Doctor & Clara (Matt &
Jenna-Louise) - 'The Snowmen' (2012).
The re-working of
Dickens’ classic might not have been everybody’s cup of tea at the time
of inception but the story’s main narrative is the core and it remains
to date the best Christmas story in the show’s history as it gets the
feel and the atmosphere, and more importantly the spirit of Christmas
across to the viewer and leaves you feeling warm and festive - even with
a repeat viewing in July!
In a way, Christmas is at the heart of Doctor Who. No matter how cold
the weather is, there is something that draws us in and brings the
family together to watch it, so what a blessing that the show is now at
the centre of the Christmas Day schedule. It might be a little scary but
it is imaginative, bright and wholesome. The Victorian influences are
rife in the programme, especially at Christmas and especially ‘A
Christmas Carol’, which seems to have been the default influence for
many a Who script.
This year, we wIll be greeted with a new companion to the TARDIS to share
our adventures with The Doctor and we shall spend the afternoon (5.15pm
air time in England - tut-tut BBC - we won’t have eaten our Christmas
dinners yet!) cowering behind pillows or the biggest present in our
reach and shiver at the cold threat that is The Snowmen.
Once again, The Doctor
finds himself in Victorian London, surrounded by allies from the past
(or future, who knows?) but grieving in his loss of two of his closest
friends. It is the time of year when you should be with the ones you
love and it is clear that our hero is not. But someone very special is
about to change all that and warm all our hearts at this, the most
wonderful time of the year.
Merry Christmas to one and all!
Copyright Hayden Gribble & Doctor Who Online, 2012.