10. The Feast of Steven
Broadcast back in 1965, this oddity was part of The Daleks' Master Plan, though didn't really have anything to with it. The Doctor and his buddies stop off in Blighty and then get embroiled in some silent film action [? - Ed.] before settling down to some festivities in the TARDIS. But, it gets better. Good ole Billy H turns to the camera and announces, "A merry Christmas to all of you at home!" Even RTD didn't have the balls to do that!
9. The Doctor, The Widow & the Wardrobe
Speaking of balls. Despite looking luscious throughout and having some delightfully fun scenes with Matt and the children, the 2011 special kind of falls apart when it comes to the actual story. Also disappointing is the magnificent guest cast who are barely used to their full potential. Nice to see The Doctor feeling generous at Crimbolicious time though.
8. Voyage of the Damned
Kylie! The Titanic!! Geoffrey "The Guv'nor" Palmer!!! Russell T Davies' Christmas take on the disaster movie packed in quite the cast (Russell "Pob" Tovey is in there too, don'tchaknow) and special-effects-laden set pieces. It's perhaps just a tad long and the Queen's appearance may have been ill-advised but it's a good old-fashioned romp, perfect to fall asleep to after a massive dose of sprouts. Oh, and don't forget that fab Bernard Cribbins cameo!
7. A Christmas Carol
Again, like The Doctor, The Widow & the Wardrobe, the 2010 special was an exquisite treat on the eyeballs. Steven Moffat got to show off his timey-wimey skills adeptly in tune with the Charles Dickens classic it takes its name from. Michael Gambon proved to be a top Who villain full of Scroogey venom and, ultimately, sympathy. Problematically, when you start to think about the ending, it becomes an even sadder tale...
6. The Next Doctor
Interestingly, and I use the word quite wrongly, this was the very first episode of Doctor Who, since its 2005 return, that I was disappointed with after my initial viewing. Rewatching still throws up a few issues - namely the mystery of Jackson Lake. Around the halfway point, when his identity is revealed, the story becomes somewhat flat. The Cybermen take a back seat to a terrific performance from David Morrissey who really showed that he would have made an amazing Doctor Who. Oh, and it's got a huge EFFIN' robot in it! #LoveHugeEffinRobots
5. The Runaway Bride
Similarly, the 2006 special suffers from "second half isn't as good as the first" syndrome. The first half, for me, is stunning, with the motorway TARDIS chase being one of my favourite Doctor Who scenes. It's exhilarating, rambunctious and fun but in the middle of the chaos comes the most touching of moments between The Doctor and Donna as he tries to convince her to jump onto his ship. Wonderful. Plus there's "Santa's a Robot" and everyone's favourite Gallifreyean showing Chiswick's finest the beginning of the world. Slightly hollow but incredibly memorable [a bit like my first wife - Ed.].
4. The Christmas Invasion
Though the first special of the new era is most definitely in two halves, they're most certainly on equal footing. Without Davey T in the picture, we got Team Tyler at the forefront whilst the Sycorax got their Queen-style rocks on. The size and scope of the episode proudly showed Who off in its first proper Christmas Day outing; The Christmas Invasion really does feel like a blockbuster. Of course, when the Doctor awakes, starts spouting The Lion King, brandishing a sword and satsumas and generally saving the day, we're in a new era and Eccleston becomes a mere memory...
3. The Unquiet Dead
Speaking of Christopher Eccleston memories, it's a Christopher Eccleston story! This 2005 outing is the only episode here not actually broadcast on Christmas Day, though the episode itself is set on Christmas Eve. So it counts! [Otherwise, this would be an unremarkable Top 9! - Ed.] In true Dickensian style, Mark Gatiss produced a fantastic script, full of gags and full of terror. His handling of the author is spot-on, mirroring Scrooge's own turnaround; such a pity Simon Callow's Charlie Boy couldn't have traveled with The Doctor for a little while, what a Christmas gift that would have been! And full marks to Eve Myles for such a beautiful and engaging performance as maid, Gwyneth.
2. The End of Time Part One
It's sometimes strange to think that The End of Time is a Christmas special as it's often just thought of as a special. There may be no snow (on Earth anyway), but there's plenty of decorations, food and prezzies! It's a joy to see Wilf back, so expertly played by Berny C, and interacting with The Doctor; particularly the cafe scene where the Time Lord admits to some things going wrong. Emotionally wrecking. But it's not all tears! Davey T seems to enjoy his last outing as he Hawaii's it up with The Ood (lovely to see them back too, incidentally) and his scenes with John Simm, though few, are electric. The Master, however, has a very different Christmas planned for us, or rather, him(s). The story was as audacious and as mythical as the story of Jesus/Santa himself (I forget which one we worship these days).
1. The Snowmen
Like the previous two tales, Christmas is just something that's happening around the story. And what a story! Well, actually, the plot itself, like Santa's Birthday (that's what it is, right?) takes a back seat to a number of sumptuous set pieces and general hilarity. In one corner, there's Team Vastra who threaten to steal the show every second the trio are on screen; particularly Strax, who gets laugh after laugh after laugh. In the other corner, there's new girl Clara. Jenna-Louise Coleman is off to a flyer here with her smarts and her beauty not to mention her spunkiness (do people still say that?). The Snowmen is a perfect Christmas Day treat with scares (courtesy of Richard E Grant and his titular snowmen), laughs and, dare I say, even some tears in there too. Like Eastenders, except much, much better.
The Snowmen - BBC News behind~the~scenes
Jenna-Louise Coleman on BBC Breakfast
BFI 50th Celebrations
The Snowmen - another clip
The Snowmen - BBC America sneak peek