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"The Christmas Invasion" is a 60-minute special episode of the Britishmarker science fiction television series Doctor Who. It began production in July 2005, and was broadcast on Christmas Day 2005 in the United Kingdom and on Boxing Day 2005 in Canadamarker. This is the first full episode in which David Tennant appears as the Doctor, and also the first specially produced Christmas special in the series' history.

Synopsis

It is Christmas, but there is little cause for celebration as planet Earth is invaded by aliens known as the Sycorax. It's up to Rose and the newly-regenerated Tenth Doctor to save humanity, with a bit of help from her boyfriend Mickey and her mother Jackie. But can Rose trust a man with a new face?

Plot

Following the events in The Parting of the Ways, the TARDIS returns to Jackie Tyler's estate flat shortly before Christmas, greeted by both Jackie and Mickey Smith. However, the man accompanying Rose Tyler from the TARDIS is unfamiliar to the two of them, and seems to be in bad health. Rose explains, as they get him dressed in bedclothes left by Jackie's beau (who has a habit of leaving pieces of fruit in the pockets) and into bed, that he is the Doctor, who has just undergone regeneration. With little else to do while the Doctor recovers, Rose and Mickey go Christmas shopping but are attacked by masked Santas. They escape safely to the flat where they find a Christmas tree in the flat; as they realize that Jackie didn't buy it, the tree comes to life, spinning fast enough to destroy anything in its path. Rose grabs the Doctor's sonic screwdriver and places it in his hand, asking the still-comatose Doctor for help; instinctively, the Doctor awakes and uses the screwdriver to disintegrate the tree, and recognizes that it was being controlled by more Santas outside the flat, though they transmat away before anyone can stop them. The Doctor collapses again, telling Rose that he is still regenerating and that the energy of his regeneration is luring the Santas, and whomever controls them, here, and he is put back to bed by the others.

Meanwhile, the "Guinevere One" space probe, launched under a United Kingdommarker program by Prime Minister Harriet Jones, is about to land on Mars, with a live television broadcast from the probe once it lands. However, unknowingly, the probe is swallowed by a giant spacecraft that makes its way silently to Earth. As the broadcast begins, the audience is rather surprised to find an alien face staring back at them. Harriet, along with the probe's team, learn that the broadcast comes not from Mars but 5000 miles above Earth. The alien speech is eventually translated, and the aliens are revealed to be Sycorax, and they are claiming the planet as their own, demanding surrender or "they" will die. Harriet sends a response back, telling them that she will not allow it and that they are armed, but the Sycorax ignore her, and instead activate a device that causes nearly one third of the world population to fall under their control, leading these people to stand precariously at the edges of the highest roofs they can find, as if ready to jump. The probe team learns that the commonality of those under the Sycorax control is that they all share the same blood type as a sample that was included on the probe. Realising they are overwhelmed, Harriet pleads through the television broadcast for the Doctor's help. Shortly after this, she along with members of the probe team are transmatted to the Sycorax ship, where the Sycorax demand that either one-half of the world's population be sold to them as slaves, or one-third of the population, those standing on the roofs, will die.

Rose and Mickey, who have been aware of what has occurred through Mickey's hacking skills, move the Doctor back to the safety of the TARDIS as the Sycorax ship takes position over Londonmarker. The TARDIS is transmatted to the spaceship, unbeknownst to Rose and Mickey, and thus when they leave it, they are panicked to find themselves facing the Sycorax, resulting in a container of tea being spilt into the underbelly of the TARDIS control room near where the unconscious Doctor is lying and causing some sparks to form. Rose attempts to bluff the Sycorax in a manner similar to what she had seen the Doctor use before with the Nestene Consciousness, but they see through her claims. However, Rose's deception has allowed the Doctor to fully recover, thanks to the spilled tea, and he emerges from the TARDIS, fully regenerated. Asking the Sycorax to wait, the Doctor goes about greeting everyone, and discovers and disables the device that was controlling the humans by blood, which can only hypnotize humans. The hypnotic suggestions got the humans to the roofs but can not make them jump; the Sycorax threat was a bluff.

The Doctor challenges the Sycorax leader to a one-on-one battle over the fate of earth, which the leader agrees to. They sword fight, first inside the ship, then moving out onto its wing, with the Doctor appearing outmatched, and at one point, having his hand cut clean off. The Sycorax believes he has won, but the Doctor notes that as he is still within the first fifteen hours of regeneration, his body has incredible regenerative powers, and he is able to regrow his lost hand and take the advantage to defeat the leader. At sword point, he gets the leader to vow to never return to Earth again, and begins to return with the rest of the group inside the ship. However, the Sycorax leader attempts to attack the Doctor from behind; but the Doctor throws a satsuma found in the bedclothes he's wearing at a control button that causes the area of the ship's wing to disappear, dropping the Sycorax leader to Earth.

The Doctor addresses the Sycorax and forbids them to ever return to Earth. The Sycorax are to go home and warn other aliens species that the Earth is off-limits to them, and that the Earth is defended.

The Doctor returns all the humans back to Earth and watch as the Sycorax ship moves away. Harriet receives a call and learns that "Torchwood is ready", and subsequently orders it to initiate an unrevealed process. (Torchwood was only previously mentioned in the episode Bad Wolf and only referred to as "they" in this episode.) To the Doctor's horror, five powerful energy beams from across London converge on the Sycorax ship and destroy it. Harriet justifies it as needed to be able to defend the Earth from other hostile aliens when the Doctor is not there. The Doctor claims he can destroy her with six simple words, and after she walks off he asks her aide "Don't you think she looks tired?".

That evening, as snow (which is actually the ash from the destroyed ship) falls on London, the Doctor selects his new outfit from the TARDIS wardrobe, and joins Rose, Jackie, and Mickey for Christmas dinner. They watch Harriet Jones on the television, fending off rumours about her ill-health and a pending vote of no confidence in the House of Commonsmarker. The Doctor and Rose then get ready to set off again for more travels across space and time.

Continuity

  • The Tenth Doctor speaks with an Estuary English accent, in contrast to the Ninth Doctor's Northern one. In a December 23 interview on BBC Radio 1, Tennant explained that a line had been scripted for the Christmas special explaining that the newly regenerated Doctor had imprinted on Rose's accent, "like a chick hatching from an egg," but the line was cut from the final programme. He also briefly affects an American Appalachian accent (when he regrows his hand and continues his fight with the Sycorax leader, he claims his hand is a "fightin' hand" in that accent).
  • Just before the opening credits sequence, Jackie says the line "Doctor? Doctor who?", continuing the long-running in-joke.
  • The special sees the return of MP Harriet Jones (Penelope Wilton), from "Aliens of London" and "World War Three". At the end of the latter episode, the Doctor stated that she would at some point become Prime Minister of the UK, and by the time of "The Christmas Invasion" she has won a general election with a large majority.
  • The ability of the TARDIS to translate languages was first described as a "Time Lord gift" by the Fourth Doctor in The Masque of Mandragora (1976). Although not stated in the television series, fans came to assume over the years that this ability was a function of the TARDIS. In "The End of the World" (2005), the Ninth Doctor confirmed that it was part of the TARDIS's telepathic field. Although the canonicity of the novels is uncertain, the 1995 Virgin New Adventures novel Set Piece by Kate Orman first established that the Doctor needed to be alive for the TARDIS's translation function to work.
  • Major Blake comments that Martians look completely different from the Sycorax, which could be a reference to the Ice Warriors. The first on-screen Ice Warrior attack against Earth was in the mid-21st century, in The Seeds of Death (1969), but a chronologically earlier encounter involving Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (and thus possibly UNIT as well) was alluded to by the Fifth Doctor in Castrovalva (1982). Blake could also be referring to the 1997 Ice Warrior invasion of Earth in the Virgin New Adventures novel The Dying Days by Lance Parkin.
  • Blake was not given a first name in the episode or any of the cast lists released to the press. The UNIT website, however, gives his first name as Richard. In a cast list published in Doctor Who Magazine #361, Alex's last name was given as Klein.
  • The story of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood is "seeded" in this special and in the subsequent 2006 season.
  • Although not explained in the episode, Mickey is presumably able to tap into the UNIT computers thanks to the Doctor's backdoor password, first used in "World War Three".
  • The Big Benmarker clock tower is shown with scaffolding around it, in the process of being rebuilt since "Aliens of London".
  • While trying to bluff the Sycorax, Rose mentions "Article 15 of the Shadow Proclamation" ("Rose"), the Slitheen Parliament of Raxicoricofallapatorius ("Aliens of London", "World War Three" and "Boom Town"), the Gelth Confederacy ("The Unquiet Dead"), the Mighty Jagrafess ("The Long Game") and the Daleks.
  • The Doctor asks Rose for her opinion of his new appearance despite the two having had a similar conversation in the Children in Need mini-episode. However, Rose never actually answered him in the mini-episode and, given his condition, he may also have forgotten that the conversation occurred.
  • The Doctor's remark that the human race is attracting extraterrestrial attention through its space probes echoes a similar speech by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart to Liz Shaw in the first Third Doctor story, Spearhead from Space.
  • Although the Ninth Doctor stated at the end of "World War Three" that Jones would be elected for three successive terms, her status as Prime Minister appears in jeopardy at the end of "The Christmas Invasion", which takes place during her first term. The commentary for this episode implies that her career does not survive, which is confirmed in "The Sound of Drums", as the Master becomes Prime Minister under the guise of Harold Saxon.
  • The redesigned TARDIS wardrobe is shown as a multi-storey area in the TARDIS with a spiral staircase. In the original series, the TARDIS wardrobe was mentioned several times, and seen in The Twin Dilemma and Time and the Rani. Although the wardrobe was mentioned in "The Unquiet Dead", this is the first time any part of the TARDIS beyond the console room has been shown on screen in the new series. In the New Series Adventures novel Only Human, Jack Harkness visited the wardrobe, and in The Stealers of Dreams, several other rooms were also visited.
  • A burgundy scarf resembling the one worn by the Fourth Doctor can be seen in some of the wardrobe scenes — this is a replica owned by producer Phil Collinson, made for him by his aunt when he was a child. (The Doctor's scarf was seen to be unravelled in Castrovalva, but it is likely that he had more than one. The Seventh and Eighth Doctors also tried on long scarves after their regenerations, in Time and the Rani and the 1996 television film, respectively.) Also, the first outfit the Doctor picks from the rail is (or looks similar to) an outfit worn by David Tennant in Casanova. According to the commentary for this episode on the BBC's official website, all of the costumes from the Doctor's nine previous incarnations are included somewhere in the wardrobe.
  • At his request, David Tennant was credited as "The Doctor" rather than "Doctor Who" as Christopher Eccleston had been in Series 1, the first appearance of the definite article since Episode 3 of Survival (1989). However, on the DVD commentary version in the Complete Second Series Box Set, the credit reverts back to "Doctor Who". This is because the commentary team were watching an earlier edit of the episode.
  • The "Complete Second Series" box set includes several deleted scenes from the episode, most notably a moment on the Sycorax ship in which the Tenth Doctor attempts to utter the Ninth Doctor's catchphrase, "Fantastic!" but is unable to do so due to his new teeth (as referenced at the end of "The Parting of the Ways"). The Doctor's later successful use of the word in the final scene is a reference to this cut sequence. Other deleted scenes included Danny Llewellyn complaining that UNIT has a mission control and that the Guinevere One team doesn't have one.
  • The UNIT crest is the same one introduced in its last television appearance, Battlefield.
  • The probe featured in this episode is described as the first British space probe to visit Mars, even though the Third Doctor episode The Ambassadors of Death, taking place either in the 1970s or 1980s (depending on one's view of the UNIT dating controversy) established that Britain's space programme is advanced enough at that point to send manned spacecraft to Mars.
  • The storyline echoes early sections of the Fifth Doctor's first story Castrovalva:
    • Complications with regeneration
    • The Doctor spends much of the first half of the story unconscious
    • His companions carry him into the TARDIS to escape pursuers
    • He "comes round" under the influence of fumes within the TARDIS
  • This is one of few occasions when the TARDIS materializes while in motion: in almost every other appearance, the TARDIS has been stationary while materializing, or even de-materializing. That said, the TARDIS' materialization in this case was different than usual (rather than fading in and out, it appeared with electricity sparking around it, most likely due to the events in the Children in Need Special.).
  • The News Ticker shown on the television when Harriet Jones is speaking about the Guinevere One Space Probe references cottage hospitals, a reference to Aliens of London.


Production

  • This special was the first full episode starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor; he was only shown briefly at the end of "The Parting of the Ways" for the regeneration sequence. A 7-minute "mini-episode", set between "The Parting of the Ways" and "The Christmas Invasion", was shown as part of the Children in Need charity telethon on 18 November, 2005.
  • The Christmas special is a tradition in British television series. While this is the first story for Doctor Who clearly labelled as a Christmas special, the seventh episode of The Daleks' Master Plan, titled "The Feast of Steven", was written as a Christmas episode, even featuring a fourth wall-breaking Christmas wish to the viewers by William Hartnell. Although not shown at Christmas, "The Unquiet Dead" was set on Christmas Eve, 1869.
  • The episode's opening shot is a repeat of the opening shot of "Rose", using a new arrangement of the same music.
  • During the live broadcast, the front page of the official BBC website stated: "THE CHRISTMAS INVASION is on BBC One NOW. HARRIET JONES SAYS: Switch this website off for Britain."
  • The tie-in website "Who is Doctor Who?" was also updated with a message from Mickey referencing the Guinevere One website, and an appeal to the Doctor to bring back Rose.
  • The cone-shaped building which has all its glass blown out from the ship's shockwave is 30 St Mary Axemarker, also known as the Swiss Re Building or "The Gherkin".
  • The climactic scenes of the episode were shot on location at Wallis House, Brentfordmarker, one of the Golden Milemarker's few remaining Art Deco buildings, directly opposite the Clayponds Avenue location for Invasion of the Dinosaurs.
  • Parts of the episode were filmed at the Clearwell Cavesmarker in Gloucestershiremarker.
  • The prototype of the Sycorax swords was auctioned on eBay to raise funds for the Great Ormond Street Hospitalmarker Children's Charity. It raised £920.51.
  • In the pre-credits teaser, actor Noel Clarke nearly corpses due to David Tennant's performance, turning his face away from the latter as he says, "Merry Christmas!".


Music

  • The song playing during the wardrobe sequence, "Song for Ten" (named in reference to the Tenth Doctor), was composed by Murray Gold for the episode and sung by Tim Phillips. The last time an original song was written for the series was "The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon" in The Gunfighters (1966). "Song for Ten" is also featured as a slower, instrumental version near the end of the episode "School Reunion".
  • The closing credits had a new theme arrangement restoring the traditional "middle eight" section of the theme which had been omitted in the 2005 series. This was performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by the series' composer Murray Gold. This arrangement was subsequently used for the closing titles of the 2006 series. The Canadian broadcast used a different version without the middle eight for its Coming Soon trailer.
  • Various pieces of music featured in this episode were released in December 2006 as part of the Doctor Who Soundtrack (produced by Silva Screen). These included the "Song for Ten", the music played behind Harriet Jones' speech and the music played as the spaceship arrives over London. The version of "Song for Ten" released on the soundtrack, however, is not the version from the episode; this is a newly recorded version with vocals sung by Neil Hannon and additional lyrics referring to the events of the season finale, "Doomsday".


Cast Notes



Outside references

  • The BBC tie-in website for the Guinevere One project indicates that the landing is supposed to take place on Christmas Day, 2006, much like the Beagle 2 probe was supposed to in 2003. Had Beagle 2 landed successfully, its call signal to Earth was to have been a specially-arranged piece of music by the band Blur which contained elements of the Doctor Who theme tune.
  • At the start of Rose and Mickey's shopping trip a Routemaster bus is very briefly shown, presumably as a device to indicate that the episode is taking place in contemporary London. Most Routemasters were withdrawn from service on 9 December 2005, approximately two weeks before the show was broadcast in the UK, and at least one year before the date on which the episode is supposedly set. However a small number of these buses remain on the streets of London serving "heritage" routes aimed principally at the nostalgia market.
  • The British Government plan to cover up the Sycorax's initial appearance by claiming it was a student in a mask hacking into the signal. A 1987 WTTWmarker broadcast in Chicagomarker of the Fourth Doctor serial Horror of Fang Rock was interrupted in this way with the hacker wearing a Max Headroom mask, while in 1977 a voice claiming to be an alien broke into the signal belonging to the Southern Television region of ITV.
  • Sycorax is the name of the witch in Shakespeare's play The Tempest. In "The Shakespeare Code", the Doctor makes a brief reference to the Sycorax in front of the playwright, who decides to use the word somewhere.
  • Harriet Jones responds to the US President's request to take command of the situation by replying, "He's not my boss, and he's certainly not turning this into a war," a reference to the popular perception that Tony Blair obediently followed George W. Bush's wishes in relation to the Iraq War.
  • The Doctor's right hand is severed in a swordfight on the surface of the Sycorax spacecraft. The fate of the sword is addressed in an interactive "mini-mission" that starts at Mickey's website. The fate of the hand itself is revealed in the Torchwood episode "Everything Changes".
  • Jones's order to destroy the retreating Sycorax ship is a reference to Margaret Thatcher's decision to attack the General Belgrano in the Falklands War. The Doctor's six words that would bring down Jones's administration are a reference to rumours about how Thatcher looked tired at the end of her term of office in 1990.


Popular culture allusions and in-jokes

This episode included various allusions to popular culture:

Broadcast and DVD release

  • A "Coming Soon" trailer was shown at the end of this episode, featuring brief clips from the forthcoming series (up to "The Age of Steel").
  • This was the first original episode of Doctor Who ever to premiere on a Sunday. (Although for a period in the mid-1970s, BBC Wales premiered the series on Sunday rather than Saturday evenings, one day after the rest of the UK had seen the episodes).
  • Immediately after "The Christmas Invasion", digital viewers were able to press their "red button" to view a special interactive episode, "Attack of the Graske" written by Gareth Roberts and starring Tennant as the Doctor.
  • Overnight ratings for the episode gave a peak viewing audience of 9.8 million viewers, and an average of 9.4 — the second highest rated programme of the evening, behind EastEnders.
  • The Canadian presentation on the CBC on December 26 2005 was hosted by Piper, who was attired for the occasion in a red Roots "Canada" sweatshirt. The episode was scheduled in a 90-minute long slot; as the episode and the presentations took less than the allotted time, the rest of the broadcast was filled with the start of two episodes of the animated programme Creature Comforts, which was set for the following 30-minute slot.
  • This episode was released together with "New Earth" as a basic DVD with no special features on 1 May 2006, and as part of a second series boxset on 20 November 2006. This release included an in-vision commentary with Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner (Head of Drama for BBC Wales) and Phil Collinson, recorded before the story aired. This commentary was also made available as an MP3 on the BBC Doctor Who website.
  • The special was repeated on BBC One on December 17 2006.
  • The special premiered on BBC America in 2007. Unlike the Sci-Fi version, the episode was edited down to fit inside a one-hour timeslot.

Pre-release publicity

  • On 3 December 2005, the annual Christmas edition of the BBC's listings magazine Radio Times was released, featuring a Doctor Who cover to tie-in with "The Christmas Invasion". This was the first time Doctor Who had featured on the Christmas edition cover in the show's forty-two year history, and the first Christmas cover for an individual BBC television drama since EastEnders in 1986. The Christmas Radio Times cover usually features artwork of a generic Christmas scene.
  • As confirmed by Russell T Davies in the episode commentary, the Doctor Who section of that issue of the Radio Times contains a hidden message explaining what saves the Doctor: many of the paragraphs in the articles have an oversized first letter, which taken consecutively spell out "A cup of tea" (in the manner of an acrostic).
  • This episode was the highest-rated episode of the Tenth Doctor era, with final ratings at 9.84 million, up until the Voyage of the Damned, which achieved an audience of 13.8 million viewers.


References

  1. http://i51.photobucket.com/albums/f391/anonym22/website.jpg
  2. Defending the Earth! Because friends stick together
  3. Own The ORIGINAL Sycorax Sword Blade (link added) | myentertainmentnews.co.uk
  4. Sword Auction Update | myentertainmentnews.co.uk
  5. BBC - Doctor Who (David Tennant and Billie Piper) - News
  6. BBC - Doctor Who (David Tennant and Billie Piper) - News
  7. British Rocket Group - Guinevere One Project
  8. See "Max Headroom pirating incident"
  9. See Souther Television broadcast interruption hoax
  10. Defending the Earth! Because friends stick together
  11. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | BBC wins Christmas TV ratings war
  12. BBC - Doctor Who - Sounds
  13. BBC - Doctor Who (David Tennant and Billie Piper) - News


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