06 December 2012

The First Doctor Who Christmas Episode

Currently there's lots of talk about the upcoming Christmas Special. Everyone is excited, including myself. The excitement has been building for the past two months. Ever since The Angels Take Manahattan aired half of everything you read in the blogs has been about the Christmas special.

But did you know that the tradition of a Christmas episode started way, way back in the 1960s? Yes, celebrating Christmas has its roots back in the beginning of Classic Who. Not as grandiose as it is today, but nevertheless, it was celebrated.

Modern Christmas Who

I think most of us remember when it was announced at the end of Eccleston's run that there would be a Christmas episode on the 25th of December of 2005. And that the Christmas special would be the first full-length adventure of the Tenth Doctor. Although some people thought it was a crazy idea, I think we've all gotten used to it. And ever since The Christmas Invasion, Doctor Who has become our annual holiday program.

Every year we anxiously await to see what interesting twist we'll get. In the beginning, Russell T. Davies gave us a Christmas offering. Often it was a normal Doctor Who story which, coincidentally, was set during Christmas.

But when Steven Moffat came along, he gave it a new twist. His stories turned from being merely set at Christmas time to being actual stories with a Christmas theme or motif. We've had his rendition of A Christmas Carol and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Soon we'll get, well as near I can see, Steven Moffat's version of Frosty the Snowman.
Frosty the Snowman

But I could be wrong.

Doctor Who Snowman

So back to Christmas.

So Where Did It Begin

The tradition started back on the 25th of December of 1965. The Story was The Daleks' Master Plan. And there was an episode in that story called, The Feast of Steven (a play on The Feast of Stephen commemorating the first Christian martyr and celebrated on the 26th of December). This episode aired on Christmas Day. Back then it was little more than a side note within the larger story.

It's a humorous story involving cops in Liverpool (which were supposed to be the stars of Z Cars) and some funny business on a Hollywood set. The seventh part of a a Dalek story and not a Dalek in sight.

Back in the ship, the Doctor mentions that it had been Christmas when they were in Liverpool - so the celebration commences with a glass of Sherry (even though nowadays the current Doctor says he doesn't drink).

the feast of steven

One of the more curious facts about the scene was the First Doctor breaks the fourth wall wishes the viewers a merry Christmas: "Oh and incidentally, a Happy Christmas to all of you at home". Back in 1965 that was virtually unheard of. Many believe it was an ad-lib by William Hartnell. The closest thing we have is an animated version made orangecow.

And this breaking of the fourth wall wouldn't happen again until The Invasion of Time when the Fourth Doctor tells the audience how even the sonic screwdriver can't get him out of his current situation.

Although the blogger Shiny Shelf stated:
‘The Christmas Invasion’ it ain’t. That said, ‘The Feast of Steven’ is such a uniquely odd part of the history of ‘Doctor Who’ that of all of the destroyed episodes it is one of the ones I personally miss the most. I also know I’m not alone in giving a Christmas wish that ‘Voyage of the Damned’ should end in exactly the way that its predecessor of forty two years ago did.

Facts About The Episode

FACT 1 : This is the only episode of Classic Who to ever have fallen on Christmas Day.

FACT 2 : Unfortunately, The Feast of Steven is one of the many lost episodes so we will never be able to watch it in all it's glory (if glory is the right word).

FACT 2 : It's been deemed by some The Worse Episode Ever. Considering the episode is unable to be watched, it's something we may never know.

FACT 4 : The breaking of the fourth wall just doesn't work here. Unlike Attack of the Graske and Music of the Spheres (where the broken wall was part of the design) it feels like a smack to the face and reveals that nothing in this episode was real.


1 comment:

  1. Well, in fairness to Eleven, it's pretty clear his taste buds change with every incarnation and considering the Third liked wine and Eleventh reacts negative to even sipping it, I think it's safe to say he's simply lost the taste for it. ;)