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A Christmas Carol was the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special. It was the first BBC Wales Christmas special neither written by Russell T Davies nor starring David Tennant. Like other Christmas specials before it, a renowned guest star was signed on to portray a major character. This special played host to the talents of actor Sir Michael Gambon, who was given two roles, portraying both the main antagonist and that character's lookalike father.

This episode contains a small hint about Amy's pregnancy. When the Doctor scans the crashing star-ship, the life signs he gets has one more than there are actual people on-board. This is because it counted the baby in Amy's belly.

Furthermore, it broke the record for least delay between UK and US premiere broadcasts of an episode of Doctor Who. Previously held by The End of Time, whose US debut of Part One was a single day later, the delay between BBC One and BBC America (easternmost) broadcasts was a mere eight hours. Australia was equally well-served, with the delay being something on the order of seven hours, depending on the time zone.

Behind the scenes, it was significant for the number of new faces in most departments – more than on any other single episode since Rose. Of those new to BBC Wales Doctor Who, the most prominent were those of production designer Michael Pickwoad, costume designer Barbara Kidd, and editor Adam Recht. On the subject of a new costume designer, Matt Smith's Shetland tweed jacket ensemble made its debut in this special, replacing the outfit he wore during Series 5. It remained in use up to The Bells of Saint John: A Prequel, before Smith once again had a costume change.

Synopsis Edit

Amy Pond and Rory Williams are trapped on a crashing space liner, and the only way the Eleventh Doctor can rescue them is to save the soul of a lonely old miser. But is Kazran Sardick, the richest man in Sardicktown, beyond redemption? And what is lurking in the fogs of Christmas Eve?

Plot Edit

A spaceship plunges towards an unknown planet. Its captain orders the pilot to try steadying the ship. A distress call has been sent from the ship's honeymoon suite, angering the captain as she does not know who sent it. Amy and Rory, honeymooners aboard the craft, rush to the bridge of the spaceship to see if they can help; Amy is in her police woman kissogram outfit, and Rory in a centurion uniform. Embarrassed, they explain they were having "fun".

Amy was the one who placed the distress call. Rory holds an odd device with a light attached and is wondering if he has to change the bulb or if the Doctor has received the signal; Amy quiets him, praying that the Doctor isn't late this time. All of a sudden, the ship's computers register a small object approaching the ship; the TARDIS soars into view, beaming the message, "Come along, Pond." When asked what the message means, Amy simply answers that it's Christmas.

Kazran-old-age

Kazran Sardick is introduced

Kazran Sardick, a wealthy, heartless man, owns much of the planet below — and the cloud belt above, where the ship is trapped. His money comes from a loansharking business he inherited from his father. To secure loans, he cryogenically preserves family members of borrowers for collateral. On Christmas Eve, he meets with one such family in his library. They beg for the release of a family member to spend Christmas Eve with them. Kazran rejects this proposal. He takes a phone call from the president of the planet, asking his permission to land the star-liner safely; he refuses. As he returns to berating the family, a boy notices the sound of the TARDIS landing above them.

Suddenly, the Doctor slides down the chimney into the room, calling it a whim. Babbling, he notices a "flashy-lighty thing" machine and tells the group that it's what brought him there; he tries to use the controls to open the cloud belt, but cannot use them. Kazran says the machine is isomorphic. The Doctor wonders who Kazran is, confusing the rich miser as everyone on the planet should know him; the Doctor changes the subject, wondering who the girl in the ice box is. Kazran says she is no one important, amazing the Doctor as he has never met anyone who wasn't important. He asks Kazran to help him save the ship stuck in the cloud belt, but Kazran refuses.

Kazran orders the Doctor and the family removed from his home. The servants grab the Doctor to pull him away. The family's young son throws a chunk of coal at Kazran's head. Kazran moves to strike him, but doesn't; he orders the family and the Doctor thrown out. The Doctor returns to ask why he didn't hit the boy. Though Kazran is less than cooperative, the Doctor quickly pieces together Kazran's personality from the arrangement of his furniture. There is a picture of his father, deceased for twenty years, but Kazran keeps his chair pointed away. Kazran fears being like his father. The Doctor says he is not because he didn't hit the boy.

Outside, the Doctor speaks to Amy over her mobile phone, but is distracted by the sight of some sky fish swimming around a lamp. The unnaturally high water level in the cloud belt, combined with the slight electrical charge, allows the fish to swim amongst the fog. A carol begins playing in the speakers in the street, preventing Amy from hearing the Doctor properly; she informs him that the ship only has an hour left. The Doctor begins panicking about what to do, babbling about what he knows about the situation; he has to turn a very mean man into a nice man on Christmas Eve. Amy asks him what the singing is in the background, but cannot hear him; the Doctor repeatedly tells her that the noise is a Christmas carol, and then suddenly gets an idea. The Doctor suddenly smiles and looks up at Kazran's mansion, saying, "Merry Christmas, Mr Sardick".

Kazran is asleep in his library, dreaming of Christmas Eve when he was only twelve years old and tried to film his encounter with a sky fish. Kazran wakes to find this video being projected onto a wall in his library; in the video, Kazran's father storms into the room and strikes his son, furious that he has disobeyed him by researching the fish. The Doctor appears behind the adult Kazran (whose entire staff has left after winning the lottery, despite their not actually being one) and wonders if he ever saw the fish; Kazran reveals that this was the day where he first began to realise that there was no one who would ever help him, and that he was on his own in the world. When asked who he is, the Doctor retorts that for this night, he is the Ghost of Christmas Past.

The Doctor reveals that he can change the past and takes off as Kazran derisively declares this to be impossible. The sound of the TARDIS is heard; in the video, young Kazran looks around just as the Doctor steps into his room via the window. He gleefully jumps around, revealing that he is Kazran's new babysitter; the old one having also won the non-existent lottery. The Doctor address the camera, telling the future Kazran his past will now start changing; the new memories will scare him at first, but he'll get the hang of it. The adult Kazran protests that this didn't happen, but suddenly remembers that it did.

In the past, Kazran wonders who the Doctor is. The Doctor takes out his Psychic Paper to show him that he's universally recognised as a mature and responsible adult. However, it only appears as a bunch of wavy lines to the boy. The Doctor scoffs, putting the paper away; "finally a lie too big." Knowing how much Kazran wants to see a fish, the Doctor decides to help the young man make his dream come true.

Sky shark christmas carol

Things get out of hand, again

Kazran and the Doctor hide in Kazran's wardrobe, luring the sky fish in through the open window with the sonic screwdriver on a string tied to the Doctor's finger. Kazran confesses to the Doctor that he is the only student in his class who has never seen a fish; he was sick at home, when the cloud belt broke open a released a school-worth. Now every kid has a story except him. A moment later, the string starts moving. The Doctor opens the wardrobe door to see a small fish curiously playing with the sonic. The Doctor steps out — with the adult Kazran, remembering the event, warning him not to — and deduces how the fish survive in the fog. Suddenly, a large sky shark swoops in and gobbles up the smaller fish and half of the sonic screwdriver.

A scared Doctor backs up to the wardrobe, shutting himself inside. He tells Kazran that on the plus side, he now has a story. The shark tries getting in, and rams its head into the door. Seeing it's mouth stuck open, and the sonic glowing inside, the Doctor decides to give his "two tries" at getting it back. After a struggle, the Doctor manages to stun the shark, which cannot survive outside the fog belt. The Doctor tries to console a young Kazran, confessing there is nothing he can do for the shark without his sonic screwdriver, half of which is still inside the fish; though he has a means of returning it to the sky, it would never survive the trip without some form of life support. To his surprise, Kazran offers an ice box.

Kazran leads the Doctor to a large store room in the basement, which is filled with rows of ice boxes, all of which hold frozen people. Stopping in front of one ice box, Kazran plays its video message: its occupant is a young woman called Abigail Pettigrew, who expresses her gratitude towards Elliot Sardick and her love of the fish. Kazran explains that the people in the boxes are family members of those who have borrowed money from his father, but he insists that they can borrow Abigail's box for the night, unlocking it. Before she fully awakes, the two realise that the shark has followed them to the vault, temporarily revived by swimming in the fog that is settled on the floor.

Cloud belt

The TARDIS in the cloud belt.

Following a short chase, the shark is put to sleep by Abigail's singing. The Doctor explains that her voice resonates with and aligns the fog crystals in the same way that Sardick's machine does. In the present day, Kazran turns to a picture on the wall, realizing that it is of Abigail. He then remembers "it's bigger on the inside". In the past, Kazran and Abigail marvel at the TARDIS. The Doctor dismisses it.

With the shark in Abigail's box, the Doctor pilots the TARDIS into the cloud belt. Dismissing his time machine as impressive, the Time Lord tells the children that he keeps the true wonders outside of the doors. He opens them, revealing the sky full of fish. They release the shark, which swims after a new meal. The Doctor notices a dial set at eight on Abigail's ice box. When he asks her if it relates to her, she responds by asking if he is one of her doctors; however, he is distracted by something else before she can explain.

The Doctor and Kazran return Abigail and her box to the vault, with Kazran promising that they will return and wake her every Christmas Eve from now on. The Doctor starts to complain as Abigail watches the door shut. However, she is next awoken by Kazran and the Doctor, wearing Santa hats. Using the sonic, he calls the shark down to pull a sleigh for them.

A third Christmas comes, with the Doctor offering to take the duo wherever in time they wish for Christmas. In the present, Kazran sees a tin-worth of pictures, showing new memories of his Christmases together with Abigail and the Doctor; he's been to New York, the Pyramids, etc. He is happy and confused by this. In the past, each Christmas has the dial on Abigail's ice box counts down.

Kazran-teenage

Teenage Kazran

On the sixth Christmas Eve, Abigail finds Kazran much older than before, and appears attracted to him. This Christmas, she requests that they visit her family; she and Kazran watch her sister, brother-in-law, and nephew prepare for the festivities through the window from outside. Abigail cries; when Kazran wonders why, she explains that it is because she is watching the life she will never be able to have. To their shock, the Doctor has gotten the family to invite them in. Abigail tells her sister of her Christmases, but declines to stay the day for dinner. As a result, they have it then. The Doctor attempts a card trick, which he fails at repeatedly. Abigail's sister warns her that Kazran will turn out just like his father; however, Abigail knows there's kindness in his heart that Elliot lacks. At the end of the night, Abagail kisses a nervous Kazran.

The following Christmas finds the trio at a 20th century Hollywood party. Kazran finds a crying Abigail by the pool; when he expresses concern for her, she explains that it is time for her to tell him the truth. A few minutes later, the Doctor finds the couple kissing passionately, but impatiently requests to leave, as he has accidentally become engaged to Marilyn Monroe; he leaves with her nevertheless. Abigail sadly tells Kazran that there is nothing that can be done. When the Doctor and Kazran return Abigail to her ice box, the couple bids each other a silent and emotional goodbye. When the Doctor tells Kazran that he'll come back next year, Kazran explains that he has outgrown Christmas and would like to end their yearly ritual. With the Doctor reflecting that Kazran has not changed nearly as much as he would have liked, he offers Kazran his half of the sonic screwdriver in case Kazran ever needs him; Kazran assures him that he won't. Meanwhile, Abigail's dial has returned to one.

Elliot Sardick

Elliot figures out how to control the clouds

A few Christmas Eves later, Elliot Sardick is celebrating with his son — his machine is complete, and the planet is theirs; Elliot finally figured out part of the truth. Confused on what he should do from now on, Kazran runs to his room and takes the screwdriver out of his desk, considering using it to call the Doctor. He turns to see the Doctor standing just outside his window. Kazran goes to the window and looks on as the Doctor gives him a smile, hoping he can be of help. Angrily, Kazran shuts the curtains on him and returns the screwdriver to his desk drawer.

In the present day, Kazran goes to his old and disused room and takes the screwdriver out of the drawer and holds it, contemplating what to do. He receives another call from the president of the planet, who demands the cloud belt be opened and allow the star-liner to land safely. However, Kazran simply refuses; he explains that a very old friend (the Doctor) took many years to show him life isn't fair. Suddenly, a hologram of Amy appears in the library; she is the ghost of Christmas present. She brings him to the vault, where she has summoned dozens of holograms of the spaceship's passengers, who are singing for their lives; she explains that the Doctor was only trying to turn Kazran into a kinder man, but Kazran insists that people can't be rewritten.

He destroys the holograms and stops in front of Abigail's ice box, revealing to Amy that Abigail was mortally ill when she volunteered for the ice, and the dial showed how many days she had left to live. If he were to let her out now, he would only have one day with her. Determined, Amy projects a hologram of Kazran onto the ship's deck, where he is able to witness the chaos as the ship plunges towards the planet; the captain angrily tells Kazran that the Doctor has the ship's passengers singing with the hope that they might stabilise the ship — as Abigail was able to calm the shark — but it's not working; now, they're doing it because it gives them hope. When he is appealed to again to save the ship, Kazran angrily declares that everyone must die. Amy reveals that the Doctor has been listening, and he returns Kazran's consciousness to his body in the vault, apologising.

The Doctor facing Kazran

Kazran demands the Doctor show him the future

The Doctor says that he will now show Kazran the future, and Kazran welcomes this, knowing that he will die alone and afraid like everyone else; he repeats that he doesn't care about the people on the ship and goads the Doctor into showing him the future — only to be surprised when the Doctor explains that he already is. He points to a twelve-year-old Kazran standing in front of the TARDIS; the Doctor made Kazran the Ghost of Christmas Future. The Doctor asks the boy if he wants to turn into a heartless monster like his father. The boy mistakes his older self for his abusive father, infuriating Kazran, who goes to strike him.

However, Kazran is bombarded by his new memories of the love he and Abigail shared. Seeing his younger self cowering, Kazran realizes he has to break free of his father's influence and become his own person. He hugs his trembling younger self, telling him it will be okay. Seeing he's changed Kazran into a better person, the Doctor asks him if he's ready to save the ship. With only a few minutes left, the Doctor and Kazran go to the cloud belt controls only to find that Kazran has changed too much and the machine no longer recognises him as Elliot would never let a kind person use the machine.

The elder Kazran gives the Doctor his half of the sonic screwdriver; the Doctor realises that he can transmit a signal from one half to the other — which is still contained in the shark floating in the cloud belt — but he needs it to transmit something else, something they know will work. Apologising to Kazran, he explains that they will need to release Abigail; her voice resonates perfectly with the fog crystals, and only that will calm the sky. Kazran is reluctant to let her out, but when he does so, she insists that she would have chosen Christmas Day with him for her final day.
Kazran Sardick - Old

Kazran watches in amazement as it snows

She begins to sing her song, which unlocks the cloud belt and causes a snowfall for the first time in years. The townsfolk gather, watching in amazement at the sight of snow. Kazran watches Abigail sing, mesmerized by his beloved's beauty; she gently caresses his face. The ship's crew realises that they are able to land the ship safely, and Rory and Amy embrace. The Doctor departs with young Kazran, who now knows how his future will play out, regardless of his heartless father's actions. Old Kazran and Abigail wave goodbye; they then notice that a sleigh lies behind where the TARDIS was.

Amy and Rory meet up with the Doctor on the ground, where she notices he has built numerous snowmen along the street. The Doctor wonders why they are dressed in their costumes; Rory explains that they lost their luggage despite having a safe landing. However, the Doctor wonders why they are dressed like that at all; Amy hushes the Doctor and tries warming herself up. Rory asks if the Doctor has any more ideas for honeymoon locations. The Doctor begins babbling on about a carnivorous "moon" made of "honey" that has some "lovely views"; Rory is less than excited to hear about this idea and walks into the TARDIS.

Amy asks the Doctor if it is okay to leave things the way they are; Abigail and Kazran only have one day left together. However, the Doctor tells her that if nothing ever ended, nothing would ever get started. Rory pops out of the TARDIS, saying he answered the phone; Marilyn has called the Doctor. The Doctor tells Rory to inform Marilyn that he will call her back, "and that was never a real chapel". Amy wonders where Kazran and Abigail have gone, but the Doctor only answers "Christmas"; Amy enters the TARDIS and the Doctor follows shortly after looking up into the sky.

The scene pans above to show the snowing night sky as Kazran and Abigail fly by on their shark-drawn sleigh.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics

Movement

Casting

General post-production staff

Special and visual effects

Sound







Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.
          

This episode marked the Doctor Who debut of production designer, Michael Pickwoad, the BBC Wales debut of costume designer, Barbara Kidd, and the first time that something like 20 team members had been credited for their work on Doctor Who. It was the biggest sea change of behind-the-scenes personnel in BBC Wales history, much bigger, in fact, than the changes that had occurred with The Eleventh Hour.  In CON: Charlie McDonnell - Runner, Janine H. Jones was described as a runner, and even depicted as delivering tea to cast and crew. However, she's credited here as an "assistant director", albeit lower than the 3rd AD, which does still essentially mean that she was a runner.  This is the first episode of the BBC Wales series in which the title "Script Editor" is not used.


References Edit

Culture Edit

The Doctor Edit

Individuals Edit

Locations Edit

Species Edit

Story notes Edit

  • A Christmas Carol is loosely based on the Charles Dickens novel of the same name, with Kazran Sardick being Ebenezer Scrooge, the Doctor being the Ghost of Christmas Past, Amy being the Ghost of Christmas Present and Kazran himself being the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
  • The first footage from this special was screened on 19 November in the form of a trailer as part of the BBC's Children in Need.
  • Arthur Darvill is promoted to the main cast from this episode onwards with his name appearing in the opening titles.
  • Steven Moffat said before it aired that this episode would be the most "Christmassy Christmas special ever," adding, "It's all your favourite Christmas movies at once, in an hour, with monsters and the Doctor and a honeymoon..."[1]
  • This is the first Christmas special since The Christmas Invasion to feature the Doctor's regular companions. This is also the first Christmas special not to be set primarily on or near Earth.
  • Paul Cornell's short story The Hopes and Fears of All the Years likewise features the Doctor visiting an individual every year at Christmas time (though in that case on Christmas Day, not Christmas Eve) by virtue of time travel. Both stories also involve the Doctor arriving on the scene by coming down the chimney.
  • This is the first Christmas special not to feature David Tennant and the first one not to be written by Russell T Davies. It is the first one to feature Matt Smith and first to be written by Steven Moffat.
  • The shark, despite being a female, was named "Clive" behind the scenes. Smith and Belcher also claimed to have called it "Percy" and "Clyde".
  • Excluding the little fish eaten by the shark, this is the first Christmas special without a character's death.
  • Since Amy was replaced with a Ganger in the following season, this is presumably the last episode to feature the actual Amy Pond until the end of The Almost People.
  • "Abigail's Song" is the first English-language song to be composed for Doctor Who since "The Stowaway" and is the first original song to actually play a direct role in resolving the plot.
  • Michael Gambon is well known for taking over the role of Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, coincidentally the only Harry Potter film that includes time travel.
  • The Doctor travelling back in time to make someone react more favourably to him was part of the plot of the Decalog 3: Consequences short story Continuity Errors, also written by Moffat.
  • As is routine for Christmas specials, a "COMING SOON" trailer for the next series is shown at the end of the episode. This "COMING SOON" trailer features clips from the first half of Series 6: The Impossible Astronaut, Day of the Moon, The Doctor's Wife and Night Terrors.
  • Like The Christmas Invasion, this is the first Christmas special with a new Doctor, and it includes the word "Christmas" in the title. The Twelfth Doctor's first Christmas special would also follow this pattern with the title Last Christmas.

Ratings Edit

  • 10.3 million (Overnight)
  • 12.11 million (BARB)

Rumours Edit

  • The villain has been confirmed by the BBC to be a CGI "Flying Shark". [2] Although the main enemy was Kazran Sardick, there was a menacing, flying shark.
  • The episode could be a musical.[3] This was false, although Katherine Jenkins did sing.
  • The episode will be set on a planet that looks Victorian and will have flying sharks.[4]This was true.
  • In the episode, the Eleventh Doctor will get engaged.[5] He was accidentally engaged to Marilyn Monroe, and this leads up to a gag at the end of the episode.
  • The Doctor will pose as a Ghost of Christmas Past.[6] In a trailer for the BBC's Christmas season, the Doctor is heard saying "I'm a ghost of Christmas Past".[7]This was true, with the Doctor travelling back in time to Kazran's past, and from there, affect his future.

Filming locations Edit

to be added

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When the Doctor first goes back to Kazran's childhood, the light from the TARDIS windows can be seen through the crack in the door after the supposed departure. Additionally, though the TARDIS can be seen in the background at the beginning of this scene, it is absent in the exterior shot where the Doctor is standing in the window.

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

A-christmas-carol-dvd-cover

A Christmas Carol DVD cover

DVD & Blu-Ray releases Edit

Digital releases Edit

  • A bundle including the Christmas Specials mentioned above was released on Google Play, iTunes and Amazon Instant Video in HD or SD. It included the Farewell to Matt Smith featurette. The Amazon Instant Video release also added Prequel to the Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, Vastra Investigates and The Great Detective.
  • The story was missing from Netflix until 2014 when it was added as episode 14 of Series 5, in contrast with previous Christmas specials which are considered episode 1 of the following series (for example, The Christmas Invasion is considered the beginning of Series 2). It is also available on Hulu and iTunes

Footnotes Edit

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