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The Christmas Special has been a yearly tradition of Doctor Who since 2005's The Christmas Invasion. Every 25th December since the series was revived by BBC Wales, a special has aired on BBC One. Many Christmas Specials have introduced important plot points (e.g., new companion or new incarnation of the Doctor) and are vital to series continuity. They are often the most-watched episodes of the programme in the respective years in which they air. The Next Doctor, Voyage of the Damned and The End of Time are amongst the best-rated episodes of all time.

While the Christmas episode is a recurring tradition since the show's return in 2005, it uniquely doesn't apply to all the Doctors since the relaunch. The Ninth Doctor's original 13-episode run did not allow for a Christmas Special. However, his era did include the The Unquiet Dead, the third episode of the first series, which is set on Christmas Day and even features Charles Dickens. And though largely a phenomenon of BBC Wales Doctor Who, there were two minor precedents in the original era of the programme.

The very first episode to premiere on Christmas Day was "The Feast of Steven", very nominally the seventh part of the 1965-1966 serial The Daleks' Master Plan. It had almost nothing to do with the plot of that 12-parter, and was consciously written as a "Christmas sidestep" from the Dalek adventure. Indeed, it ended with a fourth wall-breaking "Happy Christmas"

Another example was A Girl's Best Friend, the pilot for K9 and Company. Though technically, therefore, not a "Doctor Who Christmas Special", it is now generally regarded as a part of "classic series lore". Its Christmas theme was not especially obvious until its ending scenes, where Sarah Jane is able to relax following her adventure, and K9 actually sings "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

In the BBC's Christmas message of 1981, a small segment featured Doctor Who characters.

List of Doctor Who Christmas specials Edit