In the 1965 Doctor Who episode “The Feast of Steven” - part seven in the 12-part epic adventure “The Daleks’ Master Plan” - William Hartnell broke character as the First Doctor and wished viewers at home a Merry Christmas.
Forty years later, the re-launched Doctor Who series celebrated the festive season once again with the first of its annual holiday-themed stories, “The Christmas Invasion,” starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. Five more Christmas episodes have since followed - “The Runaway Bride,” “Voyage of the Damned,” “The Next Doctor,” “The End of Time,” and 2010’s “A Christmas Carol” starring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor.
As reported by the BBC America press website, filming has begun in Cardiff, Wales on this year’s Doctor Who Christmas adventure, once again starring Matt Smith in the title role. Written by series executive producer/head writer Steven Moffat and directed by Farren Blackburn (The Fades), the episode is inspired by the classic story The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
Set in England during World War II it finds Madge Arwell and her two children, Lily and Cyril, evacuated to an old house in Dorset. There they meet the property’s mysterious caretaker and find an unusual (and quite large) present waiting for them under the Christmas tree.
Speaking to the BBC America press site, Moffat remarked, “The Doctor at Christmas - nothing is more fun to write. Maybe because it's so his kind of day - everything's bright and shiny, everybody's having a laugh, and nobody minds if you wear a really stupid hat. Of all the Doctors, Matt Smith's the one that was born for this time of year - so it's the best news possible that he's heading back down the chimney.”
Among the episode’s guest-stars are Claire Skinner (Outnumbered), Bill Bailey (Black Books), Arabella Weir (Skins, The Fast Show) and Alexander Armstrong (Armstrong & Miller), whose prior credits include guest roles in the fourth season Doctor Who stories “The Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End.”
The actor/comedian also provided the voice for Mr. Smith, the alien computer in the successful Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, which starred the late actress and former Doctor Who companion Elisabeth Sladen.
Filming of the 2011 Christmas special is scheduled to continue until mid-October.
In related Doctor Who news, Alex Kingston (River Song/Melody Pond) will step foot across the threshold of the famous 165 Eaton Place when filming begins in October on the second season of Upstairs, Downstairs, last year’s hit revival of the legendary '70s drama series. The actress will play the outspoken Dr. Blanche Mottershead.
Reprising her role of Mrs. Rose Buck in the show’s second season is actress Jean Marsh, who co-created and starred in the original Upstairs, Downstairs. Marsh has several connections as well to Doctor Who, having played Joanna in the 1965 episode “The Crusade,” as well as companion Sara Kingdom in the aforementioned “The Daleks’ Master Plan,” and Morgaine in the 1989 Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor) adventure “Battlefield.” The actress was also marred to Jon Pertwee (The Third Doctor) from 1955 until they divorced in 1960.
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