Celebrating its forty eighth year, Doctor Who is a program with many wonderful adventures stretching all the way back to 1963 on screen and beyond into the realm of computer games, audio adventures, comic strips and more. But what about the holiday specials that never were?
1968’s The Laird of Toy Town by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln
The TARDIS lands on a man-made satellite orbiting Jupiter. The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe are welcomed by the crew of the satellite who are hard at work mining the planet below for precious minerals to be transported back to Earth via Transmat. The crew explain that they barely have to lift a finger thanks to the built in artificial intelligence Overlord which operates the robotic staff on the planet below. Left with little else to do, the crew are preparing their first Christmas feast which the Doctor and Jamie are very interested in. Zoe is more interested on what is happening on the planet below. The mining staff have reported fluctuations in Overlord’s programming resulting in unpredictable behavior in the robot miners. Intent on identifying why Overlord has started malfunctioning, Zoe soon finds herself held captive in a revolution as the robots take over.
The Doctor and Jamie attempt a rescue by piloting a small emergency shuttle to Jupiter’s surface. There the two adventurers are met with an army of unstoppable robots led by a brilliant computer.
Reunited with her grandfather, Tegan, the Doctor and Turlough travel to Brisbane to celebrate the holidays. The travelers are introduced to Tegan’s family, including her saucy aunt Lorianna who flirts endlessly with the sheepish Doctor, Turlough and Will wander off into the countryside where they discover the carcasses of wildlife torn to pieces.
When Will and Turlough stumble into a rogue TARDIS, they are hypnotized by the Master and forced to hold Tegan’s family hostage. The Master has anticipated the Doctor’s trip down under and arrived ahead of him to bio-engineer a race of monstrous creatures to kill him once and for all. In a battle of wits, the Doctor and Tegan must defeat the Master together in time to set the table.
The TARDIS is drawn back to Ace’s hometown by a strange force that the Doctor cannot identify. Arriving in Perivale, the travelers find the quiet suburb to be under siege by an unknown force. An army of robotic insects has forced the citizens into a state of terror. Ace’s old friends have been driven into slave labor in an incredibly complex facility using technology that the Doctor recognizes as Gallifreyan.
Finally, the Doctor and Ace discover the true villain is none other than Ace herself from an alternate timeline. A battle-scarred military genius, the future Ace is an evil personality hardened by a long life of misfortune. In Ace’s alternate future, she was tutored by the Doctor in time travel with the aim of making her into a Time Lord. Having learned all of the Doctor’s knowledge, she then killed him and took control of the TARDIS, drawing it through time to build an empire for herself.
In order to stop this alternate timeline, Ace must accept and temper her inner rage, erasing the events of her older self. The whole affair is over just in time to celebrate Christmas at the pub.
So what do you think? Do any of these adventures stand a chance of out-performing 2011’s ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’?
Do you have any of your own stories to add (I’m looking at you, Matthew)? Please share your Doctor Who holiday special ideas by commenting below!
Below are two brilliant offerings from blogger Matthew Clark (check out his blog: Tea With Morbius)
The Third Doctor and Jo are sent by UNIT on an exchange program with a (fictional) East European Communist state. The Doctor learns that radical elements in the party are plotting to overthrow the party chairman and resume hostilities with the west. The leader of this faction turns out to be the chief of the secret police, who is allied with the Master. The Master has summoned the Great Intelligence and an army (2) of Yeti.
A Russian agent falls in love with Jo and the Doctor gets to drive an army truck, a Soviet tank, a tobogan, and is chased by armed gunmen while skiing.
1966′s ‘A Christmas Story’
This particular Christmas special was marred by appalling studio complications.
The original plan had been for David Whitaker to write a blockbusting Dalek space adventure that would encapsulate past glories of the program. Unfortunately, Terry Nation expressed unease with the script and requested a larger fee to protect the integrity of his creation. This faced script editor Gerry Davis with a massive problem as no unused scripts were available and all BBC writers were on strike at the time.
Taking advice from a letter from a viewer, Gerry Davis hastily adapted the comic strip adventure ‘A Christmas Story’ which had appeared in the TV Comic in 1966, in which the Doctor travels to the North Pole and helps defend Santa Claus against the Demon Magician.
The script had initially been adapted to feature the Second Doctor, Ben and Polly. Unfortunately, the two supporting cast members had been injured in a car accident after the cast had been at a pub together. Patrick Troughton had luckily escaped injury by going home by taxi. Had the lead actor been injured, this story might have been cancelled all together.
This Christmas special is thus notable in quite a few different ways. Firstly, it was the only TV Comic strip to be adapted into a televised episode. Secondly, it was the only Doctor Who episode to feature the Doctor’s mysterious grandchildren, John and Gillian. Even more remarkably, these were respectively played by Richard Franklin, who would go on to play Captain Mike Yates and Caroline John, who would go on to play the Doctor’s assistant Liz Shaw.
Critical reaction to this story was harsh, even amongst viewers who read the TV Comic strips (the comic strip itself had moved away from fantastic material and on to stories about Cybermen, Trods and Daleks).
Sadly, this episode no longer exists in the BBC archives. While enthusiastic viewers had made off-air recordings of other lost stories, it would seem that this story was judged to be so awful that they did not bother. Hence, no soundtrack exists for this episode. Some fans have more recently read surviving copies of the script and have suggested that the reaction at the time was ill-judged, but the true merits of this story will never be known.