‘Doctor Who’ Christmas countdown Day 10: ‘The Time of the Doctor’

It was a bittersweet Christmas when we bid farewell to the Eleventh Doctor.

Like Ten before him, Eleven chose to make his Doctor Who exit over the holidays in 2013’s ‘The Time of the Doctor’.

It’s at times grand and ridiculous and features a Doctor who is at times bald and nude. It’s also the first and the last episode so far to feature one of the Doctor’s most memorable and technically longest-serving companions, a disembodied Cyberman head named Handles.

Turns out that Trenzalore wasn’t always the stormy grave place we saw in ‘The Name of the Doctor’ and once had a town so Christmassy that it’s actually called Christmas. It’s also under constant siege by basically everyone evil, so that’s jolly good fun.

Meanwhile, Clara attempts some semblance of a normal Christmas dinner with her strangely unconvincing family (we never do find out what that story about the pigeon in the restaurant was!), but she really ought to just order in a pre-roasted bird next time.

The Doctor defends the heck out of the Christmas town for a very long time, and just before he’s about to die for the very last time, Clara talks to the silly old fusspots on Gallifrey through a crack in the universe and scores the Doctor an extra round of lives.

But for everything that makes it a bit silly and over-ambitious (it really needed more than 60 minutes to truly sell how long the Doctor is meant to have spent guarding Trenzalore), it ends so perfectly and so beautifully.

Just before fading into the radiant light of regeneration, the Doctor has a vision of his best friend Amy, who bids him an emotional goodnight. Plus, their respective wigs look fabulous.

Doctor Who Time of the Doctor Amy

And then, just as you think he’s about to regenerate in a minute or two of golden glow and a swell of emotional music, there’s a big ol’ sneeze and suddenly it’s Capaldi!

There then follows what I can confidently say is the very best scene of the episode, which left me in no doubt whatsoever about how very much I was going to love Twelve.

That’s how it’s done, ladies and gentlemen, just like ripping off a plaster.

> Buy the Christmas specials box set on DVD on Amazon.

> Buy the Christmas specials box set on Blu-ray on Amazon.

What’s your favourite moment in ‘The Time of the Doctor’? Let us know below…

> Read more by Sami Kelsh on her website.

  • Dr. Moo

    I was in tears as MY Doctor died and cheering when Twelve showed up and my whole family thought I was mad. There’s not another show on TV that’s ever proved capable of doing either to me, let alone both at the same time! ONLY Doctor Who can give you such an emotional rollercoaster ride in under ten seconds and we need look no further than the 11-12 regeneration to see it.
    This episode has such a triumphant ending (the last fifteen minutes or so) that you can forget all about how overstuffed the first half hour is and how forced the Christmas elements are and just sit back as the 11th Doctor goes out in a blaze of glory.

    This is how to make you anticipate the new Doctor with joy and with open arms, compare to The End Of Time which made you anticipate him with dread. If ever there were proof that Moffat is infinitely better than Davies THIS is it.

    • James Vaughan

      Loved Matt Smith, his end speech was very touching and was nice to see Karen Gillan again. BUT, Surely it would have been amazing to finish with, “Love from Gallifrey boys” as he regenerates on Trenzalore into Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Think that is the best line ever in Doctor Who.

      • Dr. Moo

        I feel the same but I understand why Moffat went a different way with it: so that we could have the phone call in Deep Breath. Some people thought PC was too old (how?!) and needed that scene from MS to win them over… and it totally worked!

        • James Vaughan

          Could have had Matt appearing before Jenna, in the same way as Karen did. Instead of Raggedy Man Goodnight, could have been Impossible Girl, Goodbye

    • Edward Delingford

      What a bonkers glorious mess of an episode. Love it to bits, every overstuffed second. Fitting that the three regeneration episodes so perfectly fitted each doctor and actor – Chris Eccelston’s brusque unsentimental but powerful farewell in Parting of the Ways, played so wonderfully to suit his no nonsense doctor, David Tennant’s bloated, self indulgent and spiteful farewell dwelling on a doctor and actor in the role whose defining characteristic was narcissism and Matt Smith’s selfless and modest end, spending time quietly on a remote planet to save people he loves, with flashes of silliness, joy and humility, just like the lovely young man he is.

      It’s an appalling oversight that Matt wasn’t nominated for a second BAFTA for his extraordinary and heartfelt performance in this. Sadly, it was overshadowed by the 50th celebrations. Fortunately, Matt’s legacy will remain as the most joyous of the modern doctors and with Peter the best actor to ever play the part and the first of the modern doctors to lift the revived show from faintly embarrasing pantomime to fabulously entertaining, brilliantly written and acted family drama which has recieved mainstream critical acclaim and which has enjoyed massive international success

  • Daniel

    Not ashamed to admit I cried like a baby during the regeneration scene. It was handled so beautifully and when Amy walked down the stairs in the Tardis, that was me done. One of the most genuinely heartfelt pieces of writing and acting in the show’s history.
    The only real fault with Time of the Doctor is that it is so brimming with great ideas that it really needed two episodes. After the Day of the Doctor, I imagine the BBC were pulling in the purse strings so what we got was amazingly well done within the confines imposed. One of the truly great regeneration episodes and IMHO certainly on par with Caves. Glorious acting and writing and my own sentimental favourite of the Christmas specials although my brain tells me that Last Christmas and Christmas Carol are the best in terms of overall quality but since it’s Christmas and it’s all about the heart, I’ll say this is the best Christmas special of them all.

  • MegaWoti

    Everybody said the regeneration scene was too short, but the speech before he regenerated was too epic and awesome to let parts slip away from it. The feels were so deep when I watched it the first time and after 1000 times of watching it (love The Time Of The Doctor) I’m still crying. Matt Smith will be remembered as THE Doctor for me.

    • Edward Delingford

      He’s not my doctor but the first of the modern doctors to really get to the heart of the part. It’s a brilliantly acted episode with a touching and uplifting regeneration with the generosity of spirit in handing the part to Peter’s doctor so singularly lacking in David’s own mean spirited handover to Matt’s.

  • Hh

    Matt’s great and all and the regeneration scene is sensitively done but the whole thing is a bit all over the place – it’s like Steven Moffat got out his toy box and threw it at the screen. A slightly disappointing end to what was until then, the strongest era of new Who and maybe not the best reflection on Matt Smith who is right up there with Tom Baker and Peter Capaldi in giving us a definitive portrayal of the Doctor. I just hope his era doesn’t get overshadowed over time by Peter’s as they both deserve a place at the top table (and I also know that Peter’s jab at why young, sexy actors can’t play the Doctor properly is really aimed at David much more so than Matt who played the role like a wonderfully dotty old uncle trapped in a child’s body not like a skeevy hipster).

  • Hedwiga

    After seeing Husbands of River Song, there really is a bit River shaped hole in this. Tasha Lem is an excellently written and played character but now I wish Alex had been available for this. How lovely for her to have farewelled him. I know Peter is really HER doctor but she did spend a lot of time with Matt’s.