Just give me all the Turkish delight you have: the Eleventh Doctor goes full on Narnian in his second festive Doctor Who adventure.
2011’s ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’ has got a lot going for it, as far as guest cast is concerned: it’s got the mum from Outnumbered (Claire Skinner) and the dad from Pointless (Alexander Armstrong, whose handsome voice older/younger viewers may remember from The Sarah Jane Adventures), plus Bill Bailey makes an appearance and the kids are adorable.
You’ll notice that the headline of Mr Arwell’s newspaper features the word LOOMS in big, prominent letters. This has absolutely no significance whatsoever and you should definitely not write a 15 thousand word essay on what it means.
When Mr Arwell is lost to the war, Madge bundles up the kids and heads to the country, where they are met by the Doctor, who’s fitted Uncle Digby’s house with a Wonka-esque array of childhood delights. Among these, it turns out, is an entrance to another planet with a forest of living Christmas trees. Shiny! (Do we ever find out what happened to poor Uncle Digby?)
Wandering into the snow, Madge encounters a team of rangers from Androzani, (which viewers may remember as the setting of Peter Davison’s final story, which consistently places a tad higher than this one in favourite episode fan polls) who are imminently acid-raining the planet to harvest fuel.
But this is a Very Special Forest, and a groovy wooden monarchy are holding the little‘uns captive in the hope, it turns out, of flying their magical tower and the trees’ life force away from the planet to safety, which they can’t do themselves, because.
In the end, it’s Madge who saves the day as she’s a mum and that’s the most powerful thing of all. I’ve since been torn between feeling the warm fuzzies of a nice lady getting to be the hero of the story and feeling slightly grumpy about the questionable feminism of the implication that a woman’s status as a mummy kind of overrides anything else about her. But it’s Christmas and it involves Claire Skinner driving a bloody giant robot thing so we’ll let this slide.
Oh, and Mister Arwell isn’t dead after all – it’s a Christmas miracle!
Perhaps remembered less fondly by fans than it deserves to be (not helped by the fact it was nearly nine months until the next new episode aired), ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’ is warm and cozy Christmas viewing, best taken after about a months’ worth of carb rations in one sitting.
What’s your favourite moment in ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’? Let us know below…