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Every year since the 2005 revival of BBC’s Doctor Who, the network produces a Christmas special every holiday season. These specials are super popular and often feature pivotal plot points, such as the introduction of a new companion or the regeneration of the Doctor. The tradition will continue in 2014, but until then, you can reacquaint yourself with the last nine Christmas specials.
The Christmas Invasion
Directly after the regeneration of the Ninth Doctor (portrayed by Christopher Eccleston), 2005’s Christmas special, The Christmas Invasion (series 2) chronicles the Doctor’s companion Rose coming to grips with his new face (hello, David Tennant) while they battle an alien invasion.
The Runaway Bride
In 2006, we are treated to our first Donna Noble/Tenth Doctor experience. She was originally intended to only appear in a single episode, as the first episode of series three brought in new companion Martha Jones, but she was brought back for the fourth series. The Runaway Bride features killer automaton Santas and a gigantic, star-shaped spaceship.
Voyage of the Damned
The Voyage of the Damned 2007 took place aboard a spaceship that is unfortunately called the Titanic. A one-off companion named Astrid Peth helps the Tenth Doctor battle back after the ship is compromised by the captain.
The Next Doctor
The 2008 Christmas special is titled The Next Doctor, and while you might think it deals with the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration, instead viewers are treated to a wonderful performance by David Morrissey who only believes he’s an incarnation of the Doctor — oh, and you get some Cybermen action, too.
The End of Time: Part One
The End of Time: Part One is the first part of David Tennant’s Doctor Who swan song. The Tenth Doctor encounters his old nemesis, the Master, whose plan threatens not only those close to the Doctor, but the entire planet.
A Christmas Carol
The 2010 Christmas special, A Christmas Carol, mirrors the Dickens novel in a spacey-wacey way as the Eleventh Doctor (portrayed by Matt Smith) must bargain with a cranky old man to save his companions, Amy and Rory.
The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe
The 2011 Christmas special also draws inspiration from literature — this time, from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Instead of children walking through the back of a wardrobe, however, the Eleventh Doctor leads two children through a gift box for an amazing (and of course quite dangerous) adventure.
The Snowmen features the Eleventh Doctor, living in Victorian-era London after having suffered a tragic loss. This episode was also inspired by literature — the book The Snowman. He meets (again?) new companion Clara, and the pair, along with some help, battle sentient snowmen under the control of a great villain.
The Time of the Doctor
Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor comes to a close in the 2013 Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor. Not only does it feature a massive cast and many of the Doctor’s enemies, but it weaves closed several questions, such as the limited number of regenerations he would be allowed to have.