It’s fair to say that this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special is a pretty momentous affair, featuring the return of the First Doctor (David Bradley), the farewell of Peter Capaldi’s current Twelfth Doctor and the debut of new Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker.
And of course it’s also the last ever episode to be written by current series showrunner Steven Moffat, who leaves behind an unassailable legacy of stories including 49 separate episodes and a huge number of spin-off shorts and other material.
And with such a long and impressive legacy, perhaps it’s only appropriate that Moffat’s last ever story will pay subtle tribute to his first – 2005’s The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances – through a very clever reference that RadioTimes.com discovered on the set of the Christmas Special earlier this year.
Now, this isn’t a major or plot-related spoiler, but if you want to go into Twice Upon a Time completely fresh you might be advised to look away now.
Still here? Well then, it’s time to cast your mind back to 2005, when Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor was still in the Tardis and Billie Piper’s Rose had just made the acquaintance of a handsome American called Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).
In the second episode of Moffat’s two-part story (The Doctor Dances) fans were introduced to a new gadget – the deadly Sonic blaster, a device with multiple uses in sharp contrast to the Doctor’s slightly less versatile sonic screwdriver. Said blaster was created in the factories of Villengard, a planet known for creating deadly weapons, which Jack bemoaned the loss of – a loss the Doctor implied he might have actually been behind in the following exchange:
DOCTOR: Sonic blaster, fifty first century. Weapon Factories of Villengard? JACK: You’ve been to the factories? DOCTOR: Once. JACK: Well, they gone now, destroyed. The main reactor went critical. Vaporized the lot. DOCTOR: Like I said. Once. There’s a banana grove there, now. I like bananas. Bananas are good.
And now, we can reveal that the planet of Villengard is returning in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, linking Moffat’s very last Doctor Who hurrah (Who-rah?) with his first.
How exactly the planet comes into play, what its role is in the story and whether its presence suggests the Doctor and his friends will be enjoying ice-cold banana daiquiris throughout the episode we’ll leave as a mystery for now – but be sure to keep an eye out for it in the finished story.