Doctor Who has previously featured such concepts as killer mannequins, flying sharks and the revelation that the moon is, in fact, a giant egg. Yet even by the sci-fi show’s standards, the Doctor coming face-to-face with Santa Claus, and some Alien-like monsters, in the Christmas special is a bit out there.
Fortunately, showrunner Steven Moffat is more than aware of the apparent absurdity, and has assured fans in the latest issue of Radio Times that he hasn’t, “completely lose my marbles here.”
“I sense that the very people who think they might hate this,” he says, “won’t hate it at all. Of all the Christmas specials I’ve done, it’s the one most like the paradigm Doctor Who episode.”
Last Christmas, which features guest star Nick Frost as Santa himself, will continue from his surprise cameo in the finale of series eight, placing him in a story about a group of scientists that are beset by monsters at the North Pole.
“It does look like the most insane moment when Santa turns up [at the end of Dark Water],” continues Moffat, “but we haven’t gone off our rockers. No, Santa is written in properly, in a science fiction way, into Doctor Who.”
He also adds that while the episode does bundle up its festive content in a “big lump of goodness,” the rest of the special is, “actually a scary, tense and claustrophobic adventure.”
“It’s The Thing meets Miracle on 34th Street – the movie we’ve all been waiting for. It’s certainly the strangest bloody thing I’ve ever written.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Moffat talks about how he came to cast Nick Frost (“how perfect is his name!”), whether the Master is really dead (“she’s entirely unzappable!”) and the biggest challenge that the show faced after the casting of Peter Capaldi’s older Twelfth Doctor.
“[The big challenge] was people freaking out in America about casting an older Doctor because it’s simply not part of their tradition. It isn’t here either anymore. But there was an increase in ratings, so hooray for the stern older man. We’ve been thrilled by it.”
The new issue of Radio Times is on sale now