We're now mere days away from seeing Ncuti Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor and Millie Gibson's new companion, Ruby Sunday, in action in Doctor Who's 2023 Christmas special, The Church on Ruby Road.


The new episode will follow on directly from this year's three 60th anniversary specials, the last of which, The Giggle, saw David Tennant's Fourteenth Doctor bi-generate, with Nucti Gatwa's Doctor emerging from him.

Gatwa will now take the reins full time, with this new episode properly introducing us to his incarnation as he meets Ruby, and the duo battle some villainous goblins, who operate out of a pirate ship in the sky.

This will be the first Doctor Who Christmas special since 2017's Twice Upon a Time, after which the show switched to airing New Year's Day specials during the Thirteenth Doctor era.

So, when can we expect the Doctor Who 2023 Christmas special to arrive on our screens?

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Doctor Who 2023 Christmas special release date

Doctor Who Christmas special: The Church on Ruby Road will release on Monday 25th December 2023 at 5.55 pm GMT.

The episode will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK, while it will also be released at the same time on Disney Plus in international territories.

The episode is 55 minutes in length.

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Doctor Who 2023 Christmas special stars

The following actors have been confirmed for the Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby Road cast.

  • Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor
  • Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday
  • Davina McCall as Herself
  • Michelle Greenidge as Carla Sunday
  • Angela Wynter as Cherry Sunday
  • Mary Malone as Trudy
  • Anita Dobson as Mrs Flood
  • Hemi Yeroham as Abdul

Here is what else we know about the stars...

Anita Dobson in Doctor Who
Anita Dobson in Doctor Who BBC Studios/Bad Wolf

Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa will have his first solo episode as The Doctor, while former Coronation Street actress Millie Gibson will make her debut as new regular companion Ruby Sunday.

It's a Sin actress Michelle Greenidge will also debut as Ruby's mother Carla Sunday, while EastEnders icon Angela Wynter will be seen as Carla's mother Cherry Sunday.

Fellow EastEnders icon Anita Dobson will also appear as Ruby's neighbour Mrs Flood, while Davina McCall will appear in the episode as herself, having lent her vocal talents to the 2005 episode Bad Wolf.

Davina McCall in Doctor Who
Davina McCall in Doctor Who. BBC Studios/Bad Wolf

Davina told the BBC: "It is beyond an honour to be asked to appear in not only Doctor Who but also Ncuti’s first episode as the new Doctor. It was such an extraordinary experience and Russell has written you all a Christmas delight! Now I just can’t wait for everyone to see it!”

Mary Malone and Hemi Yeroham also guest star in the episode.

Doctor Who 2023 Christmas special plot

Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who leaning on a wooden frame
Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who. BBC Studios/Bad Wolf

The focus of The Church on Ruby Road is the origins of Ruby Sunday and how she first crosses paths with The Doctor.

The official logline for the episode from the BBC reads: "Long ago, on Christmas Eve, a baby was abandoned in the snow. Today, Ruby Sunday meets the Doctor, goblins, stolen babies and, perhaps, the secret of her birth."

Speaking about the episode to the BBC, showrunner and writer Russell T Davies commented: "From Day One in this job, I wanted Doctor Who back on Christmas Day! And with Ncuti, Millie, Davina and the Goblin King, I hope it’s a feast for all the family!"

Davies has also said that the show will be taking a "sly step towards fantasy" with the upcoming special. If you want to know what we thought, you can check out our spoiler-free review!

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What is the song in the Doctor Who 2023 Christmas special?

The Church on Ruby Road will also feature a musical number, with The Goblin Song from the episode now out.

The song introduces the menacing Goblin King, with the goblins preparing to eat a human baby.

You can watch the scene below - or check out the full lyrics.

Doctor Who 2023 Christmas special trailer

We now have the full trailer for the Christmas special after it was released at the end of The Giggle.

A clip has also been released from the special, giving us our first glimpse at a scene with Fifteen and Ruby in action. There's a ladder in the sky, running across rooftops – what more could you ask for?

Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby Road airs at 5:55pm on Monday 25th December on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. Classic episodes are available on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.

Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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