Writer: Mark Gatiss
Director: Euros Lyn
Producer: Phil Collinson
Series: 1, ep. 3
Companion: Rose Tyler (Billie Piper)
Summary: The Doctor and Rose travel to 1869 Cardiff on Christmas Day. Charles Dickens is reciting his famous story A Christmas Carol. The local undertaker has a problem–the dead are rising. They have been possessed by spectral beings called the Ghelf, who reside in a time rift. But the rift is dying. A woman named Gwyneth who works with the undertaker can sense the future and communicate with the Ghelf. The Doctor conducts a séance and discovers the Ghelf are victims of the Time War, which is destroying the rift.
Review: This could in a way be considered New Who’s first Christmas episode, despite the fact that it did not air on Christmas Day. Charles Dickens was a great addition to the story, even if having him around ghosts on Christmas Day was a bit obvious.
The Doctor shows signs of being an anti-hero when he considers helping the Ghelf, but Rose’s objections make him realize what needs to be done. This was a great start for Mark Gatiss’s career as a writer for the TV version of Doctor Who, as he was one of three writers Russell T. Davies brought in from Big Finish to help with the revival.
Overall Review: 7/10
Continuity: This is the first time we hear the phrase “Bad Wolf”, which is a clue for the finale. The rift in this episode also exists in the 21st century, and the Doctor will use it to power the TARDIS in future episodes. The Doctor mentions that he saw the fall of Troy, which occurred in the missing story “The Myth Makers”. In the audio story “Legend of the Cybermen”, the Sixth Doctor met the Artful Dodger, a character from Charles Dickens’s “Oliver Twist” in the Land of Fiction. Charles Dickens later reappears as part of an alternate timeline created by River Song’s defiance in “The Wedding of River Song”.
Trivia: This is the first story Mark Gatiss wrote for the revival of Doctor Who. It is based on his first audio drama for Big Finish, “Phantasmagoria”.