It’s fair to say that Christmas specials have never been Doctor Who’s strong point. The festive season demands a certain level of whimsy and silliness that would smell a little too strongly of cheese at another time of year, tying up disparate plot threads in a disappointingly neat Yuletide package within the space of an hour. Inevitably, genuine drama is usually in short supply.
Last year’s edition – the first Christmas episode to star the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith)—even managed to, ahem, ‘rework’ A Christmas Carol, which is enough to bring out anyone’s inner Scrooge. After a disappointing and overly convoluted sixth series, it was difficult to expect too much from 2011’s effort. For all that, though, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe somehow pulled off the tricky task of injecting magic into the annual special. A few loose ends and missed opportunities aside, this was by far the most successful of the seasonal episodes since the revitalised Who’s return in 2005.