Television

'Special' Christmas gift for U.S. Dr. Who fans

Tish Wells
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

WASHINGTON — "Dr. Who" fans rejoice!

For the first time ever, the "Dr. Who Christmas Special" will be broadcast in the United States on the same day it's shown in the United Kingdom — Dec. 25.

For those unfamiliar with Dr. Who, he's a "time lord" from the planet Gallifrey who travels in a spaceship that looks like a blue British police box from the 1960s.

He's been delighting British sci-fi fans with his exploits since 1963 — and Americans have been able to follow him, sporadically, on public television and, more recently, the Syfy Channel and BBC America.

Until this year, American fans have had to wait until the spring to see the show's Christmas Special. But this year, BBC America will air the special at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Christmas Day. The showing will be preceded by a marathon of previous Dr. Who "Christmas Specials" beginning at midnight Dec. 24. A live concert, the "Doctor Who Prom," will air just prior to the new Christmas Special.

This year's special is titled "A Christmas Carol," an obvious allusion to the Charles Dickens classic, and guest stars Michael Gambon (the second actor to play Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film series) and Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins.

The show almost certainly will feature Dr. Who saving Earth from destruction — a running theme through most of the "Christmas Specials."

The Doctor has died at least 10 times and been regenerated into a new form — a handy plot device that allows a new actor to take over the role.

The current Who — the 11th of the series — is Matt Smith, who is relatively unknown in the United States. For the first time, parts of the coming season, which will begin airing in the spring on BBC America, has been filmed in the United States.

The show itself is in its third incarnation. First broadcast in 1963, it was a BBC staple until cancellation in 1989. It had a one-shot film in 1996 before being reborn in 2005, making the 2011 season the revived series' sixth.



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