After growing speculation Doctor Who Magazine have confirmed that the traditional Doctor Who Christmas special will be moved to New Year’s Day.
Despite an outcry from fans – and Steven Moffat’s best efforts last year to keep Doctor Who at the heart of the Christmas schedule (to the point where he rewrote the climax of series ten to accommodate what became Twice Upon a Time) – the special will now vacate its traditional Christmas Day air date – a spot it has occupied since it returned in 2005.
@DWMtweets confirms that there will be a New Year’s Day special episode of #DoctorWho instead of its usual Christmas Day slot. ✨
What do you all think of the change? pic.twitter.com/lDmRTz1pS2
— The Time Ladies (@thetimeladies_) 14 November 2018
Doctor Who has very much been the centrepiece of a lot of families Christmastime celebrations. At its peak, 13.3 million viewers tuned in to watch Kylie Minogue team up with the Tenth Doctor in Voyage of the Damned. Last year’s Christmas special, Twice Upon A Time, saw Peter Capaldi depart the role of the Doctor and was watched by 7.92 million.
The move was rumoured to be because new showrunner Chris Chibnall was finding it difficult to come up with festive-themed ideas for the special – although that rumour should be taken with a pinch of salt.
That same rumour also suggested that the episode – which will mark the end of Jodie Whittaker’s first season as the Doctor – could be the only one to air in 2019 – with fans set to face a gap year until 2020.
The last episode to be shown on New Year’s Day was the second part of The End of Time in 2010 where it had 12.27 million viewers.
Even with the massively successful shift from Saturday to Sunday, it seems a shame to give up such a coveted part of the scheduling calendar – we want Doctor Who to be a showpiece, and even if there is a dearth of festive-themed ideas, stepping away from that slot betrays a lack of confidence that the post-2005 show as never entertained before.
So what do you think? Is the festive episode important? Is the move to New Year’s Day a smart one?