Over the past six weeks on Kasterborous, we’ve run two polls to gauge our readers’ feelings about Christmas Doctor Who episodes.
There’s nothing heavy in it – no surveys asking if the Doctor’s angel-accompanied ascension in Voyage of the Damned is anything more than RTD being cheeky – simply a chance to rate your favourite Doctor Who Christmas special before A Christmas Carol… and after.
We had a great reaction, with around 1000 votes cast altogether, indicating that both polls were read and voted on by the same number of people, and in many cases the same people; this last part is important.
Now before continuing, a few things to note. First of all, Christmas specials are all self contained stories, except The End of Time. This might be worth bearing in mind when checking the results. Secondly, all Christmas specials feature some interesting casting with the exception of The Christmas Invasion which largely makes use of characters we have already met, much like the quintessential regeneration story, 1974’s Robot. All subsequent Christmas episodes have what we might once have referred to as “stunt casting”.
Finally, only one of the episodes stars current Doctor Matt Smith and is written by Steven Moffat. As you probably realise, the others are all written by Russell T Davies, and all star David Tennant
The first poll was run in late November, with the initial results as follows:
- The Christmas Invasion 30.28%
- The Runaway Bride 14.79%
- Voyage of the Damned 14.08%
- The Next Doctor 17.61%
- The End of Time 23.24%
As you can see, despite airing over 5 years ago, The Christmas Invasion remains popular, more than likely because it is the Tenth Doctor’s first adventure. Similarly The End of Time (which refers to the Christmas 2009 episode rather than the entire story or the New Year’s Day 2010 conclusion) saw success, although noticeably lower than the first special. As you can see, the “in-between” episodes have similar ratings.
A week after Matt Smith starred in Steven Moffat’s A Christmas Carol our second poll was run, and this tells quite a different story…
- The Christmas Invasion 20.32%
- The Runaway Bride 6.09%
- Voyage of the Damned 5.42%
- The Next Doctor 6.09%
- The End of Time 13.54%
- A Christmas Carol 48.53%
What is most interesting about the results, isn’t the strong showing of A Christmas Carol (something that can be attributed to it being the most recent episode; think of the Favourite Doctor polls in DWM) but rather the way the spread of the voting on the other episodes has stayed almost constant.
It is as if fans of earlier Christmas episodes liked them for a particular reason but A Christmas Carol spoke to them in a much more powerful way, prompting them to vote in such a way; the results basically show that the results for the older episodes were “shaved” with A Christmas Carol receiving the bulk of the votes.
Fascinating stuff; love it or hate it, A Christmas Carol certainly did what it said on the tin and maybe this is the reason it has so far proved so popular – it’s just so Christmassy!