How Doctor Who is like the ghosts of Xmas Past, Present AND Future

BBC America has a very special Christmas present for Doctor Who fans. On Christmas Day the network is premiering what promises to be the most Christmasy Doctor Who Christmas special ever, "A Christmas Carol," featuring Matt Smith.

"Oh, we're going for broke with this one," said executive producer Steven Moffat, who wrote the episode. "It's all your favorite Christmas movies at once, in an hour, with monsters and the Doctor and a honeymoon and—oh, you'll see. I've honestly never been so excited about writing anything. I was laughing madly as I typed along to Christmas songs in April. My neighbors loved it so much they all moved away and set up a website demanding my execution. But I'm fairly sure they did it ironically."

According to executive producer Piers Wenger, Moffat always wanted to do an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, "but it's such a hard book to adapt, because it's been done so many times before, and it has such a familiar shape to the story of it. ... It references a lot of other Christmas stories. It has really heavy references of Mary Poppins, and Peter Pan, as well as A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life."

The special finds newlyweds Amy and Rory trapped on a crashing space liner and leaves the Doctor to figure out a way to save them. It is set on the alien planet Snow, in a place called Sardicktown, which is ruled over by a Scrooge-like man named Casrand Sardick (played by Michael Gambon). The special also stars opera diva Katherine Jenkins in her first acting role ever.

"When you add it together with Doctor Who, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future take on a whole new realm of possibilities. And the Doctor, in many ways, is all three in this episode. He's able to show the older Casrand his life as a young man. He obviously sees the present, but he's also able to show him what he will become if he doesn't mend his ways, and, of course, that's the thing that allows the Doctor to save the day himself," said Wenger.

"'A Christmas Carol' is really, really good. It's got everything. It's got sleigh rides through the sky, it's got snow, it's got an amazing backdrop to it," he said. "It's like an industrial, Victorian backdrop ... but with a lot of alien, off-world elements to it, and just a really beautiful and really, really moving story. This is about heartbreak and a man at the end of his life taking stock and realizing the mistakes that he's made. I think it's a huge amount of fun, it really plays to Matt Smith's strengths as an actor. It really plays to his particular Doctor. There's a lot of laughs in it ... a big climactic, and quite scary ... chase at the climax. But ... I guess, more so that any other episode of Doctor Who there's been before, it's just a really beautiful fairy tale."

A Doctor Who marathon begins Dec. 24 at midnight leading up to "A Christmas Carol" on Saturday, Christmas Day, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. BBC America will also premiere Doctor Who at the Proms at 1 p.m. on Christmas Day, a live concert featuring stars Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill as hosts.

Here's Matt Smith talking about "A Christmas Carol."

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