Moments in Time: The Feast of StevenBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 25 December 2013 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Moments in TimeThe first in a new series of features taking a look at special moments throughout the fifty years of Doctor Who.

Tonight we will settle down at 7:30pm to watch the ninth in what has now firmly been established as a British tradition - Doctor Who on Christmas Day. It is now almost inconceivable that the series should not take pride of place in the festive television schedule, but back in the 20th Century this was to occur only once in Doctor Who's first 26 years.

By December 1965, viewers were following the latest adventure with the Doctor and his companion Steven; the previous weeks had seen the pair once again embroiled in Dalek intrigues, losing two friends in Katarina and Bret Vyon in the process, but then gaining a new in Sara Kingdom. The TARDIS travellers have narrowly escaped from the clutches of the Daleks and their ally Mavic Chen on Kembel, and find themselves arriving a planet with a poisonous atmosphere ...

Conceived as a light diversion to the epic events surrounding it, the Christmas Day episode, The Feast of Steven stepped away from the main plot with the Daleks, instead seeing the Doctor, Steven and Sara dealing with local police station in smoggy Liverpool (originally planned as a cameo for another popular 1960s show Z-Cars), then later arriving in 1920s Hollywood and becoming involved in the ensuing madcap antics alongside "Keystone Cops", "Charlie Chaplin" and Arabian movie-makers. However, we select our first memorable Moment in Time from the closing moments of the episode where the show breaks "the fourth wall" for the only time in the show's history as the TARDIS crew toast Christmas Day:

Doctor: Here we are.
Steven: What's this?
Doctor: Well, we so rarely get a chance to celebrate. But this time we must.
Sara: Celebrate?
Doctor: Yes. It's Christmas. Don't you remember? The police station. Christmas.
Steven: So it was, yes.
Doctor: Here's a toast. A Happy Christmas to all of us.
Sara: Oh.
Steven: Same to you, Doctor, Sara.
Doctor: Incidentally, a happy Christmas, to all of you at home!

The episode itself was never considered for international viewing (with The Daleks' Master Plan marketed as an eleven parter), and BBC records indicated that as such it was never tele-recorded - meaning that this episode also has the unfortunate distinction of being the only one that has no possibility of being recovered. Fortunately, the soundtrack does exist, so we are still able to at least enjoy the sound of that first Christmas adventure ...

Plus, as a bonus reconstruction by the production team of An Adventure in Space and Time, here is a tribute to our chosen scene re-enacted by David Bradley: