Something happens in this year's Doctor Who Christmas special that has never happened before, promises executive producer Steven Moffat. On Peter Capaldi's (and the Twelfth Doctor's) first Christmas special we get to meet Santa in what might be the most Christmassy episode ever as Santa joins the Doctor and Clara to fight off terrifying creatures at an arctic base at the North Pole. "Last Christmas" which airs Christmas Day, Dec. 25, at 9 p.m. ET on BBC America.
Several months have passed since the Doctor and Clara parted ways in the dark finale, said Moffat during a conference call with journalists. “Unless I'm lying,” joked Moffat regarding how much time passes between the finale and the Christmas special.
“I do think a Christmas special should be Christmassy. I think there’s no point in trying to pretend an ordinary episode would pass muster on Christmas Day. It wouldn’t,” he said.
Regarding "Last Christmas," we know that Clara and the Doctor once again join forces, despite saying goodbye in the season finale. We also know that there will be monsters, Santa, elves and at least one reindeer as Santa rides to the Doctor's rescue ... literally. Actor Nick Frost plays Santa, and Dan Starkey (who also plays Strax on the series) and Nathan McMullen guest-star as elves. And Michael Troughton, the son of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, guest-stars.
So why did it take so long for Santa to pop up on Doctor Who? “The simple dull answer is that it took me this long to think of it. And so, no big deal. I think it’s oh so true that now that this is Doctor Who’s 10th year at the heart of the Christmas schedule, he’s now earned the right to go toe to toe with Santa, you know? It feels about right,” said Moffat.
“It’s one of those ideas that when you have it ... for goodness' sake, why has it not happened before now? Why haven’t we seen them in a buddy movie together before now? They belong together. And it’s something in the hearts, I’m sure, of the younger part of our audience, Doctor Who and Santa Claus live -- and Robin Hood -- all very much live in the same place,” he said.
“So it’s irresistible once you’ve thought of it. And also because of the format of the show we can contrive anything to happen. So here we are,” said Moffat.
As far as the Robin Hood and Santa of it all, the Doctor “has a different relationship with Santa Claus, let’s be clear. In a line cut from the Robin Hood episode which I rather regret now, he -- the Doctor -- while dismissing the existence of Robin Hood absolutely asserts that Santa is real,” he said.
“We know the Doctor has a sort of conviction about Santa. He’s mentioned him several times. So it’s a different thing. His conflict with Robin Hood was more externalizing his post-Trenzalore angst about whether he really counts as a hero or not. So some of the transaction is, and let’s be honest, [the] Doctor doesn’t really like it, does he, when a dashing handsome young man turns up. And the girl at his side is a bit more impressed with the new hero than the old one. He didn’t like it when Captain Jack turned up. He didn’t like it when Robin Hood turned up. What middle-aged man wants that kind of competition?” said Moffat.
Regarding "Last Christmas,” it will have a decidedly lighter tone than the finale. “It’s Doctor Who storytelling at its most primal. If you do something incredibly dark where another show would just have another episode of sad music and rain, you just spin it right around and do something outrageous.
“That’s the show biz of Doctor Who somehow .... When Santa walks onto the TARDIS it’s kind of -- I like that sort of moment, because it feels like, did you forget you were watching Doctor Who? You know, it’s not really Chekhov. We are having fun here,” he said.
"So don’t worry, Santa will sort everything. That makes it Doctor Who again. Up until that point, just as you’re bottoming out and thinking this is as dark as it gets. Then all your childhood dreams come true and Father Christmas enters the TARDIS.”
Here's a look at "Last Christmas":