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224 – "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe"
Doctor Who episode
Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor)
Writer Steven Moffat
Director Farren Blackburn
Series Specials (2011)
Length 60 min
Originally broadcast 25 December 2011
← Preceded by Followed by →
"The Wedding of River Song" Series 7
"The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, in which the Doctor visits Earth and an alien forest. The episode was shown in the United Kingdom on Christmas Day on BBC One, BBC America in the United States Space in Canada, and on ABC1 in Australia. It is the seventh Christmas special since the show's revival in 2005.
The episode features Claire Skinner, Bill Bailey, Arabella Weir and Alexander Armstrong. A sneak preview was aired on 18 November 2011 for Children in Need.
2.1 Cast notes
4 External links
On 6 December, a prequel to the episode was released online. The Doctor is seen on a spaceship holding a red button which, when he lets go, will cause the space ship to explode. While holding the button, he has phoned the TARDIS to speak to Amy Pond asking her to rescue him, although he does not have his co-ordinates. Amy cannot fly the TARDIS, and she is not on the TARDIS. The Doctor wishes Amy a Merry Christmas before letting go of the button, and the spaceship explodes.
During the Christmas season of 1938, the Doctor finds himself on a damaged alien spacecraft in Earth's orbit. He escapes the exploding ship and the fall to Earth by rapidly donning an impact space suit, though in his haste, the helmet is put on backwards. On crashing to Earth, he is found by Madge Arwell, wife of Reg and mother of two children, Lily and Cyril. She helps the Doctor, stuck and unable to see while in the impact suit, to his TARDIS, and the Doctor promises to repay her for her kindness.
Three years later, during World War II, Reg is reported killed in action when the Lancaster Bomber he was piloting disappeared over the English Channel. Madge is told this via telegraph just before Christmas, but decides not to tell her children, hoping to keep their spirits up through the holiday. Madge and the children evacuate London to a relative's house in Dorset, where they are greeted by the Doctor, calling himself "the Caretaker"; Madge does not recognise him from their previous encounter.
The Doctor has prepared the house specially for the children and the holiday; though the children are pleased, Madge privately explains about Reg's death to the Doctor and insists he not overindulge the children. During the first night, Cyril is lured into opening a large glowing present under the Christmas tree, revealing a time portal to a snow-covered forest. The Doctor shortly discovers Cyril's absence and follows him with Lily; the two eventually track Cyril down to a strange lighthouse-like structure. Madge, finding her children missing, soon follows them into the forest, but is met by three miners in space suits from the planet Androzani Major.
At the lighthouse, Cyril is met by a humanoid creature made of wood; it places a simple band of metal around his head like a crown. Lily and the Doctor arrive, followed by another wood creature, but find that they have rejected Cyril as he is "weak", as is the Doctor. The Doctor concludes that the life forces of the trees in the forest are trying to escape through a living creature, the crown acting as an interface. Meanwhile, Madge, holding the miners at gunpoint, is taken back to their excavation walker and told that the forest of the planet they are on is scheduled to be melted by acid rain within minutes, killing anything within it. The miners are teleported away safely before the rain starts after helping Madge to locate where her children are.
Madge, using the little knowledge she knows of flying a plane from Reg, directs the walker to the lighthouse and safely reunites with her children as the acid rain starts. The wood creatures identify her as "strong", and the Doctor realises they consider her the "mothership", able to carry the life force safely. Donning the band, Madge absorbs the life force of the forest, allowing her to direct the top of the lighthouse as an escape pod away from the acid rain and into the time vortex. To get them home, the Doctor directs her to think of memories of home, allowing Madge to revisit her fond memories of Reg, shown on screens within the pod. She realises that she will have to recall the moment of Reg's death, but the Doctor forces her to continue to do so; Lily and Cyril come to learn the truth as they witness his last moments aboard the Lancaster bomber.
Soon, the escape pod safely leaves the time vortex, landing just outside the house in Dorset, and the life force of the forest have converted themselves to ethereal beings within the time vortex. The Doctor steps outside while Madge starts to explain Reg's death to Lily and Cyril, but he returns to interrupt her and to tell her to come outside. There stands Reg and his Lancaster; he had followed the bright light of the escape pod into the time vortex and came out safely along with the pod at Dorset. The family has a tearful reunion as the Doctor watches.
As Madge and her family turns to celebrate Christmas, the Doctor attempts to slip away, but Madge catches him, and as she sees the TARDIS realises that he is the man in the space suit from three years back. She insists on him staying for Christmas dinner, but when the Doctor reveals he has other friends out there that believe he is dead, Madge convinces him to go to see them at Christmas. The Doctor offers Madge his help if she ever needs it again.
Later, the Doctor arrives outside Amy and Rory's home, two years since he left them there. Amy pretends to be angry at him for leaving them the way he did, but explains that River Song told them about his faked death, and Rory reveals that they have been setting a place for him at their Christmas dinner table every year. Having remarked earlier in the episode how "humany-wumany" it is to cry because of happiness, the Doctor finds himself shedding a tear of happiness in reaction to Rory's remark, and grins in wonder, and then steps inside to join them for dinner.
The three tree harvesters are from Androzani Major in the year 5345, a planet already featured in the serial The Caves of Androzani.
The Doctor also mentions the Forest of Cheem, which appeared in the Ninth Doctor episode The End of the World. He also mentioned that one of them fancied him, which was Jabe Ceth Ceth Jafe, who sacrificed her life for him.
Amy Pond tells the Doctor that two years have passed since Lake Silencio ("The Impossible Astronaut"/"The Wedding of River Song").
The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre's preserved Lancaster bomber Just Jane, used in the programme
The BBC announced in September 2011 that production had started for the special and filming was due to be complete by mid October 2011. However, filming was disrupted on 30 September due to a 24-hour protest at BBC Wales because of compulsory redundancies. The story is partly inspired by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (from The Chronicles of Narnia) by C. S. Lewis. C. S. Lewis died the day before the very first episode of classic Doctor Who aired. Filming of some scenes involving Alexander Armstrong took place in and around the Lancaster bomber 'Just Jane' at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre on 3 October 2011. External footage of the lighthouse building took place in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
 Cast notes
Alexander Armstrong previously appeared in Doctor Who episodes "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" as the voice of Mr Smith, an alien computer, his character from The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Arabella Weir previously appeared as an alternate incarnation of the Third Doctor in the Doctor Who Unbound audio drama Exile.
Claire Skinner is placed in the opening titles instead of Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, whose appearance in the episode was not reported before broadcast. Gillan and Darvill are, however, credited above Skinner in the episode's end credits.
^ Golder, Dave (21 September 2011). "UPDATE: Doctor Who Christmas Special Director Revealed". SFX. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
^ "Steven Moffat on the New Exec". BBC. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
^ Seale, Jack (29 November 2011). "Christmas TV: scheduling confirmed for Doctor Who, Strictly and Downton". Radio Times. Immediate Media. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
^ "Doctor Who: Christmas Day at 7:00pm". BBC. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
^ "Doctor Who Christmas Special" (Press release). BBC America. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
^ "Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe - December 25th at 9pm ET!". Space. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
^ Golder, Dave (27 October 2011). "Doctor Who Christmas Special Clip During Children in Need". SFX. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
^ "Adventure Calendar 2011". BBC. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
^ "The Prequel to The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe" (Video). BBC. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
^ "Christmas Special: The Stars! The Story!". BBC. 20 September 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
^ Jeffery, Morgan (30 September 2011). "'Doctor Who' Christmas special filming disrupted by BBC Wales strike". Digital Spy. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
^ "Doctor Who Christmas special cast to include Bill Bailey and Claire Skinner". Metro. 21 September 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
^ "Doctor Who Christmas Special role for Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre". Skegness Standard. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
^ who "Look what's landed for Dr Who Xmas special!". The Forester. 22 September 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
^ "Doctor Who Unbound — Exile". Big Finish. Retrieved 25 October 2011.