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The Christmas Invasion
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Series Number: Series 2
Story Number: 167
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Companions: Rose Tyler
Setting: London, Christmas 2006
Writer: Russell T Davies
Director: James Hawes
Producer: Phil Collinson
Broadcast: 25th December 2005
Format: 1 60-minute Episode
Prod. Code: Episode X1
Previous Story: Children in Need Special
Following Story: New Earth
"Something's coming!"
―The Doctor



While Rose, Jackie, and Mickey try to help the Doctor as he suffers the instabilities of post-regenerative shock, the Earth comes under attack by a sinister race known as the Sycorax.


It is Christmas Eve on Earth, as Jackie prepares presents and Mickey works in the garage, both of them hear the distinctive sound of the TARDIS' engines. Rushing out into the street of the Powell Estate, they see the TARDIS blink into existence above them, ricochet off a few buildings and a post van, then come to a crashing halt. A strange man stumbles out of the police box doors, greets them by name and wishes them a merry Christmas before collapsing. Rose follows and, to Jackie and Mickey's questions, identifies the stranger as the Doctor.

They bring the Doctor to Jackie's flat and dress him in pajamas belonging to Howard, Jackie's current beau, who has the habit of keeping pieces of fruit in his pocket for snacks. While Rose discusses the Doctor's change of appearance with Jackie, they do not see a wisp of vortex energy emerging from the Doctor's mouth, which then floats into space. On television, Prime Minister Harriet Jones and project director Daniel Llewellyn give a press conference about the Guinevere One space probe, which is about to land on Mars. In space, however, the probe is swallowed up by an island-like spaceship.

That evening, Rose and Mickey go Christmas shopping, but are attacked by a group of masked Santas armed with lethal musical instruments. Managing to escape when the tuba mortar brings a giant Christmas tree down on the Santas, Rose realises that the Santas must be after the Doctor. She and Mickey rush home. When they reach the flat, Rose notices an unfamiliar Christmas tree in the sitting room, which Jackie says was delivered to the door. As they realise that none of them purchased the tree, it comes to life, whirling around with razor-sharp branches.

The three retreat to the bedroom, the "Christmas tree" in hot pursuit. Rose places the sonic screwdriver in the still-comatose Doctor's hand and asks him to help her. Reacting instinctively, the Doctor rises as the tree bursts through the door and disintegrates the tree with the screwdriver. He then strides outside the flat to see who was remotely controlling the tree. From ground level, the Santas stare up at the Doctor, but transmat away when the Doctor points the sonic screwdriver at them. The Doctor calls them "pilot fish" and collapses in pain, saying that Rose woke him up too soon: he is still regenerating. The energy leaking from him has attracted attention, and if the "pilot fish" could trace it, then something bigger is coming. He then loses consciousness again.

PM Harriet Jones during the Sycorax crisis.

The first signal from Guinevere One arrives: a distinctly alien face, which is soon broadcast all over the world. Llewellyn is escorted by Major Blake to the Tower of London, which houses a facility run by the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. There, he meets the Prime Minister and her aide, Alex, who tell him that the cover story is that a student in a mask hacked into the television signal. Llewellyn is shaken to realize that extraterrestrial life does exist, and that both the British government and the United Nations are aware of this. A technician, Sally Jacobs, explains that the signal did not come from Mars but 5000 miles above the planet's surface, which means that there is a ship, and it is moving rapidly towards Earth.

As Rose and Mickey use his laptop to monitor UNIT's readings, the aliens send another signal. The aliens speak in their own language, but Rose does not understand it. Normally, the TARDIS would translate it for her, but it seems that with the Doctor unconscious, that function is not working.

At UNIT, Blake orders the use of translation software. With no sign of the Doctor, Jones asks Blake about "Torchwood". She knows that she is not supposed to know about them — not even the United Nations knows — but she wants them to be ready.

The software rather imprecisely translates the message. The aliens are the Sycorax, and they are claiming the planet as their own, demanding surrender or "they" will die. Their word for "human" also appears to be similar to that of "cattle", temporarily baffling UNIT. Jones declines to surrender, warning the Sycorax that the planet is armed. As dawn rises over London, the Sycorax respond. With a wave of the leader's hand, blue energy sweeps over a third of the world's population, mesmerising them. The mind-controlled people, Sally Jacobs amongst them, climb to the highest spots they can find (primarily the roofs of buildings), and stand at the edge, poised to jump.

Checking the UNIT staff's medical records, Llewellyn discovers that all the affected people have A+ blood. The Sycorax found the sample of A+ blood that was sent with other materials on Guinevere One to identify the human race in case of alien contact, and are somehow using that as a control mechanism. Desperate now, Jones gives an emergency broadcast on television, pleading for the Doctor's help if he is out there. She also informs the public that the Queen's Christmas speech has been cancelled because the Royal Family are "on the roof".

Just then, the shockwave of the Sycorax ship entering the atmosphere shatters windows all over the city; the gigantic craft takes position above the centre of London as the frightened population watch. Rose, driven to despair by the Doctor's comatose state and not knowing what else to do, asks Mickey and Jackie to help move the Doctor to the safety of the TARDIS. Jackie gathers food and other supplies, including a thermos flask of tea.

The Sycorax transmat Jones, Alex, Blake and Llewellyn up to their ship. The Sycorax leader removes his helmet, revealing a skinless face surrounded by a mantle of bone. His hand hovering over a large glowing button, he demands immediate surrender, or he will order the controlled humans to jump. Llewellyn tries to reason with the Sycorax, but is reduced to a pile of bones by the leader's energy whip, as is Blake when he protests. Half of the world will be sold into slavery or a third will die; it is Jones's choice.

As Rose and Mickey move the Doctor into the console room, Jackie goes back to get more supplies. Rose, having apparently given up, broods by the console as Mickey tries to use the TARDIS scanner to tune into what is happening; but the time machine's advanced technology is detected by the Sycorax. Outside, Jackie watches helplessly as the TARDIS is transmatted up. Not realising that they are aboard the Sycorax ship, Rose steps out of the TARDIS, and screams when she sees the aliens. Mickey rushes out after her, dropping the flask of tea, which spills and starts dripping through the grilles at the base of the console next to the Doctor's unconscious form. He breathes in the fumes created as the tea sparks against various components.

Rose tries to bluff the Sycorax by quoting various things and races she has encountered on her travels, commanding them to leave, but is answered with laughter. The Sycorax leader taunts her attempts to pass off second-hand knowledge as authority, but as he gloats, his alien words start turning into English. Rose realises that the TARDIS translation is working again, and as the Doctor must be conscious for it to be active, that can mean only one thing: the Doctor is awake. On cue, the doors of the police box open and the Doctor stands there, smiling as he says, "Did you miss me?"

Easily deactivating the Sycorax leader's energy whip and breaking his staff, the Doctor bluntly tells the alien to wait while he gets more important things out of the way; namely, getting reacquainted with his friends. Disappointed at not being "ginger" (red haired), and somewhat annoyed at Rose's speed in giving up on him, he tells them that all he needed was a "good cup of tea; a superheated infusion of radical (chemistry) free radicals and tannin. Just the thing for healing the synapses." As the Sycorax leader demands to know who he is, the Doctor blithely strides across the ship's floor, nattering on cheerfully and still working out what his personality is like in this new incarnation. He walks up to the glowing button, discovers that it is powered by blood, and quickly deduces about the blood control. The Doctor tells the leader that in his unstable state, when he sees a large glowing button he just cannot help himself — and to everyone's shock, pushes it.

However, instead of sending the possessed crowds on Earth to their deaths, it simply releases them from the Sycorax control. The Doctor explains that blood control is like hypnosis: you cannot hypnotise a person to death as the survival instinct is too strong. The Sycorax were bluffing, and the Doctor merely called them on it. The leader says that they can still conquer Earth with an armada, but the Doctor demands that the humans be left alone (quoting part of "The Circle Of Life" from The Lion King in the process), challenging the leader to single combat for the planet.

The swordfight goes from inside the ship to its exterior, but the Doctor is clearly disadvantaged, and in the midst of it, the leader cuts the Doctor's hand off. However, the Doctor is still in the first 15 hours of his regeneration cycle, and regrows his hand, which allows him to gain an advantage over the Sycorax leader and triumph. Holding the leader at sword point at the ship's edge, the Doctor extracts an oath from the leader to leave the planet and never return, in return for the Doctor sparing his life. As the Doctor walks back, celebrating his victory with Rose, the leader tries a final attack whilst the Doctor's back is turned, but the Doctor calmly bounces a satsuma he finds in Howard's dressing gown off a control button, opening a section of the ship's wing beneath the leader, sending the alien plunging to his death. The new Doctor is not a man willing to grant second chances.

The Doctor sends the other Sycorax on their way with a reminder that the planet Earth is defended. Transmatted back to London, Jones asks if there are more aliens out there and the Doctor notes that there are thousands; the human race is being noticed more and more. As Jones ponders this, visibly troubled, Alex receives a telephone call and quietly informs Jones that Torchwood is ready. Jones seems reluctant, but nevertheless gives the order to fire. Five green beams converge as one over London, and the resulting energy burst destroys the Sycorax ship as it heads into space.

The Doctor glares at Jones, furious, but she tries to justify the use of the weapon (engineered from a crashed spaceship ten years previously) as defending the planet, especially since the Doctor cannot be there all the time. The Doctor bitterly says he should have warned the Sycorax to run as the real monsters, the humans, are coming. When Jones asks if she should consider the Doctor another alien enemy, the Doctor warns her that he can bring down her government with just six words. He whispers them in Alex's ear: "Don't you think she looks tired?"

Jackie, Mickey and Rose serve Christmas dinner in the flat. The Doctor looks through the TARDIS wardrobe, finally settling on a brown pinstripe suit and a long brown coat. He joins the others for dinner, and they watch Harriet Jones on the television, fending off rumours about her ill-health and a pending vote of no confidence in the House of Commons. Outside, what looks like snow is falling over London, accompanied by shooting stars, but the Doctor points out that it is, in fact, ash — the remains of the Sycorax spaceship. It is a new start for Earth, however; with so many people seeing the Sycorax ship, there is no covering up the existence of aliens this time.

But there are new worlds to see and explore. With a now-trusting Rose by his side and eager to continue their travels, the Doctor looks up into the sky to choose a star for their next destination, assuring her that it will be, in the words of his previous incarnation, "fantastic".



to be added




  • The Doctor can determine human blood type by taste.

Foods and beverages

  • The chemical components in tea can complete the healing of brain synapses and neurons recovering from the regeneration process.
  • The Doctor uses a satsuma to defeat the Sycorax.


  • Guinevere One was en route to Mars.

Races and species

  • Richard says "Martians look completely different", a possible reference to Ice Warriors.

Time Lords

  • The Time Lord regeneration process takes up to fifteen hours to complete. During this time, a Time Lord can regrow severed appendages.

Torchwood Institute


Story Notes

  • Before this episode was broadcast, a fictional tie-in website for the Guinevere One project was created and launched by the BBC. The site includes an introduction by Harriet Jones and an interview with the project director, Professor Daniel Llewellyn. The site claims that the probe was developed by the British Rocket Group. The organisation's logo partially appears in this episode, in the televised press conference with Professor Llewellyn. The name of the organisation was first mentioned in Remembrance of the Daleks and is a reference to the British Experimental Rocket Group from the Quatermass science fiction serials of the 1950s. David Tennant previously starred in the 2005 BBC remake of The Quatermass Experiment as Doctor Gordon Briscoe.
  • Just before the opening credits sequence, Jackie says the line "Doctor? Doctor who?", continuing a long-running in-joke.
  • The Tenth Doctor speaks with an accent similar to Rose's but unlike the Ninth Doctor's Northern one. In a radio interview broadcast on 23 December 2005, Tennant explained that a line of dialogue had been scripted for this episode which explained that the newly regenerated Doctor had imprinted on Rose's accent, "like a chick hatching from an egg", but the line was deleted from the final episode.
  • The first shot in this episode, in which the Earth and its [moon appear, is reused footage and was originally the opening shot from DW: Rose.
  • According to press reports released before this episode was broadcast, producer Russell T Davies stated that he believed Christmas specials should include traditional Christmas items such as sleigh bells, snow, reindeer, and Santa.
  • The song being played by the Santa Claus band which attacks Rose and Mickey is "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." This song is traditionally associated with the story, A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens, whom the Doctor and Rose met in The Unquiet Dead. The song shares its melody with the "Venusian Lullaby" the Third Doctor sang in DW: The Dæmons and The Curse of Peladon. The carol can be heard again in DW: The Next Doctor.
  • Another song featured in this episode is "Song for Ten", an original composition by Murray Gold sung by Tim Phillips. The next two Christmas specials included an original song on the soundtrack. The Phillips version of the song was very brief, and when the time came to compile a soundtrack album, new lyrics were written for the song (reflecting the events of Doomsday) and it was recorded by Neil Hannon. "Song for Ten" is the first original song commissioned for Doctor Who since "The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon" appeared in the 1966 story, DW: The Gunfighters.
  • David Walliams and Bill Nighy were considered for the role of the Tenth Doctor.
  • The original choice for the role of the Tenth Doctor was an unknown (and unnamed by the BBC) English actor who spoke in cockney accent, he didn't get the role because he moved with his family to Australia.
  • One of the outfits considered by the Doctor in the wardrobe is the costume worn by David Tennant in his Casanova role.
  • When the Doctor is leaving the wardrobe near the end of the episode, you can see a long coat and long (perhaps 6 feet long?) yellow and red scarf hanging from one of the racks to the left of the Doctor, possibly Tom Baker's infamous scarf?
  • The laser weapon used to destroy the Sycorax Spaceship was similar to the one used by the Death Star in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.


  • 9.84 million[1]


  • Some early reports suggested that the enemy would be the Cybermen. Tabloid newspaper The Sun reported that Shaun Dingwall would return as Rose's father, Pete Tyler, and that this episode would be set on an alternate Earth. However, all of these claims were proven to be incorrect when the episode was broadcast, and appear to refer to Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel. Coincidentally, the Cybermen were later announced as the enemies in the later 2008 Christmas special.
  • After the announcement that Christopher Eccleston would leave after the first series, there were erroneous reports that the regeneration was to take place during the Christmas special, not during The Parting of the Ways. This may have been an intentional red herring in order to maintain at least some element of surprise for the series finale given that the media had blown Russell T Davies' plan for a surprise regeneration.


Filming Locations

  • Tredegar House, Newport
  • Brandon Estate, Kennington, London (The Powell Estate)
  • Palace of Westminster, Westminster, London
  • Tower of London, London
  • Landmark Place, Churchill Way, Cardiff
  • Hayes Island, Cardiff
  • Clearwell Caves - Ancient Iron Mines, Coleford, Gloucestershire
  • Barry Docks, Barry Island, Cardiff
  • NCP Tredegar Street (also known as St Davids 2), Cardiff, Wales
  • Wallis House, Great West Road, Brentford
  • Trafalgar Square, London
  • 30 St Mary Axe (also known as "The Gherkin"), London
  • Baltic House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff
  • Wharton Street, Cardiff
  • Broadstairs Road, Leckwith, Cardiff
  • Brian Cox Motor Engineering, Bromley Road, Ellwood (Clancy's garage where Mickey is working)
  • Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
  • Unit Q2, Imperial Park, Imperial Way, Newport
  • HTV Wales Studios, Culvershouse Cross, Cardiff
  • BBC Kendal Avenue, Kendal Avenue, Acton
  • BBC Broadcasting House (C2 Studio), Llantrisant Road, Llandaff, Cardiff

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • Early in this episode, a Routemaster bus briefly appears. However, Routemasters were actually removed from active service on 9 December 2005. It could have been a heritage service, and maybe routemasters being replaced weren't the main concern in this time-frame, especially when Earth has just had to cover up events such as the Slitheen encounter.
  • It is left unexplained why Britain's space program has apparently reverted to celebrating unmanned probes arriving at Mars when The Ambassadors of Death established that by this time Britain had already sent manned missions to Mars. There is actually a real-world example of such reversion occurring: America's NASA program sent manned missions to the Moon in the 1960s and 70s yet by the 2000s had reverted to again sending unmanned probes to the moon. The secrecy involving restricting public knowledge of alien life (depicted in this episode and many others pre-The Stolen Earth) might also imply that those earlier missions may not have been public knowledge.
  • After finally recovering, one of the first things the Doctor does is ask Rose about his appearance, despite already having done so in the Children in Need Special. Considering the Doctor's imbalance after his regeneration, he might have forgotten the earlier discussion. Also, she never answered him in the special. The newly regenerated Doctor has asked about his appearances or checked it out in a mirror before asking anything else. Watch for examples Spearhead from Space and Robot (TV story)
  • After indicating to Rose how important Harriet Jones becomes to Britain and planet earth (DW: World War Three), here he proceeds to sabotage her career. What about his many spiels about his being forbidden to change history? Some events can be changed, as established in The Fires of Pompeii. This must be one of them. In any case, Harriet Jones was to be vital to the world in The Stolen Earth. In that story, her death was not witnessed by the audience or any of the characters. It remains possible then, that she survived and did eventually serve the two more terms and usher in Britain's Golden Age, as predicted by the Ninth Doctor. Alternatively, it was the Doctor deposing Harriet that led to the Master to be elected in her place.
  • When the Doctor is choosing his new outfit, you can see the TARDIS doors behind a rack of clothes, although this is meant to be further into the TARDIS. (It is unknown how far into the TARDIS this room is located. Previous wardrobe rooms have been a little ways from the control room, but the TARDIS interior is easily reconfigured.)


  • The Doctor's speech to PM Harriet Jones about how "Earth is drawing attention to itself" recalls a similar statement made by the Brigadier in DW: Spearhead from Space. Jones's destruction of the Sycorax ship and the Doctor's angry reaction are similar to the conclusion of DW: Doctor Who and the Silurians, in which the Brigadier uses explosives to seal off the Silurian hibernation chambers even as the Doctor departs to begin peace negotiations.
  • United Kingdom had manned missions to Mars previously featured in DW: The Ambassadors of Death and NA: The Dying Days.
  • This episode features Penelope Wilton as PM Harriet Jones. Wilton previously guest-starred as Harriet Jones in the Ninth Doctor episodes DW: Aliens of London and World War Three.
  • This story features David Tennant in his first full episode as the Doctor. He previously made a brief appearance at the end of DW: The Parting of the Ways and in a 7-minute "mini-episode" for Children in Need (which was actually filmed at some point after the Christmas special).
  • This is the first Doctor Who episode clearly labelled as a Christmas special. However, the seventh episode of DW: The Daleks' Master Plan, titled "The Feast of Steven", was also written as a Christmas episode and was first broadcast on 25 December 1965. In addition, the 2005 episode DW: The Unquiet Dead was set at Christmastime, although it was not broadcast at that time of year.
  • Martians have previously landed in London in DW: The Dying Days. The Ice Warriors were also said to come from Mars.
  • The Robotic Santas reappear in DW: The Runaway Bride.
  • The Doctor regrows his severed hand, establishing a notable new twist to the mechanics of regeneration and, in part, suggesting a rationale for Romana II's ability to change her appearance several times during regeneration in DW: Destiny of the Daleks. The Doctor's severed hand, last seen falling to earth in this episode, Jack Harkness retrieved the Doctor's hand seen in TW: Everything Changes and stated in Utopia; the Doctor would get it back much later in DW: Last of the Time Lords and then after Donna touched the hand, it would become the Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor. When it went to the other universe, it would stay with Rose Tyler. (DW: Journey's End)
  • In the scene inside the TARDIS's wardrobe room near the end of the episode, various articles of clothing worn in earlier episodes are visible, including one of Steven Taylor's shirts (worn in DW: The Celestial Toymaker) What may be the Sixth Doctor's Waistcoat from The Two Doctors, The Second Doctor's Trousers, and the Fifth Doctor's panama hat, as well as what appears to be the Fourth Doctor-like costume that the Seventh Doctor wore in DW: Time and the Rani.
  • The ramifications of the destruction of the Sycorax vessel, including the impact on a group of female (and presumably related) Sycorax, is explored in DWM: The Widow's Curse.
  • This is one of few instances in which the TARDIS isn't stationary as it materializes, due to the Doctor speeding it up to breakneck speeds in the Time Vortex (DW: Children in Need Special) ; in most other episodes, the TARDIS stays in one spot as it de- and rematerializes. A similar "materialization in motion" occurs on two occasions during the next Christmas special, DW: The Runaway Bride.
  • Jones' statement regarding the Doctor not always being available to help the planet touches on a theme that is revisited in TW: Children of Earth: Day Five.
  • Harriet Jones says the Doctor will not turn up when he is most needed. This happens in DW: The Stolen Earth.
  • When the Doctor collapses the first time and Mickey questions who he is, the Doctor's position mirrors the position of the Fifth Doctor in DW: The Caves of Androzani.
  • In a scene filmed for the episode, but deleted before broadcast (though included on the DVD), the Doctor attempts to utter his predecessor's catchphrase "Fantastic!" but due to his "new teeth" (ref. his comments at the end of The Parting of the Ways) finds it initially impossible to do so. This scene was intended to set up the final scene of the episode in which the new Doctor finally utters the word "Fantastic!"
  • When The Doctor Regenerates into the Eleventh Doctor he complains again when he notices that he's "Still not ginger" as he does in this story when he notes he wanted to be ginger he's never been ginger.
  • A panoramic shot of London reveals construction girders around the Clock Tower of Big Ben indicating that repair work is still being done following its collision with a spaceship in DW: Aliens of London.


DVD and Other Releases

Series 2 Volume 1: The Christmas Invasion - New Earth DVD Cover
  • A behind-the-scenes preview of this episode was released with the series 1 DVD boxset.
  • This was released on a vanilla DVD along side New Earth
  • It was also released as part of the Series 2 DVD Boxset
  • This was also released with Issue 7 of the Doctor Who DVD Files.

See also

External Links

  • BBC - Doctor Who - The Christmas Invasion - Episode Guide
  • Official BBC Commentary of The Christmas Invasion
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - The Christmas Invasion
  • The Whoniverse - The Discontinuity Guide to: The Christmas Invasion
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): The Christmas Invasion
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - The Christmas Invasion
  • Guinevere One
  • Guest appearances on "Doctor Who" (2005) at IMDB


  1. Outpost Gallifrey - Christmas Invasion ratings, AI - January 11, 2006 via Internet Archive: Wayback Machine accessed 23rd December 2009
Series 2
Mini-episode: Children in Need Special  • Christmas Special: The Christmas Invasion

New Earth  • Tooth and Claw  • School Reunion  • The Girl in the Fireplace  • Rise of the Cybermen  • The Age of Steel  • The Idiot's Lantern  • The Impossible Planet  • The Satan Pit  • Love & Monsters  • Fear Her  • Army of Ghosts  • Doomsday

This article uses material from the "The Christmas Invasion" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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