Twice Upon a Time

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    Craig @craig

    Twice Upon a Time

    It’s that time of year again, and a Merry Christmas to one and all. And at the end of this year comes the end of an era. Not only is this Peter Capaldi’s last outing as the Doctor after three series (well, his last regular outing – I bet he’ll be back at some point), it’s also the end of Steven Moffat’s reign as showrunner.

    Moffat’s been on the show since 2009 and has been at the helm through six series, seven Christmas specials and the small matter of the fiftieth anniversary. Now, that’s one man who’ll deservedly be putting his feet up this Christmas.

    This is a great story for both Capaldi and Moffat to take their respective bows. As we saw at the end of ‘The Doctor Falls’, Capaldi’s twelfth Doctor has bumped into the first Doctor, played with much joy by David Bradley, and both are close to regeneration – for the back story to the first Doctor’s current situation, I hope you checked out our re-watch of ‘The Tenth Planet’. Twelve must face his past, literally, to decide his future.

    A British army captain (a wonderful Mark Gatiss) destined to die in the First World War ends up playing his part in the two Doctors’ story. In addition, Pearl Mackie is back as Bill, and the first Doctor is accompanied by Ben and Polly, played by Jared Garfield and Lily Travers.

    This really is a fantastic finalé. Rachel Talalay has, once again, done a brilliant directing job. And, of course, as it’s the end of one era we start a new one, and get our first glimpse of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor.

    Once again, thank you all for your contributions to the site during the year. It’s been great to hear old voices and new. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, or whatever winter solstice-type festival you may celebrate, and a very happy, female Doctor-filled, New Year. The future is now.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Merry meet, one and all!

    Lovely way to bow out, a character piece in which the First and Twelfth Doctors get some cantankerous banter in, and Peter Capaldi sings his swan song beautifully at the end.

    Moffat has always been a bit marmite, hasn’t he, but he’s given us a wild gallop of good years through the universe and, I will miss his particular love of time paradoxes and loops, and the criss-crossing of paths.

    Delighted to see Bill again, and I’m sure Clara fans felt the same. The one thing I missed was a mention of River, when the Doctor was advising his new incarnation never to tell his name to anyone. I felt her presence very much then, however, and I think we were meant to – meaning no one could ever replace her, the woman the Doctor did tell his name to.

    I do hope Jodie Whittaker isn’t going to be without the TARDIS for long!

    Look forward to the gathering of the tribes to cogitate below.

    Midwinter salutations to you all x J-fish.

    Devilishrobby @devilishrobby

    Well what can I say what a marvellous send off for Peter I couldn’t but help think that the tessera (well that’s what I think I heard their name as) were actually trying to ensure the Doctor’s Regenerated.  It was as expected that the Captain was a Lethbridge-Stewart and Mark Gatiss played him with definite aplomb.

    I thought the use of Bill was nice and actually gave the Doctor a chance a proper chance to say goodbye. Loved the cameo of Mz Coleman as Clara, love the character or hate her Clara was such a big part of the Capaldi  Doctors early life it would have been wrong not to have played the character some kind of nod much like they did with Karen Gillan as Amy for Matt Smith.

    As to the first impressions of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor and they are only initial impressions because of the obviously short screen time is that she could quite possibly make a very good Doctor. My one issue being haven’t we done the Doctor falling from the sky from the TARDIS.

    Overall I enjoyed the episode and long may we all be able to enjoy who.



    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    <p style=”text-align: right;”>@juniperfish- I was right there with you. River was there.</p>

    lisa @lisa

    Did the Tardis just ”spit” out the new Doctor!?

    Felt to me like a little tease at  the  “not my Doctor”  complainers.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Yes, the TARDIS was ringing the Cloister Bell during the Regeneration, and then seemed to not only open the doors, but turn herself so that the Doctor had no choice but to fall out.

    Given the shot of an interior which is seen, as the Doctor is falling, in a mass of flames – it may be that the TARDIS has ejected the Doctor for her own safety.

    I think the Chibnall part of the regeneration scene is a very deliberate shout-out to Moffat’s part of the Tennant/Smith regeneration. New show-runner, new Doctor, new TARDIS interior, new companions – just as with Moffat, this is a completely new era.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Okay. I liked it, on the whole, but it was what you’d call a character piece. The only real villain was the Doctor(s) himself, preferring to die rather than change. The TARDIS delivers him to his earlier self, and the resulting paradox diverts The Captain’s return to his own time zone. The Testimony are simply trying to put things right while doing a bit of historical research.

    I’ve been thinking for a couple of months now that Capaldi’s era would have fitted in far better if Chris Eccleston had agreed to do the Fiftieth and Capaldi had been the ‘final’ Doctor. The Moffat-Smith era felt like a golden age; the Moffat-Capaldi era never quite worked for me. The darkness of his era would have been much more suited to a Doctor coming to the end of his life. As it was, the darkness felt – not fake, but like Moffat had got an idea that he didn’t want to give up, and couldn’t acknowledge that it was now in the wrong place. It’s like those scenes that writers love, and which should be cut because they now don’t fit into the final draft – only applied to an entire era.

    The Moffat-Capaldi era felt like Moffat had decided that he’d ‘done’ comedy, and was now going to have a go at tragedy – only tragedies are ultimately about endings. But having to plonk the wonderful John Hurt into the list of regenerations meant that the post-Smith era was now in the position of a story about beginning again; a new regeneration cycle. It was no longer an ending. It was no longer a tragedy.

    Having placed the Doctor in a new regeneration cycle – which implies more comedy – Moffat gave us a story about self-doubt, death and endings instead. Essentially, a story about a bloke who is handed eternal life, and who decides he’d rather commit suicide. 😉 And in order to persuade him that his new lives aren’t worth living, the poor sod has to undergo every torture the fertile mind of Steven Moffat could devise.

    Anyway, we will see. It may be that the Moffat-Capaldi era is one that improves with time; one of those stories that you only really like on the second reading. Or it may be a marmite era. We’ll see.

    I don’t like marmite, either. 😀

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    I don’t usually cry at TV in general, but my eyes watered at more than one occasion watching that. Capaldi was to me THE Doctor, I wish he’d got a longer run. The regeneration speech epitomised everything I loved about him, so I couldn’t help but tear up at that, and the Christmas Armistice saving the day is enough to make anyone emotional. This was a great send off.


    We only got a glimpse at the end but that cameo from Whittaker was good, if a bit too similar to Smith’s first scene for my liking.


    but it was what you’d call a character piece.

    Why the but? It was delightful variation after last year’s plotting masterclass.

    Nice to see Hartnell, Wills and Craze get proper credits.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Why the but?

    Because Doctor Who is usually more plot-orientated, but this Christmas morning it got out of bed as a character piece.

    Also, because ‘and’ sounded crap.

    Merry Boxing Day. Nice to see you back. 🙂

    winston @winston

    I just watched and as I expected there were tears.(mine) Both Doctors deciding to regenerate, Bill and Nardole were back and Rusty,the good if slightly mad dalek in the tower, all gave the 12th the send off he deserved. He also got his memories of Clara back and that was a great Christmas present.
    It was also a pretty funny episode with lots of nods to the sexism of the 60s and the 1st threatening to spank Bill if she used any more “bad language” was priceless.
    Anyway I hope they replay this on Space this week as I need a rewatch or 2 before I really understand it all including some dialogue I missed. But my first opinion is that it was a fitting ending for this Doctor and one in which he chose what he wanted to do.For a Doctor who struggled for control of his fate and the fate of others it was good that he decided whether he would regenerate or not.He picked the ending to his story. He also got to save both the soldiers for one last act of kindness.Thats a win.
    Right now there is a raging snowstorm and it is -15C so Boxing Day will be a pajama day!!!!. I am not putting one foot outside tomorrow. Merry Boxing Day folks.

    CountScarlioni @countscarlioni

    @juniperfish “character piece.” A nice way to put it.

    Good to see SM audacious to the end: We don’t usually get a story where the focus is on three dead men walking and one dead woman walking. I thought we also got a powerful visit to what have been big SM themes: memories and the meaning of death. The christmas present for the Doctor was to get the memories of Clara back (was I imagining things or did Clara’s theme play very quietly in places before she appeared? I’m off to a cinema screening on Wednesday so I hope the audio track is clearer than on TV). I also thought there were particularly strong echoes of Dark Water and Death in Heaven. 

    Enjoyed the reference relatively early on to Cromer, which I thought immediately made clear–given the Brigadier referred to Cromer in the Three Doctors and Kate Lethbridge-Stewart asked for the Cromer file in the 50th Anniversary show–that the Captain (who I thought was beautifully played by Mark Gatiss) was going to turn out to be a Lethbridge-Stewart.

    @winston I watch via the Space channel as well. The number of ads was shameful!


    FrostFair @frostfair

    Twice Upon a Time was done very well. There was much to get through in an hour and I enjoyed the glimpses of what made Peter Capaldi a great Doctor, from his Glaswegian “are you trying to be funny?” retort to the Captain, to the moving good-bye speech in the Tardis – just beautifully done (and enunciated). The scenes with Bill and Nardole were emotional, the Arvo Part-esque music really helped tug those heart strings too. I like Peter Capaldi’s Doctor best when he was alongside Bill and Nardole – they had a great dynamic together, so the last “cuddle” also felt a very fitting farewell for our trio.

    whofangirl73 @whofangirl-73

    Loved the Christmas Armistace. Loved the first Dr appearance. Great Christmas episiode. Loved seeing Bill and Narhal again. I didnt like Narhal in the beginning of the season but warmed to him quickly. Nice to see Bill again but also think it was best to leave her with her ‘ending’. Totally sad that Capaldi’s era has ended. His last season as the Dr was the best in years. I loved every episode and I don’t think there was a dud episode the whole season. So, with great sadness sorry to see Capaldi go. The regeneration- I was really not supportive of a female dr who. The dr will always be my hero and male. I did watch the regeneration and will watch new series in Jan (not too long this time). She did what I thought-a sentence and something manic before credits. My mind does wonder about all sorts of storylines a female lead can now have (a reboot of the series i am thinking). So, while I hate the idea of a female dr am thinking this might be a refreshing change. Still wished they had a male lead though. Sorry for rambling. I’m still watching….

    CoenusScaldingus @coenusscaldingus

    “We have a choice: either we change and go on, or we die as we are.”

    Thus spoke the Doctor some fifty minutes prior to a change long-awaited by some, detested by others and rather bittersweet as far as I’m concerned. Whether referring to the changing of faces (and accents!) of the title character, or the new people behind the scenes, this was rather an excellent send-off for Capaldi, who I’ll sorely miss. He was the cynical yet hopeful, grumpy yet kind character that so well befits the Doctor, troubled by memories of love and loss as I imagine any person becomes over the course of so many years. The storyline was fine (certainly emotional; I may have welled up once or twice or thrice with the goodbyes and the Christmas truce), Bill great (never disliked her, but never fully liked her either – until now! Rather late than never I suppose…) as indeed was the Captain, excellently portrayed by Gatiss who fit the role perfectly. David Bradley put on a convincing First (again), although his lines and views seemed rather more outdated than they ever were at the time, but others may correct me on this. At any rate such views will now certainly be dispelled to the past where they belong (on the show and hopefully in comments about it too), for Doctor Whittaker will see you now – and we will be seeing rather a bit more of her in some time. At the risk of reading too much into the few shots bestowed upon us, there certainly was a cheerful expression and lighthearted tone in her “ah, brilliant”, which seems a good follow-up to the Capaldi years. Now.. how long until that next episode?

    MissRori @missrori

    @bluesqueakpip I wouldn’t say the Doctors were being villainous for not wanting to regenerate — One doesn’t know what the future holds and is just scared (and gets even more scared when he finds out that sorrows await him), while Twelve was just tired and probably feeling like a failure who might as well stop trying to help others, based on the circumstances of his partings from Missy, Bill, and Nardole.  I do think the Capaldi-Moffat era works, but it is true that it focused more on the downsides of being the Doctor than the upsides.  So this story hinging on both One and Twelve seeing the good that they do and can still do, which ultimately pushes each one of them to regenerate, makes some sense.

    I enjoyed this episode a lot.  On the one hand, I do understand the complaints about “nothing happening” in the story; there aren’t any radical revisions to the canon and there isn’t a lot of action.  And those fans who were hoping this story would turn out to be One and Twelve’s sides of “The Day of the Doctor” must be frustrated!  (One really does wonder — will Gallifrey and the other Time Lords ever be revisited at this rate?)  Ditto for those hoping for a Susan appearance.  Rusty the Dalek was a really out-of-left-field choice for a cameo!

    The Captain was a nice character; his situation was an interesting counterpart to the Doctors’, but he didn’t get much to do.  I know that the Moff didn’t add Bill Potts to the story until later drafts (he wanted to add more “fun”); touching as her situation here was, it would have been interesting to have just had the Captain be the one muggle in the bunch and give him a more proactive role.  And having him turn out to be the Brig’s ancestor was the least interesting reveal they could have made about his identity.  Ditto for the Christmas Truce playing into the plot (I remember first seeing that theory broached here, when I was wondering out loud what exactly WWI could do to be an inspiring setting!) as the way to get the episode to somehow reference Christmastime.  But having that effectively be Twelve’s last heroic deed, and perhaps the most heroic of all by being the push One needs to accept the fearful future and allow his later selves and their good deeds to exist, DID work dramatically.

    The Testimony turning out to be the benevolent version of the Nethersphere was a lovely full-circle conceit, and the idea of people being the sum of their memories (and a Time Lord even more so) was as good a way as any to work in Clara without having to bring back Me.  And given that a lot of fans suspected/predicted Clara would be worked in, it was nice that they didn’t forget Nardole.   I would have really liked to have a last-moment reveal that Missy was in the Testimony too, which would have wrapped up the one part of Twelve’s “myth arc” that was always around, but I guess that means she didn’t die for good on Floor 507 after all.  😉

    There were a lot of directions this one could have gone in, but I think this was as good an approach as any, and the final scenes in the TARDIS were lovely.  I know Twelve’s last speech owed much to earlier barnstorming speeches he’s made, but it was still moving, especially how it worked in Capaldi’s idea of what the Doctor’s real name is.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    So the gin did it’s job last night so I had to watch it again this morning.

    A Christmas story about dissuading someone from committing suicide? Wonderful.

    I love that there was no evil plan. And the Captains expression when he asked ‘what you mean ‘one’.

    And the question of the memories. Regeneration feels like death to the Doctor sometimes, the end of that personality. But they do still go on- and Bill saying ‘I’m standing right in front of you and you don’t know it’s me’, like Twelve talking to Clara when he regenerated.

    janetteB @janetteb

    Moffat is always at his best when writing the small, intimate stories, not the flash bang wallop end of the universe type script and so I was really glad that he chose to show his strength in the final episode. There have not been many stories that have pleased every member of this family, this was one. R.3, the youngest “recalcitrant” was not going to stay to watch from fear of disappointment but did so and really appreciated the episode.

    The highlights were the riffing of Doc’ 1 and Capdoc, meeting up with Rusty again, (I wondered what became of him), meeting the Brig’s grandfather, and of course the Christmas Truce, a story/histoical event/myth so perfectly suited to a Dr Who Christmas Special. The Doctor had to be there. Oh and meeting up with Bill, Nardole and Clara were “icing on the cake”. I would have liked a nod to River and Missy as well but one can’t have everything. And the Moffat years ended as they began, with a burning Tardis.

    It was a sombre ending though, not surprising as the theme was death, something much on MOffat’s mind perhaps after the loss of his mother. Perhaps also there is a sense that the world is falling apart and we need the Doctor and his values more than ever.


    lisa @lisa

    @miapatrick   Yes – this was basically the “happy suicides”   story.    So Moffat !


    @missrori    The Testimony –  interesting point about the Nethersphere !   Again so Moffat !


    @bluesqueakpip    I too will be looking forward to seeing how Chibnall and our new Doctor

    handle these next series !!   In particular political themes  as  this last story referenced  a lot

    of how  current values have changed.  So Moffat !   😉


    toinfinityandbepond @toinfinityandbepond

    @miapatrick,   A Christmas story about dissuading someone from committing suicide?

    “It’s a wonderful life” did okay

    lisa @lisa


    Actually for me that flick was always about putting aside your dreams which is why he considered

    suicide.   I never liked the preachy message and I never agreed with it .   “A Wonderful Life” has

    always been a twisted movie to me.   Just saying…………

    Mersey @mersey

    I like very much Christmas special. I think it was funny and moving and I can only regret that it was the only time when 12th met 1st. They were a great pair and in my opinion, 12th works the best when he’s not the quirkiest person in Tardis (I didn’t like all that misogynist jokes of the First. One joke was enough for me, I got the message). I disagree with those who criticize the return of Bill and Nardole and argue that it soften those characters’ departures. Why? Because of the message of their appearance. I don’t have to tell you what that message was but the main point was that it wasn’t about people but about our memory of them.

    I like the introduction of the new Doctor. I didn’t like her accent (that’s strange, I know nothing about English accents and her accents sounded to me a bit hollow, I can’t explain that). I’ve heard Jodie Whittaker on BBCRadio6 today and she sounded alright to me. And when Tardis kicked her out I thought that’s not the best start. But this Christams special moved me much much more than the last two.

    nerys @nerys

    I finally got to watch the episode on Boxing Day (on Space; yes, way too many commercials!), due to a windstorm that caused a massive power outage throughout much of Nova Scotia and other Maritime provinces. With power restored, hubby and I could watch this afternoon.

    My favorite part was the poignant Armistice Day scene, which fit in beautifully with putting the captain back in his timestream. And watching both Doctors, the first and the twelfth, together was very satisfying. The hard part was not understanding all the references in the dialogue, which I’m sure trace back to the first Doctor, but which I don’t know by heart, since I’m far more familiar with the post-gap Doctors.

    For me, the scene with Rusty (from the “Into the Dalek” episode, which is one of my least-liked) felt clunky and extraneous. As if, we must some sort of menace, and who better than a Dalek? Except that as with most aspects of this episode, there really wasn’t a villain. Not even a Dalek. Still, for me it felt like the episode ground to a halt here, then picked back up when we left Rusty.

    How wonderful it was to see the Doctor teamed up with Bill and Nardole at the end, for their goodbye, plus Clara restored to the Doctor’s memories. Missing, at least in the literal sense, were Missy and River, but some of the Doctor’s references seemed to invoke them. I will miss Peter Capaldi. I didn’t warm up to his Doctor right away, but he quickly won me over. Here’s hoping that Jodie Whittaker does the same. I think she will. Particularly with Matt Smith, I found myself resistant to the change in Doctors … then, once I started watching, chided myself for my lack of imagination. As I discovered well after Smith joined the series, he was delightful!

    It’s also bittersweet to acknowledge the end of an era with Steven Moffat. He’s had a few missteps along the way, but it would be impossible to chart a perfect course in any creative endeavor. He reshaped Doctor Who for a whole new generation of viewers, and did so in a tremendously intelligent, joyous and respectful way. I hope he is taking a well-deserved break, and I wish him nothing but the best in whatever projects he takes on next.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I should have put ‘villain’ in inverted commas. I meant Inverted commas. Blasted Internet… 🙂


    Jodie Whittaker’s natural accent is from Skelmanthorpe, West Yorkshire, which is a fairly strong accent even by Yorkshire standards. Most people in the UK ‘hear’ a Yorkshire accent as friendly, honest and somewhat bloody-minded. Think Sean Bean.

    It may be that she thought the new Doctor’s accent needed to be obvious from the start, so didn’t tone it down to accommodate the ears of those poor unfortunates who were not privileged to be born in God’s Own County. 😀

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @toinfinityandbepond: I know, hence the ‘wonderful’ 😉

    @lisa, it was a great twist on that story. I didn’t quite like the emotional blackmail element of the film, or the idea of putting this greater value on his life. Theoretically, would someone less special just be left to jump?

    In this episode there was an element of Turn Right, what if One didn’t decide to regenerate? Is it a fixed moment in time? But the point was, he had to feel happy about it. In Twelves’s case, all those moments which upset One, the idea of the War Doctor are a long and exhausting history for him, and he’s tired.

    @mersey: I imagine her brief for the two words of dialogue was too put as much Yorkshire in as she could. People have speculated whether she’d keep her accent.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    Liked it a lot. Although it felt more like a coda to the real drama and near-perfect ending of 12 in The Doctor Falls. The actual regeneration was very affecting though — I’m so glad they used the theme from Heaven’s Sent, which to me will always be Capaldi’s finest hour. Think this will require a second viewing before more detailed comment though.


     The darkness of his era would have been much more suited to a Doctor coming to the end of his life

    That’s a nice theory and I kind of like that. But I read Capaldi’s early introspection as a kind of PTSD. He’d reached the end of his life, perhaps mentally prepared himself for it and then found he was having to start over again.  I’m not sure I ever got the impression that his journey felt wrong or discordant. Also I’m not sure ultimately that the 12 Doctor’s era constitutes a ‘tragedy’. It’s certainly been poignant in places but after his first series I thought Capaldi also had lots of joyous moments too.

    I know you’ve never really got on with 12 but I think I’ve loved every moment. Certainly he’s the first Doctor I feel who has got a proper character arc. 9 had the makings of one but didn’t stick around long enough. 10 I think started off well but to be honest I really disliked him as a character by the end. 11 was great but I never really got the sense that he developed in any way. He emerged from regeneration more or less fully formed and didn’t particularly grow by the the time of, erm, The Time of the Doctor. 12 I think did. He started off with doubts and even a dodgy (ish) moral compass that gave us the ‘did he fall or was he pushed?’ moment in Deep Breath but by Twice Upon A Time, despite his questioning about whether or not to go on, he has come to understand much about himself and his credo of kindness. He starts off ‘who am I?’ and ends ‘this is who I am’. I’d say we’ve never had quite an interrogating and self-aware Doctor as 12

    I know it’s not for everyone but I’ve found it very beautiful and I totally salute Capaldi’s performance throughout. I could happily have had another year of him and I’m already looking forward to (hoping for) a multi-Doctor appearance by him in the future. I’d love to see him sparking off Smith or Tennant or even Whittaker in the way that we’ve just seen him spark off Bradley.

    Serahni @serahni

    Such special nostalgia, and a fitting farewell to an excellent Doctor.  Last season restored my faith and I’m so glad Capaldi was given all those moments to shine, even if they were a season or two late with it.  I’m looking forward to the new direction, and the cliffhanger ending was so reminiscent of “old school” Who that I both cheered and cursed.

    Question: was the ring that fell from Jodie’s Doctor’s finger the wedding ring?  It clearly has significance but it’s a detail I’ve forgotten.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Well, there wasn’t dry eye in the Blenkinsop household. Really liked it. Did absolutely everything work? Well, not sure about Rusty the Dalek, and that whole way of explaining the glass people, but everything else was wonderful–the dynamic between the 12th and the 1st, the treatment of the Captain (and I thought Gatiss was very good), the farewell to companions past, and the final speech (of course).  As a fan since 1963, I felt it was tailor-made for a viewer like me, but I did wonder if a child viewer would be able to take in the importance of the first Doctor, and the significance of the Christmas truce of 1914. Have not read any other comments yet, but did it seem that the Tardis was consciously expelling the new Doctor…?

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I don’t think the ring was ever specifically defined as the Doctor’s wedding ring. It was designed to hide Peter Capaldi’s wedding ring, because he didn’t really want to be constantly taking it off.

    I took it as a moment like Matt Smith removing the bow tie. The ring was the only part of the Capaldi Doctor’s costume that stayed throughout. It’s a symbol that this Doctor’s time had finished – the one thing he has constantly worn – no longer fits.


    Yes, the TARDIS very definitely positioned herself to chuck the new Doctor out. She was also ringing the Cloister Bell from the moment of regeneration.

    So either she knows this one is going to be ‘unlucky Thirteen’ (even though Jodie Whittaker is really Fourteen) or the Capaldi Doctor held back his regeneration for too long, and she had to eject the Doctor before the interior exploded.

    If the latter, I expect a mid air rescue by an exploding TARDIS in the first few moments of the new series. Either that, or the next thing to be thrown out is equivalent of a parachute.

    ScaryB @scaryb



    I really enjoyed that. Made me laugh, and cry. And very much on a favourite Moffatt theme of keeping people alive through memories  – from Amy with Rory, and now gifting Twelve with his restored memories of Clara. At the end of the day, that’s all we’ve got. I agree with @juniperfish, I was hoping for a cameo from River, but we’ve seen from the photo on his desk, that Twelve still remembers her.  Clara and Bill are clearly still dead (small quibble – what happened to the restorative powers of The Puddle?), but live on so long as someone remembers them. We’re all just stories/memories in the end.

    The little 8 year old fangirl in me particularly liked that the First (finally) got a proper send-off, and I thought Bradley did great.

    @miapatrick – nice callout about Moffatt’s tenure beginning and ending with a fire in the TARDIS.

    @countscarlioni and Cromer – missed that completely.

    As others have said, this was very much a character piece, and beautifully made. I liked the return of Rusty – a source of doubt for Twelve – who turned out to have been fighting daleks since his encounter with the Doctor, a tangible sign of the change Twelve has made. Unlike @bluesqueakpip, I’ve been a big fan of Capaldi (and we all have our favourites, and not so favourites, so it goes), I take her point that Moffatt was working a bit on a PTSD theme for Twelve (which had already been done with Ten and Eleven), but I agree with @jimthefish about Twelve  having a more defined character arc, that actually worked through that, and beyond. I think Capaldi was magnificent (and at his most Doctorish, and inspirational) on the big speeches particularly, and I thought he knocked it out the park (again) here. I especially liked that this wasn’t a big explosions style episode, but concentrated on the (apparently) small differences the Doctor can make (esp Rusty and the Captain).

    Finally, I look forward to the new era, it feels like something very fresh coming through (although I do hope the TARDIS lets her back in (no TARDIS would push even my good will, haha). As I’ve said elsewhere, I can’t imagine a better role model for 21st century boys than one who is so in touch with his female side, that he’s happy to embrace changing gender. (And really, where’s the challenge in that? He was happy to embrace his Scottish side after all!)

    So farewell Moffatt and Capaldi, Thank you both for a helluva ride. The Doctor is dead… long live the Doctor! Personally, I can’t wait. Aaaaaargh.. not till September you say..????!

    And thanks as ever to everyone who contributes so positively in here… I managed 3 BTL comments in other places, and gave up in disgust!

    Apologies for this being a bit garbled – it’s late, there’s been several gins, and I’m feeling very emotional (all of that’s a good thing!). And it’s great to be back!

    ScaryB @scaryb


    ” the significance of the Christmas truce of 1914.”

    If newer viewers don’t know about it, what better way to tell them about it – such an important, unique moment of real life hope, a small glimmer of light in the darknes of war – than through Doctor Who?

    Serahni @serahni

    @bluesqueakpip   Ahh, that makes sense.  It seemed to me to be the most likely thing, that end of an era symbolism, but I was confused if it was somehow also his wedding ring because that would suggest that turning into a woman severed the connection to River.  Your explanation makes more sense.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @scaryb Oh, I agree that the show seems like a perfect way to tell younger viewers about the Christmas truce, I only wonder if they are aware, even after having seen it, that it was a real event. Hopefully, they will have parents who know of it, or it will inspire them to find out about it in a book.

    @nerys Yes, I am with you on Rusty. I could see the point they were making, but it did not mean half as much to me as the final farewell of Bill and Nardole, which I thought was done really, really well.

    @missrori I see your point about the Testimony being another version of the Nethersphere, but I saw it more as a version of the Library, in the sense that it was a way of keeping people “alive” in a positive and uplifting way, rather the darkness that I saw as being at the heart of the Nethersphere. (To be honest, I never really quite understood the Nethersphere–fraud, reality or what?) Which brings me to…


    the Moffat-Smith era felt like a golden age; the Moffat-Capaldi era never quite worked for me.

    I confess that that captures my impressions as well. I take your point about tragedy, but I tend to think it was also about a fixation, if that is not too strong a term, of Moffat on death, a fixation that began in the Smith years, but ramped up during the Capaldi era. I agree that this would make more sense if the end point was the Doctor’s end, but frankly, I am not sure what Moffat’s motivation for focussing on death so often was, but it was certainly there, and I feel it hampered the Capaldi era, by creating a rather jarring contrast between meditations on death and the light hearted portrayal of a guitar-playing Doctor. In fact, I wonder if I am implying that the truly golden years of Moffat were series 5 and 6. But that is a conversation for another thread.




    Moffat’s writing has been suffused with character; character is what he does. Plot is just what they ride on. He gets, like Whedon and disconcertingly few others, that when things happen to a character then that character is changed and that to change a character, things need to happen to them.

    But his theme, returned to time and again from Press Gang on is how utterly devastating being lonely is even when, sometimes, there are things that we must face alone. And that it is our friends, our fellow travellers, our companions that give the strength to face that, in all their infuriating, bloody-minded and contradictory ways and their brass-bound audacity to talk back to us, to speak truth to our power.

    “I’m here, but you don’t see me” said Bill to the Doctor, who said it to Clara. But that formula can be transformed more than one way. You don’t see me, but I am here. The Doctor, wished back to life in The Doctor Falls not just by Amy this time, but by all of those he travelled with, because every one left a mark on him.

    That’s the other thing he does, of course. Revisits ideas when he sees more to do with them, or another angle to show. Or shows us the light side of the dark. The Nethersphere: stealing people at the point of death to use as a slave army; Testimony: taking people and – for one vital moment – giving them a damned good listening to.

    Random jottings:

    * Really nice touch from Chibbers to have the ring fall. Still a bit concerned about him, but not at all about Whittaker. Not even slightly;

    * Anachronism alert: The British troops actually sang The First Nowell (as was then spelt) back at the Germans and then Oh Come all Ye Faithful. Silent Night was not especially popular in Britain at the time. But the rhetorical flourish  makes that easy to accept. The men above Lethbridge-Stewart’s ranks on both sides made sure it never happened again;

    * Speaking of whom, is it possible to be majestic and sublime at the same time? Because that was Gatiss as Lethbridge-Stewart Snr. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in more command of a role;

    * Clara put back in his head. That settles that argument once and for all;

    * Wrong size windows;

    * “Me Too!”; “Good Lord!”;

    * “Because I’m scared.”

    * Apparently every fuckwit on Twitter thought they were being oh-so-original with their “crashes the Tardis. Women drivers, eh?” joke and they get really cross when you cough and say “Matt Smith”;

    * Also the pillock on the Guardian who referred to Rusty as “the hugging Dalek”. Presumably nicked from another short-attention-span peabrain on Twitter. People who don’t pay attention really shouldn’t be allowed internet access. Or out;

    * And it is a bleak statement of our times that the Testimony – surely influenced by Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation – turns up in the very week in which fascist scum on Twitter have tried to appropriate the term Shoah – one of the most sacred in Judaism – for perverted ends, when Twitter bans the hateful pigs. If you see it, report it for hate speech and help them to their banning.

    Kid’s show, eh?


    RorySmith @rorysmith

    My opinion as a very snarky cynic; I loved it.

    I feel like they did us right and gave us a good view of the Doctor’s impact on the universe.

    I am eager to see Jodie take on this role because she seems so happy in this awesome imaginary world of impossibilities.

    CountScarlioni @countscarlioni

    I took a second look today at some of what I thought were the key scenes, and was struck by a few more links to earlier episodes of the SM era in addition to those pointed out above.  Sorry if these have been noted above and I missed them.

    A few minor ones:

    Captain Archibald Lethbridge-Stewart saluted the Doctor at their parting, just as the Cyberman Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart saluted the Doctor at their parting at the end of  Death in Heaven.

    The eyebrows constituted our first and last views of the 12th Doctor.

    When the Doctor rails at the end of the episode at being left alone on the battlefield, his words could have come out of Me’s mouth (though with a different emotional register).

    The 12th Doctor’s very moving final speech was pretty much a composite of lines we’ve heard before (but none the worse for that!).

    Now, what I’d dearly like to think is a big one:

    When Bill Potts gives the Doctor the gift of remembering Clara, Clara tells him he’s a “stupid old man,” just as the elderly version of Clara did at the end of Last Christmas. More significantly (I hope), minutes before deciding he won’t die and he will, after all, regenerate, the Doctor’s head is full of the most important companion in his history, a companion who while not a Time Lord practically became a Doctor, who was really the first female Doctor in Flatline, and who ran away with a companion in a stolen Type 40 Tardis. No wonder he regenerated into a woman!




    nerys @nerys

    Funny, I rewatched “Into the Dalek” tonight (along with “The Day of the Doctor”) and found I enjoyed it far more than I did the first time around. But it didn’t really give me any more of an emotional connection to Capaldi’s Doctor, other than that Twelve asked Clara if he was a good man, and Clara couldn’t answer him, other than to say she thought he tried to be one, and that counted. But Rusty insisted that Twelve was “a good Dalek.” The long way round to that linkage.

    Question from someone who obviously has not seen many of the earliest episodes: Was regeneration of the first Doctor, played by William Hartnell, actually witnessed by the audience? Or did we see only see that first regeneration played by the second Doctor (Patrick Troughton)? I know how we saw it brilliantly inserted into this episode, but was that Hartnell in the regeneration scene?

    CountScarlioni @countscarlioni

    @nerys  was that Hartnell in the regeneration scene?  Yes. I believe it’s the only bit of Part 4 of 10th Planet that survives. In his 2005 British Film Institute book on Doctor Who, Kim Newman, however, argues that “the close-up was so close and the average TV set so small it was quite hard to read the difference between the Doctor’s faces and viewers might not have noticed the change.” Newman also argues in his book that the regeneration only got minor coverage. 

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Yes, the regeneration scene (and a couple of other brief scenes) survive. The regeneration scene survives because the children’s programme Blue Peter did a piece on Doctor Who – and included that clip from Tenth Planet. When it came to the Great BBC Wiping of Tapes, Blue Peter’s formidable editor, Biddy Baxter, was having none of it. Blue Peter was going to have a complete archive. Or else.

    Trust me, when Biddy Baxter said ‘or else’, everyone at the BBC would say ‘Complete archives? Yes, of course. We can definitely see the need for a complete record of a children’s magazine programme.’ 😉

    Pity that she wasn’t producing Doctor Who, really, but at least she saved all the clips that were shown on Blue Peter – especially the Hartnell/Troughton Regeneration.

    There’s an interview with the vision mixer for the regeneration on the Tenth Planet DVD. One of the things she found, when they were experimenting with the mix from one face to wipe out to new face for the regeneration effect, was that Bill Hartnell and Pat Troughton’s cheekbones had the same size and shape. So she focused on those to try and give the impression that, despite the change, this was still the same man underneath.

    nerys @nerys

    @countscarlioni and @bluesqueakpip Thank you for those detailed explanations! I was never sure how that was handled at the time, if William Hartnell was indeed in his Doctor’s regeneration scene. It’s also quite cool to learn some of the details behind the filming/editing of that, and how it managed to be archived when other early Doctor Who footage wasn’t. Such a shame, but at least this scene, and others, were saved!

    MissRori @missrori

    I notice that one question people have with this one is “Why bring back Rusty the Dalek, of all 12th Doctor-specific characters?”  Here’s my theory:

    It fits in with the episode’s larger war-and-peace, soldiers and Doctors motif.  Rusty is sort of the bad counterpart to the good Captain, stuck in a situation he didn’t create.  Thanks to the poor Doctor’s well-intentioned mindmeld bringing up his hatred of the creatures created solely to hate everyone else, Rusty ended up the one “good” Dalek and isolated from everyone.  He marks how much the Twelfth Doctor evolved as a character regarding both his fraught relationship with the military/soldiers and his initial tendencies to see the forest but not the trees in situations (after all, “Into the Dalek” was his second story); he always cared about doing the right thing, but at first tended to ride roughshod over individuals’ emotions in a crisis.  Twelve came to an understanding over time with those who serve while also promoting peace, even realizing he sometimes thinks more like a soldier than a doctor in “Empress of Mars”, but the character that most facilitated that development — Danny Pink — couldn’t have effectively been brought back (say, as another Glass Person) because his relationship with Danny was an entwined outgrowth of his relationship with Clara, whom he does not remember completely at the time.  So, bringing back Rusty — who was introduced in the same episode that introduced Danny — is another way of marking how much Twelve grew as a person from his brusquer early days.

    nerys @nerys

    My favorite part was the poignant Armistice Day scene, …

    Uh, I’m not sure why I wrote that, as Armistice Day was a completely different event. This was a Christmas truce or ceasefire. I apologize for my humongous historical gaffe!

    wheels @wheels

    I Liked the episode a Lot. Great to see D B playing Hartnell, the episode was very fan orientated so how it went over with the general viewer is difficult to say, lovely performances from Gatiss and Pearl Mackie, i cant be the only one who wishes she was still around for the new  series. She is such an engaging actress. JW first few seconds were good but similar to the eleventh hour, if her first episode is as good as Smiths, we will have nothing to worry about. Sad to see Capaldi go , i would have liked one more seris from him, then again i always end up feeling that way. A word for Moffat to the show really owes him a great debt, If he had only written “Blink” that would be proof of his genuis, sure he cld be annoying at times, but when he got it right my god he was good. Looking forward to what chibnalls going to do with the show .

    wolfweed @wolfweed
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    Some thoughts on second viewing–

    Generally great and a fine end to both Moffat’s and Capaldi’s time on the show. As others have said, it’s definitely more of a character piece than a full-blown adventure — which I think is wise — just how often has a Christmas episode had a memorable or enduring plot? Moffat, I’d argue, has always seemed uncomfortable with Christmas episodes in particular, compared to RTD. If anything, the episode struck me as a coda to The Doctor Falls. It felt to me as if Capalid was meant to regenerate at the end of The Doctor Falls and that Moffat had to stretch it out when Chibbers decided he wasn’t starting at Christmas after all. And while I enjoyed all this, it didn’t seem particularly vital. 12 could have regenerated at the end of The Doctor Falls and it would have made that story possibly more powerful, with less of a delay between his ‘going out fighting’ and his ultimate regeneration. And have a newly regenerated 13 interacting with the First Doctor might have been lots of fun too.

    But that’s just a niggle because there was absolutely heaps to love here. Capaldi knocked the regeneration right out the park with his ‘greatest hits’ speech and as I said above I think it gave closure to the now clearly defined character trajectory of his Doctor.

    Whittaker too totally sold me with her first appearance. It’s impossible to tell from such a brief snippet, of course, but I think you can get some inkling of how a Doctor is going to pan out from their first unguarded introduction. Capaldi’s ‘kidney’s line gave us an inkling of how changeable (and perhaps internally examining) his Doctor was going to be, Smith’s ‘geronimo’ kind of speaks for itself and Tennant’s ‘Barcelona’ seems to point to the hand in hand exploration of the universe with Rose that took up at least the first part of his tenure. At the moment, I’m getting a feeling of Tennant/Davison mash-up from Whittaker. I’m totally sold on her already. (Although, like @pedant, I’m still slightly wary about Chibnall himself.)

    Other general thoughts–

    — the Testimony as non-malevolent phenomenon seemed to me to give the story an early Hartnell vibe, where this kind of thing would often be the case. I’m sure that’s deliberate. As was, I think, the crux of the story being a real historical event.

    — Rusty’s planet also had a very Hartnell-esque feel to it. The danger climbing up the walls, hiding in the bushes etc was pure Terry Nation.

    — The First Doctor’s disapproval of just about all of Capaldi’s paraphernalia is surely a meta commentary on some of the comments on the likes of the Graun over the last few years. But I must admit there was a brief moment when I was just hoping that the First Doctor’s monocle was going to turn out to be sonic too.

    — Felt the First Doctor’s sexism was just over-egged slightly. I do think the posters elsewhere who try to say it didn’t exist in Hartnell’s performance are not quite right, and it was something still being recognised in The Five Doctors but I think it was definitely a case that less would have been more here.

    — Bill, Clara and Nardole. Blub.

    — For a Doctor who seems to be increasingly held to be a tragic figure, it’s worth noting I think just how much Capaldi smiles and grins and jokes in this episode. Again, it’s part of the closure of his character arc. He starts closed off and introspective, someone who ‘doesn’t do hugs’ but ends happily cuddling the people he loves (or simulacra of them anyway). (I hope, by the way,  @missrori that that fulfilled your hope for this Doctor not to die quite so alone.) And Capaldi’s wonderful ‘Doctor, I let you go’ line is surely a riposte to Tennant’s petulant ‘I don’t want to go’ reaction. It’s interesting for a Doctor who was initially quite forbidding how 12 became (I think) the most genuinely open-hearted, empathic and compassionate of the modern Doctors.

    Anyway, it was great. Highly emotional and a fine end to what I still think is going to be remembered as one of the show’s golden ages. Hope you all had a great Christmas. Big waves to @pedant, @scaryb, @juniperfish et al. Hope you’re all doing well and it’s great to see your names popping up again.

    See you all in ’18 I hope…

    tardigrade @tardigrade

    While there was a lot to like in this episode, and it was a fitting farewell to Capaldi, it didn’t feel like it really quite scratched the itch I had. A sentimental character piece wasn’t I think what I was looking for in a Xmas episode. Though when it’s also a swan song for Capaldi, that should perhaps have been expected. Though, perhaps, that’s a little unfair- a single episode wasn’t going to do much to relieve that itch in any case.

    The banter between the Doctors was an obvious highlight, with the writer having fun with the premise. And David Bradley did a wonderful job as the First Doctor. I was unsure about another actor reprising the role and essentially playing William Hartnell playing the Doctor, but it was so well done that I put those reservations aside almost immediately.

    However, I have to register my discomfort with the First Doctor being portrayed with 1960’s (or earlier) attitudes to gender roles, even with that being played for comedy. I have difficulty in reconciling that with the Doctor’s character as I know it- I’d have preferred that those dated elements were treated just as a by-product of making a show at that time, rather than intrinsic to the First Doctor, essentially just retconning them away, or being part of an act to fit in. As an alien from a society where people can change gender, having ingrained “traditional” gender roles isn’t something I could imagine as part of the Doctor’s character.

    I appreciated that the Doctor’s memories of Clara were restored. There would have been an important piece of the Doctor missing if he’d regenerated without those memories.

    When an unnamed captain was introduced, I was expecting from the outset that his name would turn out to be a Lethbridge-Stewart. In fact, I had that impression just seeing the preview shot for the episode. I’m not claiming any particular prescience though- I imagine that would have occurred to many. And that didn’t stop it being an enjoyable callback.

    To those who mentioned it, I definitely also got the impression that the Tardis was deliberately ejecting the Doctor. If it’s for her own safety, which is reasonable, given the state the Tardis was left in, then it’s left the Doctor in a rather precarious position though. The Doctor really should set the Tardis down, and preferably go outside, before regenerating in future – this isn’t the first time a problem like this has occurred :-). The Tardis did seem to be dematerialising at the end, perhaps zipping off to another time to self-repair and will be back in time to catch the Doctor before she hits the ground. It is an interesting way to introduce a cliff-hanger after Whittaker has had all of two words of dialog, and has me really ready for a new series. Those two words we’re full of promise though, delivered as they were with her natural accent, with renewed enthusiasm, and with the use of “brilliant” calling back to Eccelston’s Doctor.

    But my favourite line was Capaldi’s one where he gives in and decides to regenerate – “Well, I suppose one more lifetime won’t kill anyone… well, except me”.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @wolfweed — loved the After Show. That’s a very nice interview with Moffat. I’m going to miss his interface with the Who world, no matter what he gets up to in the future. And I’ll look forward to the extended interview in the new year….

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Festive greetings everyone, btw. I’ll come back & chat when I’ve got more time…

    Here are those wonderful deleted scenes…..

    MissRori @missrori

    @jimthefish The Moff has said that “The Doctor Falls” was supposed to be the regeneration but Chibnall didn’t want to introduce Thirteen for Christmas and the show wouldn’t get any more Christmas specials if they skipped a year, so Moff decided to go with the coda approach you mentioned to squeeze out one more story for Twelve.  And yes, I did appreciate that Twelve wasn’t quite so alone in the end, choosing to be alone when he regenerated notwithstanding.

    gamergirlavatar @gamergirlavatar

    Alright, I just got back from the theater and I didn’t cry. I thought I would for sure but I didn’t. This was such a funny episode but there was a bittersweet tone through it. I’m not sure what to say besides that. I loved seeing all the characters for how they interacted with each other and because it was nice to see them again. It was just nice and a little fun to see it all play out. I laughed, felt sad and worried when a big piece of the Tardis broke and our new doctor fell with it. I know she’s within 14 hours of her regeneration cycle but I don’t know if that matters when you hit the ground after falling hundreds of feet. Since I can’t really put this episode in words I’ll just talk about the most important part for me, Peter leaving. It was bittersweet. I words alone were beautiful and captured who The Doctor is. Once again, I can’t praise Peter enough. His acting just makes The Doctor and seeing that come together for his leaving was incredible. I guess the leaving is why I didn’t cry, I knew that my doctor would always push himself to do what he needs to do and that’s why I love this doctor so much. But I didn’t think about how seeing him behaving like my doctor would affect me. I can’t be sad when he acts like the character I grew to love. Than Jodie made her appearance and we didn’t get to see much of her before she was thrown out of her Tardis and we were left with a cliffhanger. But in the short time we saw here she seemed very lovely and her reaching for the Tardis controls, she seemed very relaxed and confident. Her doctor seemed comfortable, possibly because the 12th doctor didn’t regenerate before saying goodbye to all his companions, seeing a reason to live on through others being kind and saying his message forever who he would become. I didn’t want a female doctor for a long time but I can’t look at Jodie and be upset. She seems like The Doctor to me. The only part of this that makes me sad is that my doctor left, but I already like this new doctor and I’m not nervous about her like I was with the others. I’m still sad but I’m happy too and I can’t wait to see how that cliffhanger will be resolved. Now it seems only right to end this post wishing Peter good luck for what ever is ahead of him and thanking him for the past couple of years and wishing Jodie a wonderful time as out favorite Timelord, I hope to see her episodes very soon.

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