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Doctor Who, a sinister Santa and an alien army invade our living rooms on Christmas Day

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The Doctor Who Christmas special offers something a little more scary than the traditional ingredients for a warm and cosy family gathering around the television set this Christmas evening. But the new Doctor, actor David Tennant, argues that those fearsome factors are exactly what's needed to make the latest instalment in the revived adventures of everyone's favourite Timelord a surefire success.

'Being scared and having nightmares is part of our childhood,' said 34-year-old Tennant at the launch of the special Doctor Who episode, The Christmas Invasion, in London yesterday.

'Of course the Christmas episode has some scary moments, but that's great - if not essential. I don't think we should shy away from it, and kids love fear.'

The Scottish actor makes his eagerly-anticipated, full-length debut in the role of Doctor Who in the 60-minute special which goes out on BBC1 on Christmas Day at 7pm.

Tennant's first words as the 'new' Doctor are 'Here we are then!' as the Tardis lands once again outside the estate where his feisty companion Rose (played by Billie Piper) and her long-suffering mother live.

For much of the episode, however, the Doctor is lying in bed comatose, in his pyjamas, in Rose's flat, as he recovers from his regeneration.

Meanwhile, in a strongly anti-war storyline, the Earth is being invaded by a foreboding force of Sycorax warriors, and the British Prime Minister, Harriet Jones - once again played by Penelope Wilton - is forced to make a Christmas Day TV message to the nation, beginning with the words, 'It's hardly the Queen's speech - that's been cancelled.'

The Prime Minister also makes a scathing reference to the American President. She says, 'He's not my boss, and he's certainly not turning this into a war!'

As the Sycorax invasion proceeds, a third of the world's population - two billion people - are hypnotised like zombies and are seen walking to roofs across the world, ready to throw themselves off.

The Prime Minister comments that the Royal Family are also on the roof of Buckingham Palace, and the London 'Gherkin' building has exploded.

The astonishingly successful revival of the Doctor Who franchise earlier this year by BBC Wales and its true visionary, Swansea-born writer Russell T Davies, meant that speculation over the identity of Christopher Eccleston's successor reached fever-pitch levels.

Tennant, a Presbyterian minister's son from Paisley, is acutely aware that many viewers will be tuning in to the Doctor Who Christmas special purely to see how he measures up in such an iconic role.

'It's very easy to feel the weight of history pressing down,' said Tennant.

'Getting over that and getting on with it is part of the trick of the whole gig, really.

'When you're playing a scene, that's what you focus on, that over-rides everything.'

Tennant revealed how he had received good luck messages from two extremely famous well- wishers.

'I did get a couple of nice notes, from the sets of Monarch of the Glen, from Tom Baker, and Distant Shores, from Peter Davison,' he said.

'As a lifelong fan of Doctor Who, that was particularly thrilling.

'My first TV memory is being entranced by Jon Pertwee regenerating into Tom Baker.

'And I was about 10 when Tom regenerated into Peter Davison. In fact, Peter came on set one day with his children - which was a big thrill both for them and me!'

Filming the Christmas episode of Doctor Who meant that certain streets in Cardiff were decked out with snow and tinsel in the middle of July.

'They're getting used to us in the city now,' said Russell T Davies, who now lives in a flat in Cardiff Bay, where he does most of his writing for Doctor Who.

'They barely blinked as we decked the city centre with tinsel and then, in true Doctor Who style, blew it up. Passers-by smiled and trudged through the fake snow.'

Although the Christmas episode is chockful of impressive special effects, Russell T Davies stressed that the series's budget had not been increased for the new series.

'Often, when you do special effects outdoors, they look more impressive. In The Christmas Invasion, we have a fantastic clifftop swordfight between the Doctor and the Sycorax leader - which we filmed entirely on Barry Island.'

Tennant, who can be seen tonight as a psychotic killer in ITV1's thriller Secret Smile, revealed that when he was first asked to play the Doctor earlier this year, he merely laughed. 'I found it hilarious and impossible,' said Tennant. 'And I remember Russell, very perceptively, saying, 'Don't say anything now, because I know the experience is quite a weird one'.'

Tennant had previously worked with Russell T Davies on the acclaimed BBC3 period drama Casanova, in which the 6ft 1in actor took the title role of the notorious Italian seducer.

He previously sprang to fame in the BBC1 comedy-drama series Blackpool, alongside Sarah Parish and David Morrissey, but taking on the role of Doctor Who will propel him to new levels of stardom.

As a Scot who has been living and working in South Wales for the past few months, Tennant said that he had a fantastic time. 'I'm having a great time down there,' he said. 'Wales is a great place to film. You can be in the countryside or by the sea for one scene, and be back in the city in no time.'

Following Christopher Eccleston's surprise departure from the title role after just one series, Tennant said, 'I fully intend to be here this time next year - let's just wait and see what happens.'

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  • APA 6th ed.: Driscoll, Rob (2005-12-13). Doctor Who, a sinister Santa and an alien army invade our living rooms on Christmas Day. The Western Mail p. 10.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Driscoll, Rob. "Doctor Who, a sinister Santa and an alien army invade our living rooms on Christmas Day." The Western Mail [add city] 2005-12-13, 10. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Driscoll, Rob. "Doctor Who, a sinister Santa and an alien army invade our living rooms on Christmas Day." The Western Mail, edition, sec., 2005-12-13
  • Turabian: Driscoll, Rob. "Doctor Who, a sinister Santa and an alien army invade our living rooms on Christmas Day." The Western Mail, 2005-12-13, section, 10 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Doctor Who, a sinister Santa and an alien army invade our living rooms on Christmas Day | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Doctor_Who,_a_sinister_Santa_and_an_alien_army_invade_our_living_rooms_on_Christmas_Day | work=The Western Mail | pages=10 | date=2005-12-13 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 October 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Doctor Who, a sinister Santa and an alien army invade our living rooms on Christmas Day | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Doctor_Who,_a_sinister_Santa_and_an_alien_army_invade_our_living_rooms_on_Christmas_Day | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 October 2019}}</ref>