Monday, December 18, 2006 by

Would it surprise you to learn that’s the last word uttered in “The Runaway Bride”, this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special? The press screening was this morning at London’s Soho Hotel, and an Ian Levine-less event it turned out to be. “I think he’s getting the message,” joshed, er, someone.

It was a slightly subdued affair – no continual applause at every mention of RTD’s name – but a good-natured one nonetheless. “A few of us were at Matt Lucas and Kevin McGee’s wedding,” explained a lightly frazzled Peter Fincham. “We all had to go along in pantomime costumes. I went as Prince Charming. David Tennant was rather extravagantly dressed as Buttons…” “Thanks very much,” interjected Dr Who, “and Russell T Davies,” continued Fincham, “… what character were you?” “Dame”. 

Fincham then went on to talk about the business of making a Who festive special, while the team were also working on series three. “It’s like having Sergeant Pepper up your sleeve,” he joshed, “but putting Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane out for Christmas, just because you can spare them”. 

As for the special, it was – well – pretty great. I feel like I’m damning it with faint praise, here, because I don’t have an awful lot to say about it. Seeing Catherine Tate’s name in the big fly-by font was unsettling, but her performance was pretty good. Where she did verge into being annoying was probably where the script demanded it, so all credit to her. Sarah Parish was ace as the baddy – a huge and convincingly achieved spider-woman… and a proper old school villain to boot. As per last year’s Christmas boogies, she was simply bad for the sake of being bad. And that’s great. 

As we’re now coming to expect, Davies subverted some of the iconography of Christmas yet again – including a scene which surely wrong-footed everyone watching, as Christmas trees turn evil again… just not in the way you might think – and there was a nice character moment for the Doctor come the final reel, as Tate tells him he needs to find a companion; someone who can curb his worse excesses. 

Afterwards, Tennant, Tate and Parish did the Q&A honours… and this was over in 11 minutes flat – probably due to the fact all the weeklies published their Doctor Who coverage last Tuesday. One interesting moment, though. Tennant was asked to comment on the “hints” he’d been dropping that the next series of Who would be his last.

“I haven’t hinted anything to anybody,” he said. “I’m very careful about not hinting anything ever. From the moment I took this job, everyone was going, ‘When are you leaving?’. A boy could get a complex! So I have tried to remain as non-committal on that as possible, and I think I shall maintain that stance today.”


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