"Did you miss me?"

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Contrary to what you may have surmised from our jokes, none of us here at Androzani are six years old. But as soon as The Christmas Invasion finished, we leapt from our sofas and ran round and round the room squealing.

It's that good.

We had a good feeling about David Tennant as the Doctor from the microseconds he was on screen in The Parting Of The Ways, and in the seek-it-out-at-all-costs Children in Need Special we were positively drooling with delight. But let's face it, that's a combined screen time of less than it takes to make a cup of tea. How was it going to work in a proper episode? Would he be tediously over-eccentric? Boringly manic? As a result of his regeneration, yawningly insane? Or would he be the Doctor?

No, no, no, yes. Seeing David Tennant as the Doctor makes us realise just how wrong Christopher Eccleston was for the part. We spent an entire series struggling to see him as the Doctor, coming close at times but never really getting there. David Tennant, on the other hand, is the Doctor from the second he appears and from the ends of his big hair to the toecaps of his trainers. Welcome back, Doctor. You're damn straight we missed you.

The Doctor may not know exactly who he is yet, but it's obvious to all of us that he's not who he used to be. The Ninth Doctor was often paralysed and planless, sprinkling apologies around like Shake 'N' Vac and generally delegating the world-saving to his acolytes. Now that's all very well as far as it goes, and as we said about The Parting Of The Ways, just because his power was sometimes indirect, working through inspiring others, it doesn't mean it wasn't real. However, cue up Bonnie Tyler: sometimes you need a hero. And when you do, it's pretty clear the whip-snappin', wise-crackin', satsuma-flingin' Tenth Doctor is your man. Which after Dr Broody Hand-Wringer is like getting a bucket of ice dumped over your head on a summer day: a bit of a shock, but a very pleasant one.

And he's not just Action Man, either. Oh, no. There's yer steely-eyed man of principle. Yer huggy-snuggy friend. Yer sweetly tentative flirty guy (with optional puppy-dog eyes). It's a personality that is, to say the least, faceted, but it all works together beautifully, and as a result it gives us a Doctor who promises to be the most interesting since Tom hung up his scarf.

Some of it's in the writing, obviously, but it's David Tennant who really works the magic. The jokes, for example, are pretty well-worn (all that "have someone's eye out" and "you can't get the staff" stuff was dusty when the First Doctor was a boy), but David Tennant's line reading is so beautifully timed that he makes the gags seem far funnier than they actually are. All the ow-my-regeneration-hurts gurning, not to mention the just-faintly-ridiculous Zorro bit, could have been painfully embarrassing in the hands of a lesser actor, but David Tennant carries them off with a panache that's utterly Doctorly. We're desperately impressed.

Of course, he's not in it much, is he? Which leaves a substantial chunk of episode in the hands of the supporting cast. Fortunately, thanks to some good writing and great performances, waiting for the Doctor to wake up is positively entertaining. We didn't find many of the Russell T Davies-scripted episodes in the previous season very enthralling, but The Christmas Invasion is a huge step up. To be fair to him, a lot of that's because of the groundwork: Mickey and Jackie and their relationship with Rose work beautifully here precisely because Russell T Davies has previously paid so much attention to developing them. But it's more than that too: we moaned about the unevenness in tone in the Russell T Davies episodes, but here while the tone bolts about wildly it's perfectly judged: even the transition from deeply serious post-genocide moment to happy Christmas scene works without jarring more than it's supposed to.

Rose has lots of good stuff to do here: her arc as she comes to terms with the death of "her" Doctor is beautifully done. And she also has the important role of useless lump to play to signal the shift to a new kind of Doctor: she's hopeless when it comes to both saving the Doctor and saving the Earth, which is a nice reversal after her all-powerful turn in The Parting Of The Ways. The Ninth Doctor's series has been criticised for being The Rose Show, but The Christmas Invasion, despite the Doctor only being awake in a third of it, shifts the balance of power decidedly back in his direction. And about time too.

Mickey and even Jackie have come a long way from where they started in Rose: we never thought we'd actually like scenes Jackie was in, but she's brilliant here. (We're particularly fond of the glance she flicks at the Doctor when she's complaining about Rose littering the flat.) Her wistful glance at Rose's present at the beginning could have been horribly corny, but given what was going on the last time she saw Rose it just seems touching, as does Mickey's racing out of the garage when he hears the TARDIS. However, Jackie urging the others to leave the Doctor to death by Christmas tree, not to mention Mickey moaning when Rose voices her fear that the Doctor is dying, strikes a jarring note. Surely neither of them are that callous?

The other recurring character, Harriet Jones, is equally successful. Penelope Wilton was great in Aliens Of London/World War Three, but here she's superlative. She conveys the humanity of Harriet's character and the steel with equal ease. And the choice she has to face is nowhere near straightforward, either, which makes her dilemma all the more interesting.

And the Sycorax? Well. Very, very nice ship, and very, very nice ship interiors with the Sycorax all arranged in rows, sort of like Cybermen in cold storage. And the mask and face are pretty impressive too. However, overall as villains the Sycorax are just the teensiest bit dull. We do like all the cursey magicy stuff, which does give them a very interesting point of difference, but apart from that they're far too Klingonesque for our liking. Honour, pride, blah blah blah. Even the language sounds like Klingon.

And that's our beef with the plot as a whole: none of it's terribly original. OK, it's a Christmas episode, so we'll cut it some slack, but in the new series we do hope Russell T Davies cuts back on the homages to leave room for more originality. The most egregious is the directly-ripped-from-Star-Wars sword fight with the hand severing, of course, but it's also littered with other stuff: the Trek-like teleports (at least they used the Blakes 7 word for them), the Red Dwarf "bodyswap" in the Children In Need bit, the Independence Day ship-hovering... Not to mention the internal references, like the Autonesque Santas tipping the hat to Spearhead From Space and the rerun of the end of The Silurians, where the humans wipe out the aliens behind the Doctor’s back.

Of course, the Third Doctor references aren't accidental: Russell T Davies's Doctors, with the bungy cord around their ankles tethering them to Earth, are eerily reminiscent of the Third Doctor. Harriet Jones needn't have sweated it: with the reappearance of UNIT in this story and the "It is defended!" stuff, he's making it pretty obvious that we're not going to be dropping in too many times on Raxacoricofallapatorius. Sigh.

Like the Third Doctor, too, this Doctor is a very British Doctor. From the revival by tea (when the thermos fell, one of us said: "At least it didn't drip on him and revive him, because that would be seriously cheesy." Oh, well) to the Arthur Dent dressing gown to the Arthurian references, it's all more Green Park than Gallifrey.

OK, so the plot's not that dazzlingly original. But it's done very well: the moral dilemma's a profound one that stays with you, especially after the chilling scene of the snow that turns out to be ash. Also, there's a cool killer Christmas tree.

This isn't just the Doctor Who we were hoping for last year. This might very well be the Doctor Who we've been waiting to see all our lives.

MORAL: Mind the gap.



The TARDIS crashing might not be perfect effects-wise, but it still looks bloody fantastic.


We love the way that while Harriet Jones is speaking on TV, a banner announcing that the cottage hospital scheme is going nationwide is scrolling along the bottom. And the scaffolding on Big Ben.


The Santas are great in the way they're Christmassy without being soggy. (In fact, they're bloody scary.) And the Christmas tree is sheer brilliance: mad but terrifying. But overall, the pilot fish aspects are a bit dodgy: if they're after the Doctor for his energy, what's the point of trying to kill him?


When Jackie was interrogating the Doctor, going through her list of what he might need, were we the only ones who yelled in unison "A nice cup of tea!"?


What's all that "He gets hungry in his sleep?" about? Howard doesn't wear his dressing gown to bed, does he?


It's a lovely moment when Rose, Mickey and Jackie all jump back when the Sycorax first appear on the TV.


Mere minutes after two billion people all over the world yomp up to the rooftops, back in Blighty they know that many of them are related but none of them are husbands and wives. How did they work that out so fast?


Just where did Llewellyn get this vial of blood, anyway? It obviously isn't his, so whose is it?


If the sonic wave is strong enough to shatter glass, how come nobody's ears are bleeding?


The Doctor says “Or are you just a [Klingon, Klingon, Klingon…] How come the Klingon part isn’t translated like everything else?


The sword fight is sadly inept, and the awful direction doesn’t help that. If you’re going to go to all the trouble of making some poor geezer fight with a sword while wearing a cape and prosthetics, and making some other poor geezer try and look heroic in pyjamas, you might at least show the damn thing instead of framing it so you can hardly even see the bloody swords. Of course, there might be another reason for that: if we were to be brutally honest, we'd confess that David Tennant looks like he's having a wee bit of trouble hefting that broadsword. But we're sure that was just a trick of the light.


It’s so cool to see another room in the TARDIS. We were beginning to think they kipped on the console.


We love the Doctor’s new costume: not costumy like the latter Doctors, but much more Doctorly than the leather jacket.

Buy this Dr Who DVD: UK Buy Doctor Who DVD at US: DVD not available

Buy entire series DVD box set: UK Buy Doctor Who DVD at  US Buy Doctor Who DVD at

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Buy first and second seasons box set: UK: box set not available   US Buy Doctor Who DVD at

Download Doctor Who episodes at