Remember those dark years, the 90s? The years that brought us the Eighth Doctor in the Doctor Who Movie? Do you also remember the one Doctor Who highlight of the decade, the Red Nose Day Comic Relief special from 1999, The Curse of the Fatal Death?
Well then you’ll be relieved (I think) to know that Richard E Grant (who played the Tenth Doctor in that clip) is set to rejoin Doctor Who as the villain for this year’s Christmas Special. Grant has already appeared in both The Curse of the Fatal Death, and the lesser known Scream of the Shalka animated webcast. Grant will appear alongside Silent Witness star Tom Ward in the episode, where we will be introduced to the Doctor’s new companion, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman.
On his role Grant said, “I played Doctor Who in the digital animated Scream Of The Shalka episode and I’m honoured to be in the Christmas special.”
In a similar vein to last season, series seven will be broken into two parts, with the first five episodes appearing from later this month, culminating in the departure of Amy Pond and Rory Williams from the show. Then it will break for the winter, with the Christmas special to punctuate the darkness, with another eight episodes to follow at some point during the new year (presumably in early spring if we go off last year’s scheduling).
In many ways, Grant is ideally placed to take up the role of a Christmas Special villain. His style and manners lend themselves to the light hearted tone of these episodes, while he’ll be able to provide just the hint of darkness required for them. Interestingly, when Grant previously played the Doctor in Scream of the Shalka, Russell T Davies was very disappointed with the performance. I can only wonder whether this is just another way Steven Moffat is shifting the series away from the RTD era, going so far as to bring back actors who were very much in his predecessor’s bad books.
We still don’t have any official start date for the new season except for it being this month, and given there is only another three weekends to go, and that the BBC will likely want at least two weeks of on air promotions to build up hype, my money is on it debuting on Saturday, 25 August – that’s right, you heard it here first.