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Reworded: A recap of the 2023 Christmas special of Doctor Who titled "The Church on Ruby Road".
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Reworded: A recap of the 2023 Christmas special of Doctor Who titled “The Church on Ruby Road”.


Not many would have predicted that in 2023, we would see Jabba the Hutt Goblin King being impaled on a church spire and Doctor Who releasing a Christmas single about eating a baby. Yet, that is exactly what happened with the introduction of the Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and his new companion Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson).

Based on the preview clips of Gatwa in a kilt dancing at a club, it may have seemed like his portrayal of the Doctor would be vastly different from previous versions. However, in this special, he proved to possess all the qualities necessary to be a captivating and defining Doctor for the second era under Russell T Davies (RTD). Whether demonstrating expertise in the gin-and-tonic division of health and safety, traversing roofs with ease, showcasing his mavity gloves, or confidently declaring his fiancee would accept a proposal, Gatwa exuded charm. Yet, when the situation called for it, he effortlessly switched to a more serious demeanor, expressing disapproval at the casual treatment of time travel and completely owning the entire episode.

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in the Christmas Special

Gibson’s Ruby came across as charmingly optimistic about life, despite having been dealt a rough hand, though it remains to be seen whether RTD has delivered a “girl-next-door” companion, or whether her mysterious origins will come to bear greater significance later.

On Christmas Day, the episode should cater to all viewers watching television, including casual viewers, dedicated fans, and newbies. In order to entertain a diverse audience, the Doctor’s brief appearance to save Davina McCall from a falling Christmas tree was a humorous moment. Another example of this is Cherry Sunday’s (played by Angela Wynter) frequent requests for tea. However, this comedic moment also brings up questions about why the Doctor doesn’t always quickly intervene in other situations.

Davina McCall in the Doctor Who Christmas special.

Can you summarize it in one sentence?

Ncuti Gatwa quickly assumes the role of the Doctor, rushing to save his new youthful companion from gremlins not once, but twice.

Living on the Tardis

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in the Christmas special

It was unlikely that he would change the storyline, but Russell T Davies has reinforced Chris Chibnall’s Timeless Child and Flux plots by mentioning them in three consecutive episodes. Perhaps this is because the Fourteenth Doctor, now retired, is processing his trauma. Gatwa’s Doctor spoke candidly to Ruby about being an adopted foundling, something neither David Tennant nor Jodie Whittaker’s Doctors were able to do.

Fear factor

The Goblins were bothersome rather than a serious danger – unless you were a baby or Davina McCall. The most frightening moment for adults was when we saw Carla Sunday (Michelle Greenidge) living a solitary, alternate version of her life without the love of her daughter.

Mysteries and questions

Anita Dobson in Doctor Who

Mrs. Flood (portrayed by Anita Dobson) delivered a dramatic fourth-wall break at the conclusion, adding to her already sharp wit and knowing expressions throughout the show. She is aware of the concept of a Tardis! This will surely spark discussions for months to come, as many speculate she could be a regenerated version of Susan, Rani, Missy, or the fugitive Doctor. However, perhaps the true answer has been right in front of us all along. Who was the original person responsible for abandoning the baby at the church?

Deeper into the vortex

  • The giant snowman that fell on Ncuti Gatwa was attached to Henrik’s – the department store Rose Tyler worked in back in 2005 in Rose. The building is actually Howell’s in Cardiff, and it also appeared as Henrik’s in The Runaway Bride and Planet of the Dead.

  • The Third, Fourth, and Thirteenth incarnations of the Doctor have hinted at having encountered Harry Houdini and picking up a few tricks from him. However, none of them have previously mentioned it taking place during a “long, hot summer.”

  • After rescuing infant Ruby, the Doctor has developed a tendency to appear when his companions are young. Young Amelia Pond patiently waited for the arrival of Matt Smith’s Doctor in The Eleventh Hour, while he delved into Clara’s past in The Rings of Akhaten. Clara and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor then explored Danny Pink’s childhood in an orphanage in Listen.

  • Dobson continues the long-standing tradition of Doctor Who breaking the fourth wall. Tom Baker previously spoke directly to the audience, stating, “Even the sonic screwdriver won’t save me from this situation.” Capaldi also provided a detailed explanation of the bootstrap paradox in the beginning of Before the Flood. In 1965, William Hartnell famously turned to the camera and wished the viewers at home a Merry Christmas at the end of an episode. This is a valuable piece of information to have on hand when someone argues that Doctor Who lacks realism nowadays.

Next time

Additional appearances by Ncuti Gatwa, Millie Gibson, Jinkx Monsoon, and Jonathan Groff in an episode set in the 1960s that may include the Beatles. Also, Bonnie Langford’s character, Mel, will make a return and ride a moped with Gatwa on the back. Stay tuned for more!

Source: theguardian.com