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The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe
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Matt Smith
The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe
Eleventh Doctor Logo


Synopsis


Cyril Being Crowned
Cyril Being Crowned
 It's Christmas Eve 1938, and Madge Arwell helps an injured spaceman-angel. He promises to repay her kindness.

 Three years later; Madge escapes war-torn London with her children for a house in Dorset. The Arwells are greeted by a caretaker whose Christmas gift leads them into a magical wintry world.

Source: Radio Times


General Information

Season: Thirty Three (New Series 7)
Production Code: 7-X
Story Number: 225 (New Series: 69)
Episode Number:784 (New Series: 88)
Number of Episodes: 1
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: September - October 2011
Broadcast Date: 25 December 2011
Colour Status: HD Colour
Studio: BBC Wales (Upper Boat, Pontypridd)
Location: Uskmouth Power Station (Uskmouth), Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre (East Kirkby, Lincolnshire) and Forest of Dean (Gloucestershire)
Writer:Steven Moffat
Director:Farren Blackburn
Producer:Marcus Wilson
Executive Producers:Caroline Skinner, Piers Wenger and Steven Moffat
Associate Producer:Denise Paul
Assistant Director:Danielle Richards
Script Executive:Caroline Henry
Editor:Tim Porter
Production Executive:Julie Scott
Production Manager:Phillipa Cole
Production Assistant:Sandra Cosfield
Post Production Supervisor:Nerys Davies
Production Designer:Michael Pickwoad
Director of Photography:Stephan Pehrsson
Casting Director:Andy Pryor CDG
Line Producer:Diana Barton
Costume Designer:Edward K. Gibbon
Make-Up Designer:Barbara Southcott
Cameramen:Owain Thatcher (Assistant), Rebecca Pescod (Assistant), Tom Hartley (Assistant) and Joe Russell (Operator)
Incidental Music:Murray Gold
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Paul Jefferies
Sound Recordist:Robert Flanagan
Visual Effects:The Mill and Space Digital (Additional)
Special Effects:Real SFX
Prosthetics:Millennium FX
Stunt Co-ordinators:Crispin Layfield and Gordon Seed
Stunt Performers:Tracy Caudle and Will Willoughby
Title Sequence:Frame Store
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Murray Gold
Music Performed By: The BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Music Orchestrated By: Ben Foster
Music Conducted and Additional Orchestrations By: Jeremy Holland-Smith
Music Mixed By: Jake Jackson
Music Recorded By: Gerry O'Riordan
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Matt Smith (The Eleventh Doctor)
Number of Companions: 2The Companions: Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) (Rejoins) and Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams) (Rejoins) Number of Acquaintances: 1The Acquaintance: Claire Skinner (Madge Arwell) (Joins and Departs) Guest Cast: Bill Bailey (Droxil), Alexander Armstrong (Reg Arwell) Additional Cast: Maurice Cole (Cyril Arwell), Holly Earl (Lily Arwell), Sam Stockman (Co-Pilot), Paul Bazely (Ven-Garr), Arabella Weir (Billis), Spencer Wilding (Wooden King), Paul Kasey (Wooden Queen)Setting: Earth orbit (1938); England (1938 and 1941); an unnamed planet (5345) and Leadworth, England (2013) Villain:None

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
784The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe25 December 201158'21"10.8Yes

Total Duration 58 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 10.8
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2011)71.60%  (Position = 10 out of 13)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)55.12% Lower (Position = 229 out of 241)


Archives


 This story exists and is held in the BBC's Film and Videotape Library.



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Notes


This is the seventh Christmas special since the show was revived in 2005 and features Claire Skinner, Bill Bailey, Arabella Weir and Alexander Armstrong. It is set during World War II and is about a family of blitz refugees, Madge Arwell and her two children, Lily and Cyril, who have to relocate to Dorset, where they meet The Doctor.

The storyline is partly inspired by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. C. S. Lewis died the day before the very first episode of Doctor Who aired.

This is the first Doctor Who story for Bill Bailey who played Droxil. He starred as Manny in the, BAFTA-award-winning Channel 4 comedy series Black Books and is a regular on comedy panel shows such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Have I Got News for You and QI.

Claire Skinner, who played the part of Madge Arwell, is best known as the long-suffering mum in hit BBC sitcom Outnumbered. Among her many credits she has also appeared in the film Sleepy Hollow, and the television series Trinity, Agatha Christie's Marple and Poirot, and the BBC's 2008 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, as Fanny Dashwood, the wife of John Dashwood who was played by Doctor Who writer and actor Mark Gatiss.

Claire Skinner is placed in the opening titles instead of Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. This is the first time the cast names in the titles have changed since Arthur Darvill was added in the 2010 Christmas special "A Christmas Carol" and the first time Karen Gillan has not appeared in the titles since playing the part of Amy Pond.

Television presenter and actor Alexander Armstrong, who played Reg Arwell, is best know for his partnership with Ben Miller in a series of comedy sketch shows. He also fronted the Saturday evening game show Epic Win. Although this Christmas Special marks the first time that Alexander Armstrong has been seen in Doctor Who, his voice will be instantly recognisable as that of Mr Smith, the super computer belonging to Sarah Jane Smith in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Mr Smith also made an appearance in the 2008 Doctor Who story "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End".

Comedy actress and writer Arabella Weir, who played Billis, is best known as a member of the regular team in the popular BBC sketch comedy The Fast Show. She also once played The Doctor! When, back in 2003 she stared in the Big Finish Productions Doctor Who: Unbound, audio series which cast different actors as alternative versions of the Time Lord. This series featured David Warner, Derek Jacobi and David Collings, while Arabella Weir played an alternative, female version of the Third Doctor in "Exile" - that also featured future Tenth Doctor David Tennant as a Time Lord.

Rounding off the cast are young actor Maurice Cole as Cyril Arwell, 2010/2011 Casualty regular Holly Earl as Lily Arwell, and Benidorm and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides star Paul Bazely as Ven-Garr. Spencer Wilding, who played the Minotaur in the last season's "The God Complex" also appears (as the Wooden King), as does regular monster performer Paul Kasey (as the Wooden Queen). Paul Kasey previous roles have included a Cyberman in "Closing Time", Nephew in "The Doctor's Wife" and Ood Sigma in the 2009/10 Tenth Doctor story "The End of Time".

Director Farren Blackburn is a newcomer to the world of Doctor Who. She is an experienced television director, having worked on Waterloo Road, Holby City, Silent Witness and Vera. Her most recent work has been on The Fades which is produced by Doctor Who's incoming executive producer, Caroline Skinner. This is the first Doctor Who story for Executive Director Caroline Skinner.

Production started in September 2011 and filming was due to be complete by mid October 2011. However, filming was disrupted on 30 September due to a 24-hour protest at BBC Wales.

The read through took place in Cardiff on the afternoon of the Monday 5th September 2011.

At seven words, this story has the longest title of any Doctor Who story or episode.

The stunning opening sequences in the spaceship corridors were filmed, on the 20th September 2011, in Uskmouth Power Station. Conditions were so noisy that the crew wore ear protectors throughout the shoot.

The plane that Reg pilots is a Lancaster Bomber. The sequences involving the aircraft were shot on the 3rd October, 2011 in and around the Lancaster bomber 'Just Jane' at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby, Lincolnshire. The plane used is a genuine bomber that flew during the war. External footage of the 'lighthouse' building took place in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.

The Doctor has previously survived briefly in the vacuum of space in the 1982 Fifth Doctor story "Four to Doomsday".

The sequence where The Doctor shows the Arwells around the refurbished house originally included a scene featuring a 'haunted' coal cellar!

The decorative ducks on the wall of the Arwell's sitting room find a visual echo in the house they stay at in Dorset - three planes on one of the walls in the children's bedroom.

The sets for the Arwells' sitting room and the Androzani Harvester were right next to each other in the BBC's Upper Boat studios, so when Maurice Cole peered through the telescope, he was actually looking into the Harvester's control room!

A reference is made again that the sonic screwdriver does not work on wood (see "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead" and "The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood").

The Doctor is heard to refer to a tree from the Forest of Cheem fancying him, referencing Jabe in the 2005 Ninth Doctor story "The End of the World" and who sacrificed her life for him.

The Doctor mentions the Magna Carta, a 13th Century charter that helped established crucial areas of English civil liberties. In the 1983 Fifth Doctor story "The King's Demons" The Master tried to prevent it being signed but The Doctor managed to defeat his plan!

Madge Arwell aims a Webley revolver at the Harvest Rangers. This is the same type of revolver that has been carried by Jack Harkness and Wilfred Mott.

The three tree harvesters are from Androzani Major in the year 5345, a planet in the Sirius System that was introduced in the 1984 Fifth Doctor story "The Caves of Androzani".

Two of the Harvest Rangers' names - Ven-Garr and Billis - might sound vaguely familiar. Piers Wenger and Beth Willis were two of the Executive Producers alongside Steven Moffat during the first two years of the Eleventh Doctor's era...

Reg is heard to say ‘I'm sorry, my love’ much as River Song said to The Doctor in the 2010 story "The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang".

At the end of the story, Amy Pond is seen pointing a water pistol at the Eleventh Doctor when he shows up on her doorstep. Previously, she has twice aimed a gun at her daughter, River Song ("The Impossible Astronaut/A Good Man Goes to War") and at The Silence ("The Wedding of River Song"). Additionally, the Tenth Doctor once protected Donna Noble by bluffing the Soothsayers with a water pistol ("The Fires of Pompeii"). Incidentally that story was the first that Karen Gillan ever appeared in, as a Soothsayer.

Amy Pond is heard telling The Doctor that two years have passed since Lake Silencio (see "The Impossible Astronaut/The Wedding of River Song"), placing the epilogue scene taking place on the 25th December 2013.

This story contains a number of errors. Namely: Sound does not travel in space but despite this The Doctor can be heard as he heads towards Earth; the plane Reg was flying is a model which did not see active service until 1942, but this story is set in 1941.

As well as being shown in the United Kingdom on Christmas Day, on BBC One, it was also shown on BBC America, in the United States, and on ABC1 in Australia.

A sneak preview of this story was shown on the 18th November 2011 during Children in Need.

On the 6th December 2011 a prequel to this story was released online. In this prequel The Doctor is seen on a spaceship holding a red button which, when he lets go, will cause the space ship to explode. While holding the button, he has phoned the TARDIS to speak to Amy Pond asking her to rescue him, although he does not have his co-ordinates. Amy cannot fly the TARDIS, and she is not on the TARDIS. The Doctor wishes Amy a Merry Christmas before letting go of the button, and the spaceship explodes. The televised story follows on immediately after this sequence with The Doctor desperately trying to escape as the spaceship breaks apart.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 Though not technically part of Season Thirty Three (New Series 7) this is the first real story of this season.

 The first time the cast names in the titles have changed since Arthur Darvill was added in the 2010 Christmas special "A Christmas Carol"

 The first time Karen Gillan has not appeared in the titles since playing the part of Amy Pond.

 Caroline Skinner's first involvement in the show as Executive Producer.

 The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Farren Blackburn.

 Edward K. Gibbon's first involvement in the show as Costume Designer.

 Space Digital's first involvement in the show providing the visual effects.


The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 Piers Wenger's last involvement in the show as Executive Producer.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Lily and Her Mother
Lily and Her Mother

The Doctor, travelling alone without Amy and Rory Pond, is on a spaceship in Earth's orbit. The spaceship explodes, The Doctor having caused it to self destruct so as to prevent it firing on the Earth. As the spaceship disintegrates The Doctor is ejected into space before he can return to the safety of his TARDIS. As The Doctor hurtles towards Earth he manages to catch up with an impact suit and he hurriedly puts it on.

Meanwhile on Earth it is Christmas in 1938 and Madge Arwell is riding her bike, as something crashes to Earth. She goes to investigate and finds The Doctor hurt, with the helmet of his spacesuit the wrong way round. Madge helps The Doctor, stuck and unable to see while in the impact suit, to his TARDIS. She then bids him a Merry Christmas and The Doctor promises to repay her for her kindness.

Three years later, during World War II, Madge's husband Reg is reported killed in action when the Lancaster Bomber he was piloting disappeared over the English Channel on his way home. Madge is informed of her husband's death by telegram, but does not wish to break the news to her children, Lily and Cyril, until after Christmas as she wants them to still enjoy the festive period.

Cyril
Cyril

Because of the bombing Madge and her children evacuate to a relatives house in Dorset where they are greeted by The Doctor, calling himself ‘the Caretaker’. Madge however, does not recognise him from their previous encounter. The Doctor has prepared the house specially for the children and the holiday. Though the children are pleased, Madge is annoyed with The Doctor’s manic antics and privately explains about Reg's death to The Doctor – insisting that he does not overindulge the children. During the first night though, Cyril is lured into the living room by a large present under the Christmas tree and Lily sneaks out and goes upstairs into The Doctor's room to discover what he is doing and is curious as to why he has a Police Telephone box in his room. While she is with The Doctor though she is unaware that Cyril has gone downstairs to open the parcel. It is revealed to be a portal which, when Cyril crawls through, he emerges in a snow-covered forest.

Realising what Cyril has done The Doctor follows with Lily shortly afterwards. But there is no sign of him. In the forest baubles begin to grow from the trees, and it seems Cyril is following footprints that are getting bigger and bigger. The footprints lead Cyril to a large lighthouse-like building which he enters. Inside Cyril discovers a throne with a wooden statue of a King on it and a staircase leading upwards. At the top of the tower he discovers another wooden statue – this time of a Queen.

Reg Arwell
Reg Arwell

Madge, finding her children missing, soon discovers the open box and so follows them into the forest. But instead of locating Lily and Cyril, or The Doctor, she is met by three miners in space suits who explain they are from the planet Androzani Major. Distressed by the loss of her children, and being held at gun point by three strange people in space suits, she begins to cry. The miners realising that she is an unarmed civilian place their weapons to the ground, whereupon Madge draws a pistol and forces them to help her find her children. Holding the miners at gunpoint, she is taken back to their mining walker and is told that her children are in grave danger as the forest of Androzani Trees is scheduled to be melted by acid rain and turned into fuel. This is due to take place within minutes and will kill everything within the forest. After helping Madge to locate where her children are the miners are teleported away safely before the rain starts – leaving a distressed Madge alone in the mining walker.

The Doctor and Lily, having followed the two sets of footprints, also enter the lighthouse building, to look for Cyril, and discover the wooden King. When they climb to the top of the tower The Doctor and Lily see Cyril sitting on another throne. He has a halo around his head and also in the room is the wooden Queen. The wooden King then arrives and both statues use Cyril to talk through. They explain that they are scared and that the life forces of the trees in the forest are trying to escape through a living creature. They also state that have rejected Cyril as he is ‘weak’. The Doctor manages to remove the halo from Cyril’s head but is surprised when he too is informed that he is also considered to be ‘weak’.

On hearing her children Madge, using the little knowledge she knows of flying a plane from Reg, to direct the mining walker to the lighthouse and is safely reunited with Lily and Cyril. The wood creatures identify her as ‘strong’, and The Doctor realises they consider her the ‘mothership’, able to carry the life force safely though the band's interface. Donning the crown, Madge absorbs the life force of the forest, allowing her to direct the top of the lighthouse as an escape pod away from the acid rain and into the time vortex. The forest having escaped being destroyed because of Madge's taking it into another place just in time.

Evacuees
Evacuees

To get them home, The Doctor directs her to think of home, allowing Madge to revisit her fond memories of when Lily and Cyril where born, and when she first met Reg. But she soon realises that she will have to recall the moment of Reg's death, but The Doctor forces her to continue to do so. And so as she thinks about it his final moments in the Lancaster Bomber appear on a screen. Lily and Cyril are confused about why their mother does not want them to see their father. Then suddenly a burst of light engulfs them.

They wake up back on Earth, where it is Christmas Day and everything is normal - the life force of the forest having left Madge and converted themselves to ethereal beings within the time vortex. Realising she has no choice Madge is about to break the news of their father's death to Lily and Cyril, when The Doctor calls them to come out and see something. There on the lawn is Reg's Lancaster Bomber - Madge having inadvertently pulled his plane into the time vortex so enabling him to find his way home and to be reunited with his family.

As Madge and her family begin to celebrate Christmas together, The Doctor attempts to slip away, but Madge discovers him in his upstairs room. On spotting the TARDIS she realises that he is the man in the space suit that she met three years ago. She insists on him staying for Christmas dinner, but when The Doctor reveals he has other friends out there that believe he is dead, Madge changes her mind about him joining them for Christmas dinner and insists that he goes to see them on Christmas. He reluctantly agrees but before The Doctor departs he offers Madge his help if she ever needs it again.

Later, The Doctor arrives outside Amy and Rory's home. Two years have passed since he left them there and Amy is first angry at him leaving them like that, though reveals that River Song told them about his faked death. After they eventually hug Amy invites him in for dinner - admitting that they always set a space at the table for him. However, before joining them The Doctor pauses to wipe a tear of joy from his eye.

 
The Caretaker
The Caretaker
Cyril Inside the Box
Cyril Inside the Box
Cyril Discovers the Globes
Cyril Discovers the Globes
Lily and The Doctor
Lily and The Doctor
 
The Wooden King and Queen
The Wooden King and Queen
Droxil
Droxil
Back on Earth
Back on Earth
The Doctor Visits Amy and Rory
The Doctor Visits Amy and Rory




Quote of the Story


 'every time you see them happy, you remember how sad they're going to be... and it breaks your heart. Because what's the point in them being happy now if they're going to be sad later? The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
DVD
The Doctor, The Widow and the WardrobeJanuary 2012BBCDVD 3501Photo-montage
Video
Blu-Ray
The Doctor, The Widow and the WardrobeJanuary 2012BBCBD 0171Photo-montage
Audio
CD
The Snowmen MusicOctober 2013Photo-montageMusic by Murray Gold
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Series 1-7 Box Set (Limited Edition)December 2013BBCBD 0242Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray boxed set containing all Series 1-7 stories at full 1080p high definition
Video
DVD
The Complete Seventh Series Box SetOctober 2013BBCDVD 3838Photo-montageDVD boxed set containing 15 stories
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Seventh Series Box SetOctober 2013BBCBD 0241Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 15 stories
Video
DVD
The Time of the Doctor & Other Eleventh Doctor Christmas Specials Box SetJanuary 2014BBCDVD 3884Photo-montage
Video
Blu-Ray
The Time of the Doctor & Other Eleventh Doctor Christmas Specials Box SetJanuary 2014BBC3DBD 0265Photo-montage3D Blu-Ray
Video
DVD
The Complete Seventh Series (2014 Re-release)August 2014BBCDVD 3971Photo-montageBoxed set containing all 15 stories
Video
DVD
The Christmas Specials Box Set (Limited Edition)October 2015BBCDVD 4059Photo-montageBoxed set containing 10 Christmas stories
Video
Blu-Ray
The Christmas Specials Box Set (Limited Edition)October 2015BBCBD 0314Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 10 Christmas stories


In Print

No Book Release
Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 442 (Released: December 2011/January 2012)
Doctor Who Magazine - ReviewIssue 443 (Released: February 2012)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 520 (Released: January 2018)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions/Acquaintance

 
Matt Smith
The Eleventh Doctor

   

Karen Gillan
Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill
Rory Williams
Claire Skinner
Madge Arwell
   




On Release

DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Blu-Ray Cover
Blu-Ray Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Original Television Soundtrack Cover
Original Television Soundtrack Cover

BBC
AUDIO
Complete Series 1-7 Ltd Edition Blu-Ray Box Set
Complete Series 1-7 Ltd Edition Blu-Ray Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
   
Complete Series DVD Box Set
Complete Series DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
The Time of the Doctor DVD Cover
The Time of the Doctor DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
The Time of the Doctor Blu-Ray Cover
The Time of the Doctor Blu-Ray Cover

BBC
VIDEO
   
Complete Series DVD Box Set<BR>(2014 Re-release)
Complete Series DVD Box Set
(2014 Re-release)

BBC
VIDEO
DVD Christmas Stories Box Set
DVD Christmas Stories Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Blu-Ray Christmas Stories Box Set
Blu-Ray Christmas Stories Box Set

BBC
VIDEO



Magazines

Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 442
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 442

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 443
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 443

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 520
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 520

Marvel Comics
   

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