Christmas is coming up, so I thought I’d share some of Doctor Who‘s Christmas special scripts. The earliest available that I could find is Voyage of the Damned from 2007 by Russell T. Davies. It was previously available on his website, The Writer’s Tale, but now only exists through archiving.
Doctor Who – Voyage of the Damned was described by Davies as being a “very special case” with the casting of Kylie Minogue, and the character of Astrid Peth was written specifically for her. Davies described his pitch to Minogue as “busking” an improvised plot, despite writing a character for a specific actor as “dangerous territory”, as that actor may not end up being cast. Davies’ initial pitch to Minogue didn’t end with her death, though the final episode did conclude this way, as Minogue couldn’t become a regular member of the cast due to her musical career. Peth’s original death scene – falling from a precipice – was considered to be fleeting, so Davies wrote Peth an epilogue, to provide closure to the Doctor’s relationship with her. The initial death itself was also intensified by making antagonist Max Capricorn a cyborg and Peth’s death a sacrifice with a forklift instead of a simple fight, feeling this rewritten version was more beautiful and tragic. The situation Peth and the Doctor were to face was inspired by the disaster genre, with the Starship Titanic originally being turned upside-down in homage to The Poseidon Adventure (by Sterling Silliphant and Wendall Mayes), but this was cut for budget. Foon van Hoff was based on Shelley Winter’s Belle Rosen. This concept helped Davies form Capricorn, whose plan was an insurance scam. Peth’s home planet of Sto was inspired by the version of Kansas portrayed in The Wizard of Oz (by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf). Davies also homaged other popular culture elements – the Host malfunctioning over the word “Max” is a reference to digital television host Max Headroom. Other homages were to previous Doctor Who episodes – London residents vacating at Christmas, having become scared of the previous alien invasions from the previous two Christmas specials – the Racnoss in The Runaway Bride and the Sycorax from The Christmas Invasion – both also written by Davies; the Doctor finally getting to say “Allons-y, Alonso” stemmed from an established desire in Army of Ghosts. The angelic Hosts also continued a recurring thematic motif in Davies’ work of Angels – an Archangel Network had previously appeared in The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords, as well as the monsters of the Weeping Angels from Blink. While the Weeping Angels were animals, the Hosts were machines, much to the relief of Davies, who only read Moffat’s Blink teleplay after writing Voyage of the Damned. The working title was Starship Titanic, but was altered when Davies discovered Douglas Adams had written a similar concept. In the first draft, the Starship Titanic destroyed Buckingham Palace, prompting the Queen to curse the Doctor rather than thank him. Davies changed this after deciding it was too negative an ending for a Christmas special. In the final draft, the character portrayed by Bernard Cribbins is named Stan. Cribbins would be brought-back as a semi-regular as Wilfred Mott – “Stan” not being named on screen allowed this.
Script secretary: Kevin Myers
Script editor: Brian Minchin
Davies, R. (2008). ‘Be my Guest’. Radio Times, 337 (4381), pp. 14 – 24.
Pixley, A. (2008). ‘Voyage of the Damned’. Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition, (20), pp. 6 – 9.