Now we know a tiny bit more about this winter’s DOCTOR WHO Christmas Special — and it’s all good stuff! We already knew the episode would introduce the Doctor’s newest assistant (possibly named Clara), but whom will the new combo be pitted against?
The baddie will be played by none other than erstwhile Ninth Doctor himself, Richard E. Grant! Grant, who voiced the ninth incarnation of the Doctor for the BBC-authorized audio adventure Scream of the Shalka during the Wilderness Years, is probably best known for starring in the movie Withnail and I, but he also has another tie to the DW universe. He played the “Quite Handsome Doctor” in Steven Moffat’s first foray into Who, “The Curse of the Fatal Death.”
Also appearing in the Xmas special with the as-yet unannounced title (penned by Mark Gatiss) will be one Tom Ward. (Sorry, we Yanks know nothing about him.) But, more importantly, Alex Kingston was spotted on the set, so that means more River Song. And set spies also have reported that Neve McIntosh was spotted playing Madame Vastra again – which could mean more than one Series 7 episode for her.
Rumor has it that not only will this be a ghost story (and a scary one), it will be connected to next year’s 50th anniversary festivities, so fans are being told to expect something big. (Although at this point, I cannot imagine what that would be.) Matt Smith (the Doctor) was quoted as calling the Xmas special “poetic.”
There are also three major rumors (I stress rumors) circulating about the nature of Jenna-Louise Coleman’s character, and while I don’t believe two of them, the third has a good chance of being true, in a way. If you want to avoid even potential spoilers, skip to the next paragraph. One “silly” rumor suggests that Clara is a robot, and the other that she is dead. Given that series honcho Moffat has been trumpeting the next companion as something different – “how the he Doctor meets her, and even where he finds her are all part of one of the biggest mysteries the Time Lord ever encounters,” Moffat said – she couldn’t be a robot, because… well, been there, done that. K9, anyone? And, if you want to split hairs and insist on an android, the Fifth Doctor traveled for a short time with Kamelion. As for being dead, well, with the 50th anniversary coming and all the publicity the show can expect, tethering the Doctor to a dead girl is a bit gruesome, even for DW. That leaves rumor No. 3: She’s from the past. Given that several episodes in the back half of the season (including the Christmas special) appear to be set in Victorian times, it could very well be that the Doctor finds her in the past. While that would be a switch from the usual contemporary women, the Second Doctor did travel with famous screamer Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling), who also came from the Victorian era. Hmm…
Anyway, let’s get back to more concrete matters, like Richard E. Grant. I prefer to remember him from one of my favorite genre films, Francis Ford Coppola’s absolutely batshit crazy and brilliant horror gem, Bram Stoker’s Dracula! You may recall he played Lucy’s suitor Dr. Seward, who ran the asylum in which Renfield was locked up. Not that Moffat’s hilarious “Fatal Death” was anything to sneeze at. Although Grant was listed in the credits as “Quite Handsome,” Grant’s Doctor referred to himself as “lick the mirror handsome” in the story itself. The Shalka ninth Doctor was consigned to limbo when Russell T Davies decided to restart the TV series with his own Ninth Doctor in “Rose.”
Well, I suppose if you can’t play the Doctor, the next best thing is to play his antagonist, right? Perhaps Grant’s character will be memorable enough to become a new recurring menace?