Doctor Who Logo 'A Christmas Carol'
(Story Code 5.X)

by Steven Moffat
A Christmas Carol

“Tonight, I’m the Ghost of Christmas Past…” – The Doctor

Amy and Rory’s honeymoon aboard the space-cruiser Thrasymachus takes a turn for the worse when the ship gets caught in atmospheric turbulence and is sent plummeting out of control towards the planet below. As the captain and her crew struggle to regain control of their ship, Amy and Rory (dressed as a policewoman and a Roman Centurion, for ‘honeymoon fun’ – don’t ask) send out a distress call – and luckily for them, the Doctor wastes no time in answering… Meanwhile, on the fog-shrouded surface of the planet below, a rich but grumpy old money-lender named Kazran Sardick receives an unwelcome visit from a family of paupers, who plead for the release of their relative, Abigail, from cryogenic slumber. Refusing to comply because the beautiful woman is collateral for an outstanding loan, Sardick then receives a phone call from the planet’s President, who requests his cooperation as ruler of Sardicktown in allowing the falling spaceship to land safely. Again Sardick refuses to help anyone: although he owns the machine that controls the thick, ice-laden clouds surrounding the planet, he will not allow any “surplus population” to land. Terminating the call, Sardick throws out the poor family, only to be interrupted by a commotion coming from his chimney – as the Doctor falls into the room amid a huge cloud of soot! Having traced the source of the signal controlling the clouds to the spire of Sardick’s mansion, the Time Lord asks the old miser to shut off the machine; yet again Sardick refuses to comply, knowing that his machine’s isomorphic controls will prevent the Doctor from tampering. Furious that Sardick has so casually condemned four thousand and three people to death, the Doctor vows to save his friends and everyone aboard the Thrasymachus; after deducing that Sardick’s outlook on life is due to being beaten by an abusive father, the Doctor changes his plans. Storming outside, the Doctor contacts Amy to give her the bad news; but on seeing a clock strike eleven o’clock, and then hearing a Christmas carol play over the town’s loudspeaker system, the Doctor gets an idea… A short time later, a dozing Sardick awakes to see an old recording playing out before him, of his twelve-year-old self being bullied by his overbearing father, Elliot Sardick: somehow the Doctor has gotten hold of an old video journal, and is now replaying it for the old miser to see. Refusing to entertain the Doctor’s claim that he is the “Ghost of Christmas Past”, Sardick once more orders the Time Lord to leave his house; the Doctor complies… only to somehow reappear in the film recording playing before the old scrooge’s amazed eyes! As Sardick looks on, this recording of the Doctor introduces himself as the young Kazran’s new babysitter. The elder Kazran is confused as these events never happened… but then again, the old miser suddenly remembers them as fact… The Doctor attempts to win over the young Kazran, taking an interest in how his father created a machine to tame the sky and bring down the fish that fly amongst the clouds. Picking up on Sardick’s interest in fish, the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver’s harmonics to set a trap for one of the creatures; as the duo hide inside the boy’s wardrobe, the Doctor begins to get through to Sardick – and in the present, the elderly Sardick now sports a natty bow tie as he continues to watch the old recording… A small fish is soon attracted to the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver; the Time Lord is pleased – until his plan proves too successful, and a huge shark flies in through the window, devours both the fish and the sonic, and sends the Doctor rushing back to the safety of the wardrobe! With the monster smashing through the wardrobe door after him, the Doctor foolhardily reaches into the creature’s jaws to retrieve his sonic screwdriver, but only manages to obtain half the device, the other half still inside the creature’s stomach. Out of the ice-laden clouds for too long, the shark falls unconscious, and Kazran fears that it will die. When the Doctor promises the boy that he will return the creature to the sky but will need a life-support machine to buy them some time, Kazran leads the Time Lord downstairs to his father’s vault, where hundreds of people are held in cryogenic suspension as ‘security’ for their families’ loans. Learning that the young Sardick hasn’t been told the vault’s combination as yet, the Doctor nips forward in time and gets it from the present Sardick, then returns to the past and opens the door. Walking amongst the frozen hostages the Doctor comes across Abigail again; Sardick activates a control on her chamber, but is interrupted by the arrival of the shark – now very much awake, and very, very hungry! The creature chases the duo through the maze of cryo-chambers, but is soon calmed by the singing of the newly-awakened Abigail, her beautiful voice serenading the creature into calmness. Still watching in the present, the elderly Sardick turns to look at the portrait of Abigail that now hangs on the wall of his room where the picture of his father used to be… After placing the shark inside the cryo-booth, the Doctor uses the TARDIS to take it, Abigail and Kazran up into the planet’s atmosphere, where they release the creature into the ice-clouds amidst schools of flying fish. Returning Abigail to her place in the vault, Kazran suddenly declares that he and the Doctor will return to see her the next Christmas Eve; the Doctor plays along, and the following year, he and Kazran wake Abigail and then spend a magical evening flying through the clouds in a rickshaw drawn by their now-friendly shark! In the present, Sardick looks through his collection of old photographs, which detail a series of Christmas Eves in which he, Abigail and the Doctor enjoy many adventures travelling to famous cities on Earth. Unknown to the Doctor, each time Abigail emerges from her cryo-booth, a counter on its front counts down inexorably to zero… The next time Abigail is awakened she is surprised to find Kazran now a handsome young man. Instead of travelling, this time Abigail asks to see her family, and it isn’t long before the Doctor has taken it upon himself to get everyone to share an early Christmas dinner. It is now apparent that Abigail and Sardick have fallen in love, and so the Doctor leaves the couple to enjoy their first kiss before Abigail is goes to sleep once more. Back in the present, the old Sardick continues to look through his photos, reliving his travels with the Doctor and Abigail in New York, Paris, and even Hollywood… Speaking of which, when the Doctor and his friends enjoy a Hollywood Christmas party thrown by Frank Sinatra, Abigail finally tells Kazran her terrible secret; however, the Doctor has no time to find out – he has accidentally gotten engaged to Marilyn Monroe, and needs to make a quick getaway! When the trio eventually return to Sardicktown, Kazran declares that they call an end to their Christmas Eve adventures, on the grounds that he needs to spend his time helping his father; the Doctor is puzzled, but respects Kazran’s wishes, presenting the young man with a gift of the remaining half of the sonic screwdriver before leaving in the TARDIS. As the space-time ship departs, the counter on Abigail’s cryo-booth clicks over to 001; Kazran locks the vault for the last time – and in the present, the portrait of Abigail has been replaced by the all-too familiar scowling face of Elliot Sardick… Back in the past, Sardick Senior shows his son his new machine to control the sky; however, Kazran does not share his father’s enthusiasm, and instead returns to his room, where he takes out the remains of the sonic screwdriver from his drawer. Turning around, Kazran sees the Doctor at the window – but instead of greeting his old friend, Kazran changes his mind, drawing the curtains and shutting him out… In the present, the elderly Sardick finds the sonic screwdriver still in the same drawer, but his ruminations are interrupted by another call from the President – and once again the old scrooge refuses to save those aboard the plummeting spaceship. At that moment, a hologram appears before the elderly miser: Amy has appeared as the Ghost of Christmas present! Hearing the sounds of a Christmas carol, Sardick follows the song to the vault, where he finds dozens of people apparently awake and singing; when Amy reappears and explains that they are holograms of the doomed passengers aboard the Thrasymachus, Sardick refuses to be swayed: he resents the Doctor’s interference in his life, which caused him to fall in love with Abigail. It transpires that Abigail was terminally ill, and the time she spent with Sardick used up all but one of her remaining days; Amy is sorry to learn this, but points out that even a day is more than she and everyone else on the ship now has. At Amy’s instruction Rory widens the hologram beam, placing an astonished Sardick on board the bridge of the doomed Thrasymachus. At the Doctor’s instruction, the passengers aboard are singing in an attempt to harmonise the ice crystals in the atmosphere – but their combined song is still not powerful enough to stabilise the vessel. Sardick then finds himself transported to his family vault, confronted yet again by the Doctor; with the miser continuing to insist that he will never care enough about anyone, the Doctor remains undaunted, explaining that he is now showing Sardick his future – but this time he is not talking to the elderly Kazran, he is speaking to his twelve-year old self, who stands nearby. When the boy mistakes his older self for his father, Sardick becomes enraged, and makes to hit the child – but stops himself when he realises what he become; with tears finally falling from his eyes, the old Kazran embraces his younger self in a release of emotion. Having finally gotten through to Sardick, the Doctor instructs him to deactivate the energy beam’s control system – only to find that the device will not respond to the old man’s commands. Realising that his interference in Sardick’s life has changed his brainwaves too much, the Doctor comes up with an alternative plan: by sending a signal through Sardick’s sonic screwdriver they will be able to contact the device’s other half, which is still up in the sky inside the shark; however, they will need to send a signal that they know will have the right effect to calm the sky – and that can only be provided by Abigail. Sardick realises he has no choice: he has hoarded Abigail’s final days for too long, and must now put her remaining time to good use. Released from sleep, Abigail is only too happy to help, singing her beautiful song into the sonic screwdriver, through the shark, and into the ice-crystals in the planet’s atmosphere. The effect is immediate: the plummeting spaceship stabilises in the nick of time, allowing the captain and her crew to make a safe landing; not only that, but the Doctor uses the two dislocated parts of his sonic screwdriver to perform another miracle: making it snow for the first Christmas in decades! Leaving Sardick and Abigail to enjoy their final Christmas together, the Doctor takes the young Kazran back to his rightful point in time and then rejoins a relieved Amy and Rory in the present. Promising his friends a different honeymoon on a moon made of real honey, the Doctor ushers them into the TARDIS, fielding a phone call from Marilyn Monroe in the process. As the ship dematerialises, high up in the snowy skies, Kazran and Abigail enjoy a final romantic trip in their shark-propelled carriage…

Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), Michael Gambon (Kazran Sardick / Elliot Sardick), Katherine Jenkins (Abigail Pettigrew), Laurence Belcher (Young Kazran), Danny Horn (Adult Kazran), Leo Bill (Pilot), Pooky Quesnel (Captain), Micah Balfour (Co-Pilot), Steve North (Old Benjamin), Bailey Pepper (Boy / Benjamin), Tim Plester (Servant), Nick Malinowski (Eric), Laura Rogers (Isabella), Meg Wynn-Owen (Old Isabella)

Directed by Toby Haynes
Produced by Sanne Wohlenberg
Executive Producers Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger and Beth Willis
A BBC Wales production

TX (BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD):
25th December 2010 @ 6.00 pm

*Featuring the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory

*This episode marks the first time that Arthur Darvill joins Matt Smith and Karen Gillan in the opening credits

Clive’s note: according to ‘Doctor Who Confidential’, the shark was given the code-name of ‘Clive’ to keep it a secret on production paperwork!