The Doctor (David Tennant) runs into some new, and old, acquaintances on a trip back to Victorian London. Arriving to investigate a series of mysterious deaths, the Tardis touches down in a London under the grip of fear. Things soon take a strange twist when the Doctor realises he's not the only Doctor in town, and with events getting out of control, it's not long before the time lords are forced to join forces to combat their common foe. But things are about to get a lot worse for the Doctors, as some of their deadliest foes, the Cybermen, re-emerge to do battle with their old enemy. The programme also includes 'Doctor Who at the Proms', hosted by Freema Agyeman, which was filmed at London's Royal Albert Hall in July 2008 as part of the BBC Proms.
Broadcast under intense speculation as to whether it would lead to David Morrissey taking over the title role, Doctor Who: The Next Doctor
actually turned out to be a really enjoyable Christmas special for the show, crammed with action, ideas and solid family entertainment.
The premise of The Next Doctor, that there are two Doctors on the go, is set up early, as Tennant’s Doctor encounters Morrissey’s character wielding a screwdriver, talking of the TARDIS and fighting foes. This allows Tennant to slip into the role of the assistant, and his double act with Morrissey is excellent, with the latter making the most of a meaty, evolving role.
Also winning the acting plaudits though is the baddie of the piece, played by Dervla Kirwan. She’s scene-stealingly good here, and is the most sinister foe on offer in The Next Doctor. Next to her, the returning cybermen looking surprisingly tame, even when considering the surprises that the episodes throws up as it enters its final act.
The Next Doctor isn’t a perfect episode by any means, and the terrific Christmas Invasion is surely the best Yuletide instalment to date. But it’s an entertaining, busy and ambitious hour, and worth seeing for Morrissey and Kirwan alone. Rollicking good stuff, even if the cybermen seem to quickly need another reboot… –-Jon Foster