Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Steven Moffat seems not to have bothered to make the story plausible this year – but we forgive him anyway, it's Christmas!

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The Independent Culture

Santa just got badass. The aptly-named Nick Frost gives a fantastic performance as a straight-talking, salt-of-the-Earth Santa Claus tonight. But overall, this year's special struggles to make sense.

Nevertheless it is enjoyable watching Santa beat the Doctor hands down in the battle of sci-fi jargon and wit. While he might not be of the Billy Bob Thornton Bad Santa variety with the foul language and naughty antics, Frost’s Saint Nick is sardonic and isn’t afraid to tell the Peter Capaldi's Doctor to shut it.

There’s very little ho, ho, ho-ing and jollity from this incarnation of Father Christmas. Well, not until the very end when it all gets a little bit too cheesy but it is Christmas after all. Santa actually manages to bring out a craggy, crimbo grin from the Doctor as he flies his sleigh over London.


‘Last Christmas’ is a marked departure from the saccharine schmaltz of Doctor Who Christmas specials past. It’s a different kind of festive special for this dark new era of Doctor Who: sci-fi horror via Alien and Inception with a little dash of festive seasoning. Peter Capaldi’s twelfth Time Lord doesn’t do cosy Christmas dinners with the family.

Admittedly the story itself doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense but it doesn’t matter, writer and showrunner Steven Moffat can get away with it because it’s Christmas and everyone’s either a) in a food coma or b) a little bit too sozzled to realise what’s going.

That’s not to say that ‘Last Christmas’ is a turkey, far from it. There’s some cracking dialogue: “We’ve got ghosts! A skeleton man and a girl in a nightie”, “a time travelling scientist dressed as a magician”, “Go and make a naughty list!” are among my favourites.

Clara is now back travelling with the Doctor – it turns out Jenna Coleman isn’t leaving the Tardis just yet. Will Danny Pink also be returning? With Orson Pink floating around somewhere in time and space, it’s a fair bet we will see him again.