Doctor Who Christmas Special 2007

Voyage Of The Damned

Directed by James Strong

Written by Russell T Davies

Starring David Tennant, Kylie Minogue, Geoffrey Palmer and Clive Swift

This is the third of the Doctor Who “Christmas Special” episodes, following on from ‘The Christmas Invasion’ in 2005 and ‘The Runaway Bride’ in 2006. Like those earlier episodes, it was written by Russell T Davies, the co-Executive Producer of the show. Although not universally liked by hardcore fans, Davies is one of television’s premiere writers and has been instrumental in the extraordinary phoenix-like revival of a show that had, in television terms, been largely defunct for 16 years.

Viewing figures for the first two specials were very impressive, both reaching nearly 9.5 million. Early indications suggest the audience for ‘Voyage of the Damned’ might have exceeded 12 million. This figure needs to be confirmed, but if accurate is a remarkable result.

The episode is, in common with its two predecessors, an action-packed rollercoaster ride. In this case, it follows the template of ‘The Poseidon Adventure’, and also possibly draws on some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

As is the way with Doctor Who, the cast includes several familiar faces, including a cameo appearance by the much-loved character actor Bernard Cribbins, who was featured in the 1966 Doctor Who feature film ‘Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD’. The “stunt” casting, if such a thing can be said of this particular show, in which it is commonplace and always welcome, is the presence of Kylie Minogue. I don’t count myself as a fan of Kylie, but despite reading quite a lot of negative reaction to her performance, I thought she was rather good.

The story and characterisation doesn’t demand a great deal of subtlety, but Davies is too skilled not to add some shading to his script. The characters Morvin and Foon Van Hoff allow a comment to be made about social snobbery and, more pertinently, the current obsession with demonising people for their weight (obesity). Having recently read some repulsive comments made about the bird-like Jennifer Love Hewitt’s weight and body shape, I think it is long overdue.

Enough happens during the 70-or-so-minutes running time to keep the story moving forward at a breathless pace and it bodes well for the forthcoming fourth season of the new era.

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