Chibnall Broke A Big Doctor Who Tradition (& It Hurt Whittaker’s Era)

Jodie Whittaker had one of the most divisive runs as Doctor Who’s titular hero, which wasn’t helped by Chris Chibnall breaking a years-old tradition.

By breaking one of Doctor Who’s most beloved traditions, Chris Chibnall hurt Jodie Whittaker’s era as the Thirteenth Doctor even more. Chibnall and Whittaker joined the long-running BBC series together after previous showrunner, Steven Moffat, and Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, both left the show after the tenth season. Whittaker portrayed the Thirteenth Doctor from 2018 until her 2022 regeneration in the Centenary Special, “The Power of the Doctor,” which saw her transform back into David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor. Despite a long run on the series, Whittaker’s era was highly divisive among die-hard fans, with many feeling as though the show’s writing and trademark interconnectivity was seriously lacking.

Since its 2005 revival, one of the staples of Doctor Who’s annual slate has been the Christmas Specials, standalone episodes that feature the Doctor and their companions on festive adventures across the universe. Every incarnation of the Doctor, except for Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth, got to play in the sandbox of a Doctor Who Christmas Special during their time as the titular hero, but Chibnall never gifted Whittaker a holiday episode, instead deciding to focus on New Year Specials instead. By breaking a fan-favorite Doctor Who tradition, Chibnall might have damaged Whittaker’s era as the Doctor, especially since she would have been the perfect fit for a Christmas Special.

Why Didn’t The Thirteenth Doctor Get A Christmas Special?

Previous Doctor Who showrunners Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat revealed that they struggled to find ideas for the Christmas Specials. The episodes needed to be distanced from the story arc of the main series, while also pushing the story along, creating a bridge between one season and the next. While their struggle was evident in some Christmas Specials, most of them provided holiday joy, but Chibnall never seemed to take to the idea of a Christmas-centered episode, even causing problems at the beginning of his time on Doctor Who after refusing to write the 2017 Christmas Special, “Twice Upon a Time,” forcing Moffat to delay Capaldi’s regeneration into Whittaker.

Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Would Have Been Perfect For A Christmas Special

Frankly, it’s a shame that Jodie Whittaker never got to play the Doctor during a Christmas Special, since Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor is perhaps one of the most Christmassy Doctors ever, not least for the fact that her incarnation was actually born on Christmas Day at the end of “Twice Upon a Time.” Whittaker’s characterization as the Doctor was always upbeat, playful, and family-oriented, qualities that epitomize Christmas. While she brought these joyful traits to every episode she took part in, it would have been fantastic to see her take on a Christmas-themed story.

While Eccleston missed out too, Tennant had five Christmas Specials, and Matt Smith and Capaldi each got four during their tenures, so it seems ridiculous that Whittaker would miss out despite having five years as the Doctor under her belt. Instead, Chibnall landed Whittaker with un-festive January episodes, mostly stories involving the Daleks, that completely negated the Christmas cheer that audiences longed for at the end of the main seasons. Whittaker finally regenerated in October 2022, meaning she will never be the main Doctor during a Christmas Special, but hopefully, Davies will bring back the much-loved tradition when a full season of Doctor Who returns after 2023’s 60th-anniversary specials.

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Author: APIN KEMBALI

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