Without question the most Christmassy of the specials to date, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe puts Matt Smith centre stage in an hour of drama and comedy, which occasionally turns, as the show does at its best, from one to the other within a single sentence.
Smith’s tour de force is assisted by excellent performances from Maurice Cole and Holly Earl as the two youngsters caught up in the shenanigans, either of whom could easily have stepped out of a BBC production of the Narnia stories (from which, obviously, this story derives much of its iconography, if not its plot). Clare Skinner manages to be the still centre of the piece, and her scenes with some of the other guest stars are laugh-aloud funny.
The Fades director Farren Blackburn makes his Doctor Who debut with this story, and hopefully will return for some of series seven, as he shows a deft hand for the many different styles necessary for any Who episode.
It’s good to see a standalone tale that will remind those possibly alienated by the complexity of series six that Doctor Who can be an enjoyable diversion, and for fans there are plenty of little Easter eggs that remind us of the near-50 year legacy of this programme.
Verdict: Don’t miss this Christmas Day treat. 8/10