Doctor Who’s 2023 Christmas Special Copies Another RTD Episode From 18 Years Ago


  • The Doctor Who 2023 Christmas special focuses on introducing the Fifteenth Doctor and his new companion, Ruby Sunday, mirroring the setup of a previous companion-focused episode.
  • Like the episode “Rose” from 2005, “The Church on Ruby Road” follows its eventual companion’s everyday experiences as the Doctor inserts himself into her life, leading to their partnership in saving the day.
  • Both episodes involve the Doctor investigating a case that brings them to their new companion and forming connections with their companion’s family, providing insights into their backstory and setting up future adventures.

The Doctor Who 2023 Christmas special feels similar to another episode with its introduction of the Fifteenth Doctor and his new companion, Ruby Sunday. Russell T Davies assumed the roles of showrunner and head writer of Doctor Who in October 2022, with his first episodes being the three 60th anniversary specials. Davies previously held these positions from 2005 to 2010, overseeing the revival of the BBC sci-fi series after a 16-year hiatus from the air. The three Doctor Who 60th-anniversary specials saw David Tennant return to the cast as the Fourteenth Doctor, building up to the introduction of Ncuti Gatwa cast as the Fifteenth Doctor for Doctor Who season 14.

The conclusion of the third 60th anniversary special “The Giggle” had a twist that led to the Fourteenth Doctor and the Fifteenth Doctor working together to defeat the Toymaker. Gatwa’s full debut as the series lead occurred in the 2023 Doctor Who Christmas special “The Church on Ruby Road,” where the Fifteenth Doctor and Ruby join forces to rescue her family’s new foster child from Goblins who want to eat her. This Christmas special, written by Davies, shares several similarities to his first 2005 episode of the revival series, “Rose.”

At the time of writing this article, all three Doctor Who 60th-anniversary specials, along with the Doctor Who 2023 Christmas special, can be watched on Disney+. The Doctor Who episode “Rose” can be watched on Max.

Doctor Who’s 2023 Christmas Special Is Companion-Focused

The first major similarity between the Doctor Who episodes “Rose” and “The Church on Ruby Road” is their shared focus on setting up the main companion. At the beginning of “The Church on Ruby Road,” Ruby is a baby left in front of a church on Christmas Eve. The episode then transitions to an interview with Ruby discussing being a foundling and her wish to learn about her biological parents. Throughout the special, Ruby appears at various moments in her life, such as on a night out with her friends and her walking home from the grocery store, effectively building her character for Doctor Who season 14 through everyday experiences.

Then the Fifteenth Doctor inserts himself into Ruby’s life as he notices the strange coincidences happening to her. Eventually, they work together to save the day from hungry Goblins. This mirrors Russell T Davies’s initial episode of the revival series, “Rose”, which follows Rose Tyler throughout her day. This leads her to face the threat of the Autons, a species of living plastic controlled by the Nestene Consciousness. In the 2005 episode, the Ninth Doctor saves Rose from the mannequins at her job, marking the beginning of their relationship. Additionally, both episodes are named after the companion being introduced, further emphasizing the new companion.

Ruby Joins The Fifteenth Doctor The Same Way Rose Joined The Ninth Doctor

Along with the episodes being companion-focused, Ruby’s initial relationship with the Fifteenth Doctor mirrors Rose’s introduction to the Ninth Doctor. In both episodes, the Doctor investigates a case that leads them to their soon-to-be companion. In the first scene of “The Church on Ruby Road,” the Fifteenth Doctor watches as Ruby is abandoned at a church. Their next encounter occurs at a club, where the Doctor prevents Ruby from knocking her glass off the table. The Fifteenth Doctor then meets Ruby at her flat, where he helps her rescue her family’s new baby from the Goblins in the Doctor Who 2023 Christmas special.

This aligns with Rose’s narrative, where the Ninth Doctor investigates the living plastic in the store where she works. The Doctor rescues Rose from the Autons’ attack, uttering the series’ iconic command, Run.” The common thread of the Doctor’s investigation bringing them to their new companion further intertwines these two Doctor Who episodes. Ultimately, once the antagonists are defeated, both Rose and Ruby choose to travel with the Doctor aboard the TARDIS.

The Fifteenth Doctor Becomes Friendly With Ruby’s Family

Cherry Sunday lays in bed and holds her mug in Doctor Who.

Another similarity between the two episodes lies in the fact that both Doctors become connected with the families of their new companions. The Fifteenth Doctor meets Ruby’s adoptive mother, Carla Sunday, and her grandmother, Cherry Sunday. He even shares an emotional moment with Carla when Ruby’s timeline changes after being abducted by the Goblins as a baby in the past.

Similarly, the Ninth Doctor builds relationships with both Micky Smith, who is copied by the living plastic, and Jackie Tyler, who flirts with him in the episode. The inclusion of the companion’s families creates an immediate connection with the new companion for the audience, providing insights into their backstory before embarking on adventures with the Doctor in the TARDIS. With Davies’s first episode of Doctor Who in 2005 and his initial episode with the Fifteenth Doctor for the next era of the series sharing many similarities, it suggests that the show’s direction will follow the tone of his revival while also moving the series into the future.

Doctor Who

Release Date
November 23, 1963

Adventure , Mystery , Sci-Fi