Christmas Day may be all about spending time with the people you love, but come that evening there’s another grand yuletide tradition that Whovians look forward to partaking in: the annual Doctor Who Christmas Special, which usually finds the Doctor and TARDIS on a whirlwind, holiday-themed adventure. However, considering that the special aired on New Year’s Day last year, will history repeat itself once more? Is there a Doctor Who Christmas special in 2019 or will fans once again be denied a festive time-traveling episode?
The bad news is that, no, there won’t be a 2019 Doctor Who Christmas special. But the good news is that new Doctor Who content is on its way and will be airing very soon. On Dec. 2, BBC America released a new trailer for season 12, which also revealed the premiere date to be Jan. 1, 2020 aka New Year’s Day. That means fans will only have to wait one week longer after Christmas to see Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor back in action. After that, the show will fall into its regular weekly time slot starting on Sunday, Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. ET.
This isn’t the only time a Doctor Who episode has aired on New Year’s Day. The same thing happened last year, except that it served as an actual New Year’s Day special that immediately followed the end of the eleventh season. It was the first time in 13 years that Doctor Who didn’t air an episode on Christmas Day and it seems that this new tradition is going to continue on into the coming year as well. Why, you may ask? According to BBC's entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba, New Year’s Day tends to deliver bigger ratings than Christmas Day with shows like Sherlock. This could be due to the fact that Christmas is typically more of a big movie release date, making it difficult for a show like Doctor Who to get top billing over new movies and other beloved holiday classics.
However, that doesn’t mean that a Christmas special will never happen again. While speaking with RadioTimes.com back in November, series showrunner Chris Chibnall seemed to confirm that a Doctor Who Christmas episode will happen at the end of 2020. “You will get a special – at the end of the series, yes,” Chibnall told the outlet. So while you won’t find one under the tree this year, it seems better timey-wimey days are on the horizon.