The Christmas Invasion 2.1
Penelope Wilton makes an epic return to Doctor Who as no-longer likable politician Harriet Jones. You will know Wilton from her roles in Downton Abbey and Shaun of the Dead. After a cliffhanger from last season where #9 (Eccleston) regenerated into #10 (Tennant), Rose Tyler (along with her mother and boyfriend) must help the new Doctor feel at home in his new skin so that he can stop the Sycorax and their robot Santa Clauses from taking over the world. Not yet recovered, The Doctor spends the episode in his pajamas, making the Douglas Adams reference, “Not bad for a man in his jim-jams. Very Arthur Dent. Now, there was a nice man.”
The Runaway Bride 3.1
Catherine Tate makes an epic appearance in Doctor Who as Donna Noble, not yet a regular for another season. By this point, Tate is already an extremely familiar face to British audiences, as the star of The Catherine Tate Show. After a cliffhanger from last season where Donna appears in the TARDIS in her wedding dress, she and the Doctor (#10 Tennant) are off on an adventure to stop giant alien spiders from taking over the world.
Voyage of the Damned 4.1
Kylie Minogue makes an epic appearance in Doctor Who as Astrid Peth. With pop star Billie Piper off the show, they had to replace her with another pop star, didn’t they? After a cliffhanger from last season’s mini-sode that found a Titanic life ring in the TARDIS after a crash, the Doctor (#10 Tennant) and Astrid are off on an adventure to stop the starship Titanic (a Douglas Adams reference) and its robot angels from crashing into the Earth. Also guesting in this episode are Russell Tovey as Alonso Frame and Bernard Cribbins in his first appearance as Wilfred Mott.
The Next Doctor (special)
David Morrissey makes an epic appearance in Doctor Who as Jackson Lake. Americans will recognize Morrissey from The Walking Dead. But Jackson Lake doesn’t know he’s Jackson Lake because his brain is scrambled and he thinks that he is the Doctor. The real Doctor (#10 Tennant) takes him on as a companion as they must stop the cybermen–and indeed the cyberking–from destroying the city and taking over the world.
A Christmas Carol 6.1
Michael Gambon makes an epic appearance in Doctor Who as Kazran Sardick. Gambon is infinitely recognizable from his roles anywhere between The Singing Detective and Harry Potter. And in case you’re missing Billie Piper and Kylie Minogue, they’ve cast opera-pop singer Katherine Jenkins as Abigail, the ailing shark soother locked in cryogenic stasis. The Doctor (#11 Smith) must create a Christmas Carol effect on Kazran, showing him his past, present, and future, to change his horrible ways.
The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe 7.1
Claire Skinner makes an epic appearance in Doctor Who as Madge Arwell. Viewers will recognize Skinner as the lead role in Outnumbered. Madge is a mother whose son gets lost on an alien planet, having wandered through a C.S. Lewis-style TARDIS. The Doctor (#11 Smith) and Madge’s daughter go in search for him and discover the winter wonderland the Doctor had planned as the family’s Christmas holiday destination is about to be doused in acid rain to clear out the forests. On her own, Madge stumbles into the world only to be taken to safety by miners, including one played by Bill Bailey, who viewers will recognize from his standup and roles in Spaced, Hot Fuzz, and Black Books. Madge and the others must rescue the trees from the oncoming deforestation.
The Snowmen 7.7
Richard E. Grant makes an epic appearance in Doctor Who as Victorian Dr. Simeon. Richard Grant is famous for, among other things, playing Withnail in Withnail and I opposite the 8th Doctor, Paul McGann. With the help of his Sherlockian friends Vastra, Jenny, and Strax, the Doctor (#11 Smith) follows the trail of the mysterious snowmen popping up all over the city to Dr. Simeon at the Great Intelligence Institute. The Intelligence is forming an ice governess, who pops up in the Latimer home where Clara Oswald, formerly nicknamed “Souffle Girl,” is the new governess. The Doctor and Clara must stop the un-meltable ice governess before the Intelligence can take over the world.
Last Christmas 9.1
Nick Frost makes an epic appearance in Doctor Who as Santa Claus. Viewers will recognize him as one of the few characters from Spaced who had not yet appeared in the show, as well as the Cornetto films Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. In an Existenz-meets-Inception-style episode, the Doctor (#12 Capaldi), Clara, and a smattering of new folk find themselves so deeply in dreams, they never know when they are actually awake. Time is running out because their brains are being feasted on by aliens, so in a dream world where anything is possible, who do you call for backup on Christmas Day? Santa Claus.