The Daleks’ Master Plan: The Feast of Steven

First Broadcast December 25th, 1965 @ 6.35pm (7.9m viewers)

The first Doctor Who Christmas Special, ‘The Feast of Steven’, was broadcast on Christmas Day in 1965. It stands alone as a single episode because it is such a departure from the epic ‘Dalek’s Master Plan’ story it is found within. The Daleks are barely mentioned at all. In fact, it is unlike any other episode of Doctor Who ever produced. It is an utterly bizarre comedy, particularly in the context of the grim tone of which has already seen Katarina killed off. It begins with the TARDIS landing outside a police station in the North of England on Christmas Day. The Doctor is arrested, and Steven poses as a policeman. Sara fixes the TARDIS scanner and the trio escape.

At a new location, the travellers jump to the aid of a woman tied to a circular saw. They have actually stumbled onto a film set and ruined the take, much to the dismay of the actress. Having the TARDIS land in a Hollywood studio of the 1920’s is certainly unique. Sara encounters a Lawrence of Arabia-style movie and Steven is confused for a cast member of a Keystone Cops picture triggering a comedic chase. Two of my favourite quotes sum up the ludicrousness come from Sara who complains that “a strange man kept telling me to take my clothes off” and The Doctor describes the location as “a madhouse, it’s all full of Arabs”. Not sure modern Who could get away with that! During the visit to the Hollywood film studio Steven and the Doctor bump into Charlie Chaplin , nd there is also a meeting with Bing Crosby.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

Once back in the TARDIS the trio take time to celebrate, despite being in the midst of an epic battle with the Daleks, toasting a happy Christmas with some champagne. William Hartnell turns to the camera and says “a happy Christmas to all of you at home”. This breaking of the fourth wall and addressing the audience remains the only time in the programme’s history that it has been done deliberately. Apparently this was not scripted but couldn’t be edited out so was transmitted. It also contributes to the fact that this single episode was not included in overseas sales of ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’. Being Christmas Day specific it was deemed to have no value and so was lost forever.

This stand alone episode perhaps does provide some comic relief in a dark story where the whole solar system is in jeopardy. However it is a real shame that it doesn’t exist on film because it is so wildly unique it does demonstrate Doctor Who’s unique abilities to tell different stories. Perhaps an animation for Christmas 2017?

Also First Aired On This Day…

  • The Christmas Invasion
  • The Runaway Bride
  • Voyage of the Damned
  • The Next Doctor
  • The End of Time: Part One
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe
  • The Snowmen
  • The Time of the Doctor
  • Last Christmas
  • The Husbands of River Song
  • The Return of Doctor Mysterio


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