The classic series of Doctor Who, has never had an actual feature length direct Xmas episode special. Unlike it’s nu-Who counterpart’s yearly turn. Whilst many of it’s episodes have themselves – ran over the Xmas period but have always maintained a distinctly non-Xmas theme.
It did however, (only once) include a direct Xmas special, featured within another episode. With the epic William Hartnell, 12-part serial; The Daleks’ Master Plan. In which, part-7 was a breakaway special; individually titled as “The Feast Of Steven“.
Sadly, most of The Daleks’ Master Plan is MIA (including part 7), due to the Beeb’s culture of taping over the mastertapes. Hope springs eternal though, that export copies might turn up from some far flung exotic TV studio – one day.
Some short clips and stills do remain of “The Feast Of Steven” which aired on 25 December 1965; In what was a branch-and-break from the The Daleks’
Master Plan main Dalek plotline.
The Doctor (Hartnell), Steven (Peter Purves) and temporary companion – Sarah (Jean Marsh), take a brief rest-bite from fighting the Daleks. To travel back to Earth, England – and visit a 1960s Liverpudlian police station, where they are mistaken for special branch – “G Division”. The trio then travel to a 1920’s American ‘silent’ film-set. Where they meet a pre-fame Bing Crosby and Steven doubles as an impromptu stuntman.
The 25-minute adventure ends with the trio making a toast inside the Tardis. The Doctor then “breaks the fourth wall”; by directly addressing the audience and wishing them/us a ‘Happy Christmas’.
“The Feast Of Steven” was added to The Daleks’ Master Plan as an after-thought. It was hastily written by The Daleks’ Master Plan director Douglas Camfield and was meant to be a direct cross-over special, with Z-Cars characters (a popular Liverpool based 60s cop-show). However, this was abandoned but the set was still used for filming the first half.
Following the end of “The Feast Of Steven“, the Doctor, Steven and Sarah returned to resume their adventure with the Daleks; in the main storyline of The Daleks’ Master Plan.
“The Feast Of Steven” has never been that highly thought of and viewed more as a curiosity/oddity. International exports of The Daleks’ Master Plan removed “The Feast Of Steven” part 7 altogether.
It does however, stand as the only direct intended Xmas themed special ever attempted in the show’s history – until Nu-Who. It is a shame it is currently (and ironically) lost to the annals of time.
Wishing You All A Merry Xmas – In Space And Time.