It’s a Tragical History Tour tradition (and the Matrix Mutterings before that) that stretches all the way back to 1995. Our annual holiday bit of Christmas merriment heralds Doctor Who’s most prominent (at least until 2005) and obvious holiday crossover. And therein lies a tale (some of it possibly apocryphal!)
Christmas Day in 1965 fell on a Saturday. DOCTOR WHO was well into a successful third season in its by-now-traditional Saturday tea-time slot on the BBC schedules with William Hartnell in the lead and was going all out to appease the rampant Dalekmania that had taken England and the series by storm by unleashing the massive 12-part story The Dalek Master Plan over a three month period. Rather than take a break for more traditional holiday-fare the powers that were in the BBC decided not to break up the Dalek epic halfway through (at episode 7) and continue to run the series. The Producer at the time John Wiles felt the unusual slotting on Christmas day provided an ideal chance to break from the larger story temporarily and try something totally different.
In England the theater tradition of Christmas pantomimes was a well understood and accepted form of entertainment. Thus virtually all links to the story up to that point were forgotten for a week to indulge in the ‘Christmas spirit’ as it were. In other words, nothing less than a full-blown pantomime and send-up as the Doctor and his companions–Steven and Sara–ricocheted from one ridiculous situation to another.
As it was viewers at the time didn’t mind the diversion–although the episode was never sold into syndication overseas. Even so the most infamous feature in this episode was William Hartnell’s closing speech–directly to the audience! Although this closing exists in the scripts that exist today, both script editor Donald Tosh and director Douglas Camfield insisted it was not in the shooting script! Camfield was reportedly so incensed that, according to Heather Hartnell, he gave Hartnell the original print shortly after it was broadcast and in subsequent years the Hartnell family would then gather together after Christmas dinner to watch The Feast of Steven all over again. The following is a photonovelization taken from the Zerinza (the Australian Doctor Who Club) adaptation of the story by Rosemary Howe back in 1987. Ho! Ho! WHO!
The Dalek Master Plan — Episode 7
The Feast of Steven
by Terry Nation
On the wall of a suburban Police station in Liverpool, the calendar showed the date, 25th December, 1965. Snow covered the city and the air was full of drifting flakes. The Duty Sergeant came out to look for the Patrol Car, and was astonished to see a Police Box, lightly dusted with snow, where no Police Box had ever stood before. Scratching his head in perplexity, he asked himself, “What in the name of…?” Then he went back inside. No sense of freezing on the doorstep waiting for the car to report in from the rounds.
Further along the road, the patrolling officers sang carols as they ended their tour.
“..When a poor man came in sight,” sang the tenor driver.
“..Gath’ring winter fu-u-el,” the constable’s baritone concluded unmelodiously.
“Here, I bet we could charm the birds off the trees,” the tenor boasted, glancing briefly at brightly lit shopfronts as they drove slowly towards the station. It was a peaceful scene under the traditional snow.
“I’d settle for some from the coffee bar,” remarked the baritone, watching two mini-skirted giggling their way into a nearby cafe.
“Here, what about ‘While Shepherds Watch’?” suggested the driver with a wink at his friend. “Do you think they’d appreciate that?” The patrol car pulled up at the station as the Sergeant peered out into the snow. With rueful sighs, they climbed out of the car. “Hullo Sergeant, what are you doing out here?”
“Come and have a look at this,” replied the Sergeant importantly, leading them to the TARDIS.
“Well! Where did that come from?” the driver inquired.
The constable had an idea. “Perhaps someone sent it to the Inspector,” he said, “As a Christmas Box.”
The driver groaned at his friends pun and the Sergeant said sternly, “Perhaps you’ll both stay out here and watch it.”
“Why, do you think it’s going to fly away?” asked the constable, with a cheeky grin at his superior.
But the Sergeant was in no mood for jokes. “Just you stay there and keep an eye on it, right?” He stamped back up the steps, leaving his two junior officers on guard. Taking the watch in turns, one sheltered from the snow in the car, while outside the TARDIS the constable kept warm by flapping his arms and pacing to and fro.
Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor argued with his two companions. They did not relish the idea of the old man venturing out into a poisonous, polluted planet, quite alone.
“For heavens sake, let’s go out and fix the scanner!” cried Sara, fed to the teeth with arguments.
“No!” the Doctor shouted, “Where you come from, the air is pure. Outside there is the worst kind of pollution I’ve met in years!” His expression was adamant, but Steven expostulated.
“Then you shouldn’t go out three, either.” He was brusquely brushed aside.
“My dear boy, I’m used to all sorts of atmosphere. It won’t affect me.”
Sara was seriously concerned. “But suppose something happens to you?”
“Then, and only then,” said the Doctor firmly, “You can come out.”
“Just how are we supposed to know that ‘something’ has happened?” argued Steven, barring the way to the door.
“Give me a few minutes and if all is well, I shall be back to tell you.”
“And if not…we come out and find you,” Steven said sourly, “I seem to have been through all this before!”
The Doctor drew himself up in a determined stance and looked down his nose at this whippersnapper. “Now, look here my boy, you will do just as you’re told!” He pointed dramatically and ordered, “You open those doors and remember to close them after I’ve gone.”
Steven saluted smartly and flung the doors apart. “Yessir!”
Directly outside the TARDIS the constable stood with his hands dug deep in to his greatcoat pockets. The Doctor paused, framed in the opening, relieved to see the falling snow. So, this accounted for the ‘pollution’! The round-eyed policeman stood quite still as the Doctor said courteously,
“Good evening.” and popped back into the TARDIS like a jack-in-the-box.
Mechanically, the constable replied, “Good evening.” The coming to his senses, shouted, “Hey! You!” The door shut firmly in his face. He was joined by his friend the driver, whose turn it was to keep watch.
“Did – did you see that?” asked the thunderstruck constable, pointing to the door of the TARDIS.
Again the constable pointed at the “police box”. “That there!”
“What there?” the driver asked blankly.
“That door! It opened” the constable added lamely , as his friend looked suspiciously at him.
The driver gave another laborious wink and said “Oh, aye.”
“Aye!” the constable insisted angrily. They stared warily at each other until the driver banged on the door and tried the handle.
“It’s locked,” he said pointedly.
“But I just saw him!” shouted the furious constable. The driver rocked back and forth on his heels, gazing up at the falling snow, with his hands behind his back. With an ostentatious yawn he said: “Oh aye.”
Inside the supposed Police Box, another argument developed. “No, no! P-o-l-i-c-e!” the Doctor tried to make Sara understand. She gave him a seraphic smile of enlightenment.
“Oh, I see! We’ve landed on your own planet.”
The Doctor snorted with annoyance, “Oh nonsense child. We’re back on Earth!” The argument began again.
“You said the air was so bad, that if…”
“Never mind what I said,” the infuriated Doctor cried and ordered the door opened again. Steven repeated his saluting act, while the Doctor swept out. He was promptly seized by the two policemen.
“It wouldn’t be Father Christmas, would it?” asked the facetious constable. All three marched into the Station.
Inside the drab precincts was an attempt at Christmas cheer, a few decorations festooned the walls and notice boards. The Sergeant was endeavoring to control his impatience with an agitated man who said he had lost his greenhouse. It was going to be one of those nights. When the Doctor and his escort came through the door in a flurry of snow, the Sergeant gladly sent them off into the C.I.D. office.
The Inspector was in good humor, considering it was Christmas Day. “I’ve heard of the housing shortage,” he said indulgently, “But I never knew it was so bad that you’d have to spend Christmas in a Police Box.”
“Oh, Christmas…” the Doctor nodded to himself. “Oh, is it? Of course, yes, yes! That accounts for the holly in the hall.” The Inspector leaned forward, his eyebrows raised politely.
“Do you mean you didn’t know?” This was one weird old gaffer and no mistake.
The Inspector hid a smile. “And why is that?” Old vagrants certainly had a style all their own.
“A question of knowledge, dear boy,” said the Doctor. “I mean, you have a saying in this country, have you not, er – ‘travel broadens the mind’?”
“You mean you’re not English?” asked the interested Inspector.
“No, good gracious, no!” laughed the Doctor.
“Scottish,” suggested the Inspector. The old man shook his splendid white hair.
“Are you Welsh, then?” There was a druid-like look about this ancient.
The Doctor continued his teasing, hoping that by now Steven would be mending that fault in the scanner. “Oh, you’ll have to think in a far bigger way than that! Your ideas are too narrow, too small, too – crippled!” He hooked his thumbs into his waistcoat and gave the Inspector a provocative stare.
“Well, all right. What are you, then?” Composedly, the Doctor gazed at the dirty ceiling, while he considered an appropriate answer to this impertinent query.
“I suppose,” he replied slowly, “You might say I am a citizen of the Universe. And a gentlemen too.”
The two patrol officers, standing fascinated by this unusual pantomime, laughed merrily with the Inspector.
The constable hooted, “He’s having us on a bit, sir, isn’t he?”
Steven looked carefully through the TARDIS door. Snow! He put out his hand and smiled at the melting flake on his palm. Then, seeing the empty street, and the POLICE sign shining outside the Station, with a patrol car parked outside, he realized what was holding up the Doctor’s return.
Footprints led directly from the TARDIS to the Station entrance. He pulled up his collar and ran quickly to look through the car windows. On the seat was a policeman’s uniform. Deftly, he purloined the clothes and dived into the TARDIS, where he changed while telling Sara to wait for him to bring back the Doctor.
Just as the long-suffering Sergeant was hearing the rigmarole about the missing greenhouse for the umpteenth time, Steven marched in dusting the snow off the uniform, which fitted him very well. Thankfully, the Sergeant waved away the greenhouse seeker and said affably:
“Ah, you must be the new bloke from G Division, come to help us out.”
“Must I?” muttered Steven and in a fair imitation of a Liverpudlian accent replied, “Yes -er, aye, that’s right. I’ve come about the old man.”
“What old man?” the confused Sergeant asked, hopefully looking at the greenhouse owner.
“He was brought in a minute ago,” Steven replied. The Sergeant looked gloomy on hearing this, and pointed to a door behind his desk.
“Oh yes, he’s with C.I.D. You’d better wait until they’ve finished with him.”
“I’ve got to get to him,” Steven said with an air of importance. But upon being told to wait, he reluctantly sat down, staring at the C.I.D. door. Shadowy figures showed through the glass and a murmur of voices reached his straining ears. The Doctor was endeavoring to explain himself.
“I don’t think you really understand. That object out there isn’t really a police box.”
“Oh no,” agreed the Inspector heartily, “It’s a new Brighton ferry.”
“It is a machine,” corrected the Doctor distinctly, “For investigating Time and Relative Dimensions in Space.”
He’s a nutter,” whispered the driver to the constable.
“He’s straight from the funny-farm, if you ask me,” said the Inspector rudely. The Doctor was affronted.
“Do I take it that you gentlemen are imputing that I am mentally deranged?” He folded his arms and hummed crossly to himself, ignoring his amused audience.
“Was he the only bloke in the Box?” the Inspector asked his grinning henchmen.
“How should I know?” said the surprised constable.
“Didn’t you check?” The Inspector jumped up. “There might be a whole army of them in there, living like gypsies in one of Her Majesty’s Police Boxes!” He thrust a quivering at the door and the two officers went out to investigate, asking one another just how many people would one expect to come out of one box. The driver lingered to speak to the Sergeant as the constable reluctantly walked out in the cold. Nothing moved.
Sara looked out of the TARDIS door, to see a policeman with his back towards her, standing guard. She slid quietly out and paused indecisively, looking up at the scanner, wondering where Steven and the Doctor might be.
The policeman turned around and jumped in surprise at this sudden apparition.
“Hullo, what are you doing, hanging around here on Christmas Day?”
“Nothing,” Sara said truthfully, brushing snow from her scarlet jacket.
“surprised to see a Police Box here, eh?” he began conversationally.
With sudden understanding Sara said, “Oh, you think it’s yours!”
He explained earnestly that it belonged to ‘us’, not himself, and suggested that Sara move along.
“I’ve got to fix it,” she said, pointing to the TARDIS, and standing her ground.
“The scanner eye!” she replied impatiently.
With great forbearance, he said, “We usually get the jokers around here at Christmas, but we’re lenient. Wherever you’re going in them fancy clothes, you leave now and there won’t be no trouble.”
Sara looked down at her Space Security uniform; she couldn’t very well blast this interfering oaf with her raygun. The constable leaned closer to her and confided: “We’ve had a bit of trouble like that, tonight.”
Sara at last understood what had happened to Steven and the Doctor. The idiots! Still she hesitated, weighing the odds. Then, “But…oh, very well!”
To the constable’s relief, the young woman tossed her long red hair and marched off around the corner. As she went, he called cheerfully, “Have a swingin’ time!” She did not acknowledge his farewell. “funny girl…”
Hiding in a narrow alley, Sara considered her next move. Time was precious. Cautiously, she peered around the wall and watched the constable tramp back inside the Station. She ran to the TARDIS to fix the scanner.
Inside the station, Steven edged closer to the C.I.D. door, when suddenly it opened and the Doctor emerged, escorted by the Inspector and the patrol driver. Steven quickly asked the Doctor if he was all right.
“Who are you?” demanded the Inspector, seeing a strange P.C. interrogating his suspect. “Do you know him?”
“Yes, I mean, aye” stammered Steven, “I’ll look after him, sir.”
From the desk the Sergeant called, “He’s the extra bloke from G Division, sir.” The Inspector relinquished the Doctor’s arm and growled at Steven:
“If you know him, perhaps you can tell us what he’s doing in a Police Box.”
“What?” cried Steven assuming a scandalized air. He drew the Inspector aside and explained quietly that he knew how to handle the problem. G Division was used to this funny fellow.
“Get him out of here, and see he steers clear of the Police Box!” ordered the Inspector. His irate eye fastened with a steely glare on the constable, who swiftly departed to watch the TARDIS. The driver kindly offered to help Steven with his cantankerous charge, but Steven was desperate to get out unhindered, and so insisted that he could manage alone. They confronted each other, on either side of the peevish Doctor, when Sara came flying through the door hotly pursued by the constable, who shouted:
“Hey, you! What are you playing at?” He caught Sara’s arm and said vividly, “I don’t know what it is about that Police Box, but first that old bloke comes out and now I catch this lass climbing about on it!”
Sara struggled to free herself and Steven seized the constable’s arm, saying, “It’s all right, I know her.”
The Inspector came forward with a suspicious frown. “you seem to know all the queer people. Who is she?”
“She’s a – she’s a friend of the old man!” exclaimed Steven to the pugnacious Inspector.
“Not so much of the ‘old man'”, snapped the Doctor. At the moment, Sara gave the constable a shove so that he cannoned into the patrol driver, and with a shout to her friends to follow, she led the race to the street.
Close on their heels pounded the two officers, the Inspector and the Sergeant, with the greenhouse owner trailing behind. The fugitives dashed into the unlocked TARDIS and closed the doors. The light on top flashed, a roaring sounded in the snowy air and the Police Box disappeared.
The group of policemen stared unbelievingly at one another. In the sudden quiet the sound of singing came faintly through the falling snow. “Good King Wenceslaus looked out, on the Feast of Steven….”
While the TARDIS hurtled onwards, Steven recounted his part in their escapade. “I found this jacket,” he said, unbuttoning the tight collar, “So they thought I was one of their group.”
“Even I, dear boy, must admit I enjoyed myself,” chuckled the Doctor. “Did you fix the scanner?”
“I did,” Sara retorted, “And with no help from either of you!” The Doctor gave her a wry smile and asked if the Tarranium was safe. Steven pointed to the Core, lying safely on the table. The Doctor became abstracted as he went over the facts of their escape from Mira. The Daleks could follow in a Time Machine, but with any luck, they would not attack the Solar System until the Core had been tested. It left little time to find the means of destroying the Tarranium. So far away were his thoughts, that Sara had to shake his arm before he realized the console column was stationary.
“I think we’ve stopped again.” She added doubtfully, “We might still be on Earth.”
The Doctor peered at the dials with a pleased smile. “Oh no. The atmosphere has improved considerably.” They looked expectantly at the scanner as the screen began to clear.
On it was a picture of an evil-looking man with long black mustaches, busily tying the bonds of a young girl, who was screaming and twisting her body in fear. She was tied to a log, which slowly moved towards a huge revolving saw wheel. Frantically, the Doctor shouted at Steven, “The doors!”
Steven grasped the man by the shoulder and swung a blow at the murderous face. Sara rapidly untied the ropes to free the hysterical girl. The Doctor heaved on a lever to stop the dreadful machine, which slowly ground to a halt. Above the shrieking din from the saw, came a medley of protesting voices.
A surreal atmosphere pervaded their senses. Through a blaze of spot-lights, the TARDIS travelers found themselves on a stage, in front of a camera crew and numerous stage-hands.
“Stop!” shouted a loud voice through a megaphone. “Who let those bums in here?”
The girl no longer screamed in terror, but in a towering rage. “Steinberger, they’ve ruined my scene!” She sobbed while copious tears flowed down her pink and white cheeks, leaving ugly black smudges. She staggered to a chair with large letters on it: “MISS BLOSSOM LEFEVRE”
Sara stood discomfited as the young woman was fussed over by several people, one waving a large powder puff, trying to mop up the disastrous effects of the tears.
Steven gasped at the man brandishing the megaphone at the milling crowd. “STEINBERGER P. GREEN” read the letter along the amplifier. The villainous man sat up, moaning and feeling his face. He was assisted to another chair, with “MR. D’ARCY TRANTON” printed boldly on the canvas back.
Sara edged to a door marked EXIT, and the brilliant lights faded as a man controlling the spots turned them off. The man called Steinberger P. Green was yelling at anyone handy, “It’s that guy, Ingmar! He’s trying to sabotage me!” He pointed to Steven and the Doctor, standing nonplused by the crosscut saw. “Get those bums outta here!” Men in the camera crew started across the stage and the Doctor and Steven fled through the nearest door, while the waiting Sara felled one man preventing their escape before she followed.
Steinberger gave D’Arcy Tranton a calculating look, as the actor languished in his chair, and a gleam came into the great Director’s eye. He flapped a hand at Blossom, who was calling through her tears for the scene to be taken again. “What can I do?” he snarled, and then to the cameraman’s confusion, bawled, “Get them back!”
Blossom swooned on to Green’s ample chest, “Do something,” she wept, but he snapped:
“Steinberger, look at my eye,” moaned Tranton. It was turning a beautiful shade of purple. But Steinberger had other ideas. The two newcomers had shown themselves as powerful fighters and he needed people like that.
“I want those two back,” he roared through the microphone to the stagehands hunting around the darkened set. “He’s great! Bigger than Fairbanks! Don’t just stand there – go get them!” Hurrying to please the great man the film crew found the open door and went off after the fugitives.
In a meandering alleyway, the Doctor and Steven paused outside the Studio. “Tut, tut, where’s Sara?”
“I’ve lost her,” panted Steven, “Where are we?” The Doctor opened a door to another building, hearing racing footsteps closing on them. They found themselves in a bewildering array of costumes, wigs, and masks.
Sara silently opened a door marked STAGE III and slid into the shadows inside. Close by was a large box draped with rugs. She lifted the rugs and hid. Light sprang up in a blinding glare and she buried her head in her arms. A loud voice bawled, “ACTION!”
On the other side of Sara’s hiding place, Ingmar Knopf watched a rehearsal. An Arabian Nights scene revealed a Sheik making love to a glamorous woman, dressed in flowing silken veils and little else. The Sheik drew the woman into his arms and sank down on the cushions and rugs covering Sara’s shelter.
“And then I will come to you on my camel,” intoned the Sheik, “And sweep you away across the desert.”
“No, no – terrible,” groaned Ingmar. The Director left his chair and strode forward to demonstrate. “You’ve got to give it more feeling! She’s not a sack of potatoes.”
In a venomous voice the actress sneered, “No, he is the sack of potatoes.” Distastefully she removed the Sheik’s hand from her waist and got up. “Where did you find him? On a rubbish dump?”
The offended actor cried, “I resent that!” and a loud argument began.
Steinberger P. Green opened the door and hurried in calling, “Iggy, Iggy! Did you see them?”
“A guy and a gal. They just beat the living daylights out of my camera crew – he was great!”
Ingmar lost his temper. “perhaps you like your film interrupted, but I do not!”
A voice called from the hallway, “Mr. Knopf? Professor Webster is here.”
“Ah!” Ingmar’s angry face ceased in welcoming smiles. He was waiting for Professor Webster to give authentic touches to the film. “Good! Send him to me, I need him in the next scene.”
Steinberger refused to be ignored any longer. “you should have see him – bigger than Fairbanks! I’ve got to find a name for him, something suave…”
Ingmar Knopf shouted, “Do whatever you like but get off my set.” Steinberger departed, glowering.
Sara took advantage of the altercation to try and escape unseen, but her movement caught Ingmar’s eagle eye. He turned a spot-light full on her. “who’s this woman? If she’s one of the harem, why is she wearing those peculiar clothes? Tell her to get them off!” He went back to haranguing his two stars.
Sara darted back into her hiding place. Thoroughly daunted and pale of face, she desperately wanted some way out of this humiliating nightmare, but any shelter was preferable to being caught…
At the wardrobe department, Steven urged the agitated Doctor to remain in hiding, rather than risk being separated, but the old man was determined to find the missing Sara. They halted indecisively, looking down the empty alleyway. “You wait here,” commanded the Doctor, making off towards the stage where the TARDIS had materialized. Steven paced up and down, feeling very hot in the heavy serge uniform.
He started in alarm as a bunch of Keystone Cops rounded the corner and hailed him as a long lost brother.
“There you are! Everybody’s waiting!” called the helmeted leader, grabbing Steven’s arm. He tried to disengage himself, but was told not to argue by the large booted Cop who hauled him down the alley.
“You’re making a terrible mistake,” Steven protested, but they lifted him up and carried him off. With a wrestling throw, he downed his kidnappers and escaped. The Cops picked themselves up and galloped after their prey, caught him and dragged him to a stage where he was swiftly tied to a railway track.
A train puffed towards the new Cop, in a cloud of steam. Just before it struck, there was a resounding crash and a cascade of dust. Steven disentangled himself while the scene was set up for anther take. Dodging away from the activity, he ran back down the alleyway, only to find a cameraman hot on his heels, calling for him to wait. Steven bolted around a corner followed by the cameraman, who stopped dead. The street was empty. “Where’s he got to? We need to do that scene again,” the man muttered crossly.
He walked off disconsolately, and Steven stepped out from behind a covered wagon with a sigh of relief.
The Sheik and his glamorous vamp rehearsed their love scene again, breaking off to argue bitterly, while Ingmar Knopf felt he was going quietly mad. He was relieved to find a strange-looking old man, with long white hair and an authoritative manner, march onto the set. Knopf grabbed his arm.
“Professor Webster! Where have you been? We need your help.” He shook the Doctor’s hand enthusiastically.
The Doctor rose to the occasion. “Certainly, certainly. My help? Oh, I shall be delighted.”
“Very good Professor,” beamed Knopf.
“Oh, Doctor – now. This is the rich Sheik’s tent,” Ingmar led him forward to inspect the set.
“Oh yes, and who is this?” inquired the Doctor, frowning at the vamp in her gauzy veils and spangled bra.
“She’s an Arabian Princess.”
“Oh nonsense!” scolded the Doctor, “You put some more clothes on, child. Go along.” Hearing the Doctor’s voice, Sara emerged from the rear of the tent. Stupefied by the curt dismissal, the Sheik’s lover burst into noisy tears. Ingmar shouted at Sara over the hubbub.
“What are you doing? Get out. You’re in the next scene.” Gladly Sara caught the Doctor’s hand and led him out through the door at the back of the set. Ingmar watched dismayed as his expert on Arabian culture disappeared. “Where are you going, Professor Webster?” he yelled to the departing companions.
In the Wardrobe Department, Steven in his rumpled uniform lurked in the vast room. Sara and the Doctor entered and Steven cried, “Sara! Where have you been?”
“I don’t know.” she answered unhappily, “But a strange man kept telling me to take my clothes off.”
“We must get back to the TARDIS,” the Doctor urged, “This is a madhouse, it’s full of Arabs.”
Ducking carefully from door to door, looking for the stage where the TARDIS had landed, they made their way toward Steinberger’s domain.
He murmured soothingly in his tearful star’s ear that he knew it had been a terrible shock. She accused him of trying to get rid of her. With a prayerful look heavenwards, Steinberger assured her she was great.
“But you said you were going to make him bigger than Fairbanks. You’re going to make her bigger than me!”
Steinberger said, “No, honey, she’s not that kinda gal. One more take, please?”
Blossom pouted but agreed to one more – the last; the crew started setting up for another take. The make-up man and dressers gathered about Blossom and Tranton and the lights came full on. The camera crew assembled.
Sara and Steven burst on to the set, stopping short as Steinberger spotted them. At his shout, “Stop those two!” they bolted out again, banging the door behind them. With his cameraman obediently following, Green wrestled with the stage door.
“No, no!” shrieked Blossom. But her protests were blotted out by the distracted make-up man, who accidentally stuffed a large swansdown powder puff into her painted mouth.
Sara and Steven ran so fast that they passed the Doctor going in the opposite direction. “Come back, you two!” he called, but in the panic neither of them saw him. He grunted in disgust and watched the companions round a corner with the
Steinberger crew panting behind them. Shaking his head, he took advantage of the now deserted stage to find the TARDIS, only to stop dead at the unexpected sight of a clown seated on the doorstep.
The black-lined eyes in the white-painted face looked up at the old man. “When you’re new around here, they chase you,” explained the clown sadly. “Custard pies are being done by Chaplin,” he went on, gesturing to the Doctor to sit beside him. “And with a bit of wood.”
“Quite so,” murmured the Doctor, “Now would you mind….?”
“And the mortar bit,” the clown droned on miserably.
“Done by Chaplin,” yawned the Doctor. “Would you excuse me?”
“That little Englishman has done it all. I think I’ll give it all up and go to sea.” The Doctor was relieved to find the clown rising to his feet in his elongated boots. “Who could become famous with a name like Bing Crosby?” He twitched his bulbous red nose and walked dejectedly off. The Doctor quickly unlocked the door to the TARDIS and stood impatiently waiting for his two companions to return.
Sara and Steven led the chase through the Sheik’s tent. Ingmar Knopf yelled, “Get them out of here! And tell that girl to get changed.” No one heeded the irate Director, as they pelted out of the Studio and down the alley, slamming open the stage door to Steinberger’s set.
“There you are,” growled the Doctor to his gasping companions and waved them into the ship. The stage rapidly filled, as the Steinberger crew poured in hot on the scent. Ingmar Knopf followed in high dudgeon with his fellow Director, but stopped at the sight of the Doctor in the TARDIS doorway.
“Professor Webster! Come back!” he cried.
The TARDIS light flashed and the ship disappeared in a roar that shook the canvas scenery.
“What a great trick!” yelled Steinberger, above the pandemonium.
“I’ve no idea,” Steven replied, “Let’s hope we never land there again.” He heard a tinkling sound and looked up to see the Doctor carrying a silver tray with three crystal wine glasses, brimful. “we so rarely get a chance to celebrate,” remarked the Doctor at their unspoken questions.
“Celebrate?” the mystified Steven asked.
“Don’t you remember? In the Police Station – it was Christmas.”
“Here’s a toast. A Happy Christmas to all of us,” said the Doctor, bending a benign smile on his young companions. Then he raised his glass high, saluting a host of Absent Friends and turned away.
“And incidentally – a happy Christmas, to all of you at home.”