One of the most anticipated television programmes over the festive period is the appearance of the man in the police-box and the adventures he brings to the legion of fans of Doctor Who.

This Christmas Day’s fare looks to have just that extra little something as Matt Smith prepares to face his third year battling aliens, rampaging terror, impending doom and television critics armed with sharpened pencil and the world wide web to vent their anger or dreams upon.

In the past few years; The Doctor, in the guise of David Tennant, took on the might of the Sycorax in The Christmas Invasion, dealt with London’s fastest temp and a cluster of spiders intent as using her food before taking over the world, Kylie Minogue and a spaceship called Titanic and the spectacular end of the tenth Doctors incarnation as he battled against the re-incarnation of The Master, portrayed by the brilliant John Simm.

Fast forward to Matt Smith and the episodes have become much more feel-good factor affairs, with star guests such as Katherine Jenkins, Bill Bailey, Michael Gambon and Claire Skinner. Now the B.B.C. have released the news that Richard E. Grant, one of the stars of British film Withnail and I is to appear in Doctor Who as the ubiquitous villain. It will be the first time that an actor will have portrayed both the Doctor and a rogue in the top rated B.B.C. creation.  Richard E. Grant has portrayed the Doctor twice before but never in the official canon of the series. In 2003 he played The Doctor in the animated series, Scream of the Shalka and in 1996 he hammed it superbly as ‘The Quite Handsome Doctor’ alongside Lenny Henry, Joanna Lumley and Rowan Atkinson for Comic Relief.

The 55 year old actor was said to be “honoured” to work with the time-travelling doctor once more. He will be joined by Jenna-Louise Coleman who makes her debut in the Christmas episode as the new companion to the Doctor.

Although this isn’t the first time that an actor has played both the Doctor and a supporting cast member; Colin Baker portrayed both the sixth incarnation and appeared on screen as Commander Maxil in the story Arc of Infinity opposite Peter Davison, it looks as though Executive Producer Steven Moffat is aiming to rack up the enjoyment of the Christmas episode to new heights by bringing in one of the favourites of British Cinema into the official canon of stories.

Ian D. Hall