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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 520 > The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

Scratching beneath the surface of Doctor Who’s most fascinating tales…Journey back in time to when the Doctor discovered the most Christmassy planet in the universe…

The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe is more than an homage to CS Lewis’ first Narnia novel. Quite literally, it’s A Matter of Life and Death (1946), too.

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s epic fantasy romance begins when parachute-less RAF pilot Peter (David Niven) bales out of a blazing Lancaster bomber above the English Channel and, by Heavenly oversight, lives to fall in love with June (Kim Hunter), the R/T operator with whom he shared what he believed would be his final moments.

The 2011 Christmas Special also begins with someone bailing out of a burning craft, and enduring against the odds – the Doctor. But really, it’s the story of Madge Arwell, whose RAF pilot husband Reg doesn’t make it home when his blazing Lancaster goes down over the Channel. On the face of it, this is the darkest and most grown-up of all the Specials, in which the Doctor and Madge face up to a horror more terrible than any mere monster – telling the truth about Reg’s death to his two children. At Christmas.

In the end, though, Reg survives. Perhaps there’s a sequel to be had, in which celestial emissaries (or Time Lords, or Reapers) come to correct the ‘mistake’ of Reg’s survival, as they do in A Matter of Life and Death. But it wouldn’t be necessary, because The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe ends by proving the same point made by Dr Reeves (Michael Livesey) in the film’s conclusion: that “nothing is stronger than the law in the universe… but on Earth, nothing is stronger than love”. he Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe FIRST BROADCAST: 25 DECEMBER 2011

The Doctor is running pell-mell through the corridors of an exploding spaceship…

00m 56s: How has the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) ended up somersaulting into an airlock aboard an exploding battle cruiser in Earth orbit? The answer was given in a short online prequel (viewable at from Tuesday 6 December 2011), in which he called his ex-companion Amy to tell her that he was aboard a spaceship that was about to attack the Earth. If he took his finger off a particular button, the spaceship would explode – but she could come and rescue him in the TARDIS, if she knew how to fly it… and if she were there.

01m 39s: The Doctor catches up with an empty spacesuit as he, and it, tumble towards the Earth – not unlike the freefalling James Bond (Roger Moore) trying to wrestle a parachute from a baddie in the impressive pre-credits sequence to Moonraker (1979).

Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner).

The last Doctor seen to perform such an unlikely manoeuvre in space, sans suit, was the Fifth (Peter Davison) in the notorious ‘cricket ball’ sequence in Part Four of Four to Doomsday (1982). The Fact of Fiction accounted for the Doctor’s survival on that occasion in Doctor Who Magazine 498, by showing that said manoeuvres might have been performed within a large spaceship’s forcefield, with atmospheric properties of its own – so we might argue that something similar could apply in the first part of this sequence, at least (the ship isn’t entirely destroyed, after all).

However, in Oxygen (2017) the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is blinded after a brief exposure to the vacuum of space – proving he isn’t immune from its effects. But soon, we’ll learn that the “impact suit” the Eleventh is now straining to reach repairs his body after he crashes to the ground – so who’s to say it won’t repair the damage done to him by exposure to vacuum, too?

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About Doctor Who Magazine

This festive edition of Doctor Who Magazine includes an exclusive preview of this year's Christmas Special, Twice Upon a Time, plus there are exclusive interviews with Christmas Special stars Pearl Mackie (Bill Potts) and Mark Gatiss (the Captain). Doctor Who Magazine 520 also includes: • A in-depth look at the making of BBC Worldwide's new version of Douglas Adams' 'lost' 1979 Doctor Who story Shada • Actor Daniel Hill and production assistant Olivia Bazalgette chat to DWM about how they met on Shada... and how they later went on to marry • Rare and previously unseen photographs from the Cambridge location filming of Shada in October 1979 • DWM's first ever interview with 100-year-old Earl Cameron, who played the doomed astronaut Glyn Williams in the 1966 story The Tenth Planet • A tribute to Paddy Russell, Doctor Who's first female director and a television pioneer • We look back on Doctor Who’s first Christmas specials – the feature-length omnibus repeats that were specially created at Christmas time • Part two of The Phantom Piper, our new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill • A festive Fact of Fiction explores the 2011 Christmas Special The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe • Previews, book and audio reviews, news, the DWM Christmas Quiz, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!