Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday and Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor in the 2023 Doctor Who Christmas Special

A Musical Number in ‘Doctor Who’: Yea or Nay?

Yes, you read that right. An upcoming episode of Doctor Who will feature a full musical number. Doctor Who’s 2023 Christmas special is certain to provide a memorable tale. Not only will it finally introduce our new Doctor and companion duo, but it’s clearly going to be full of wonderfully silly, bombastic, and apparently, musically festive cheer. What’s not to love?

Recommended Videos

The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine confirmed that this year’s Christmas special, “The Church on Ruby Road,” will feature a “show-stopping musical number.” The music was composed by Doctor Who’s musical director Murray Gold and the lyrics were written by none other than Doctor Who’s eminent showrunner, Russell T. Davies. When speaking to the magazine, Davies said: “Our aim was to create a big-style movie with this. And it has a song. So you can all sing along. It was always my intention to make this a big centrepiece right from day one.”

The Fifteenth Doctor himself, Ncuti Gatwa, will be singing on the track—what can’t he do?—which will be available to stream and download after the episode airs. The Doctor’s new companion, Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson), who apparently has her own band, will feature on the song as well. “The Church on Ruby Road” will also introduce a cast of “music-loving Goblins.” Honestly, I’m excited by the prospect of this camp madness.

Naturally, however, as soon as the news of a musical number broke, Doctor Who fans were divided. Some felt it was a fun and adventurous addition to the episode to mark the start of a brand-new era.

Others, meanwhile, lamented the decision, citing the song as unnecessary, worried it would ruin the storytelling.

In all honesty, I can see where both sides are coming from. I’m not a huge fan of musical episodes, either. Some work brilliantly, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Once More, with Feeling” or Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ recent musical episode, “Subspace Rhapsody.” But others feel shoehorned in and take me out of the story entirely—I’m still scarred by Grey’s Anatomy’s misguided musical attempt.

I think one has to remember, though, that what Doctor Who is offering here is just one single musical number. It’s not an entire episode (though there have been rumors that there will be a full musical episode somewhere in the new season, nothing is confirmed). If there was ever a sci-fi show that could get away with including a musical interlude—in a Christmas special, no less!—it would be Doctor Who.

The series has always been both goofy and serious, heartfelt and terrifying, fun yet thrilling. Let’s be honest—this is the show in which people were killed by a giant wasp while Agatha Christie was trying to solve their murders, and little blobs of fat became sentient beings. Doctor Who has always been silly! Christmas specials are supposed to be joyous and festive, and what better way to spread joy than with a song? I can’t imagine a brief musical interruption will really ruin the magic or sense of wonder, especially if it makes sense as part of the narrative.

Who knows? “The Church on Ruby Road” might just give us another classic Christmas song to add to our holiday playlists.

Doctor Who’s 2023 Christmas special airs December 25 on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the U.K. and on Disney+ worldwide.

(via Doctor Who TV, featured image: BBC)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of El Kuiper
El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.