Unwrap the first picture from the 'Doctor Who' Christmas special

The festive episode will be titled "Last Christmas". And when season 9 returns, it'll include an episode written by only the fifth female writer in the show's history.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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Last Christmas I gave you my hearts... both of 'em. This year's "Doctor Who" festive episode will be called "Last Christmas". And to spread more festive cheer through time and space, reports hint at the first episode to be written by a woman in more than six years, when Catherine Tregenna pens an episode of next year's series 9.

In its 50-year history only six women have been credited as writing episodes of "Doctor Who" -- and that's including Leslie Scott, whose husband shared his writing credit for 1966 story "The Ark" even though she hadn't contributed to the script; and Paula Moore, a pseudonym obscuring the authorship of 1985's "Attack of the Cybermen".

But according to Doctor Who TV, Barbara Clegg, Jane Baker, Rona Munro and Helen Raynor will be joined by playwright Tregenna, who has previously written for "Law & Order: UK", "EastEnders" and "Who" spin-off "Torchwood".

In the meantime, the Christmas special will be written by showrunner Stephen Moffat. As teased at the end of the most recent series, "Last Christmas" sees Peter Capaldi's Doctor and Jenna Coleman's Clara journey to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus himself, played by "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" star Nick Frost.

The first promotional image, shown above, also features elves played by Dan Starkey -- known to "Who" fans as the Sontaran Strax -- and "Misfits" actor Nathan McMullen.

A Christmas episode has been a staple of the series since David Tennant took on robot santas in his jim-jams in "The Christmas Invasion" in 2005. There's been a festive episode every year of the revived show, with highlights including Catherine Tate's debut as companion Donna Noble, Kylie in space, David Morrissey's next Doctor and Timothy Dalton as the boss of the Time Lords.

Last year's Christmas special, "The Time of the Doctor", capped the show's 50th anniversary celebrations as Matt Smith handed over to the current incumbent, Peter Capaldi.

"Last Christmas" will be shown on BBC 1 on Christmas Day, with BBC America yet to announce when it will air the festive episode. To get you in the mood, check out this preview shown as part of British charity event Children in Need.