The Church on Ruby Road

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PRODUCTION INFO

Name

The Church on Ruby Road

Special

Christmas Special 2023

First Transmitted

25 December 2023

Final Ratings

7.30m

BLU-RAY RELEASE

Blu-Ray

DVD RELEASE

DVD

GALLERY

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CAST

Regular Cast

Ncuti Gatwa (The Doctor), Millie Gibson (Ruby Sunday)

Guest Cast

Davina McCall (Herself), Michelle Greenidge (Carla), Angela Wynter (Cherry), Anita Dobson (Mrs Flood), Mary Malone (Trudy), Hemi Yeroham (Abdul), TBA (Goblin King), Christina Rotondo (Janice), Lukas DiSparrow (Cello-playing goblin), TBA (Pixie Not), TBA (Ralph McTelf), TBA (Bryan Fairy), TBA (Gob Dylan)

CREW

Written by Russell T Davies
Directed by Mark Tonderai
Produced by Vicki Delow

SYPNOSIS

Long ago, on Christmas Eve, a baby was abandoned in the snow. Today, Ruby Sunday meets The Doctor, goblins, stolen babies and, perhaps, the secret of her birth..

PLOT

Years ago, on Christmas Eve, a baby girl was dropped off at a church on Ruby Road. Leaving as quickly as she arrived, the mother departed – nobody seeing who she was. This is witnessed by The Doctor, with tears streaming down his face.

On the 1st of December 2023, a series of accidents – caused by tiny, unseen creatures – plagues the set of that girl, Ruby Sunday’s, interview with Davina McCall for a television show. Davina is offering to help her find her birth parents or someone else in her family if possible using DNA. As Davina tells Ruby that she does need to be realistic about situation, a chain of falling lights nearly crash into Ruby, ending the interview early.

Three weeks later Ruby plays a small gig with her band, a small electrical mishap interrupting their performance as The Doctor watches on from the outskirts of the pub. The next day she encounters him at a club, dancing one floor below her, before turning around and seeing him catch a glass of water that she knocks over when it’s not quite where she left it. He asks Ruby if she normally has bad luck, and she says that it’s been happening for a while now. He departs, but follows her as she gets in a cab, a Christmas decoration hanging from a nearby building poised to fall on the taxi. Using his sonic screwdriver he changes the light at the intersection, prompting the taxi to drive on, just as the decoration collapses.

The next day, Christmas Eve, Ruby returns to her home, a flat in 3 Minto Road, to see that her foster mother Carla Sunday is fostering another newborn this holiday, a little baby named Lulubelle. Carla leaves Lulu in Ruby’s care as she leaves to the store. As she walks out, Davina McCall calls Ruby, and sadly informs her that they were unable to find any trace of anyone related to her. Ruby is saddened by this news, but accepts it. Davina then changes the subject – has Ruby been having any bad luck? Davina’s been having the worst rash of it, including falling off a boat on dry land, and thinks it started when she talked to Ruby. Davina, who is stuck in a wheelchair due to her numerous injuries, talks about how terrified she is as a nearby Christmas tree topples over on her, with the star heading directly for her head, and her phone cuts out.

Ruby hears noises over the baby monitor and heads into the other room where she finds the crib empty and a photograph of a goblin resting underneath. She chases after the culprits out the skylight and finds goblins nestling Lulubelle in a basket dropped down from above, a long ladder reaching up into the sky adjacent. The goblins scamper up as the basket is pulled up and the ladder begins to retract, prompting Ruby to jump on as it drifts away from her apartment. The Doctor yells after her as he bounds along the rooftop and jumps onto the ladder as well. As the ladder retracts further the pair have difficulty holding on, so The Doctor pulls out a set of intelligent gloves, gloves that takes care of all of the friction and mavitational force that normally exist when climbing and transfer them all into the glove itself, away from the body. The pair are effortlessly pulled up with the rest of the ladder into a flying ship where they promptly encounter a small horde of goblins that capture them and tie them up.

The Doctor begins to decipher the goings on of the Goblins, chance, luck, coincidence. He’s not altogether clear on everything, but he’s sussing out that they’re using luck to stitch Ruby into time ever so slightly more, make her more real, and then use the similarities between her and Lulubelle as seasoning for when they eat the latter. He manages to untie them both, but is unable at first to escape the room – everything is built with wood and rope, his sonic isn’t effective on it. But after spending a small amount of time with the rigging he likens it to wires and circuitry, untying knots as one would flip switches, triggering the right one to get them out of the room they were in and into a crawlspace above.

Lulubelle moves through a conveyer-belt as the goblins sing about how their king is going to devour her, The Doctor and Ruby crawling above and watching in horrified fascination as they frantically try to untie the right ropes. The Doctor makes a mistake, however, and causes himself and Ruby to fall on the conveyer-belt themselves. The two grab the baby as the ropes above them continue to unravel, don their intelligent gloves and set them to reverse, taking a line of rigging and using it to descend back to the ground.

Escaping from the goblin horde, The Doctor and Ruby return to the flat, baby safely recovered. Thinking about accidents and bad luck, they dash around the apartment to goblin-proof it. Carla returns, and as The Doctor introduces himself she acts concerned, not sure why they need a doctor. Frustrated, and trying to change the subject, Ruby tells Carla how the show called and they were unable to locate any of her family. The group mentions orphans and foundlings, and how The Doctor is one as well, which Carla notes as a coincidence, and as discussion turns back to coincidences over and over the house shakes and shakes until the roof cracks in two, the Goblins having left.

The Doctor then looks around, Ruby has vanished. He dashes around the flat and outside looking for her, asking Carla and others, none of them having heard of her. He takes a deeper look around the flat and it is a far drearier place with no Christmas decorations, no pictures of Ruby or any other foster children. Carla is also far different; unhappy with her lot in life, resentful of having to take in Lulubelle on Christmas Eve and having fostered far fewer children (having done so only for the money). The Doctor, brought to tears at witnessing these changes, dashes outside and into his TARDIS, dematerialising in front of Mrs. Flood as he travels back to the night when Ruby is abandoned at the church.

In the snowy night he sees a figure walking away, but he ignores them as he rushes towards the building. He chases after the goblin scaling the church with little Ruby, grabbing onto the ladder at the last second. He uses his intelligent gloves in reverse mode to pull the ship downwards, bit by bit, but finds it too slow to make a difference. In a last ditch effort he jumps off the roof, pulling the ship with him and puncturing the Goblin King’s stomach with the steeple, killing it. The ship and all in it vanish as The Doctor retrieves Ruby and places her once again on the church’s doorstep.

He returns to 2023 and rushes up to Ruby’s flat to find her safe and sound, babbling about how they went back to take her so he had to go back. He then mentions that he forgot something else and dashes off again, running into his TARDIS again as Mrs Flood watches from her front yard. He travels back to when Davina McCall was about to have a Christmas tree fall on her and catches it, telling her “Merry Christmas”.

The Doctor returns once more to the present day but thinks better of it, feeling that he might be the one who brought bad luck to Ruby and her family. Ruby and Carla talk about The Doctor, Carla just finding him crazy, Ruby trying to contextualise the day she’s just had. It dawns on Ruby that he’s a time traveler and she kisses her foster mother and dashes out the door. Looking around on the street, she asks Mrs. Flood if she’s seen him, and Mrs. Flood points to the parked TARDIS on the road. Ruby enters it after a wish of luck from Mrs. Flood to find The Doctor leaning on the railing in the console room, ready to welcome her aboard.

As the TARDIS dematerialises, another one of Ruby’s neighbors comes up to Mrs. Flood and panics about how a box has just vanished in front of them. She tells him to stop making such a fuss, and then as he walks away turns to the audience and asks “never seen a TARDIS before?”

NOTES

RUBY SUNDAY

Ruby plays a GO:PIANO88 musical keyboard and is in a band.
Ruby was born on Christmas Eve, almost 19 years ago, probably around 2PM.
Ruby declined going out with Bobby McGeever.
Ruby has a good relationship with her mysterious neigbour Mrs. Flood. Another neighbour is Abdul.
Ruby lives in a flat with her adoptive mother, Carla; and Carla’s elderly mother, Cherry.
Over the years, Carla has managed to foster 33 children and still keeps in touch with some of them.

THE DOCTOR

At the nightclub, The Doctor is wearing a Kilt and very briefly dances with a man.
The Doctor has invented “Intelligent Gloves” because he spends a lot of time hanging off things. They do need to be recharged after usage.
The Doctor jokes he wishes he was called Lulubelle because it is a brilliant name.
The Doctor quickly learns the language of the Goblins, and he already knows how to “speak” the rope language.
The Doctor has once spend a “long, hot summer” with Harry Houdini, who taught The Doctor how to untie himself.

LONDON

VOSS is an estate agency, with available properties around London.

NOTTING HILL

Ruby and her family, and Mrs Flood, live on Minto Road.
The street is in the W11 postcode district.
There are at least fourteen houses on Minto Road, with 14 Minto Road being located at one end. Around the corner from this house is Hawkins and Co. Estate Agents.
The Sundays’ home is 3 Minto Road.
Mrs Flood’s home is 4 Minto Road.
Minto Road is a Pay & Display Zone and has a 20MPH speed limit.
A flyer on the fridge in Cherry’s flat for Minto Pizza Alla Pala reveals that the local pizza parlour opened in 2004.
On the same fridge, there are business cards for Crossgate Cabs, which states that there phone number is 020 7946 0112. There is also a business card for Citywide Taxis.
The 94 is a bus that operates the Notting Hill area. There is an advert for Triad Technology on its side. It is part of the London Carriage Association and it had the number plate SKI8 TKY.
Other buses include the 47, 55, 96, W60 and the X99.
Mr Swanton’s Barber Shop is a business located in Notting Hill near a bus stop.

This marks the return of the Christmas Specials; in the installment of Russell T Davies’s column Letter from the Showrunner printed in DWM 585, Davies had stated that a “Christmas Special” would be returning as the format of the first full episode of the Fifteenth Doctor’s tenure, although clarifying that he considered the term to be synonymous with the Festive Specials.
The Church on Ruby Road will be the first time in the revived series that a Doctor’s first Christmas special does not include “Christmas” in the title, following The Christmas Invasion, A Christmas Carol, and Last Christmas.
At sixteen days, The Church on Ruby Road will mark the third shortest gap between a regeneration story and its followup, behind The Power of the Daleks at seven days and The Twin Dilemma at six days.
The preview of this episode released in DWM 598 revealed a teaser of the plot and a snippet of dialogue between The Doctor and Ruby.
This preview also revealed Ruby would be part of a band.
Davies’s A Letter from the Showrunner column printed in DWM 598, styled as a Doctor Who-themed “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, revealed that scene eleven’s stage directions began inside the TARDIS control room.
The interview with Michelle Greenidge and Angela Wynter in that issue contained further details about Ruby: she is a keyboardist; she is homesick for Manchester, having recently moved into Cherry’s flat in Notting Hill with her mother Carla; and that she was a day old when she was abandoned on Christmas Eve.[3]
Parts of the script of this episode were used in auditions for Ruby Sunday; the script for self-tapes from potential actors were truncated from the scripts of this episode and the next, and the longer script for in-person auditions[6] in London[7] was adapted solely from this episode.[6]
The non-fiction feature The Next Doctor — published in Doctor Who The Official Annual 2024 on 7 September 2023 — teased the casting of Dobson and Greenidge; the feature also hinted that the doors in the promotional images may have significance.
“The Goblin Song” is an original song for this episode. It was released ahead of the episode on 11 December 2023 with proceeds going to Children in Need.[8]
The short story A Message from Janis Goblin was released by BBC Studios on 14 December 2023 to celebrate success of the song in the charts, also revealing the name of the singing goblin as Janis Goblin, a play on Janis Joplin.
The episode will also contain a rendition of “Carol of the Bells”.
Davies clarified on Instagram that the goblin would be named “Janice” by The Doctor, as she resembles Janice from the Muppet Show.[9]
Pixie Not is a pun on pop singer Pixie Lott, Ralph McTelf is a pun on folk singer-songwriter Ralph McTell, Bryan Fairy is a pun on pop-rock singer Bryan Ferry, and Gob Dylan is a pun on singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.
While other original songs have been released with actors in character as The Doctor (Who is The Doctor?), this episode marks the first time both an incarnation of the Doctor and a companion have performed a musical number onscreen.
Davies felt inspired by the door opened by the inclusion of the Toymaker in the preceding episode The Giggle — as he deemed the Toymaker to be a fantasy character — so decided to include goblins, a traditional element of fantasy stories. He also sent the script to former showrunner Steven Moffat, who had a surprised realisation about the unused potential of the species within Doctor Who.
This is the first episode that does not credit a white male performer as a regular cast member. Although William Hartnell was absent from Mission to the Unknown, he still received credit for contractual reasons.
This is the first episode since Village of the Angels to include a mid-credits scene, and the first Christmas special since Last Christmas to include one too.
“The Goblin Song” is an original song for this episode. It was released ahead of the episode on 11 December 2023 with proceeds going to Children in Need.
Ruby Sunday was first mentioned in the short story First Day of the Doctor, a story which contained a tantalisingly obscured snippet of the Fifteenth Doctor’s diary.
This is not the first story to depict a companion written by Russell T Davies being part of a band; Mickey Smith was part of the band No Hot Ashes, as revealed in his novelisation of Rose, although this connection was not present in the original episode.
The Doctor is shown using psychic paper, which debuted in The End of the World and a new sonic screwdriver, which debuted in The World Tree.
The Doctor visited a nightclub before during the events of The War Machines.
Ruby remarks that The Doctor appears to move so fast that he has teleported. The Twelfth Doctor similarly displayed a seemingly magical ability to teleport, as seen in Listen.
This story marks the first time The Doctor is seen wearing his new clothes, as he only wore part of the Fourteenth Doctor’s clothing earlier when last seen in The Giggle.
The Doctor recalls how he is still learning the “new science” that Ruby claims is magic, recalling how the Fourteenth Doctor accidentally made previously mythical occurrences and creatures, like the goblin’s existence and ability to time travel, possible when he cast a superstition at the edge of the universe during the events of Wild Blue Yonder.
“Mavity” is still a word instead of “gravity”, as revealed when The Doctor explains his new gloves. The Fourteenth Doctor accidentally caused the title mavity to replace gravity in Wild Blue Yonder.
Upon Ruby revealing she was abandoned as a baby, therefore not knowing her biological parents, The Doctor mentions learning he was abandoned, as shown in The Timeless Children. He remarks that he was also adopted, indicating his connection to Tecteun, who was seen in Survivors of the Flux.
Minto Road isn’t original to this episode, as it was first mentioned by Mickey Smith in 2005’s The Parting of the Ways. The pizza place mentioned by Mickey in that episode is even indirectly seen, as Cherry has a flyer for it on her fridge.
On the same fridge, there is a business card for Crossgate Cabs. This fictional taxi service was first seen in The Sound of Drums.
The Doctor once again mentions meeting Harry Houdini, having claimed to have met and learned escapology from him before in The Highlanders, Planet of the Spiders, Revenge of the Cybermen, Planet of the Ood and The Witchfinders. Houdini has helped him escape from places before, as seen in Harry Houdini’s War and Smoke and Mirrors.
When Ruby is erased from reality, The Doctor displays an ability to remember her despite others seemingly forgetting her. The Eleventh Doctor displayed this ability when Rory Williams was erased from existence in Cold Blood. He once remarked this was because he was a complicated space time event that granted him unique immunity to such effects so long as it did not affect his own timeline in Flesh and Stone. Similarly, Carla cries when The Doctor tries to make her remember Ruby; Amy Pond also forgot Rory, but still had a residual awareness of him that caused her to cry upon The Doctor and Rory’s Auton form pointing it out to her as displayed in The Pandorica Opens.
Ruby is erased shortly after cracks form along the Sunday family’s apartment, similar to the Cracks in Time seen throughout Series 5, though in this case the cracks are not the cause.

TRAILER

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