Way back in the year 1965 smack dab in the middle of The Dalek’s Master Plan there was an episode of Doctor Who that was decidedly less serious than the events preceding and following involving Mavic Chen and the nefarious Daleks. This episode airing on Christmas Day 65 was The Feast Of Steven. Feast is a rather odd duck of an episode. It has no relevance to the plot of Master Plan and in it’s two main story beats it also has no relevance to the Holiday it was hastily made in order to celebrate!
- Synopsis: The episode starts with The Doctor his companion Steven, and Sara Kingdom (who isn’t technically a companion) find that the TARDIS has landed back in 60s England. Unfortunately when they leave the TARDIS they find that a couple of Cops are nearby and are very concerned that three non police officers are in possession of one of their Phone Boxes. After a brief argument The Doc gets arrested and dragged in for questioning forcing Steven to impersonate and undercover officer to get The Doctor out. Once they are safely back in The TARDIS instead of rejoining the plot at hand the crew finds themselves sent back to 1920s Hollywoo and the sets of several movies. The trio at this point go on their own mini adventures. Steven gets press ganged into replacing an injured actor and ends up filming a chase scene. The Doctor suffers from mistaken identity syndrome and gets dragged to several sets as a “Historical adviser” where he meets both Charlie Chaplin and Bing Crosby. Sara gets the honor of just wandering around empty sets for the duration of their layover. Once all the shenanigans in Hollywoo are over the gang meet back up in The TARDIS where the Doctor helpfully informs them that technically it was Christmas in London of 65 so it is hightime for a toast. During this toast the most hilarious and out of nowhere part of this episode happens at the end when The Doctor himself turns to the camera and tells the Audience “Merry Christmas to all of you at home.”
- History: This episode represents tons of firsts for the franchise. For one it was the first (and only) Christmas special until 2005. Also due to the very seasonal nature of the episode The Feast Of Steven was probably one of the first episodes to get junked by the Beeb and it wasn’t sold to overseas markets at all, meaning that this episode’s footage is more than likely lost for good. (the episode does live on in Audio form however.) Finally it is the first (and to my knowledge only) time the show has broken the fourth wall in such a direct way.
- My Thoughts: While I would be overjoyed if a copy of this episode was found in the grand scheme of things it probably isn’t the most important lost episode of Doctor Who and may very well be the lowest priority. It is worth a listen though if you have the time and inclination just to experience the slapdash madness of it all and to see where the franchise’s grand tradition of Holiday specials gets its rocky start.