CHRISTMAS wouldn’t be the same without the Doctor Who Special, and the 2011 one was full of festive cheer.

It is World War II and after hearing that her husband (Alexander Armstrong – Mr Smith from The Sarah Jane Adventures) has been killed in action, Madge Arwell (played by Claire Skinner from Outnumbered) takes her two children Cyril and Lily (Maurice Cole and Holly Earl) to a country house, but without telling them about her father.

The caretaker looks familiar, dressed as he is in a tweed jacket and bow-tie. Yes, it’s The Doctor (Matt Smith).

Under the tree is a big blue box; opening it, young Cyril is transported to a snowy forest. The Doctor, Madge and Lily also end up in the forest, along with two aliens played – rather humourously – by Arabella Weir (The Fast Show) and Bill Bailey (Black Books).

Excellent production values are apparent in every frame as the adventure unfolds.

There’s also some superb acting from the child stars, especially Maurice Cole, who manages to steal every scene he is in.

And in keeping with the plan of basing the Christmas episode on classic fiction – last years’ was based on A Christmas Carol – this one is very obviously based on The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) don’t take part in the story, but do crop up at the end in a scene which is emotionally charged, and there’s a big ‘feel-good’ vibe about the whole thing.

Sadly, the extras are a bit disappointing. Not surprisingly really, with the demise of ‘Doctor Who Confidential’ meaning that there isn’t a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the making of the show.

What we do have is a trio of 45-minute shows which were made for the American audience: The Best of The Doctor, The Monsters and The Companions.

There’s also a scene-setting prequel to the story.

Not only is this available on DVD, but also Blu-Ray and download.

Release Date: January 16th 2012.

Catalogue No’s: BBCDVD3501 (DVD) and BBCBD0171 (Blu-Ray)