Tardis

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Advertisement for the first Easter Special, Planet of the Dead.

The Easter Special is an episode of Doctor Who which airs outside the regular run during the Easter weekend. Unlike Christmas and New Year Specials, this was not a Doctor Who tradition year-to-year.

As of 2022, there have been only two Easter Specials. The first came in 2009, with Planet of the Dead, which aired on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Years later, the 2022 Easter Special, Legend of the Sea Devils, actually aired on Easter Sunday itself, taking advantage of the show's then-regular Sunday evening timeslot.

The Easter holiday was not significant, symbolically or thematically, to either special, though Planet of the Dead featured the Tenth Doctor enjoying a chocolate Easter egg and musing about having been present at the very first Easter.

Other candidates[]

20th century[]

Episodes in the first twelve seasons of Doctor Who were usually broadcast weekly, with start dates typically falling in the autumn or winter months, and concluding around the following summer. As a result, every Easter weekend from 1964 to 1975 featured the broadcast of a new Who episode as part of their television schedules, always falling on the Saturday.

Episodes to be broadcast on these weekends consisted of: Marco Polo (6), The Crusade (4), The Celestial Toymaker (2), The Macra Terror (3), Fury from the Deep (3), The Space Pirates (5), The Ambassadors of Death (1), Colony in Space (1), The Sea Devils (6), Planet of the Daleks (3), The Monster of Peladon (4), and Genesis of the Daleks (4).

21st century[]

Even before the first labelled Easter special was established, the revival era of Doctor Who had been a near-annual presence over the Easter weekend television schedules, dating back to its first episode, Rose. This was because the main series was traditionally broadcast over the spring.

Rose aired on the Saturday that fell between Good Friday and Easter Sunday in 2005, followed by the remainder of series 1. The same thing occurred again the following year with the broadcast of New Earth, kicking off series 2.

For 2007, the first episode of series 3, Smith and Jones was broadcast the weekend before Easter, with its second episode, The Shakespeare Code instead serving as the "Easter episodes" for that year.

2008 was the first year of the revived series to not have an Easter weekend premiere of any kind, with the first episode of that year's series, Partners in Crime, not being broadcast until two weeks later. However, the Easter weekend that year would see the broadcast of a different piece of televised media: the penultimate episode of Torchwood series 2, Fragments, which was broadcast on Good Friday.

Series 5 began over the Easter weekend in 2010 with The Eleventh Hour. In this instance, the first few minutes of the episode are explicitely identified as taking place at Easter. Series 6 premiered in 2011 with The Impossible Astronaut, with the crucial scenes of the Eleventh Doctor's supposed death occurring on the day before the episode's real life broadcast date, although no references to the day in question being Good Friday were made.

After 2012, which was the second year in the revived show's history to lack an Easter premiere, Easter 2013 saw the premiere of The Bells of Saint John, kicking off the second block of series 7. Finally, the show returned again to an Easter premiere in 2017 with the broadcast of The Pilot, beginning series 10.

With series 11, however, the main series of Doctor Who was moved to an autumn schedule, followed by winter in series 12 and autumn again for series 13. As a result, the only Easter-adjacent episode to air during the Chris Chibnall era was the de facto Easter Special itself, Legend of the Sea Devils.

List of Doctor Who Easter specials[]

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