Visiting a house on Christmas Eve 1920 the Doctor meets a boy named Tom Wake. He also discovers a sonic screwdriver hanging from the tree. There is a note to the Doctor with the screwdriver, thanking him for saving the family's life on Christmases in the next nine decades, the note is dated 2007.
The Doctor returns to the TARDIS and goes from one Christmas to the next, looking out for any danger to the family. Although danger is only present once, the Doctor continues to look out for the family, even visiting them in the summer. As time passes, the Doctor grows closer to Tom and his wife Alice and their children and grandchildren. Eventually Christmas 2007 arrives and the Doctor and Tom decide to find out about the note. They go back to 1920 in the TARDIS. When they arrive there they find nobody there to place the message on the tree. Realising what this means, Tom takes the message from the Doctor, copies out the note and hangs it on the tree.
- The story appeared in the 22 December 2007 edition of The Daily Telegraph. It was also available on the Telegraph website.
- Mike Collins provided the story's one illustration.
- The Daily Telegraph gave a chance to win signed copies of the story through a Facebook page.
- The title derives from the lyrics of the Christmas carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem". The hymn's lyrics also lent themselves to the titles of Deep and Dreamless Sleep (also by Cornell) and The Silent Stars Go By. Paul Cornell later reused the title of Hopes and Fears for Chapter 16 of the novelisation of Twice Upon a Time.
- Cornell pitched several Doctor Who television stories during Steven Moffat's tenure, including an adaptation of this story. None of these were produced; however, elements of The Hopes and Fears of All the Years were used in A Christmas Carol.