Doctor Who festive special to air on New Year's Day instead of Christmas Day

The Doctor and her companions will crash land into 2019 with an hour-long adventure.

Doctor Who’s festive special will air on New Year’s Day instead of Christmas Day for the first time in 13 years in a shake-up to the BBC schedule.

The change from the traditional time slot is part of a new era for the sci-fi series, which currently stars Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor.

The Doctor Who Christmas special has been a staple in the BBC’s festive TV line-up since the series was revived in 2005.

Charlotte Moore, BBC director of content, said: “We’re delighted the Doctor and her companions will be welcoming BBC One audiences into 2019 with this exciting new episode.

“The Doctor’s fans are in for a special treat on the first day of the new year.”

Showrunner Chris Chibnall said: “We’re thrilled to be starting the new year with a bang on BBC One, as Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and friends face a terrifying alien threat in an action-packed, hour-long special adventure for all the family.”

The episode will see the Doctor and her companions Ryan (Tosin Cole), Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Yaz (Mandip Gill), face a terrifying evil from across the centuries of Earth’s history as the new year kicks off.

As the four return home, they have to try to overcome the threat to the planet.

Whittaker’s debut series as the Doctor is attracting the show’s highest average TV audience for nearly 10 years.

Full ratings for her first five episodes put the average audience at 8.55 million.

The last time the show enjoyed a larger average after five episodes was in 2010 – Matt Smith’s first series in the title role – and her average is also higher than the equivalent figure for the 2007 and 2008 series, when David Tennant was playing the Doctor.

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