SUCH was the moment in history the BBC had issued preview tapes of Christmas Day’s Doctor Who with the last couple of minutes missing.

This meant that all over the land, Britain’s TV critics had to wait until shortly before 18.30 hours last night for The Big Reveal to file their copy. Which meant staying stone cold sober all day. On Christmas Day. And you thought the Daleks could get a bit ratty.

It was worth it. Just about. While the arrival of the first woman doctor would finally blast the show into the 21st Century, the last hurrah of Paisley’s Steven Moffat as chief writer, and Glasgow’s Peter Capaldi as the Time Lord, was a nostalgic, rather moving affair with ghosts past and present walking the screen.

First to appear was the original Doctor, played by the late William Hartnell, who morphed into David Bradley as black and white became colour. Bradley’s doctor, fighting regeneration, had rocked up in the South Pole. He was not alone; the current doctor, Peter Capaldi, had parked his TARDIS a short distance away. It was his time to buy the virtual farm, too.

Plucked out of time to join them was a First World War captain (Mark Gatiss) who had been in a crater at Ypres, his pistol pointed at a German soldier who in turn was threatening to kill him. Echoes of the last episode of Blackadder hung in the air like mustard gas.

Impending doom everywhere, Moffat wisely turned the comedy dial up to 11 as doctors number one and 12 got to know each other. “I assumed I’d get younger,” said Bradley, gazing at Capaldi’s grey hair. Funniest of all was Capaldi trying to keep a lid on the original doctor’s dated attitudes. Remarking that the TARDIS could do with a good dust, Bradley said it was obvious his assistant, Polly, was not around any more. “Please stop saying things like that,” gasped the uber-politically correct Capaldi.

After a so-so tale involving memory-hunting glass avatars and the return of Bill Potts - or was it? - time would no longer wait for any doctor. Just short of 100 years since (some) women in Britain had been given the vote, the first female Time Lord was here: Jodie Whittaker, blonde bob and brown eyes shining. And then she touched a button which blasted her out of the TARDIS and into space. Women, eh? Still, an explosive start to a whole new era. Bring it on, Jodie.