Doctor Who had always had a love affair with the Victorian era, and Science Fiction plus the Victorian Era is pretty much what Steampunk is all about. I am certain my on interest in all things Steampunk was partially inspired by my love of all things Whovian.
Victoria Waterfield was the daughter of scientist Edward Waterfield, who in 1866 was experimenting with time travel. She was a companion of the Second Incarnation of the Doctor, and friends with Jamie (my very favourite companion, as I love a man in a kilt). She ended up living in the 20th century.
The majority of the Christmas specials seem to gravitate to the Victorian era as a setting. This is because the British are nostalgic and love the idea of an old-fashioned, traditional Christmas (and there is nothing wrong with that, says the Australian woman who has never seen snow). And – of course – it was in the Victorian era that most of those traditions were started, like the Christmas tree and the exchanging of cards.
As well, Christmas makes a perfect setting for a scary story. Charles Dickens knew that, with his famous Christmas ghost story The Christmas Carol. (And let’s not forget that Dickens appeared in the episode The Unquiet Dead, with ghosts and all and it wasn’t even a Christmas special!)
The Christmas specials are also rather famous for their guest stars and cameos as well, and that is one of the genre markers of the Steampunk literary genre.
But it just hasn’t been Christmas specials that have been set in the Victorian era. I’ve already mentioned The Unquiet Dead, but there was also Tooth and Claw, which actually featured Queen Victoria.
Any episode featuring the Paternoster Gang – Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax – is set in the Victorian era except for A Good Man Goes to War; their episodes have been The Crimson Horror, The Snowmen, The Name of the Doctor, and Deep Breath. I am hoping we will see them again.
And, last but not least, there is the Doctor’s own preference for wearing outfits based on Victorian gear – a style choice which Missy seems to be emulating. The First Doctor was most certainly dressed as a Victorian gentleman, as was the Eight Doctor. The Fourth Doctor was dressed in a Victorian era walking outfit. And this latest incarnation is most certainly influenced by First’s wardrobe. Even the TARDIS wears a Victorian-inspired paintjob; her disguise might be based on the Mackenzie Trench-style police box (from a 1920s design) but the very first police boxes were invented and used in the 19th century.
As both a fan of Doctor Who and a Steampunk Enthusiast, I can’t escape the aesthetics of the Victorian era.