The independent television channel had a long history of doing this with stars like Tony Hancock and Benny Hill and would famously drag Morecambe and Wise to the channel in the 80s with false promises of movie deals and bigger budgets.
The 'Doctor Who' poach was a mess from the start. Hastily done in the autumn of 1973, ITV quickly commissioned a variety special for Christmas which was recorded in front of a live canned laughter machine that November.
In the show, Jon Pertwee performed his hit single 'Who is the Doctor?' as a duet with Noele Gordon - there to plug her 'Crossroads Christmas Sing-a-Long' LP whilst comedian Bernard Manning played a somewhat coarse (and possibly drunk) Santa Claus.
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'Doctor Who' hastily returned back to the BBC - its tail between its legs the following January and all was forgiven - just...
Like the later 'Star Wars Holiday Special', the show has never been re-screened and VHS copies of it have become much sought-after by the curious and the naive. It remains a forgotten sully on the world of TV's favourite Time Lord.