Yes, it was a parody, designed to poke fun at the conventions of Doctor Who but it was also a love letter to the show. The special was called The Curse of Fatal Death and with a title like that, it was quite silly.
The show was part of 1999's annual charity drive, Comic Relief Red Nose Day. The Doctor was played by Rowan Atkinson who, parody aside, would've made a really good Doctor for real. Jonathan Pryce portrays the Master as the two enemies face each other one last time. It seems the Doctor wants to retire and get married to his companion Emma, played by Julia Sawalha.
Click here for the link to the episode. The special was re-released online for free by the BBC for this year's Red Nose Day.
Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent,, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley to portray the Doctor.
(I read somewhere that Hugh Grant was approached to play the Doctor for real when the show was gearing up for its 2005 relaunch. He said "no" but he kind of regretted that.)
But for all the fun had at Doctor Who's expense, there is a genuine affection for the show, given that it was written by a certain life long fan by the name of Steven Moffat.
Yep, that Steve Moffat. There are bits and pieces that Steven used in the comic relief special that have turned up in his scripts for the current show. For example, Hugh Grant's line, "Look after the universe for me; I've put a lot of work into it" was used by Matt Smith's 11th Doctor.
The parody's special effects were provide by The Mill, the same effects team that would work on the revived series 6 years later.
The Curse of Fatal Death is a comedic farce but one that understands what it's making fun of.