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This is the official blog of Phoenix Roleplaying, a multi-genre simming site, created in August 2010.

Run by the players, we hope to achieve great things.

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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Small screens and small audiences ('Doctor Who': online and direct to video)

What might have been the future of the show…


Previously, we covered the better-known spinoffs from the BBC’s long running science-fiction series, Doctor Who. In this post, we cover some of the lesser-known ones; those that either appeared on that much-loved pornography delivery system or (mostly) on black cassettes…

The BBC’s official Doctor Who website did a number of online “Flash”-style animations over the hiatus years – basically audio dramas with pictures. They can be found here. While other online productions have been made for the new run – such as the TARDISodes from Season 28; these are so linked with on air episodes that they will not be covered separately.


Canonicity from this point in for the EU is a matter for the individual fan.


Death Comes To Time (2001-2, 5 episodes, no longer accessible on BBC site, but able to buy)


Originally pitched for Radio 4 and rejected – this audio starring the Seventh Doctor, Ace and original companion Antimony was instead put online, where it gained over a million visits. The ending of this story renders it non-canon, although it did produce an online spin-off called The Minister of Chance.


Real Time (2002, 6 12-minute episodes)


Involving the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe[1] as they look for two missing survey teams and run into the Cybermen. Notable for debuting a blue version of the Sixth Doctor’s costume (for ease of animation) that got used in the Big Finish continuity as well – for one thing it looks better. An extended version was released on CD.


Shada (2003, 6 25-minute episodes)


A production of the unfinished Fourth Doctor story for the 40th anniversary, changed to feature the Eighth Doctor and Romana II. It’s quite good in fact.


Scream of the Shalka (2003, 6 15-minute episodes)


Another 40th anniversary production, this starred Richard E Grant and Sophie Okendo[2], the former as what was then pitched as the Ninth Doctor. However, the announcement of the revival two months before this started put its status into question – apart from an online short story and novelisation, no further works were made and the “Shalka Doctor” became non-canon.

Next we go onto the direct-to-video releases that were produced by Reeltime Pictures between 1987 and 2004. The intellectual property of the Whoniverse is a complex affair, with various writers (or more often their estates) part-owning many of the classic monsters and characters of the classic-era show. Reeltime were able to licence various elements of these for original spin-off dramas, albeit with some difficulty. They also produced a series of non-fiction interviews, not covered here.


Many of these are only available on VHS in second-hand stores and I’ve never seen any of these. Runtimes are put when known


Wartime (1987)


The first video spinoff, this one featuring Sergeant Benton (it’s the first to actually give him the first name John). A revised version was released in 1997, adding among other things a voice cameo from the Brigadier.


Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans (1994, 55 minutes)


Set on a space yacht, this features Sophie Aldred and Carole Ann Ford, as well as two regulars from Blake’s 7, this features the Sontarans, albeit redesigned as the design belongs to the BBC (the creatures belong to the Robert Holmes estate).


Downtime (1995)


Featuring the Brigadier, Sarah Jane, Victoria and the Yeti in modern day England.


Mindgame (1998, 30 minutes)


A Draconian, a Sontaran and a human are put in a cell… The unnamed human is played by Sophie Aldred and implied heavily to be Ace.


The Mindgame Trilogy (1999, 80 minutes)


Three short tales featuring the characters of Mindgame after that story.


Dæmos Rising (2004)


The only one to get a DVD release, this tale has the Brigadier’s daughter Kate (later to appear, played by someone else, in “The Power of Three) and the Dæmons.

Finally, we have some more video releases, these ones produced by BBV Productions between 1994 and 2008.

BBV produced a number of works featuring Doctor Who actors playing other roles, including with Colin Baker as “The Stranger”, but that character was later stated to be not the Doctor and TARDIS Data Core (the main Doctor Who wiki and a valuable source for this) excludes many of the dramas from eligibility for articles. Those excluded will not be covered here. In fact, they were never allowed to use the Doctor himself.


P.R.O.B.E. (1994-1998)


Liz Shaw and the Preternatural Research Bureau investigate various things in four films (all with 15 or 18 ratings), that feature a number of regulars from the show in different roles.

Auton trilogy (1997-9)

The Autons face off against UNIT, with all original characters for the latter – Nick Courtney’s health was not up to playing the Brigadier.


Do You Have A Licence to Save This Planet? (2001, 30 minutes)


A comedy spoof featuring Sylvester McCoy as “The Foot Doctor”, released to celebrate BBV’s 10th anniversary.


Zygon: When Being You Just Isn't Enough (2008, 60 minutes)


As the name implies, the Zygons are in this, but this isn’t the most notable thing about the film – it’s the 18 rating it received for nudity, gore and language.

From screen, we now move onto the medium of sound, where the sets are built by your imagination and sound effects…

[1]An elderly history professor, with extensive appearances in audio – this was her sole ‘live’ appearance.

[2]Both would later appear in the Matt Smith era in different parts. David Tennant also makes a cameo appearance.

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