The early seasons of Doctor Who were filmed as live, but the show has never been broadcast live, even for specials, unlike some anniversary episodes of other long-running shows like The Bill. For one thing, you’d have difficulty materialising the TARDIS.
However, this hasn’t stopped people from doing time travel on stage; there have been a number of officially approved (or not) fan productions over the years, including of the lost story "Fury from the Deep", but we will focussing solely on the official plays created by the BBC with fictional content – this excludes plain music concerts.
These are generally not considered at all canon by the TARDIS Data Core.
Curse of the Daleks (1965-66, Wyndham Theatre, London)
Credited to David Whittaker and Terry Nation (although Nation seems to have had next to no involvement), this attempt to cash in on Dalekmania, one of many of course, features five Dalek props but no Doctor – yep, it’s the rights issues again. This matinee play lasted a month and got pretty poor reviews.
In 2008, Big Finish released an audio adaptation as part of a series covering the plays.
Doctor Who and the Daleks in Seven Keys to Doomsday (1974-5, Adelphi Theatre, London)
Actual title “Seven Keys to Doomsday”, but known fully as this, this stage play starred Trevor Martin as an alternative Fourth Doctor (he regenerates from Pertwee) at the beginning, with original companions Jenny and Jimmy, as they try to stop the Daleks taking over the universe. It ran for only four weeks, as planned.
It also got referenced by the Eleven Doctor in “Night Terrors” when he referred to “Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday” – it was used as a title of a story in the 2012 Annual. It also got a BF adaptation
Hot Ice ’86 (1986, Blackpool Ice Dome)
Every year, Blackpool Pleasure Beach puts on an ice show – the 1986 version featured an eight-minute adventure featuring the Sixth Doctor and Peri (played by David McGrouther and Julie Sharrock respectively). It gets a tiny mention in Whoology and that’s about all I could find on it.
Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure (1989, national tour)
A musical that featured the Daleks and the Cybermen teaming up and Mrs Thatcher summoning the Doctor to prevent them kidnapping a US delegate to a peace conference, this play featured three different actors as the Doctor:
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Jon Pertwee for the first part of the run until early June.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>David Banks for two performances on 29 April during Pertwee’s run – he was the understudy for Pertwee, who fell ill that day. Banks, whose main involvement in the show involved wearing a Cyberman suit, did his own unique portrayal.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Colin Baker for the rest of it.
While not the biggest success, those who saw it have fond memories of it – and it got an audio version. With the cancellation of the show at the beginning of 1990, this was pretty much it for stage stuff until 2005…
Doctor Who Meets Albert Einstein (2005, The Young Scientist Exhibition, Dublin, Ireland)
Starring Declan Brennan as the Doctor, this was an educational play aimed at explaining relativity. It was relatively obscure. It’s also not the only time the Doctor has met Einstein – he has appeared three times in TV Doctor Who.
Doctor Who Proms (2008, 2010, 2013, Royal Albert Hall, London)
The Proms (full title: The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC) are an annual series of concerts held in London that focus mostly on classic music, mostly in the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, SW7 and traditionally concluding with the exuberant Last Night, including some rather patriotic ditties, most notably “Rule, Britannia!”.
With Murray Gold’s music a big part of post-2005 Who (and other music a big part of the show in general), it is no surprise that these have featured in the Proms – with three concerts dedicated to the show’s music, along with other relevant music to the show i.e. Holst’s The Planets Suite. All three to date have had various monsters turn up in the hall. As for other character:
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>2008 had a mini-episode called “The Music of the Spheres” (pre-recorded featuring Tennant)
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>2010 featured a skit with Matt Smith in character turning up live in the audience.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>2013 featured Smith and Jenna Coleman in (and later out) of character – as well as Madame Vastra and Strax.
All of these were broadcast on radio and later got (or will get) cut down TV airings.
Doctor Who Live: The Monsters Are Coming! (2010, national arena tour)
A pseudo-sequel to “Carnival of Monsters” from 1973, this arena show starring Nigel Planer featured a band a few instruments short of a full orchestra (that’s not a euphemism), Matt Smith appearing as Eleven via pre-recorded video clips and a plot that basically was an excuse for a bunch of monsters parading through the aisles.
This is the only one I’ve actually seen – at Wembley Arena. There were a lot of kids dressed as the Doctor.
The Crash of the Elysium (2011, Manchester International Festival)
An immersive theatre experience produced by Punchdrunk aimed at (and largely restricted to i.e. the adults had to go to the café after 5 minutes unless it was a family performance, although adults-only performances were added due to demand) 6-12 year olds, this play saw its audience interact with the characters to save the world and the Eleventh Doctor, who appeared on video screens – except for one time where Matt Smith turned up at the end, in character.
These theatrical experiences, while interactive, are only of a limited interaction of the “boo-hiss” variety. Any attempt to divert the story will result in a chat with security.
For our final post in our sidebar [Long sidebar – Ed.] looking at the expanded universe, we will be looking at the truly interactive experiences – the video and tabletop games set in the Whoniverse. Let’s fire up the Micro…
More than turn up in some TV stories, in fact (The surviving “Power of the Daleks” footage has some very obvious cardboard cut outs) – the props were later recycled for use in the second of the Cushing movies, that used a total of 19.
Jenny was played by Wendy Padbury aka Zoe… in the 2008 audio, her daughter Charlie Hayes took the role. The play also featured Simon Jones, who would be better known as Arthur Dent in the radio and television versions of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
The Hall is located on a street called Kensington Gore, whose name also became a trademark for a type of theatrical blood, particularly associated with Hammer Horror.
They have been doing this sort of thing since 2000 in a variety of unusual places – the audience can wander around the set and get involved in the story. Within reason – I think assault would not go down too well.