Wartime (Doctor Who)
Cover of the 1997 VHS reissue
Derrick Sherwin (characters)
John Ainsworth (assistant)
|Length||1 episode, 35 mins.|
|Originally broadcast||1987 (revised 1997)|
Wartime is the title of a short science fiction film, produced direct-to-video in 1987 by Reeltime Pictures. It was the first professionally produced, authorised independent spin-off of the long-running TV series Doctor Who, and the only such production to be made while the originating TV series was still on the air (it ended in 1989).
Produced and directed by Keith Barnfather and written by Andy Lane and Helen Stirling, Wartime followed the adventures of Warrant Officer John Benton of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce a.k.a. UNIT. During a mission for UNIT leader Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, Benton visits his childhood home where ghosts of the past rise up to haunt him. John Levene, who played Benton on Doctor Who off-and-on between 1968 and 1975, reprised the role for the film. In 1997, a revised version of the film was released, adding a voice-only cameo by Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier.
Although the British Broadcasting Corporation owns the rights to Doctor Who and its lead characters, Reeltime was able to obtain permission from Derrick Sherwin, creator of Benton and UNIT, to use both entities in this film so long as the Doctor was not mentioned. This set a precedent that led to further independently made spin-offs featuring former companions of the Doctor, and alien races from the show, which would be released over the following decade; ultimately an independent company, Big Finish Productions, would in the late 1990s receive a license from the BBC to produce officially sanctioned Doctor Who-based productions.
The fact Benton is a warrant officer, having been promoted in the first Fourth Doctor serial, Robot, places it after that serial, but presumably prior to his departure from UNIT in the late 1970s as revealed in the serial Mawdryn Undead.
Other creator-authorised Doctor Who spin-offs include:
- Wartime on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
- Detailed synopsis at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- Wartime at the Internet Movie Database
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