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Dimensions in Time

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Dimensions in Time
Doctor Who serial and charity crossover with EastEnders
Cast
Guest
Production
Directed byStuart McDonald
Written byJohn Nathan-Turner
David Roden
Produced byJohn Nathan-Turner
Music byKeff McCulloch
Production codeC280X[1]
Running time2 episodes, 7 minutes and 5 minutes
First broadcast26 November 1993 (1993-11-26)
Last broadcast27 November 1993 (1993-11-27)
Chronology
← Preceded by
Survival
Followed by →
Doctor Who

Dimensions in Time is a charity special crossover between the British science fiction television series Doctor Who and the soap opera EastEnders. The special was broadcast in two parts on 26 and 27 November 1993 and was filmed on location at Greenwich and the EastEnders Albert Square set.

Dimensions in Time featured all of the surviving actors to have played the Doctor as well as many of the character's companions and several of the EastEnders stars of the time. The special was produced for Children in Need following Doctor Who's cancellation in 1989 and was the only original story broadcast in celebration of the show's 30th anniversary.

Plot[edit]

The Rani has opened a hole in time, allowing her access to the Doctor's timeline. She uses this to cycle through the Doctor's lives, causing him and his companions to jump back and forth between past and present incarnations. Her plan is to capture all of the Doctor's selves in a time loop, trapping him in the East End of London; she has already captured the First and Second Doctors. This causes the Fourth Doctor to send a message to his remaining selves, warning them of the Rani's plan:

Mayday! Mayday! This is an urgent message for all of the Doctors. It's vitally important that you listen carefully to me, for once. Our whole existence is being threatened by a renegade Time Lord known only as the Rani! She hates me. She even hates children! Two of my earlier selves have already been snared in her vicious trap. The grumpy one and the flautist, do you remember? She wants to put us out of action, lock us away in a dreary backwater of London's East End, trapped in a time-loop in perpetuity. Her evil is all around us! I can hear the heart beat of a killer. She's out there somewhere. We must be on our guard and we must stop her before she destroys all of my other selves! Oh... Good luck, my dears!

The Seventh Doctor and Ace are confused when the TARDIS lands in Greenwich, near the Cutty Sark, thanks to the Rani's attack on the TARDIS. The Doctor finds a newspaper showing the year to be 1973, but before he can make any more conclusions, the Rani causes time to jump. Ace finds herself in Albert Square in 1993 with the Sixth Doctor. Local resident Sanjay tries to sell Ace some new clothes from his stall, and when his wife Gita tells the Sixth Doctor that the clothing is going to be all the rage in 1994, the Rani jumps time again.

The Third Doctor and Mel Bush appear from the time jump, and question an older Pauline Fowler and Kathy Beale on when they are. When Pauline and Kathy reply that it is 2013, another time jump occurs. In 1973, Pauline and Kathy remember the assassination of John F. Kennedy, while Kathy tells off a young Ian Beale. The Sixth Doctor and Susan Foreman appear, but she wonders what has happened to the First Doctor and her other companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright.

After another time jump to 2013, Susan changes into Sarah Jane Smith and after chatting to Sharon Watts she meets up with the Doctor who changed from the Sixth to the Third Doctor. They start to piece together what is happening to them, but the Rani releases her menagerie of specimens, including a Cyberman, Fifi, a Sea Devil, an Ogron and a Time Lord from Gallifrey in the next time jump. In 1993, the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Peri are attacked by the Rani's menagerie, and after trying to warn Pat Butcher of the danger, the Rani stops them outside the Queen Vic.

In 1993, after the Fifth Doctor changes to the Third Doctor in the next time jump, along with Nyssa and Peri changing into Liz Shaw, the Rani takes control of Liz's mind. As Mandy Salter tries to stop the Rani, Captain Mike Yates of UNIT arrives in Bessie to save the Third Doctor and take him to the Brigadier who is waiting for them.

After another time jump, the Doctor changes to the Sixth Doctor and after he says goodbye to the Brigadier time jumps again. In 1993, at the Arches, Phil and Grant Mitchell find Romana looking for the Doctor, but they point her to Dr Legg. As Romana walks past the Queen Vic, the Rani captures her in front of Frank Butcher.

Back in 1973, the Third Doctor explains to Victoria who the Rani was and thinks that her control is breaking down, as they return to the TARDIS.

After the Seventh Doctor lands the TARDIS in 1993, Leela escapes from the Rani, after being cloned in the form of Romana. This results in an additional Time Lord brain imprint being left on the computer inside the Rani's TARDIS instead of the human one she needed, which gives the Seventh Doctor, Ace, and K9 the edge needed to rig up a device to overload it, sending the Rani into the time tunnel where she had trapped the First and Second Doctors and freeing the Doctors' other selves from the loop. As the Seventh Doctor and Ace leave in the TARDIS, the Doctor observes "Certainly, I – I mean, we – are difficult to get rid of."

Episodes[edit]

EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [citation needed]
1"Part One"7:3426 November 1993 (1993-11-26)13.8
2"Part Two"5:2727 November 1993 (1993-11-27)13.6

Continuity[edit]

The array of aliens summoned to Walford by the Rani included: an Aldeberian (Zog), an Argolin, a biomechanoid dragon, a Cyberman, a Mawdryn mutant, Lord Kiv, a Mogarian, an Ogron, a Plasmaton, the Sandminer robot D84, a Sea Devil, a Stigorax (Fifi), a Tetrap, a Time Lord, a Tractator, a Vanir and a Vervoid.

Production[edit]

Cast notes[edit]

  • This was the final official appearance of Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor; Pertwee died three years later.
  • Tom Baker returned to the role of the Fourth Doctor on television for the first time since leaving 12 years previously, though he had recorded links for the video release of the incomplete Shada the year before. Baker would later return to the series in 2013's "The Day of the Doctor" in which he appears as "The Curator".
  • This special marks the first time that Peter Davison returned as the Fifth Doctor. He would later reprise the role in the 2007 mini-episode broadcast for Children in Need, "Time Crash", alongside his future son-in-law David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, in 2022 as a "Guardian of the Edge" in "The Power of the Doctor" and in 2023 in "Tales of the TARDIS" alongside Janet Fielding as Tegan.[2]
  • This was the final appearance of Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor until 2022, when he appeared as a “Guardian of the Edge” to the Thirteenth Doctor alongside the First, Fifth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors, and in 2023 in "Tales of the TARDIS" alongside Nicola Bryant as Peri.
  • This is the last appearance on television of Caroline John as Liz Shaw (John died in 2012) and Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield (Watling died in 2017).
  • In February 1993, Sophie Aldred had guest-starred in a two-episode arc on EastEnders as Suzi.[3] She appears in Dimensions in Time as Ace, her character from Doctor Who, and the final companion of the classic era. The character would not appear on television again until 2022 in "The Power of the Doctor" as the Thirteenth Doctor's companion alongside former companion Tegan, although Ace would appear in a YouTube video on the official Doctor Who YouTube channel made to promote the Blu-ray re-release of Season 26. Aldred later reprised her role as Ace in Tales of the TARDIS in 2023 alongside Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor.
  • This marked the only time that the Brigadier appeared with the Sixth Doctor on-screen; they also met in the Big Finish audio drama "The Spectre of Lanyon Moor".
  • This marks the most recent on-screen appearances of Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, Nicola Bryant as Peri Brown, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, Lalla Ward as Romana and Louise Jameson as Leela.
  • This was also the last appearance of Bonnie Langford as Mel Bush until her cameo at the end of "The Power of the Doctor". Langford later guest starred in "The Giggle" and series 14, alongside Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor.
  • This marked the final appearance of Kate O'Mara as The Rani. O'Mara died in 2014.
  • Samuel West would later play the renegade Time Lord Morbius in the Big Finish audio drama "The Vengeance of Morbius"
  • The Dimensions of Time and 3-Dimensions of Time were the working titles for this story.[citation needed] David Roden convinced producer John Nathan-Turner not to use either title, and instead settled on Dimensions in Time.
  • This was David Roden's first professional script. Roden's original draft featured the Seventh Doctor meeting the Brigadier on route to a UNIT reunion – and becoming involved in a battle with a crashed spacecraft full of Cybermen. The script was entitled Destination: Holocaust, and featured the Seventh Doctor and Brigadier trapped in a burning church, trying to fight off the advancing damaged Cybermen. This original idea, written by David Roden, was vetoed by Nathan-Turner after it became apparent that Children in Need wished for the story to be a crossover with EastEnders. Despite loving the originally proposed script, Nathan-Turner also had concerns about the cost, which would have included several lengthy night-shoots and a much larger special effects budget.
  • Allegedly, Anthony Ainley was approached by Nathan-Turner to play the part of the Master in this story, but he turned it down. Ainley, however, denied this, insisting that if he were asked, he would have had no hesitation in appearing. Michael Gough was later approached to reprise the role of the Celestial Toymaker, and again Nathan-Turner was turned down. Finally, Kate O'Mara was asked if she would like to reprise her role of the Rani – a request to which she agreed. O'Mara was joined by Samuel West, who played her companion Cyrian (named after the original intended actor, Sir Ian McKellen).
  • The special was one of several special 3D programmes the BBC produced at the time, using a 3D system developed by American inventor Terry D. Beard that made use of the Pulfrich effect. The technology required spectacles with one darkened lens and one transparent one; these were sold in shops to the public, with the proceeds going to Children in Need.
  • The Daleks were supposed to appear, but the segment was scrapped after a disagreement with Dalek creator Terry Nation over payments. The Dalek segment would have seen Peter Davison facing up against them again in the streets seen in the 1984 serial Resurrection of the Daleks.
  • All actors and crew gave their services especially for Children in Need, and waived their fees on the condition that Dimensions in Time would never be repeated or sold on home video for profit. For the same reason, the story has and never will be released on DVD or appear as an extra on home video.

Broadcast[edit]

  • Part One was broadcast as part of the 1993 Children in Need telethon. It was introduced by Noel Edmonds in a short live sketch with Jon Pertwee, in character as the Third Doctor.
  • At the end of Part One, viewers were asked to phone in and vote for which EastEnders character would save the Doctor at the start of Part Two. Two versions of the scene were filmed, one featuring Mandy and the non-speaking character Sylvia Weng-Chung and the other featuring Big Ron. The £101,000 raised from phone calls went to Children in Need. The result of the vote was announced prior to the screening of Part Two. The version featuring Mandy was broadcast after it won 56% of the vote.
  • Part Two was broadcast as part of popular UK programme Noel's House Party.

Reception[edit]

Dimensions in Time has received almost universally negative reviews and is often highlighted as a particular low point of the Wilderness Years: the period between Doctor Who's 1989 cancellation and the 2005 revival.[4][5] Criticism has been aimed towards the gimmicky nature of the EastEnders crossover and the 3D effects; Tom Baker's limited involvement; the low-budget nature of the overall production; and the special's confusing relationship with the show's main continuity. Dimensions in Time holds an average fan rating of 4.3/10 on Doctor Who ratings aggregator TheTimeScales.com.[6] Licensed reference book Doctor Who The Handbook: The Second Doctor gave the special a 0/10 and referred to it as "a dreadful travesty of a Doctor Who story".[7]

Dimensions in Time has been likened to the similarly-maligned Star Wars Holiday Special, due to both productions being low-budget TV specials with questionable canonicity in relation to their main series, and due to similar perceptions of overall extremely poor quality.[8]

Ratings[edit]

Dimensions in Time achieved viewing figures of 13.8 million viewers for the first part and 13.6 million for the second part, making them two of the most highly watched episodes of Doctor Who ever produced. The highest single audience figure was for Part Four of City of Death, at 16.1 million viewers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Dimensions in Time - Details". Archived from the original on 12 March 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  2. ^ The Power of the Doctor, 2022
  3. ^ EastEnders episodes dated 2 February 1993 and 4 February 1993
  4. ^ DWTV (22 August 2013). "Wet Beds and Floaty Heads: Dimensions in Time in Perspective | Doctor Who TV". Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  5. ^ "Dimensions in Time: Solved! – The Millennium Effect". Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  6. ^ "Doctor Who - Classic TV Specials & Special Editions - Dimensions in Time reviews". thetimescales.com. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  7. ^ Howe, David J.; Stammers, Mark; Walker, Stephen James (1997). Doctor Who The Handbook: The Second Doctor. Doctor Who Books. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-426-20516-6.
  8. ^ Smith, Oli (15 February 2013). "Doctor Who: Anticipating The Anniversary". IGN. Retrieved 21 August 2023.

External links[edit]