Doctor in Distress (song)

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"Doctor in Distress"
Doctor in Distress cvr.jpg
Single by Who Cares?
B-side"Doctor in Distress" (Instrumental)
ReleasedMarch 1985
Format7-inch, 12-inch
GenrePop, Hi-NRG
LabelRecord Shack
Songwriter(s)Fiachra Trench, Ian Levine
Producer(s)Fiachra Trench, Ian Levine

"Doctor in Distress" is a pop song related to the BBC television programme Doctor Who. It was released as an ensemble charity single in 1985.


In 1985, when the production of the series was suspended for a year and it looked as if it faced cancellation, a charity single was produced and released in March. It was written by the series' unofficial continuity advisor Ian Levine and freelancer Fiachra Trench, who had previously collaborated on the theme music for the TV pilot K-9 and Company, a Doctor Who spin off from 1981. When news of the single was announced in early March, it was rumoured that the recording session would include the Village People, together with self-confessed Doctor Who fans Elton John and Holly Johnson. This, however, did not occur.[1] Instead, organisers Paul Mark Tams and Jeff Weston (managing director of Record Shack) secured the involvement of 25 mid-level performers, some of which were attached to Weston's label. The resulting supergroup recorded and released the single under the name Who Cares?, with the participation of four regulars from the TV series: Colin Baker (the Sixth Doctor), Nicola Bryant (companion Peri Brown), Nicholas Courtney (recurring character Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) and Anthony Ainley (the Master). The music was played by Hans Zimmer on a Fairlight II synthesizer; Zimmer was later to have success as a film composer.[2][3]

Proceeds from the single went to the charity Cancer Research. The single, which was released on Friday, 15 March 1985, was universally panned. Even the BBC itself refused to broadcast the song on its radio stations on the grounds of its poor quality.[1] Levine himself later told The Guardian, "It was an absolute balls-up fiasco. It was pathetic and bad and stupid. It tried to tell the Doctor Who history in an awful high-energy song. It almost ruined me." [4] The single failed to chart in the UK.[5]

An accompanying video was also released. This was directed by Keith Barnfather of Reeltime Pictures, a film production company that specialised in Doctor Who-related projects including documentaries and spin-off video dramas.[1] More than two decades later, the video for the single was included as a special feature on Disc Four of The Trial of a Time Lord DVD boxed set. In the documentary "Trials & Tribulations" included on the same disc, Ian Levine admitted that it had been conceived by John Nathan-Turner's partner Gary Downie "in a drunken moment".


In addition to the four Doctor Who regulars mentioned above, the recording session, and the accompanying video, included the following:[1]


  1. ^ a b c d David Howe, Mark Stammers & Stephen Walker, Doctor Who: The Handbook - The Sixth Doctor, pp 200-201.
  2. ^ Levine, Ian (2006-11-25). "Re:TV Cream rumour". Outpost Gallifrey forum. Archived from the original (free registration required) on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2006-11-26.
  3. ^ Levine, Ian (2006-11-26). "Re:TV Cream rumour". Outpost Gallifrey forum. Archived from the original (free registration required) on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2006-11-26.
  4. ^ McGurk, Stuart (2005-10-22). "Shows of support". The Guardian. Retrieved 2006-11-26.
  5. ^ Chartstats. "Searchable UK Chart database". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 15 November 2009.

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