Downtime (Doctor Who)

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VHS Release cover
Writer Marc Platt
Director Christopher Barry
Producer Keith Barnfather
Ian Levine
Paul Cuthbert-Brown
Andrew Beech
Length 1 episode, 70 mins.
Originally broadcast 2 September 1995 (release date)
← Preceded by Followed by →
Dæmos Rising

Downtime is a direct-to-video spin-off of the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was released direct-to-video and produced by the independent production company Reeltime Pictures. It is a sequel to the Second Doctor serials The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear.

Downtime stars Nicholas Courtney, Deborah Watling, Jack Watling and Elisabeth Sladen reprising their roles as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Victoria Waterfield, Professor Edward Travers and Sarah Jane Smith, respectively. It introduces the character of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart.


Sometime after Victoria had parted company with the Doctor on 20th century Earth (Fury from the Deep), she is lured back to the Detsen Monastery in Tibet (The Abominable Snowmen) by a dream telling her she'll find her late father there. Instead, she finds the Great Intelligence, which still possessed the mind of Professor Travers (The Web of Fear).

15 years later, Victoria is the vice chancellor of New World University. New World is an institution that claims to offer spiritual guidance to distraught youth. In reality, New World is the headquarters for the Intelligence's new plan to conquer the world by infecting all of the computers. Both the administration and students await the coming of a "new world" that will be heralded by the chancellor, the Intelligence-possessed Travers.

Victoria's motives are well-meaning but misguided, having been manipulated with a promised "light of truth". The students themselves have been brainwashed through their computer courses and are slaves of the Intelligence. Outsiders refer to them as "chillys".

The Intelligence needs a final missing Locus to attain its goal. It believes the Brigadier has it, but the locus is actually with his daughter Kate and grandson Gordon on their narrowboat.

New World attempts to gather information on the Brigadier by asking Sarah Jane Smith to investigate him. Sarah lies about knowing the Brigadier and later warns both him and UNIT. The Intelligence then arranges a meeting between the Brigadier and a corrupt UNIT captain named Cavendish.

Throughout the story the Brigadier is aided by a New World student named Daniel Hinton, a former student of his from the Brendon School. The Intelligence's conditioning failed on Hinton, though at times he is still under its influence and at one point becomes a Yeti. He can communicate with the Brigadier through the bardo or astral plane.


Nicholas Courtney - Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Elisabeth Sladen - Sarah Jane Smith
Deborah Watling - Victoria Waterfield
Jack Watling - Professor Edward Travers
Beverley Cressman - Kate Lethbridge-Stewart
Mark Trotman - Daniel Hinton
Geoffrey Beevers - Harrod Haroldson
Peter Silverleef - Christopher Rice
John Leeson - Anthony
Miles Richardson - Captain Douglas Cavendish
James Bree - Lama
Kathy Coutler - Receptionist
Alexander Landen - Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart

Production notes[edit]

The university campus scenes were shot at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. DWB Editor Anthony Brown, who had attended UEA, suggested the location after another had fallen through, as the distinctive Ziggurat-shaped student residences Norfolk and Suffolk Terrace echoed pyramid motifs in the script.

Production of some external scenes had to be rescheduled thanks to unseasonal spring snow storms — ironically, snow was conspicuously absent from the first Yeti story, The Abominable Snowmen.

The later Reeltime production Dæmos Rising followed up on some of the elements of this story.

Daniel Hinton is named after Craig Hinton, the Doctor Who fan and novelist.

Soundtrack release[edit]

Downtime - Original Soundtrack Recording
Downtime soundtrack.jpg
Soundtrack album by Ian Levine, Nigel Stock, and Erwin Keiles
Released December 1995
Genre Soundtrack
Label Silva Screen

Music from this video composed by Ian Levine, Nigel Stock, and Erwin Keiles was released on CD by Silva Screen Records in December 1995.[1]

Track listing[edit]

  1. Introduction: Detsen Monastery and Title Sequence
  2. Astral Plane
  3. Confrontation
  4. Eerie
  5. First Chase
  6. Second Chase
  7. Truth
  8. Chase/Astral Plane
  9. Brigadier's Lost Memory
  10. Intelligence
  11. Message Understood
  12. He Fell
  13. Hallucination
  14. Astral Plane
  15. Travers
  16. I'm Still Alive
  17. Danny Was Right
  18. Double Cross
  19. Sting
  20. Build Up
  21. Apparition
  22. Stranger
  23. Realisation
  24. Family/Yeti Themes
  25. Approach
  26. Single Sting
  27. Lift
  28. Webs
  29. Attack
  30. Yeti March
  31. Climax
  32. Victoria
  33. Family Theme
  34. End Credits


Downtime novel.jpg
Author Marc Platt
Series Doctor Who book:
Virgin Missing Adventures
Release number
Subject Featuring:
Victoria Waterfield
Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart
Sarah Jane Smith
Set in Period between
Fury from the Deep[2] and Battlefield[3] (main story); The Web of Fear and Twilight of the Gods (Second Doctor cameo);[4] The Five Doctors and Island of Death (Third Doctor cameo)[5]
Publisher Virgin Books
Publication date
January 1996
Pages 263
ISBN ISBN 0-426-20462-X
Preceded by 'Lords of the Storm'
Followed by 'The Man in the Velvet Mask'

In 1996 a novelisation of Downtime by Marc Platt was published by Virgin Publishing as part of their Missing Adventures line. It expands greatly on the original story and features many differences in plot. It is the only Missing Adventure not to centre on the Doctor, although the Second Doctor makes a cameo at the start of the novel, and the Third Doctor makes a cameo at the end. It is one of only two non-BBC, Doctor Who-related productions to be novelised. The other was Shakedown which was published as part of the Virgin New Adventures line of books.

The novelisation included an 8-page photo insert of behind-the-scenes images taken from the film production.

See also[edit]

Other creator-authorised Doctor Who spin-offs include:


  1. ^ Downtime - Original Soundtrack Recording
  2. ^ The novelisation cover blurb specifies that the main story takes place after Fury from the Deep.
  3. ^ The video cover blurb specifies that it takes place before Battlefield.
  4. ^ The (Second) Doctor's Timeline at The Whoniverse gives support for specific placement of the Second Doctor's cameo relative to other spin-off media.
  5. ^ The (Third) Doctor's Timeline at The Whoniverse gives support for specific placement of the Third Doctor's cameo relative to other spin-off media.

External links[edit]



Novelisation reviews[edit]