Cover of the 1997 VHS reissue
|Directed by||Keith Barnfather|
|Written by||Andy Lane
Derrick Sherwin (characters)
|Produced by||Keith Barnfather
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 licence 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.
In September 2015, the film was released on DVD
On his way to UNIT HQ in order to deliver some radioactive materials, Warrant Officer John Benton has an unexpected flashback to his childhood in Lancashire. After visiting the grave of his older brother Chris, Benton has a further flashback to his childhood in 1944. Later, having failed to contact UNIT successfully, Benton senses that there is potential trouble lurking nearby and orders Willis to repair the jeep whilst he himself investigates. Unbeknownst to both of them, there is a stranger lurking in the woods who aims to steal the radioactive material. As Benton wanders through the woods, he is further haunted by his childhood; it is revealed that Benton blames himself for the death of his older brother Christopher- whilst playing a game of chase, Christopher slipped off a wall and fell to his death. A ghostly entity, which takes the form of Benton's father, torments John and tries to convince him that he is weak and unworthy of being in the army. John eventually breaks the hold over the spirit and realizes that his brother's death was an accident and that he was actually trying to save him. Returning back to the jeep, having now exorcised his demons, he manages to subdue the mystery man who was attempting to steal the radioactive source. Benton and Willis leave the woods and resume their journey whilst the voice of his father states that the game is now over.
- John Benton - John Levene
- Father - Michael Wisher
- Mother - Mary Greenhalgh
- Chris Benton - Paul Greenhalgh
- Johnnie Benton - Steven Stanley
- Pvt. Willis - Peter Noad
- Man- Paul Flanagan
- Soldier - Nicholas Briggs
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (voice) - Nicholas Courtney
Other creator-authorised Doctor Who spin-offs include:
- Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans
- Auton trilogy
- Dæmos Rising
- Zygon: When Being You Just Isn't Enough
- "Wartime". Time Travel tv. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
- Wartime on Tardis Data Core, an external wiki
- Detailed synopsis at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- Wartime on IMDb
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