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Dimensions in Time (TV story)

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Dimensions in Time
1993 Doctors-3-6-7 Dimensions in Time
Featuring: Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh Doctors

Susan, Victoria, the Brig, Liz, Yates, Sarah,Leela, K9, Romana II, Nyssa, Peri, Mel, Ace
Main enemy: The Rani
Main setting: London, 1973, 1993 and 2013
Key crew
Writer: John Nathan-Turner, David Roden
Director: Stuart McDonald
Producer: John Nathan-Turner
Release details
Premiere broadcast: 26-27 November 1993
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 1x7 and 1x5 minute episodes
Production order
Ghost Light Doctor Who
You may be looking for The Dimensions of Time.

Dimensions in Time was a two-part sketch broadcast in 1993 as a part of that year's Children in Need appeal. It featured Kate O'Mara's last televised performance as the Rani.

It was a nominal "celebration" of the thirtieth anniversary of Doctor Who, largely made because of the cancellation of the BBC's original idea for a thirtieth anniversary story, The Dark Dimension. Since the BBC had already obtained, at least in principle, agreement from most of the ex-Doctors to do some sort of anniversary programme, they went ahead with a charity sketch. (DOC: The Seven Year Hitch) Dimensions raised over £101,000 for Children in Need according to presenter, Noel Edmonds.

A major narrative feature of the piece was that it was a full crossover between the EastEnders and Doctor Who universes. That is, the characters were narratively implied to be a part of the same universe. As the years have gone by, this odd narrative choice has caused the piece to be viewed with suspicion by both fan groups. Ignored by both Doctor Who and EastEnders writers, Dimensions is a largely irrelevant story. Still, there have been a few prose stories in the DWU which have tried to follow on from Dimensions. Steven Moffat's pre-titles sketch for the 2011 NTAs is the only televised narrative to come close to acknowledging the story, because it implies that Dot Cotton had met the Doctor before.

Dimensions was a milestone production in many ways. It was the first and only time that John Nathan-Turner received a writing credit on a televised story, and it attracted the biggest audience of anything JNT produced. It was also the final BBC1 appearance for most of the Doctor Who characters involved, the first time in Doctor Who history that 3D technology had been used in the recording and broadcast of a television story and the first time that the televised audience were able to affect the outcome of a Doctor Who story by telephone vote.

Despite its many noteworthy qualities, it was all-but universally panned. Summarising general fan attitudes, Stephen J. Walker, David J. Howe and Mark Stammers gave it a 0/10 and called it "a dreadful travesty of a Doctor Who story". Like many fans, they banished the production with the words, "Fortunately, it is not generally regarded as part of the genuine Doctor Who canon." (REF: The Second Doctor Handbook) In his contemporary post mortem in Doctor Who Magazine, Nick Briggs said, "...this was not Doctor Who, just a charity get-together for a very good cause." (DWM 209) Prior to the broadcast, the 18 November 1993 edition of Radio Times flatly said that the story would not be a serious attempt to revive Doctor Who. (DWM 324) Perhaps most clearly, JNT said that himself regarded it as outside the continuity of the series, once noting that "it was never intended to be a part of the Doctor Who mythos, whatever that means" and that he "couldn't care less" whether it was included alongside other episodes in lists of Doctor Who serials. (DWM 249)

Plot Edit

Part 1 Edit

The Rani is assembling a menagerie of sentient life-forms from throughout space and time, hoping to use them to gain control of all individual minds in the universe. She requires only one more specimen, a human from Earth. Knowing that the Doctor will act to stop her, she creates a temporal trap to ensnare the Doctor in all his incarnations.

The Rani has already captured the First and Second Doctors. The Fourth Doctor attempts to send a warning to his previous and future incarnations of her threat.

The renegade Time Lord seizes control of the TARDIS. The Seventh Doctor and Ace, en route to China, find themselves instead materialising in Cutty Sark Gardens in 1973. As they walk, Ace is shocked to see the Doctor turn into his sixth incarnation. He explains they must have encountered a "groove" in time. They continue their search. Ace finds a clothing stand and they are offered a discount by its owner, angering his wife. The Doctor is shocked to discover that they have moved to 1993.

Suddenly, Ace becomes Melanie Bush and the Sixth Doctor becomes the Third. The Doctor explains to Mel that someone has been going through his timeline, pulling out early versions of himself and his companions. He meets two old shop owners who are selling over-priced fruit. The Doctor learns that the year is 2013 just before he jumps in time again.

They find themselves jumping time tracks between the years 1973, 1993 and 2013, in an area within a few miles of Albert Square in London's East End. The Doctor is also changing back and forth between his Third, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh incarnations, while Ace keeps being replaced by varying past companions. Worse, the Rani has released her menagerie — including an Argolin, a biomechanoid, a Cyberman, Fifi, a Mentor, an Ogron, a Sandminer robot, a Sea Devil, a Tetrap, a Time Lord, a Tractator, a Vanir, a Vervoid, Zog and Kiv — to attack the Doctors and their companions. The Rani tells the Doctors that they're all going on a journey — a very long journey!

Part 2 Edit

After telling the Doctors that they're all going on a journey (a very long journey!), The Rani is confronted by the Fifth Doctor, who psychically summons the Third Doctor to take his place. Liz attempts to disarm The Rani, but is chased off.

The Third Doctor is fortuitously rescued by Bessie, being driven by Mike Yates, who disarms The Rani, and takes the Third Doctor to a helicopter, where he meets the Brigadier. The Third Doctor turns into the Sixth Doctor, who leaves to find his companions.

The Rani, now in her TARDIS, proclaims she only needs one more human to complete her menagerie, and sets a course for the Greenwich Meridian. Liz leaves her hiding place to find the Doctor, but is instead dragged into the Queen Vic pub.

The Third Doctor makes it to the TARDIS with Victoria. The Seventh Doctor steps out of his TARDIS and sees The Rani's TARDIS materialising, and finds Leela escaping from it. Leela tells the Seventh Doctor about The Rani's menagerie of clones, and the Seventh Doctor explains how The Rani is attempting to transfer a massive Time Tunnel to the Greenwich Meridian. He then realises The Rani is attempting to gain control of evolution, and that there are two Time Brains in The Rani's computer.

The Seventh Doctor sets out to override The Rani's computer, and harness the power of the Time Tunnel to pull in The Rani's TARDIS instead of his own. He uses his psychic powers to join with his earlier incarnations, then uses a converter linked to the dual Time Brains in The Rani's computers to propel her TARDIS into her own trap. In doing this, he has freed himself, his past incarnations and all their companions.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

Story notes Edit

  • Dimensions in Time featured the final non-archival BBC1 appearance of every companion and incarnation of the Doctor in its cast, except for K9, Sarah Jane Smith, the Fifth Doctor, and the Seventh Doctor. It was Tom Baker's only onscreen performance as the Doctor since leaving the series until 2013, when he played a character assumed to be the Doctor in The Day of the Doctor.
  • In PROSE: First Frontier (page 54), the Seventh Doctor says "I once had [a nightmare] where all my old foes chased me round a soap opera." This is most likely a reference to the events of Dimensions in Time.
  • Because William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton were both deceased (as was Hartnell's Five Doctors replacement Richard Hurndall) by the time the story was produced, the idea was developed to use still images of them, already caught in the Rani's temporal trap. Because the stills could not be made to look three-dimensional, busts of the actor's heads were fashioned and filmed.
  • For scenes set inside the Rani's TARDIS, the Doctor's console from the original series was set inside a TARDIS console room mock-up constructed for a recent fan convention, the original console room for the series had already been destroyed. It would later be re-created for the docu-drama An Adventure in Space and Time.
  • Lalla Ward, as Romana II, gets the honour of uttering the obligatory "Doctor who?" gag. She is also the only Doctor Who character seen on her own during the story.
  • This story has the only televised meeting between the Sixth Doctor and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
  • According to Louise Jameson, Sylvester McCoy arrived slightly late and slightly hung over for location filming, having had "a bit of a first night" the previous evening. During his absence, the other actors playing the Doctors reassigned several lines of "techno-speak" to him, saying "Sylvester can do this bit". (DCOM: The Talons of Weng-Chiang)
  • This story is dismissed by both EastEnders and Doctor Who fans alike, as the continuity problems posed for both franchises are simply insurmountable. For EastEnders fans, one of the bigger issues is surely that Pauline Fowler is depicted as being alive in 2013, when EastEnders continuity has her dead in 2006. For Doctor Who fans, EastEnders is firmly shown to be a television programme in Army of Ghosts, and implied to be so in The Impossible Planet and Night Terrors, making it hard to explain Albert Square's existence as a "real" place in Dimensions.
  • This story was broadcast as a segment of the Children In Need charity telethon, with part one being introduced by Noel Edmonds and Jon Pertwee (in character as the Doctor), and part two being broadcast as part of Edmond's House Party programme.
  • The story raised money for Children in Need principally because people called in on a pay telephone line to vote for one of two EastEnders characters to help the Doctor. In the fight between Big Ron and Mandy Salter, Mandy won with 53% of the vote.

Deleted scenes Edit

There were multiple deleted scenes:

  • The Daleks were to have featured (the segment was shot), but due to disputes with Terry Nation's estate, they were removed. (DWM 324)
  • The opening was to originally to feature stock footage from the 60s, but was cut.
  • The ending was originally longer, with the Doctor asking Ace where she would like to go now. She states "...when you set the TARDIS to go to the Great Wall of China we end up Albert Square." "Well, in that case," The Doctor states, "Let's head for Albert Square."
  • The scene with Big Ron was recorded, but never used, because it was Mandy who won the phone vote.

Ratings Edit

  • Part one - 13.8 million
  • Part two - 13.6 million

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • Ace, Leela, Romana, Victoria, Mel, Mike and Sarah Jane are seen wearing clothes similar to (or at least suggested by) what they wore in the series; Sarah Jane, for example, is wearing her Andy Pandy overalls from her final regular serial, The Hand of Fear despite having since adopted a more mature wardrobe in K9 and Company and The Five Doctors. While Leela's primitive garb is evocative of her typical series costume, she is without her standard boots and is instead barefoot which was previously the case only when swimming in the TARDIS pool at the start of her final regular serial, The Invasion of Time. Liz and Peri are wearing clothes of a type they could have worn. Nyssa is shown wearing a regular Earth-style blouse rather than something closer to what she might have worn during her time with the Doctor.

Home video Edit

  • This story was produced especially for Children in Need, and the cast and production crew gave their services free of charge on conditions laid down at the time by the actors' union, Equity. Dimensions in Time would receive only one transmission and would never be exploited commercially in any way. Nevertheless, because it was broadcast during a period of time where home VHS was widely available, it was recorded by many fans. It is now easily, if illegally, available on the internet — albeit at rather primitive quality, due to the age and lower technical specifications of early 1990s home video tapes.

External links Edit

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