Downtime (Doctor Who)
VHS Release cover
|1 episode, 70 mins.
|2 September 1995 (release date)
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
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.
|Downtime - Original Soundtrack Recording
|Soundtrack album by Ian Levine, Nigel Stock, and Erwin Keiles
Music from this video composed by Ian Levine, Nigel Stock, and Erwin Keiles was released on CD by Silva Screen Records in December 1995. The 'Monastic chant' heard in the opening and closing themes was the same chant that was used in the Doctor Who story Planet of the Spiders.
- Introduction: Detsen Monastery and Title Sequence
- Astral Plane
- First Chase
- Second Chase
- Chase/Astral Plane
- Brigadier's Lost Memory
- Message Understood
- He Fell
- Astral Plane
- I'm Still Alive
- Danny Was Right
- Double Cross
- Build Up
- Family/Yeti Themes
- Single Sting
- Yeti March
- Family Theme
- End Credits
Doctor Who book:
Virgin Missing Adventures
Sarah Jane Smith
Fury from the Deep and Battlefield (main story); The Web of Fear and Twilight of the Gods (Second Doctor cameo); The Five Doctors and Island of Death (Third Doctor cameo)
|Lords of the Storm
|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.
The film was a direct to video VHS release in 1995. Then, in 2015 One Media iP Limited acquired the drama and re-released it as a 2-DVD boxset in November 2015.
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
- Downtime - Original Soundtrack Recording
- The novelisation cover blurb specifies that the main story takes place after Fury from the Deep.
- The video cover blurb specifies that it takes place before Battlefield.
- 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.
- 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.
- Downtime spin-off DVD Out Today - thedoctorwhosite.co.uk
- Downtime at the Internet Movie Database
- Downtime at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- Downtime at The TARDIS Library
- Downtime (novelisation) at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Cloister Library – Downtime
- Downtime (novelisation) at The TARDIS Library
- Downtime (novelisation) reviews at Outpost Gallifrey
- Downtime (novelisation) reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide