Doctor Who episodes and spin-offs that never happened
James takes a look back at the numerous ideas for Doctor Who episodes and spin-off shows that never got off the ground...
Across its forty-eight year history, various elements of the Doctor Who universe have never made it to our television and cinema screens. Some efforts were abandoned by their writers in favour of better ideas, in some cases ideas had to be dropped or reworked because of budgetary reasons, and sometimes scheduling or licensing issues stymied these productions.
But, even though we never got see these episodes and spin-offs in their intended form, some remnants of what could have been still remain.
Here are fifteen Doctor Who episodes and spin-offs that never happened…
The Chase film adaptation
Following the success of the film, Doctor Who And The Daleks, starring Peter Cushing as the Doctor, plans were made to adapt the 1965 Dalek serial, The Chase, into a film. However, the second film, Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD was a commercial failure in America and plans for the adaptation of The Chase were scrapped as a result.The Destroyers
In the 1960s, Terry Nation was frequently trying to launch the Daleks in America. One of these attempts was a script for a Doctor Who spin-off titled The Destroyers. It would have had the same serial format as Doctor Who and would have followed the adventures of the SSS, an organisation dedicated to battling the Daleks.
The principal characters were agent Jack Corey, David and Sara Kingdom, and an android named Mark Seven. Aspects of the script were adapted for the twelve part Doctor Who serial, The Daleks’ Masterplan.
In 2010, The Destroyers was produced as an audio adventure by Big Finish Productions, and was released with an audio adaptation of Prison In Space, an unproduced Second Doctor story set on a female-dominated planet.
The Final Game
The Final Game was originally supposed to be Jon Pertwee’s swansong, chronicling his final battle with the Master, culminating in the death of the Master and the Doctor’s third regeneration.
The story’s revelation was the Doctor and the Master were both part of the same being, the Doctor being the ego and the Master being the id. The story’s ending was supposed to imply that the Master died trying to save the Doctor.
After Roger Delgado’s (the Master) untimely death in 1973, the story was scrapped and replaced with Planet Of The Spiders.Doctor Who Meets Scratchman
Doctor Who Meets Scratchman (also known as Doctor Who And The Big Game) was a film scripted by Tom Baker and Ian Marter (the Fourth Doctor’s companion, Harry Sullivan) during filming breaks. It would have featured scarecrows animated by a mutant fertiliser, Daleks, the Devil (named Scratchman), and the Greek god, Pan. The finale would have taken place on a pinball table, where the Doctor, Sarah Jane, and Harry would battle the Daleks while dodging balls fired at them by Scratchman that would push them into the table’s holes, which were portals to hell.
Baker mentioned in an interview that he had planned to include the Cybermen and had envisaged scenes of them emerging from the sea. Vincent Price and Twiggy were provisionally associated with the project (as Scratchman and a companion to be introduced following Sarah Jane’s departure, respectively) but Baker and Marter were unable to secure funding for the project.
Fans tried to come to rescue, raising a substantial amount of money, but Baker was, sadly, forced to return it. Eventually, the production was abandoned.
The Five Doctors: The original draft
Doctor Who‘s 20th anniversary story, The Five Doctors, was originally very different. The televised story was written by Terrance Dicks and centred around the First, Second, Third, and Fifth Doctors (Tom Baker had declined to appear) being abducted by Time Lord President Borusa, so that they would access the Tomb of Rassilon and provide him with Rassilon’s power of immortality.
The first draft, written by Robert Holmes, was titled The Six Doctors, and would have featured the five incarnations of the Doctor being abducted by the Cybermen, so that they could extract the Doctor’s DNA and use it to become Cyberlords.
The story’s twist was that the First Doctor and his granddaughter, Susan, would be revealed as android imposters (the former being the Sixth Doctor of the title). However, Robert Holmes dropped out at an early stage and Terrance Dicks was hired to rewrite the episode.
After the lukewarm reaction to Colin Baker’s first series as the Doctor, and claims that the series was becoming too violent, Doctor Who was put on hiatus for eighteen months. Consequentially, the original plans for series twenty-three were abandoned.
Following on from the Doctor’s deleted final line in Revelation Of The Daleks, in which he suggested a holiday to Blackpool, the first story, The Nightmare Fair by Graham Williams, was to feature the Doctor and Peri going to Blackpool, being trapped in a computer game arcade by the Celestial Toymaker (first seen in 1966), and being forced to fight their way through a series of computer games to defeat the Toymaker.
The second story was The Ultimate Evil, a story by Wally K. Daly, featuring an arms dealer called the Dwarf Mordant attempting to incite a war between two countries on the planet Tranquela. The next story was Mission To Magnus by Philip Martin, which saw the reappearance of the Ice Warriors and Sil (the villain of Vengeance On Varos). Part of the planned story was the Ice Warriors using a nuclear explosion to alter a planet’s orbit to make it colder and better suited to them.
The series’ fourth story was Yellow Fever And How To Cure It, a three-part Auton story by Robert Holmes set in Singapore, that was also planned to feature the Master, the Rani, or both. John Nathan-Turner carried out some limited location scouting in Singapore before the series was put on hiatus.
The fifth and sixth stories were titled The Hollows Of Time and The Children Of January. The Hollows Of Time was by Christopher H. Bidmead and would have taken place in a sleepy English village and featured the Tractators (first seen in the Fifth Doctor story, Frontios) as enemies. The Children Of January was written by Michael Feeney Callan. Very little is known about this story.
The Nightmare Fair, The Ultimate Evil, and Mission To Magnus were novelised by Target Books. The Nightmare Fair, Mission To Magnus, and The Hollows Of Time were adapted by Big Finish Productions as part of its Lost Stories range.
In 1989, BBC1’s head of series, Peter Cregeen, gained the hatred of Doctor Who fans worldwide when he decided to axe the show. Production had begun on series twenty-seven when Doctor Who was cancelled and (as a result) the four stories that would have comprised series twenty-seven had already been planned out. The first story was called Earth Aid and was written by Ben Aaronovitch (writer of Remembrance Of the Daleks). It would have featured samurai insectoid aliens called the Metatraxi, whose code of honour permits them to only kill armed opponents, and focused on the politics of humanitarian aid.
The second story was written by Marc Platt and titled Ice Time. It would have featured the Ice Warriors in the London Dungeon and introduced a recurring character named Sam Tollinger, an underworld criminal who would have a role similar to that of the Brigadier.
The events of Ice Time would be revealed to be a test conducted by the Time Lords to see if Ace was capable of entering the Prydon Academy on Gallifrey and becoming a Time Lord. At the end of the story, she would leave to study at the academy.
The next story was written by script editor, Andrew Cartmel. It would be set on Earth in the present day and was called The Crime Of The Century. It would feature the Doctor meeting an aristocratic cat burglar named Kate Tollinger (Sam Tollinger’s daughter. Sam had gone straight since the events of Ice Time and was now a member of the upper class), who would become his companion. The Doctor and Kate would then investigate instances of drug smuggling.
The opening of the story was intended to be Kate slipping away from a garden party, sneaking into a building and cracking a safe, only to find the Doctor inside. The Doctor first words, upon the safe being opened, were intended to be “What kept you?”
Series twenty-seven’s finale was called Alixion and would feature the Doctor being lured to an asteroid to play a series of life or death games. The story was intended to culminate in the Doctor’s seventh regeneration. An audio adaptation of series twenty-seven was released in 2011 as series two of Big Finish’s Lost Stories range with Alixion being replaced by a story called Animal, by Andrew Cartmel, that featured Battlefield‘s Brigadier Bambera, and Ice Time being rewritten as a story called Thin Ice, set in 1960s Russia. Kate Tollinger was renamed Raine Creevey.The Nelvana cartoon series
This one never even came close to getting off the ground. Canadian animation company, Nelvana (better known for animating the Care Bears and the cartoon segment of the disturbing Star Wars Holiday Special), attempted to launch an animated series of Doctor Who.
Concept art of a new Doctor, a new companion, K9, and the Daleks was produced, but the series went no further.
The original concept for the celebration of Doctor Who‘s thirtieth anniversary was a film titled The Dark Dimension, in which the Fourth Doctor’s regeneration was prevented, creating an alternate timeline. The film was to focus on the Fourth Doctor, with cameo appearances from the Third, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors.
The writers intended to cast Rik Mayall as Hawkspur, the film’s villain.
Due to disputes between the BBC and BBC Enterprises, and scheduling difficulties, the film was dropped and Doctor Who‘s thirtieth anniversary ended up being commemorated by the bizarre Children In Need special Dimensions In Time that saw the Rani trap the Tardis in a twenty year time loop in Albert Square, the setting of EastEnders.The American remake
All I can say is thank sonic screwdrivers this was dropped as quickly as it was. The original plan for the American remake of Doctor Who, that eventually became the 1996 film starring Paul McGann, beggars belief.
The Doctor is half human and travels the universe, looking for his father, the legendary Time Lord adventurer, Ulysses. Borusa is the Doctor’s grandfather and his soul merges with the Tardis after he dies, giving him the ability to communicate with the Doctor beyond death, and effectively serve as the Doctor’s companion.
The Master is the Doctor’s brother and becomes president of the Time Lords after Borusa’s death.
Episodes that were planned included remakes of The Abominable Snowmen, Genesis Of The Daleks, Tomb Of The Cybermen, and a story set onboard a pirate ship.
One rather interesting concept amongst this steaming pile of horse manure is the reimagined Cybermen. Rather than being soulless, logical killing machines, they are cyborg scavengers, killing people for spare body parts.
Rose Tyler: Earth Defence
After Billie Piper left Doctor Who at the end of the series two finale, Doomsday, Russell T Davies made plans for a one-off ninety minute spin-off programme about Rose working for Torchwood in the parallel universe she was trapped in. Preparation began on the programme and it was given a production budget, but before production began in earnest, RTD scrapped the idea, as he thought continuing Rose’s story would spoil the ending of Doomsday.
That said, he did eventually bring Rose Tyler back for his fourth series run of Who.
A rather happy side note is that Rose Tyler: Earth Defence was replaced by The Sarah Jane Adventures, starring the sadly missed Elisabeth Sladen.Series 4 Episode 1
Russell T. Davies’ original concept of the opening episode of series four was the Doctor investigating sightings of strange carnivorous creatures in London, meeting a new companion named Penny Carter in the process.
The creatures (called Vorlax) are coming to London through a portal in abandoned building. The Doctor and Penny travel through the portal, ending up on a planet infested by Vorlax. The Doctor learns that the planet’s elders opened up the portal to send the Vorlax to another planet and alleviate the suffering of their own.
The Doctor is outraged that the planet’s elders are inflicting their own misfortune on others and seals the portal, leaving the planet and its inhabitants to their fate.
Davies abandoned this story and began to write one about cosmetic injections that mutate people. This story eventually evolved to become Partners In Crime.
The Suicide Exhibition
When series four of Doctor Who was being planned out, Mark Gatiss submitted a preliminary draft for a story called The Suicide Exhibition, featuring Nazis and monsters on the loose beneath the Natural History Museum during World War Two.
Russell T. Davies believed that was too soon to produce another episode set in World War Two (the 2005 episodes The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances were set during the London Blitz) and replaced it with The Fires Of Pompeii.
Tom McRae’s Century House (he also wrote Rise Of The Cybermen and The Age Of Steel) was originally planned as the eighth episode of series four of Doctor Who. Serving as the ‘companion-lite’ episode of series, the Doctor would take part in a live broadcast of the television series, Most Haunted, investigating a house haunted by the Red Widow, while Donna watched at home with her mother Sylvia.
Russell T. Davies was reportedly dissatisfied with the episode’s premise and wanted to avoid a second comedic episode in series four. He replaced it with his own episode, Midnight.Torchwood: American remake
Although this is technically a remake of a spin-off, I still consider it to be an undeveloped part of the Whoniverse.
After the broadcast of Torchwood: Children Of Earth to critical success and high viewing figures, Russell T. Davies attempted to take his creation overseas. Fox were initially interested but for undisclosed reasons, abandoned the project.
The Internet consensus (for what it’s worth) is that the Fox executives were uncomfortable with Jack Harkness being omnisexual and dropped out because of this. Although there’s nothing to suggest that Torchwood USA would be poor quality, I can’t help but think that the Whoniverse dodged a bullet there.