Dimensions In Time – 1993 Children In Need Special

image Number : 1993 Special.

Which One : 3 to 7 – in a 30th anniversary special!

Cast : The Doctor : Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy
Ace : Sophie Aldred
Susan Foreman : Carole Ann Ford
Victoria Waterfield : Deborah Watling
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart : Nicholas Courtney
Captain Mike Yates : Richard Franklin
Liz Shaw : Caroline John
Sarah Jane Smith : Elisabeth Sladen
Leela : Louise Jameson
K-9 Mk. II : John Leeson
Romana : Lalla Ward
Nyssa : Sarah Sutton
Peri Brown : Nicola Bryant
Mel Bush : Bonnie Langford
The Rani : Kate O’Mara
Cyrian : Samuel West
Eastenders cast :
Sanjay Kapoor : Deepak Verma
Gita Kapoor : Shobu Kapoor
Pauline Fowler : Wendy Richard
Kathy Beale : Gillian Taylforth
Sharon Watts : Letitia Dean
Pat Butcher : Pam St. Clement
Mandy Salter : Nicola Stapleton
Frank Butcher : Mike Reid
Ian Beale : Adam Woodyatt
Phil Mitchell : Steve McFadden
Grant Mitchell : Ross Kemp

Written By : David Rodan & JNT

First UK Broadcast : 26 – 27 November 1993.

Length : 2 parts. 7.5 mins and 5.5 minutes.

Plot : The Rani opens a time-loop, and attempts to permanently trap all of the Doctor’s incarnations – in London’s East End.

The Tardis is forced to land in East London and the Doctor begins to cycle through his other regenerations, from Third to Seventh. Whilst each change also brings back a different companion too. This changing cast try to work a way out of the Rani’s predicament.

Whats good : 30th Anniversary reunion. Reuniting the Doctor’s, companions and monsters. Shot in 3D.

Whats bad : Setting it in Albert Square. Including Eastenders’ cast. Should have been longer.

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Review With Spoilers : Although definately not considered a canon part of the Who timeline and verging on crass pantomime; 1993’s Children In Need Sketch – Dimensions In Time does offer a unique, if rather bizarre 30th Anniversary Doctor Crossover-special.

You have to take yourself back to 1993 to understand what spawned this bizarre ensemble piece. At the time, Who had been off the air for 4 years – following it’s 1989 cancellation.

Outgoing producer – JNT, jumped at the chance to keep the flame alive and revive Who for BBC’S Children In Need. Also, it was the 30th Anniversary of the show and additionally turned out to be the final (official) appearances of Jon Pertwee and Colin Baker – in the role of the Doctor.

Originally perceived as a Seventh Doctor story, featuring UNIT and a Cybermen attack; Dimensions In Time evolved to became a cross-over episode, with another long running BBC drama Eastenders.

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Shot on location on the Albert Square – Eastenders set, Dimensions In Time weaves together a scenario which allows Doctors (and companions) past-and-present to interact with each other. Appearing in supporting roles, were the Eastenders’ actors of the day.

As William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton had died, the first 2 incarnations of the Doctor were written out – as having been caught in the Rani’s time-loop. Doctor no. 4; Tom Baker, made a small appearance at the beginning; to warn his otherselves of the Rani’s plan.

For some hardcore fans, Dimensions in Time was an insult. In their Doctor Who Handbook range; Howe, Stammers and Walker gave the story “nothing out of ten”, labelling the special – a “dreadful travesty”.

However, as producer JNT pointed out to the numerous detractors, the episodes were only intended as “a jolly romp to celebrate Doctor Who’s 30th birthday” and the Beeb’s own press release for Doctor Who’s 30th anniversary labelled the story as – “two short pantomime episodes”.

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“Mayday! Mayday! This is an urgent message for all the Doctors. It’s vitally important that you listen carefully to me for once. Our whole existence is being threatened by a renegade Time Lord known only as the Rani!

She hates me. She even hates children! Two of my earlier selves have already been snared in her vicious trap. The grumpy one and the flautist, do you remember?

She wants to put us out of action, lock us away in a dreary backwater of London’s East End, trapped in a time-loop in perpetuity. Her evil is all around us! I can hear the heart beat of a killer.

She’s out there somewhere. We must be on our guard and we must stop her before she destroys all of my otherselves!

Oh… Good luck, my dears!” Fourth Doctor

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Dimensions In Time is played as an irreverant romp through the first 30 year history of the show, maybe just a bit too irreverant, though. It looks very cheap, which is probably down to the fact that Who chose to shoot on someone else’s set – due to a lack of available budget.

And yet, even though it outraged the show’s hardcore fan contingent; it still holds something special. As fundamentally, it is still a Doctor crossover special and an actual new episode of Doctor Who – from the 1990s.

One could only have imagined where the show might have gone, if it had still been on the air past it’s 1989 cancellation and what it would have developed into – in the new decade.

Also, the fact that they wrote so many Doctor’s into one short episode, by means of the Doctor continually changing into one of his other incarnations; was actually quite clever considering the limited 13 minute running time.

It’s also nice to see the return of a good slice of the show’s companions, especially; Sarah-Jane Smith, Romana, Leela, Susan, Peri and even K9 gets a nod.

The monsters themselves, are really only present for window dressing around Albert Square. We have Cybermen, the Yeti, Sea Devils amongst others. The Daleks though are sadly missing due to a dispute with creator Terry Nation.

Dimensions In Time is not for everyone (especially not the hardcore fans) but if you are a fan of the classic show, you should watch it just so you can say you have seen it. It does hold something special, as a Doctor crossover episode but some impact is lost amongst the bizarre Eastenders crossover.

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The Beeb did nothing significant for the 40th anniversary, in 2003; which was pretty criminal. So, at least they did something for the 30th Anniversary, even if most fans hated it.

🔵🔵🔘⚪⚪ (2.5/5)