BBV Productions (also known as Bill & Ben Video) was a British video production company founded by Bill Baggs in 1991. The company was named for Baggs himself and his then-wife Helen, whose nickname is "Ben." It was a commercial enterprise that served Doctor Who fans who were starved of content between the broadcasts of Survival and Rose. Towards this end it heavily used Doctor Who actors and, when possible, characters. BBV therefore quickly gained the reputation for putting out content that was "almost official" or "nearly Doctor Who". In truth, though, its output was a bit more varied than that. Most of it could safely be put into one of five categories:
- fiction using characters owned by individual Doctor Who writers
- fiction using characters owned by the BBC whom the BBC gave BBV permission to use
- what Nicholas Briggs has called "Who clones", or things that were very close to Doctor Who, but the names were changed to keep the BBC at bay
- some wholly original material using nothing that connected to the DWU, aside possibly from Doctor Who actors
Of these five types, this wiki is only interested in the first three. Because it's a little confusing, a list of BBV releases appears below to demonstrate which are DWU stories and which are not.
Personnel[edit | edit source]
BBV developed a repertory company of actors that appeared in many of their productions, often playing different roles. Many of these actors were previously known from their work in Doctor Who, and included former Doctor actors Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy and ompanion actors Caroline John, Louise Jameson, Nicola Bryant, and Sophie Aldred.
Several actors appearing in these productions early in their careers went on to achieve further notability, including Nicholas Briggs, Mark Gatiss, and Alan Cumming. A number of personnel behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera, including Briggs, Gatiss and Cumming, would go on to work on licenced Doctor Who spinoffs at Virgin Books, BBC Books, and Big Finish Productions, as well as the 2005 television revival of Doctor Who.
Productions[edit | edit source]
Work in Video[edit | edit source]
BBV's first production was the 1992 video release Summoned by Shadows, which was co-produced by the BBC Film Club and starred Colin Baker playing an unnamed character only known as the Stranger and Nicola Bryant as Miss Brown. The Stranger's adventures were chronicled on six videos and an audio adventure, many of which featured former Who cast members. The sixth video, Eye of the Beholder, was later re-released as the audio story Eye of the Storm.
BBV's next release was the ecologically-themed thriller The Airzone Solution, which was about a near-future conspiracy. The video was released in 1993, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of Doctor Who and featured four actors previously cast as the Doctor.
In 1994, BBV released the first video in the P.R.O.B.E. series, The Zero Imperative, which saw a departure for BBV as Liz Shaw was the only character from the Who universe to appear (although numerous Who actors made appearances as different characters). This proved problematic for the series, as Liz Shaw seemed very much changed following her leaving from UNIT; this was due to BBV only acquiring the rights to use the character and had no rights to the Doctor, meaning that the series could make no explicit reference to any other aspect of Who – including the stories where Liz was present.
BBV's next series of spin-off videos focused on UNIT and their battles with the Autons. The first video of the series, Auton, was originally to feature Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, however he had to withdraw due to ill health. The Brigadier was replaced by the original character of Lockwood, an enigmatic UNIT agent played by Michael Wade.
After the success of the Auton trilogy, BBV went on to produce Cyberon, which featured an alien race of cyborgs reminiscent of the Cybermen called the Cyberon. The Cyberon would later go on to appear in an audio story, Cybergeddon.
In 2001 BBV released the Doctor Who parody Do You Have a Licence to Save this Planet?, in which Sylvester McCoy played a character called the Chiropodist (aka Foot Doctor) as he fought Cyberons, Autons, and Sontarans. In addition to references to past BBV productions, the film obliquely referenced various elements of Doctor Who and the unlicenced nature of BBV's body of work.
BBV's only release in 2008 was the drama Zygon: When Being You Just Isn't Enough, which featured Zygons as both protagonists and antagonists. The main character Lauren Anderson had previously appeared in Cyberon. The film had actually been mostly shot by 2003, but initially scrapped; only after additional shooting years later was the film completed and released.
Work in Audio[edit | edit source]
After experimenting with audio for a few years, BBV began regularly releasing audio dramas in 1998 under the umbrella title "Audio Adventures in Time and Space". One line of adventures was The Time Travellers, starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred as "the Professor" and "Ace;" the two so closely resembled their Doctor Who characters that, by the seventh story, the BBC had stepped in and demanded changes to not infringe copyrights – the main change was that the main characters were now called "the Dominie" and "Alice."
The first of the Audio Adventures that didn't feature McCoy and Aldred was a two-story series called The Wanderer, which featured Nicholas Briggs as an amnesiac space-traveller whom one of the other characters dubs "Fred". Briggs had previously played the Doctor for unlicenced fan audios made by Audio Visuals; the Wanderer stories were a deliberate continuation of that series in all but name.
Bill was worried about getting sued by the BBC, so he wanted to further distance his 'Who Clone' products by casting someone who hadn't been the Doctor (officially)... Me! I was very reluctant, but Bill was relentless and persuasive. [...] He told me to write Doctor Who, but find some clever way of making it lawyer-proof!
BBV moved away from audio stories about characters that could be the Doctor after the establishment of Big Finish Productions' officially-licenced line of Doctor Who audio dramas, instead moving on to audios featuring other characters from the Who universe such as the Rani (licenced from her creators Pip and Jane Baker) as well as a thinly-veiled post-Warriors' Gate Romana II (referred to only as "The Mistress" to avoid infringement) and K9 (fully licenced from his creators Bob Baker and Dave Martin.)
As with their videos, BBV also produced audios featuring original characters battling invasions by licenced aliens (such as Autons and Zygons) or close matches to Doctor Who monsters which were altered to avoid infringement (such as the Cyberman-like "Cyberons.") BBV also released a series of stories by Lawrence Miles about his history-spanning cult organisation, Faction Paradox.
In September 2003 BBV announced that it would be no longer producing audio stories, with the exception of Faction Paradox, and instead would focus on video releases. By December 2005, past audio releases were being deleted from their catalogue. 
Current status[edit | edit source]
The official BBV Productions website, bbvonline.co.uk, became inaccessible in late 2009. In January 2011, the domain was taken up by a new registrant and used for an unrelated site, a film blog. No official store or web presence for BBV Productions remains, and no further activity under the BBV Productions banner is known. However the TARDIS Library website lists a number of BBV releases in 2012, beginning with DVD reissues of the PROBE series in March 2012, followed by August 2012 reissues of Do You Have a License to Save This Planet?, Cyberon and Bidding Adieu.
Releases[edit | edit source]
Video[edit | edit source]
|Story title||Series||Covered by this wiki?[vid 1]|
|Auton 2: Sentinel||Auton Trilogy||Yes|
|Auton 3: Awakening||Auton Trilogy||Yes|
|The Zero Imperative||P.R.O.B.E.||Yes|
|The Devil of Winterborne||P.R.O.B.E.||Yes|
|Ghosts of Winterborne||P.R.O.B.E.||Yes|
|When to Die||P.R.O.B.E.||Yes|
|Summoned by Shadows||The Stranger||No|
|More than a Messiah||The Stranger||No|
|In Memory Alone||The Stranger||No|
|The Terror Game||The Stranger||No|
|Breach of the Peace||The Stranger||No|
|Eye of the Beholder||The Stranger||No|
|The Airzone Solution||N/A||No|
|Soul's Ark[vid 2]||N/A||No|
|Do You Have a Licence to Save this Planet?||N/A||See footnote[vid 3]|
|Zygon: When Being You Just Isn't Enough||Zygon||Yes|
|Stranger than Fiction||documentary||Yes|
|Stranger than Fiction 2: From Script to Screen||documentary||Yes|
|Bidding Adieu: A Video Diary||documentary||Yes|
|The Doctors: 30 Years of Time Travel and Beyond||documentary||Yes|
- Because of the fact that BBV released both unlicensed and semi-licensed works, our community had to examine each release on a case-by-case basis. Basically the rule of thumb for fictional video releases is this: did BBV obtain a license from either the BBC or a writer who owned rights to a character in order to make the video? If they did, then we assert that the video is a DWU narrative, and we therefore cover it. On the other hand, if BBV simply made up new characters and cast them with Doctor Who actors, then the video is not a part of the DWU and we don't cover it.
- Co-Produced Between BBV & Western Union.
- As this story is a lawful parody of Doctor Who, featuring licensed use of the Sontarans, Autons and Krynoids, it warrants some coverage on this Wiki. However, due to its parodical nature, it is not considered part of the DWU as we define it. Thus, it, and all related pages, must be marked invalid.
Audio[edit | edit source]
The following list is ordered roughly by release date. See Audio Adventures in Time & Space for more information.
|Story title||Series||Covered by this wiki?|
|Republica||The Time Travellers||No|
|Island of Lost Souls||The Time Travellers||No|
|Prosperity Island||The Time Travellers||No|
|The Left Hand of Darkness||The Time Travellers||No|
|The Other Side||The Time Travellers||No|
|Guest for the Night||The Time Travellers||No|
|The Last Mission||The Stranger||No|
|Eye of the Storm||The Stranger||No|
|Ghosts||The Time Travellers||No|
|Vital Signs||The Wanderer||No|
|Only Human||The Time Travellers||No|
|The Choice||Adventures in a Pocket Universe||Yes|
|Blood Sports||The Time Travellers||No|
|The Search||Adventures in a Pocket Universe||Yes|
|The Root of All Evil||Krynoid||Yes|
|Punchline||The Time Travellers||No|
|I Scream[aud 1]||The "I"||Yes|
|The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind[aud 2]||The Rani||Yes|
|Race Memory[aud 3]||Wirrn||Yes|
|The Barnacled Baby||Zygon||Yes|
|The Eleven Day Empire||The Faction Paradox Protocols||Yes[aud 4]|
|The Shadow Play||The Faction Paradox Protocols||Yes|
|The Green Man||Krynoid||Yes|
|In 2 Minds[aud 5]||Rutans||Yes|
|The Quality of Mercy||Guy de Carnac||Yes|
|Sabbath Dei||The Faction Paradox Protocols||Yes|
|In the Year of the Cat||The Faction Paradox Protocols||Yes|
|Movers||The Faction Paradox Protocols||Yes|
|A Labyrinth of Histories||The Faction Paradox Protocols||Yes|
|The Killing Stone||N/A||No[aud 6]|
- Marketed as the "first part" of the I series, but it was the only audio ever produced in that "series".
- Marketed as the "first part" of the Rani series, but it was the only audio ever produced in that "series".
- Marketed as the "first part" of the Wirrn series, but it was the only audio ever produced in that "series".
- Faction Paradox was marketed by BBV as both a part of season 4 of Audio Adventures in Time and Space, and as a wholly separate series.
- Marketed as the "first part" of the Rutans series, but it was the only audio ever produced in that "series".
- Richard Franklin, author of The Killing Stone, guested on episode 297 of the podcast Radio Free Skaro. While there, he revealed he was releasing the full version of The Killing Stone — which included 100% of the original script, plus more — later in 2012. In doing so, he noted that the BBC were requiring him to change the names of all the characters involved, noting "the BBC copyright situation is rather tougher now than it was when I did The Killing Stone". In an interview published in Downtime – The Lost Years of Doctor Who, Baggs stated that he thought Franklin had cleared the publishing with the BBC, but that he mainly thought the publication was "fair" due to it featuring "his interpretations". Despite Bagg's claims, writer Dylan Rees still concludes that the publishing was and is "strictly speaking, illegal." Thus the original Killing Stone released by BBV is not currently considered a "licensed" work, and thus is no longer covered by this wiki.
[edit | edit source]
- BBV Homepage (defunct; mirrored at the Internet Archive)
Footnotes[edit | edit source]
- "About BBV" - bbvonline.co.uk (archived)
- Blog comment by Jonathan Blum. 7th September, 2007
- Nick Briggs interview, justyce.org, April 2000
- News - bbvonline.co.uk (archived)
- "Fifth PROBE film for pre-order" - www.galaxy4.co.uk