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Dimensions in Time was a two-part story 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 the first two-part serial since Revelation of the Daleks in 1985 and the last until The End of Time in 2009/2010.

It was a nominal "celebration" of the thirtieth anniversary of Doctor Who, made primarily due to 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.[source needed]

A major narrative feature of the piece was that it featured a 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 narrative choice has caused the piece to be disregarded by many fans. Largely ignored by both Doctor Who and EastEnders writers, Dimensions became widely irrelevant to both series. However, there have been several prose stories in the DWU which have referenced Dimensions. Steven Moffat's Doctor Who National Television Awards Sketch is the only televised narrative to come close to acknowledging the story, by implying 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 he had 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.

In an article recapping the experiences with filming on set, Sophie Aldred recounted the rushed environment, but otherwise noted that it still felt like Doctor Who; going as far as to lament that the story was not the start to a new season. (Doctor Who Yearbook 1995) However, many were not satisfied with the story, especially under the context of a celebration of 30 years of the program. 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". (REF: The Second Doctor Handbook) Many concluded that the story was one of the many "oddities" which was not within the main "canon" of Doctor Who stories.[source needed]

In response to this, many of those involved began to attempt to justify the special. In his contemporary post mortem in Doctor Who Magazine, Nick Briggs said that in his opinion, "...this was not Doctor Who, just a charity get-together for a very good cause." (DWM 209) Nathan-Turner, 4 years later, directly attacked those that took the stories production so personally; mocking the supposed need for him to justify the story's validity, alongside the concept of the supposed "Doctor Who mythos." (DWM 249)

Publisher's summary Edit

The Rani traps the Doctor in Albert Square.

Plot Edit

Part one Edit

The Rani has captured the First and Second Doctors as part of her plan to assemble a menagerie of all 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.

While the Fourth Doctor attempts to send a warning to his previous and future incarnations, alerting them to the threat, the Rani seizes control of the Doctor's TARDIS, knocking it off course. 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. Continuing their search, Ace finds a clothing stand and is offered a discount by its owner, much to the annoyance of his wife. The Doctor is shocked to discover that they have moved to 1993.

Dimensions in Time news clip 2013

The Doctor and Mel meet Pauline Fowler and Kathy Beale.

Suddenly, Ace is replaced by Mel 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 what he sees as 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 turning into past companions. Worse, the Rani has released her menagerie — including an Aldeberian, an Argolin, a biomechanoid, a Cyberman, a Stigorax, a Mentor, an Ogron, a Sandminer robot, a Sea Devil, a Tetrap, a Time Lord, a Tractator, a Vanir and a Vervoid — 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 two Edit

The Rani is confronted by the Fifth Doctor, who psychically summons the Third Doctor to take his place. Liz attempts to disarm her, but flees when the Time Lady is distracted by a young woman.

The Third Doctor is fortuitously rescued by Bessie, being driven by Mike Yates, who shoots the Rani's gun out of her hand and takes the Third Doctor to a helicopter, where he meets the Brigadier. After turning into the Sixth Doctor, he departs 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. Discovered by a pair of men, Romana II 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, and, emerging from the TARDIS in his seventh incarnation, sees the Rani's TARDIS materialising and witnesses Leela escaping from it. Leela tells him about the Rani's menagerie of clones, and he explains how the Rani is attempting to transfer a massive Time Tunnel to the Greenwich Meridian. Realising that the Rani is attempting to gain control of evolution, he asks Ace, now in the form of Leela, what form she was in when the Rani cloned her, and realises that, given the fact that the Rani cloned Romana, there are now 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 him. 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, with his first and second incarnations emerging from the time tunnel. Having freed himself, his past incarnations and all their companions, the Doctor and Ace depart.

Cast Edit

Doctor Who Edit

EastEnders Edit

Others Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Notes Edit

  • Since airing, various prose stories have made reference to the story or set themselves within its universe. In First Frontier, the Seventh Doctor says "I once had [a nightmare] where all my old foes chased me round a soap opera," vaguely referencing the fan theory that the story was little more than a dream. Rescue served as a prequel, showing the Rani meeting her new companion. Storm in a Tikka is set directly after the story and links the events of the story to Search Out Space. However, Dimensions in Time itself is not considered a valid source on this Wiki, as it is technically a charity work.
  • Because William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton were both deceased 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 actors' 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, as 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.
  • 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 swimming 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.
  • Lalla Ward, as Romana II, gets the honour of referencing the play on the name Doctor Who. She is also the only Doctor Who character seen on her own during the story.
  • This story shows 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 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 Third Doctor), and part two being broadcast as part of Edmond's House Party programme.
  • The story raised money for Children in Need, principally because viewers were encouraged to call in on a pay telephone line to vote for one of two EastEnders characters to help the Doctor. In the competition, between Big Ron and Mandy Salter, Mandy won with 53% of the vote.
  • The special is notable for showing Bonnie Langford performing on the EastEnders set for the first time, though as her character of Mel. Langford would eventually go on to play EastEnders regular Carmel Kazemi in 2015.
  • Louise Jameson had agreed to reprise the role of Leela on the condition that she would not wear her original, skin-baring outfit. Unfortunately, the best alternative that designer Ken Trew was able to find was an unflattering Hiawatha costume.
  • Cyrian was named after the original intended actor, Ian McKellen.
  • Allegedly, Anthony Ainley was approached by John Nathan-Turner to return as the Master, but he turned it down. Ainley, however, vehemently denied this, insisting that if he were asked, he would have had no hesitation in appearing. Michael Gough was later approached to re-create the role of the Celestial Toymaker, and again Nathan-Turner was turned down.
  • Originally, the special was to begin with a pre-credits sequence in which Cyrian hunts a Cyberman for the Rani's menagerie; this would have led into a later scene in which Cyrian betrays the Rani to the Cybermen. The monsters encountered in Albert Square were all revealed to be holograms of the creatures trapped in the menagerie, and the Fourth Doctor was amongst those who appeared in Walford.
  • Originally, the resolution to the story would be resolved with a phone-in vote. There would be three options: the Brigadier saved the day, all of the Doctors joined forces, or the Doctor forged a telepathic link with the Rani.
  • One of the two EastEnders characters who could have saved the day was originally going to be Christine Hewitt, but this was changed to Mandy Salter because the former was being written out of the show.
  • David Roden's original draft for a script featured Seventh Doctor meeting the Brigadier en route to a UNIT reunion – and becoming involved in a battle with a crashed spaceship full of Cybermen. The script was entitled Destination: Holocaust, and featured the Seventh Doctor and Brigadier holed up in a burning church, trying to fight off the advancing hordes of damaged Cybermen. It was decided such an idea might not have been appropriate for a charity special.
  • Jamie, Jo, Romana I and Tegan were all considered to appear in the special, but none of the actors were available.
  • John Nathan-Turner approached the Pet Shop Boys for a new arrangement of the theme music. The band was too busy to accept the offer, but did indicate that the special could use their new single '"Forever In Love" instead; this idea was vetoed. The story ultimately used an arrangement of the theme music done in the band's style.
  • Tom Baker wanted to turn around at the end of his scene to reveal a bullet hole through the Doctor's cheek, but John Nathan-Turner was able to convince him to settle for a bruise in the shape of a question mark.
  • During filming, Sylvester McCoy stood in the middle of Albert Square and yelled, "I don't understand why those BBC Enterprises people can't get us all together for love nor money, but when JNT makes a few calls, we're all here with our boots blacked - doing it for nothing! There must be something wrong!"
  • Richard Franklin had to drive Bessie for one of the scenes. However, the car wouldn't start and filming was delayed for half an hour, which Jon Pertwee wasn't pleased with.
  • Deborah Watling had to wear a cloak to hide the fact that her arm was in a cast as a result of a rollerblading mishap.

Deleted scenes Edit

There were multiple deleted scenes:

  • The Daleks were to have been featured (the segment was shot), but due to disputes with Terry Nation's estate, they were removed. (DWM 324)
  • Several longer versions of the ending were filmed. One features 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, as Mandy won the phone vote.
  • 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."

Ratings Edit

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

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

to be added
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.

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.

External links Edit

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