Doctor Who Blog

50 Glorious Years: Episode 40 - 2002

Things continued to progress for Doctor Who in 2002. Episodes 2 through 5 of Death Comes to Time (starring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Stephen Fry as the new character, the Minister of Chance) were webcast early in 2002 (after the first part - the “pilot” episode, had been webcast in 2001), to great success. It led to the commissioning by BBCi (the BBC’s website) of more Doctor Who full cast drama’s with accompanying animation. Only this time, the BBC turned to Big Finish, who now had three years of producing Doctor Who audio plays under their belt. Their first crack at an animated webcast was the 6th Doctor story Real Time, which not only starred Colin Baker in his familiar role but co-starred Maggie Stables as Evelyn Smythe, a companion developed specifically for Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio plays. Real Time also proved to be successfully (at least, commercially-speaking) and so another audio webcast with animation was commissioned later in 2002, although it would not be broadcast until early 2003. The next webcast was to be a full-cast and for the first time, full-production of Douglas Adams’s 1979 script Shada - but with Paul McGann playing the 8th Doctor alongside Romana and K9 (their roles reprised by Lalla Ward and John Leeson, respectively).

The animated webcasts were getting more and more ambitious each time one was done. This was to culminate in 2003, but we’ll save that for the next entry. The Doctor Who flame was definitely being kept alive while it was off the air - the books and audios were both still going strong providing new fiction and drama, while respectively, for the fans. Of particular note is that Paul McGann returned to record a second season of Big Finish audios, this time consisting of six stories, many of which were written by those who would come to be involved in the new series, such as Mark Gatiss, Robert Shearman, Paul Cornell and Nick Briggs. If that wasn’t enough, while the Doctor Who VHS releases were starting to wind down,episodes were now starting to come out on DVD and hitting the shelves of DVD shops around the world to give the old classics another lease of life. With the webcasts garnering large ratings internationally, it seemed like the flame was burning, higher and higher. Sure enough, 2003 would see the explosion that Doctor Who fans the world over had been waiting for…..

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