Dimensions in Time (TV story)

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Dimensions in Time was a two-part Doctor Who 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 First Rani, and served as a special celebrating the 30th anniversary of the series. Another peculiarity of the piece was that it featured an unlikely crossover between the Doctor Who universe and long-running soap opera, EastEnders.

It was created to replace a longer, more ambitious planned 30th anniversary special, entitled 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 the shorter charity sketch.[1]

Dimensions in Time 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. It was also the first two-part serial since Revelation of the Daleks in 1985 and the last until The End of Time in 2009/2010 (although the revived series featured several two-parter stories before then, the episodes themselves were identified by individual titles rather than numbered episodes).

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".[2] 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."[3]

Nathan-Turner, four years later, directly attacked those that took the story's production so personally, mocking the supposed need for him to justify the story's validity, alongside the concept of the supposed "Doctor Who mythos". Although, in the process, Nathan-Turner cast a degree of doubt on whether the story was intended to take place in the "real" Doctor Who universe,[4] multiple later licensed Doctor Who stories would go on to reference its events, with Steven Moffat's later televised sketch Dermot and the Doctor even acknowledging that the Doctor had been to Albert Square before. However, one of these references, an offhand line in the novel First Frontier, sought to dismiss the story as having been nothing more than a bad dream the Doctor had.

Publisher's summary[[edit]]

The Rani traps the Doctor in his third, fifth, sixth and seventh incarnations, as well as several of his companions, in Albert Square, London in 1973, 1993 and 2013.


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.

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 Neomorph 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 by the Rani.

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 Leela, what form she was in when the Rani cloned her. She responds 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.


Doctor Who[[edit]]






  • The special had the working titles of 3-Dimensions of Time and The Dimensions of Time.
  • Noel Edmonds announced on the 27 November edition of Noel's House Party (during which part two of Dimensions would be broadcast) that the phone-in vote started the previous night to determine the outcome for resolving part one's cliffhanger had raised over £101,000 just prior to the second part airing.
  • 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. This approach also served as a safeguard against the possibility of any of the other Doctors proving unable or unwilling to appear, as they could then be incorporated into the story in the same manner.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Louise Jameson had agreed to reprise the role of Leela on the condition that she would not wear her original, skin-baring outfit, which she had kept as a memento after leaving the series. Unfortunately, the best alternative that designer Ken Trew was able to find was an unflattering Hiawatha costume.
  • 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 Edmonds' House Party programme — but on this occasion, no Doctor Who guests were present.
  • 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.
  • Both Louise Jameson and Bonnie Langford would go on to have regular EastEnders roles in subsequent years: Jameson would go on to play Rosa di Marco from 1998 to 2000, while Langford would play Carmel Kazimi from 2015 to 2018.
  • Allegedly, Anthony Ainley was approached by John Nathan-Turner to return as the Tremas Master, but he turned it down. However, Ainley vehemently denied this, insisting that if he were asked, he would have had no hesitation in appearing.
  • At one point, it seemed like the EastEnders crossover would have to be abandoned, as the production team had made allowances for just one day of recording at BBC Elstree. However, the time-consuming choreography which the Pulfrich Effect required meant that it would be impossible to complete twelve minutes of material in such a short timeframe. David Roden then developed a storyline called The Endgame, which pitted the Doctors against the Celestial Toymaker in an amusement park. Tim Handel, however, was eager to retain the crossover, and it was finally agreed that a second day at BBC Elstree could be set aside.
  • 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 the 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 Frazer Hines, Katy Manning, Mary Tamm and Janet Fielding were unavailable. (Hines had to back out almost at the last minute due to his commitments as Joe Sugden in Emmerdale).
  • 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. Erasure were also approached. They agreed to participate, but not until it was too late for them to become involved.
  • 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 JN-T makes a few calls, we're all here with our boots blacked — doing it for nothing! There must be something wrong!".[source needed]
  • 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.[source needed]
  • 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.[source needed]
  • The original plan was to have a phone-in vote to let viewers decide how the story might be resolved. The original options were — the Brigadier saved the day, all of the Doctors joined forces, or the Doctor forged a telepathic link with the Rani.
  • Tom Baker was unhappy with his intended role, so John Nathan-Turner found a compromise wherein the ensnared Fourth Doctor, isolated from the rest of the action, would broadcast an appeal for help.
  • The setting of the start and end scenes was changed to Greenwich to accommodate Sylvester McCoy, who had other commitments on the planned recording dates at BBC Elstree, but could make himself available the following day.
  • Peter Davison was nearly unable to take part, as he was filming reshoots for Black Beauty.
  • John Nathan-Turner and David Roden had hoped to direct the special themselves. At one point, the Noel's House Party team had wanted their director, Arch Dyson, to make part two, but it was soon agreed that this would render the production unnecessarily complex.
  • Since the old TARDIS console room set had been accidentally junked following the completion of Season 25, it was originally thought that special effects could key the Rani and Cyrian into a miniature replica, much as had been done on Time and the Rani. However, the Pulfrich Effect precluded this, so a new set constructed for Panopticon '93 by Andrew Beech of Dominitemporal Services was used instead, and paired with a refurbished version of the TARDIS console which had debuted in The Five Doctors.
  • To play the various monsters, Andrew Beech helped with an appeal to various fans who owned their own costumes. Lorne Martin, who had been involved with a variety of Doctor Who exhibitions, also contributed a number of outfits.
  • The title sequence was originally supposed to feature the TARDIS being added to the EastEnders intro, but this was deemed too costly.

Deleted scenes[[edit]]

There were multiple deleted scenes:

  • The Daleks were to have been featured and their segment was shot, but, due to disputes with Terry Nation's estate, they were removed.[5]
  • 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 was never used as Mandy won the phone vote.


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

Filming locations[[edit]]

Production errors[[edit]]

to be added


  • Some fans believed that as this story was produced specially for Children in Need, and the actors waived their fees, it could receive only ever one transmission and never be exploited commercially in any way. (Actually, the story could in fact be commercially exploited and there are no contractual issues with cast, crew or Children in Need. The real reason that the story has not seen a commercial release is due to the impractically high price that Children in Need has stated for them to allow any commercial usage of the story.)[7]
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 specially for Children in Need. Dimensions in Time would receive only one transmission and as of 2023, has not seen a commercial release due to the impractically high price that Children in Need requests for a commercial release of the story.

External links[[edit]]