Wartime (home video)

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Wartime (sometimes printed as War Time) was a short film produced in 1988 by Reeltime Pictures. Starring John Levene as his Doctor Who character John Benton, it was the first independently produced non-BBC Doctor Who spin-off video.

Under licensing rules, companies such as Reeltime and BBV Productions were able to obtain permission to use characters, races and concepts from their creators, except for those characters — such as the Doctor — that were wholly owned by the BBC. A major difference between Wartime and the spin-offs that followed is that it was the only such production mounted while the original Doctor Who series itself was still in production. Most of the others were produced in the interregnum between the show's cancellation in 1989 and the 1996 TV movie.

Wartime was made on a £5000 budget, with much of the crew working for expenses only. It made its money back after five years.[1]

Two versions of Wartime were released. A revised version issued in the late 1990s added a voice-only cameo by Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier.


Benton and his driver, Private Willis of the Regular Army, are transporting through the peaceful wooded countryside outside Bolton a shipment of radioactive material to UNIT H.Q. by Land Rover. But the journey somehow takes Benton into his own past where he confronts the ghosts of his soon-to-be-widowed mother; his father, an army sergeant killed during the Second World War and whose approval he desperately wanted; and his younger brother Chris, killed in a fall from the high wall of a ruined tower when they were boys and whose death he feels guilty about. Benton must fight his way out of a nightmare world where past and present are one, before he is lost forever, and back to reality where an armed and dangerous criminal is intent on hijacking the shipment...


to be added




Story notes[[edit]]

  • While the comedy video Myth Runner predates Wartime as the first independently made fictional story tied into Doctor Who, Myth Runner was a simple send up with more of a connection to the real world actors featured in it than any sort of Whoniverse storyline, as opposed to Wartime which is a dramatic continuation of Whoniverse characters and concepts.
  • Benton's first name, John, is mentioned on-screen for the first time here; although in general fan usage during the 1970s, it was never actually used in televised Doctor Who.
  • Wartime premiered June 5th, 1988 with John Levene, Nicholas Courtney and Peter Grimwade in attendance.
  • Keith Barnfather said he produced the video due to discontent with contemporary Doctor Who, saying to the 1997 Making of Wartime feature he wanted to "prove the point" that it could be made the way he'd prefer. Originally, Reeltime approached the BBC about doing an independent licensed Who story but John Nathan-Turner turned it down as he didn't feel their budget could achieve it. The original plan was for a story called Bell, Book, and Candle that would feature Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen and be filmed at Longleat. This was dropped and Wartime would be made as it was less ambitious.[2]
  • Andy Lane told interviewer Dylan Rees that the idea appealed as "fanfiction but doing it as a script instead of a fanzine". Helen Stirling was brought in partly because the two writers lived together and partly to bring an actor's perspective to pacing the script. The framing sequence with the Land Rover was put in on Barnfather's request to have an external threat. [3]
  • According to Stephen James Walker's novelisation, the events are set on Monday 27 October 1990, and the Brigadier has been called out of retirement to deal with something involving "Merlin and Excalibur" — which contradicts the events of the TV story Battlefield somewhat, as these are set in 1997. This was not derived from any information given in the home video version.

Filming locations[[edit]]

According to the credits, Wartime was shot entirely on location in Lancashire. The tower seen throughout the story is in Bolton, named the Pigeon Tower. It was built in the early 1900s.

Barnfather hadn't visited the location before filming and John Ainsworth was the only person on crew who was local. This meant they only learned on the day that they'd need to walk forty minutes to and from their cars to get there. This threw out the two-day schedule and they had to come back to film more two weeks later. [4]

At the time, armed police were monitoring the M1 for suspected IRA gunrunners. The production crew were confronted at a Watford Gap service station and had to prove their guns were props.[5]

Production errors[[edit]]

to be added


  • UNIT was formed in the 1960s. (TV: The Invasion)
  • An introduction mentions how UNIT was formed to deal with "the odd, the unexplained, anything on Earth, or even beyond." Lethbridge-Stewart gave the same reason to Liz Shaw when she was recruited to the organisation. (TV: Spearhead from Space)
  • Benton is still a Warrant Officer. (TV: Robot)

Video, DVD and VOD releases[[edit]]

  • First released on VHS in 1988, only available as a mail order video.
  • In 1997, it was re-released with a selection of previously made fan-movies at the start of the video and additional material added to the main feature; there was also a 'Making of' feature on the video.
  • On 1 September 2015, Time Travel TV released Wartime on DVD and through Vimeo's video on demand service alongside an hour of newly produced supplemental content, as well as the previously produced making of. A new cover was designed by Martin Baines, which was doubled-sided and featured a version of Phil Bevan's original cover for the 1988 VHS release on the reverse.


  1. Downtime: The Lost Years of Doctor Who Chapter 2 (Dylan Rees)
  2. Downtime: The Lost Years of Doctor Who Chapter 2 (Dylan Rees)
  3. Downtime: The Lost Years of Doctor Who Chapter 2 (Dylan Rees)
  4. Downtime: The Lost Years of Doctor Who Chapter 2 (Dylan Rees)
  5. Downtime: The Lost Years of Doctor Who Chapter 2 (Dylan Rees)

External links[[edit]]