BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Entertainment: Reviews
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 13 July, 2001, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Doctor Who: Your views
Sylevester McCoy stars in the online audio broadcast and was the seventh doctor in the TV series
Will there be more online adventures for Doctor Who?
Doctor Who: Death Comes to Time, is BBC's first broadcast Doctor Who since a TV movie in 1996.

It was broadcast on 13 July on BBC Online - fans had been eagerly awaiting the Doctor's foray into the world of new media.

"McCoy as the Doctor and Aldred as companion Ace recreate their television characters extremely well," wrote the BBC's William Gallagher.

"But the rest of the cast are new to it and in almost every case have trouble making their characters believable.

"But then they would, because the underlying story and the script are like fan fiction rather than a BBC Online drama."

But what do you think?

Is this a triumphant return for Doctor Who? Can the veteran TV character make it in the world of online? Or should the producers go back to the drawing board?


Hooray! The Doctor returns! A good episode, an intriguing storyline with the introduction of enough new ideas and characters to keep things interesting. McCoy did a fine job, and how lovely to meet Stephen Fry in a Doctor Who episode! More fast-paced than the TV version, but I thought it worked very well indeed. More, please, oh yes, powers of the BBC! I want to find out what happens...
Elizabeth Ewing, UK

Fantastic. Well worth the wait. If only there was more. If it can't be on on TV or radio, the web is the next best thing. Thanks to all of you who made it possible and who have made Friday the 13th a great day for Doctor Who.
Keith, UK

I've never understood why the BBC dropped Dr Who, and I understand even less its reluctance to revive it.

It was always immensely popular as a series and even the 1996 film (we're British - it's not a movie!) could have been good too if the American theme had been left out. If it was given a bit of a face lift (but not so much that the original atmosphere is lost), I'm sure it would continue it's popularity.

And it would certainly be far more fun than the terminally depressed East Enders!
Richard, UK

I enjoyed Doctor Who as a web broadcast and feel that it has the potential for a good future in this medium

Michael Stead, England
What a triumphant return to form. Death Comes To Time takes Doctor and gives it a kick up the 'noughties' - taking a grand universe spanning approach and a more modern sensibility towards audio broadcasts. All the cast are wonderful but special compliments to Leonard Fenton and Stephen Fry. It all sounds so epic and 'big' I can't wait to hear the next part!
David Whittam, UK

I don't think the review is fair at all, it is this type of negativity that brought about the show's demise in the first place. There are many people, some fans, others that are discovering the Doctor for the first time, that for all the shows failings still find it grips them in a way that Buffy doesn't.

Give the Dr a chance, OK, so maybe some points aren't great in the pilot, but then it does give you a wish to hear more to get questions answered.

The BBC needs a flag ship show to compete with the likes of Buffy and Star Trek, and Dr Who is the only way that it can do, 9 million people watched the film with Paul McGann in 1996, I don't see 9 million people tuning in to watch Buffy every week?
John Batty, UK

Who cares how good or bad this radio series is... we need a new TELEVISION series. Now that nearly every existing complete adventure has been released on VHS they have decided to re-issue the same old stuff on DVD knowing that the die-hard fans will once again dig into their wallets
Darrin, USA

Highly enjoyable and atmospheric. The music and the artwork helped to bring the whole thing alive. There was a refreshing clarity to the story, with the ideas, such as a planetary invasion being sketched in simply but effectively. The cast all sounded very confident in what they were doing and there was a good range of voices, which helped to identify all the different characters.

Most importantly, the way in which the story unfolded made me eager to find out what happens next . . . I enjoyed Doctor Who as a web broadcast and feel that it has the potential for a good future in this medium.
Michael Stead, England

I thought the audio pilot was a bit too reminiscent of The Phantom Menace, which can't be a good thing

Peter, Ireland
It's great to hear the Doctor back, and Sylvester McCoy does a brilliant job of recreating the role. As an audio story, this works very well and hopefully the BBC will continue the story. It may not be a TV story, but it's certainly better than nothing.

If the Doctor does return for more online adventures, perhaps next time he could bring the Daleks with him?
Dave Johnson, England

How William Gallagher can even SUGGEST that this new Dr Who is borrowing in any way from Buffy The Vampire Slayer beggers belief. I have had to endure several episodes of that programme and have never seen such clichéd nonsense... it reminds me of a bad episode of the Tomorrow People meets Grange Hill with a lot of 20-somethings pretending they are teenagers.

Congratulations to the team behind 'Death Comes To Time'. Let's hope that this is the first stage towards having the Doc back on our TV screens. The icing on the case would, of course, be to have Paul McGann back at the helm of the Tardis.
Mark, UK

Finally a good return for the Doctor. Hopefully this episode will convince the BBC of the popularity of the series and relaunch it. If the remaining episodes of this drama cannot be recorded, perhaps the entire story could be novelised, so the fans could learn the entire story.
Nigel Oglethorpe, Australia

I have to agree with William Gallagher's comments on the camp villain: This, along with quite poor visuals served to detract from the plot's development.

The story itself introduced the Doctor not as an accidental meddler, but a problem solver and it would be exciting to see (or hear) how this role of responsibility is played out in future episodes.
Neil, UK

All we need now is for it to return to TV

Arfie Mansfield, UK
I thought the audio pilot was a bit too reminiscent of The Phantom Menace, which can't be a good thing. It seems that since the 1996 TV film, Doctor Who now rips off naff modern US films instead of the classic ones the Tom Baker era 'borrowed' from! Still, McCoy was as good as ever, John Sessions was amusingly camp, and at least the episode leaves you wanting to know what happens next. More please, or better still, a new TV series with appearences from Sessions and Stephen Fry.
Peter, Ireland

What is all the fuss about. All the Doctor Who series since the 70s have been garbage. Bad acting and pathetic special effects, that make the 1950s B movies look brilliant by comparison. Leave it where it belongs - in the grave!
Michael, UK

A really strong, imaginative start and it immediately precipitates you into the centre of the story. McCoy's Dr is mature and well-rounded. The atmosphere is strong. Let's hope a completed story will lead into a TV series - it's where it belongs!
Andy Diamond, UK

Well written, well produced and well acted. Only one gripe - why isn't it on the radio? I eagerly look forward to the remaining parts. This, coupled with the two ranges of DW novels currently being produced, shows that the BBC is still able to produce Doctor Who as a credible contemporary series. All we need now is for it to return to TV...
Arfie Mansfield, UK

Brilliant on all levels and more. I just can't wait to hear the rest of it.
P Gillard, UK

Don't stop now!

John Doyle, US
A brilliant episode, very well made and all to a great standard.

Don't delay, comission Dr Who for television again and reward the show and the fans with what they deserve.

This is just what the BBC needs for TV, it's different to anything else, with an all star cast and an amazing script. Far far more worthwhile than another cop show or period drama. Let TV go where it belongs, the future!
Alex Ingram, Scotland

After watching the decline of a childhood favourite, I was very pleasantly surprised to find how entertaining this episode was. Whether on radio or the internet, perhaps Dr Who has found its niche in the audio medium rather than visual. Surely a lot of its faults stemmed from attempts to keep the visual production values up to the standards of current films in the sci-fi genre.
Adrian, England

A strong episode and better than I expected. I particularly liked Stephen Fry's Minister of Chance. However let us not forget that thanks to Big Finish there's no shortage of new audio stories. What we really need is the Doctor back on TV where he belongs.
Richard O'Neill, UK

I've listened to it twice now; and I'm pretty impressed with DCTT. Sylvester's Doctor was always good when he was manipulating things, and Stephen Fry makes quite a cool Time Lord. Liked the story, liked the idea, loved Lee Sullivan's artwork; the only thing I didn't like was Antimony. Why the Doctor needs someone to go around thumping things is beyond me.

Will the BBC now please make the rest of the story so we can listen to it? And next time, plug it a bit more! Online's been fantastic, but there was one little bit on BBC Breakfast News, and a rather odd bit on Radio Four! More hype! But well done.
Dale, Great Britain

I think they need to do a TV version, updated with contemporary topics
Davey B, USA

Don't stop now!
John Doyle, USA

A little bit stilted, but well worth listening to

Anthony Bowes
The cancellation of Doctor Who in 1989 was more than a tragedy for thousands of fans, it was an economic blunder of epic proportions. The low-budget, which was the attraction of the series, because it led to more character and plot-driven adventures than its big-budget counterparts, meant that it made more money than it cost to make.

Even with no new series, the novels have been consistent big sellers for Virgin and the BBC. Imagine if their interest was increased by the presence of new TV adventures. The webcast of Death Comes To Time is a step in the right direction, but shows the level of ambiguity within the BBC over its attitude to the show.

Death was commissioned by Radio 4, then not broadcast. As so many times in the past, Dr Who has been the testing ground for BBC Online's first drama series....someone made that decision KNOWING that Dr Who was popular enough to try drama in this medium. Webcast was great, Radio would have been better, but let's not stop short of new TV episodes.
Mick Snowden, UK

What a fantastic way to spend a Friday the 13th, not bad luck for anyone with half a mind by any accounts. It's like a dream to see some decent non-US science fiction broadcast. A lovely change from the normal dreary selection of TV, more of the same please. Oh, and a television run would go down well, I think a selection of the best (no, that does not include Genesis of Daleks for the 99th time) followed by a brand spanking new series with the superb Paul McGann would boost the lucrative video sales. Ditch the endless American shows and repeat Doctor Who at the very least, after all, we pay the fee, give us what we want.
Andrew Hardie, Great Britain

A little bit stilted, but well worth listening to. However you cannot just leave it there, it needs to be concluded. This medium of delivering communication is set to become as normal as turning on your TV or Radio so why not develop it? In time they will be combined, we are part way there now with cable delivery. Through this medium the BBC reaches a worldwide listening and viewing audience so why not exploit it to the full?
Anthony Bowes, UK

Well, what can I say... it's stunning. I'm stunned. I heard the hype and the enthusiasm. And now I've watched all the episodes I'm still wondering whether I missed the link. When the 6 o'clock news is webcast it looks the same as the 6 o'clock news on TV; but when Dr Who is webcast it's just a comic strip with a rather disjointed storyline. I thought I was 100% for BBC dramas being made available on the internet, but if this is what it means, better stick to what you're good at, Beeb.

Did I really watch the same thing as everybody else on this page is raving about?
Andi-Tsuyoshi Williams, Japan

Dr Who is the only show with a format where absolutely anything can happen - how can that possibly be dated?

Mick Thompson
I thought that the first series of Dr Who, with William Hartnell, defined the concept, with well written tales, written of their period. Patrick Troughton was a good follow up, but largely after that, starting with Jon Pertwee, it dissolved into gadgetry and gizmos, saving the world from yet another invasion. Put some ideas in or don't bother resurrecting the name.
Gerry, UK

Doctor Who might have bad effects that are laughed at now but remember the only people who laughed were the ones who had no imagination in their heads. The show itself was brilliant, hope to see more coming up soon.
David Gray, Uk

Finally, new Dr Who from the BBC! This drama is very good, but perhaps not quite as polished as the superb Big Finish Dr Who audios. Still, it's very difficult to tell with only one episode completed - let's hope that the BBC has the sense to complete it.

What annoys me is the way the BBC always seems very embarrassed about Dr Who. They try to make a joke of it, making out that it is ever so dated. What they fail to see is that Dr Who is one of the few sci-fi shows with a format that isn't dated (unlike the many Star Trek shows, that may have good effects and plenty of techno-babble, but under the surface are the same old tired thing).

Dr Who is the only show with a format where absolutely anything can happen - how can that possibly be dated? There is no end of possibilities for future adventures for the Time Lord - and we just need the BBC to see that. Just look at how successful Big Finish have been with their Dr Who audio adventures!
Mick Thompson, UK

I would just like to add my thanks to all concerned in the making of Dr Who - Death Comes To Time. It is an excellent production in every respect. Surely the BBC MUST now wake up and bring the good Doctor back to our TV screens, where he really belongs!
Tim Burchell, UK

Past attempts to tell Doctor Who stories in an audio format have left a lot to be desired, but this was wonderful

Jon Miller, UK
Death Comes To Time captured the essence of Sylvester McCoy's era as the Doctor, and showed what can be done with a grade-A cast and a grade-A script.

Would it be too much to ask for the BBC to take notice of the interest in the pilot and begin making a new TV series? The DVDs, books and videos sell in their bucketloads - at the very least, the Beeb has a cash-cow on its hands. In two years time, Doctor Who will be forty years old: forty years old and still popular! Bring it back to TV!
Craig Hinton, UK

Forgive me, but I really don't like the way the BBC consistently bangs on about Dr Who and leads the fans on whilst simultaneously taking the standpoint that it will never return to our screens. Stop treating us like this. Either make a new TV series or drop the subject.
Paul, USA

Brilliant stuff. Past attempts to tell Doctor Who stories in an audio format have left a lot to be desired, but this was wonderful. Epic, modern, relevant and not attempting to clone the slow, dead TV show that inspired it. The play reminded me of the great Batman and Superman serials from Radio 1 in the mid 90s, and that can only be a good thing.
Jon Miller, UK

OK, apart from John Sessions, who sounds like he's trying for the part of Vogon Captain in a Hitchiker's remake, I think it's been done well. The graphical side of things adds to the story rather than takes away, as do the sound effects. The pacing reminds me of'Doctor Who and the Pescatons which was only available on record. When do we get the next parts?
J. Sowerby, USA

Hooray! At last a new Who worthy of the name! (The McGann incident is, well, best forgotten). But when do we get to hear the rest? You surely can't tease us with one episode of a maybe six episode long story? We want more! We want the rest of the story, and on TV please! The illustrations on the enhanced version were excellent though, really added to the atmosphere.
James, UK

I would definitely like to hear more of this

Kevin Mahoney
WAH! I absolutely LOVED Doctor Who when it was broadcast on the public television station here in Chicago. Why didn't anyone tell me about this audio broadcast? I also really appreciated Sylvester McCoy's portrayal of the Doctor on TV. Is there any possibility of the Doctor making a return to the small screen? (I hope so, I hope so, I hope so, I hope so . . . )
Elizabeth Jones, United States

It's rubbish. Why couldn't they have cast an actor who can act as Doctor Who instead of the AWFUL McCoy!
J Achsom, New Zealand

Bring back the Doctor to television now!
Chuck, USA

I thought this was an excellent, mature piece of web broadcasting. The artwork by Lee Sullivan was very involving, making me think of the original Dan Dare scripts. Leonard Fenton was a revelation. I liked the somewhat mysterious tone, and thought that John Sessions carried off "menacing" very well. I would definitely like to hear more of this.
Kevin Patrick Mahoney, England

It was brilliant! So where's the rest of the episodes then?
Alan Jepson, UK

I have very fond memories of Dr Who and would like to see the show go online. I can safely call it the equivalent of Star Trek, perhaps a little bit more than Star Trek. I really enjoyed watching Dr Who and also reading the books.
Ozair, Pakistan

I found it refreshingly different, and more faithful to the TV series than the 1996 film

Sean Flinn, UK
Hmm... Good to see the effort, I like the use of simple visuals to spruce up the original intended for radio production. The voice work was also very enjoyable.

The story is another matter. The prelude is pure Star Wars, only James Earl Jones is a little better of a vocal villain than John Sessions.

The rest seemed to be The Phantom Menace, with the Doctor. Enjoyable but it could have been much better. Lets hope there is more in this format with a more classic approach to Doctor Who rather than a blatant steal from a very different source.
D Jones, USA (British)

Well worth the wait? Well - why was there any need to wait anyway and why have the BBC scrapped the show after only one episode? The pilot for Death Comes to Time is excellent and shows what a great relaunch the show is (over) due. Come on BBC - bring back McCoy and Aldred permanently with a new series!
Martin Edmonds, England

Wow. I hadn't been picking up the books and audio adventures because I figured the quality was as poor as the Star Trek novels. But this little adventure was great! I wish Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred had been able to make another 10 seasons of this quality.

My only regret is that it wasn't long enough. I loved the air of mystery around the Doctor and the Minister of Chance. Stephen Fry would make a great Doctor. Bring back Who! Please!
Bob Ramsey, US

Death Comes to Time is more like the Doctor Who I know and love than any big-budget movie or transatlantic co-production could ever be. It's serious without being solemn, you can feel the actors' relish for the material, and (as Stan Freberg demonstrated half a century ago) special effects are no problem on audio. I'd love to hear more. To paraphrase Wilder and Diamond: Doctor Who is still big, It's television that got small.
Miche Doherty, Ireland

The Doctor deserves more than a token effort of an incomplete story that is only available online

Matthew Dawber, UK
I can't agree with much of what William Gallagher has to say. Granted, this is not the brand new story claimed, but the pilot can hardly be said to have "failed" when it was quite unaccountably rejected for broadcast on Radio 4, especially when you hear some of the rubbish that is broadcast.

I found it refreshingly different, and more faithful to the TV series than the 1996 film. Wonderfully atmospheric production, imaginative, witty script, a hugely engaging cast (McCoy,Sessions, and Fry being particularly good) and enjoyably pulp-flavoured graphics. A triumph for all concerned. It should have been broadcast on BBC radio. Let's have the rest of it - and a new TV series.
Sean Flinn, UK

Death Comes to Time is very good, and I like the fact that it's online. For the next story, bring back Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen!
Rich, USA

Death comes to time suffers from being incomplete. While the potential for a good Dr Who story is there, if it's not finished it will suffer from the problems that killed Dr Who in its last years. The problem from my view is that towards the end Dr Who started to be just a case of going through the motions.

This is not at all a criticism of Sylvester McCoy who I think is an excellent Doctor, but more a problem of the stories which seem to rely far more heavily on the Dr Who mythology and tradition than anything else. At the same time any new Dr Who productions need to avoid trying to be too much like other sucessful sci-fi programmes. (The telemovie was more guilty of this than the online broadcast).

What is needed to revive Dr Who is a new TV series where the stories are new and develop interesting new wrinkles on the Dr and the universe he inhabits, whilst avoiding the twin temptations of being overly nostalgic and trying to be something that Dr Who isn't.

The Doctor deserves more than a token effort of an incomplete story that is only available online.
Matthew Dawber, UK

I'm left wanting more of the same

Roger Anderson
My initial thought was fantastic - a long overdue return. This I thought was a brilliant step forward - though the future of DW definitely lies in a series format, not a webcast.

The audio quality was great - the idea of merging it with illustrations was quite good - (though specially set up photos would have been better) it would have been boring as hell had it just been an audio file. At least with some visualisation, you got a better idea of what was going on, which is always a downfall of audio drama.

However, it's a shame that there have been so many misconceptions about what it was. Let's hope the people in charge at the Beeb realise the demand...
Alex Storer, England

Enjoyed this very much, I just wish that it had all been available in one download.
Adam Spindler, UK

Put the doctor back on the air. I am tired of all this teasing.
Raul Villanueva, Puerto Rico

Thoroughly enjoyable, its scope and breadth of vision brought Doctor Who into the 21st century for a new audience. The online adventure should be a stepping stone to a superb new series on the TV, where the good Doctor belongs. Bring on the Daleks!
Richard Paterson, UK

Fantastic! I can't believe Radio 4 turned down such a fresh and exciting show - their loss is Online's gain, and in some ways it is a better medium than radio - the semi-animated illustrations are a masterstroke.

I think it is fitting that Dr Who should once again be at the forefront of technology bringing the world entertainment in innovative style.

And what a cast: John Sessions and Stephen Fry are terrific; Sylvester McCoy is excellent as ever. Let's have the remaining episodes of this intriguing and epic-sounding story, please! This has been a very exciting online event and makes the Dr Who homepage one of the best on the internet; a must-see. (PS, please can we have the Dr back on TV as well...?)
Neil Hutchings, UK

I want more! The real problem was that there wasn't enough, this was to be a 6-part story after all, in the single episode. The scale of the story is immense, the presentation by Online superb and the story, whilst not an unqualified success, is very good. I'm left wanting more of the same and I hope that the BBC gets the message - please!
Roger Anderson, UK

Sci-fi can be done on a reasonable budget - it's the plot that matters!

Jeremy Sanders, UK
Great, but when can I find out what happens next?
T Bell, UK

I think it is great, but I hope it will be finished. Could it be done by Big Finish? Please get Doctor Who back on the screen where it belongs. The 1996 movie was just shown on the Sci-Fi channel and it reminds me that writing is the key. Special effects are nice, but mean nothing if there is not a story to back them up. Return Doctor Who to BBC One where he can thrive or lease the show to a company that will do it. It is TIME.
John Fincher, USA

Well, I thought it was great. And I didn't suffer from any of those silly problems of not knowing who's who etc., or 'Look there's a piano coming to get us', so common to some other audio productions. Too damn short though. I want more!
James Griffin, UK

Great, as said by nearly everyone. But I want to know how this story ends. And of course I want more stories. Big Finish to an excellent job with the audio versions, but really the BBC should see the commercial possibilities or redoing the TV shows.
Dave Pashby, UK

A very good start to the story, all we need now is the middle part and the conclusion! Get it finished BBC! Doctor Who's main home is on BBC1 television though, and with the incredible amount of interest still in the series and a massive amount of merchandise on the market, it's incredible to think the BBC have yet to understand what a special series they have on their hands.
Garry Jones, UK

Wonderful! I definitely don't agree with BBC News Online's review. Dr Who embodies the British Sci-fi tradition of ideas and plot (like Iain Banks), something lacking in most sci-fi on TV nowadays. Sci-fi can be done on a reasonable budget - it's the plot that matters!

Please can the BBC replace some of the awful gameshow rubbish which fills up our evenings with a quality programme like Dr Who.

I have to say McCoy is one of my most favourite doctors!
Jeremy Sanders, UK

Not since the early Pertwee stories have I been so thrilled and scared at the same time

Kit Sivyer, Australia
Can't agree more about the Big Finish stories. Why the BBC hasn't commissioned them to make as a new radio series is beyond me. Death Comes To Time doesn't really compare to their Storm Warning, The Holy Terror and the Dalek series.
Stuart Ian Burns, UK

Excellent. More please!
Gareth, UK

Well. What can I say? Dan Freedman and co have managed to do to Doctor Who what it hasn't done for me in a long time: it scared me! Not since the early Pertwee stories have I been so thrilled and scared at the same time. McCoy finally nailed the Doctor and was brilliant. Everything just seemed so... right. MORE... and a new TV series!
Kit Sivyer, Australia

It was different in content and tone to the original series, but then Dr Who would have to change if it were revived for good in today's world. I liked it! It kept all of the same morals of the original show but presented it in a new slick format. Breathtaking! I want more!
Martin Gardner, Australia

Death Comes to Time was a very enjoyable half hour or so although the production was a little shoddy. I would like to pay tribute to all those fans out there who worked hard over the years to keep the show alive without the BBC's help. Dr Who in an audio format has been taken to a new level by the fans since the shows cancellation.

It is worth bearing in mind that everytime the BBC have tried to re-introduce (use) the show it has failed miserably (remember the disappointment of 1996) and it is only the fan produced material (such as Big Finish) which is of any quality. Don't hold your breath, the BBC will find yet another excuse for not bringing the show back. After all, this pilot has already been rejected once by the BBC at Radio 4, this webcast is a pretty hollow recycling excercise.
Glenn Ogden, Canada

I fear I may be the only person in the world who really didn't like 'Death comes to Time'. I felt the whole story to be complicated and too epic. I also felt the lack of direction was infuriating and following the plot was difficult. I can understand completely why it didn't make it to BBC Radio 4 - it was just not recognisable as Doctor Who.

Congratulations to the cast though for trying to make the best of a terrible script. A brave attempt to bring the Doctor to BBC audio, but I would recommend a severe rethink if any sequel or continuation be produced. I however, will stay with the Big Finish Doctor Who stories - they at least know how to treat the Doctor on audio and I continue to look forward to the day when Doctor Who is finally back - on TV!
Justin Thomas, UK

Oh dear! Liked the spinosaur - but the rest - truly awful. It didn't thrill, scare or make me jump. What was the point of the silliest cop out ending ever? Liked dinos, hated the humans!
Philip, Scotland

Send us your comments:

Your E-mail Address:



Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

Links to more Reviews stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Reviews stories