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Friday, 13 July, 2001, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Doctor Who appears online
Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred as The Doctor and Ace
Dalek busters: The seventh Doctor and Ace are back
Doctor Who has returned to the BBC for a new adventure on the net.

BBC Online's Doctor Who site has started broadcasting a special audio drama, with the hero battling aliens in an episode exclusively for the internet on bbc.co.uk.


The more hits it gets the better chance there is of the Doctor returning to television

James Goss, BBC Online

Death Comes to Time sees Sylvester McCoy reprising his role as the seventh Doctor.

As well as the new audio story, specially commissioned drawings accompany the high quality version, giving a visual taste of the action.

Fans have waited many years for the return of the Timelord and the BBC Doctor Who website was inundated with messages from wellwishers from across the world.

Further adventures

James Goss, lead producer of Cult Online said: "Since the announcement of the broadcast our hit rate has gone up by 400,000.

"We are expecting around 50,000 people to listen to the live broadcast, which for a half hour programme on the net is very high.

"The more hits it gets the better chance there is of the Doctor returning to television because people will have to take notice of how popular it still is."

The audio programme was produced by Fictionlab and its head Richard Fell sees it as a possible first step to a proper return of the sci-fi series.

He said: "His return will be online because that's where the Doctor Who community is at the moment.

"If it takes off, though, I wouldn't rule out further adventures on the internet, radio and television."

Continuation

McCoy is partnered by Sophie Aldred as his companion, Ace, in a continuation of the roles last played on TV in 1989.

They are joined by famous names including Stephen Fry, John Sessions and Jacqueline Pearce, who played Blake's 7 baddie Servalan.

McCoy told BBC News Online: "These are good original drama stories which is rare these days.

The Tardis
The Doctor travels time and space in a police box

"I think the fans will be delighted with this project but they will never be fully satisfied until the Doctor is back on TV."

The Doctor's best-remembered monsters include the Daleks and Cybermen.

But fans have had to wait more than five years for a new Doctor Who tale to be broadcast, since a TV movie in 1996.

Death Comes to Time is broadcast as six real audio files at the BBC's official Doctor Who website and will be available on the site following the first play.

The files form a 30-minute audio play which sees the Doctor enlist the help of a mysterious Timelord (Fry) to battle an alien warlord (Sessions) who is fighting for control of time itself.

Special effects

Sylvester McCoy
Sylvester McCoy picks up his seventh Doctor role

Goss, himself a big fan, hopes the broadcast will pave the way for a return but understands the problems in bringing it back.

He said: "Television has moved on an awful lot since the Doctor's time.

"There were no computer generated effects, just cardboard.

"Any Doctor Who now would have to compete with the likes of Star Trek and Buffy in terms of special effects and it would cost an awful lot of money.

"But in my opinion it could successfully be brought back."

Doctor Who is the longest running science-fiction series in the world.

The Doctor's ability to regenerate himself has led to several actors playing the role over the decades, including William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Doctor Who actor Sylvester McCoy
"If it gets a lot of hits they may make more"
See also:

17 Apr 01 | Film
No Doctor Who for Hugh
28 May 98 | UK
Who's Who?: What you think
15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Dalek for sale in car showroom
24 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Dr Who back on the BBC
14 Jan 99 | Entertainment
Missing Dr Who found
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