The Doctor Who Spin-Offs That Never Were
In a parallel world, your DVD shelves are groaning with these shows too.
Doctor Who has spat from its maternal hips a healthy swell of successful siblings: bratty Torchwood and its juvenile obsession with swearing and porn, top-of-the-class Sarah Jane with her equally brilliant friends, and of course, the slightly odd doggy one who went to Australia for reasons no one's quite yet fathomed. But what of the illegitimate bastards of such unimaginable horrors the parents won't even acknowledge their existence? What of the spin-offs that dare not speak their own name? Well, what?
Well, they're here, like.
The laugh-a-lifetime sitcom inexplicably starring nobody's favourite UNIT infantryman, Sergeant John Levene Benton (played by John "Sergeant Benton" Levene). Notorious for its low joke hit rate, poor production values and Levene's bewildering central performance, it earned itself the unfortunate press nickname, "It Ain't Half Shit Mum" and even, in some quarters, "C___'s Army." The lack of additional supporting Who-related actors didn't help either (on being offered a part, Nick Courtney infamously retorted, "As. If.") and was unceremoniously pulled before the end of its solitary series run.
Eventually released on DVD after Levene bought the rights and distributed it himself (personally printing each individual sleeve featuring his own hand-drawn artwork), it's now regarded as something of a cult item. This is largely in thanks to Levene's various commentary tracks, of which there are six in total: two himself, two in character, one featuring his own musical arrangements, and one in semaphore. Contains the following sentence nuggets:
"The audience clapped so hard during one joke they all got massive blisters and had to spend the next day wearing special gloves, I expect."
"In a way, this is like the prototype for Joey off've Friends, who got his own show, Joey Off've Friends. Never watched it, but I often think that I'd like to."
"Fuck, there's a wasp in the room."
Pex Lives! (1988)
Much-debated, animated oddity very loosely based on McCoy adventure, Paradise Towers. Just 12 x five minute episodes were made, in which anthropomorphic rodent Detective, KangaRat ("He's a rat! A rat! With whiskers and all that!"), followed the trail of the eponymous character. A surreal burst of eccentricity, the quest set-up allowed for convenient excursions into the script's flights of fancy, including one memorable episode that took place entirely within the tear ducts of tubby, wonk-eyed racist, Nick Griffin. Pex never was found, but the final episode ended, controversially, with KangaRat explaining in full, explicit detail, exactly what he would like to do to television chef, Rustie Lee, and in which hole.
Baker, Baker, Baker, Baker & Baker (1986)
A one-off hour-long special, dedicated entirely to the not-that-special fact that five Who personnel share the same, fairly common surname. Tom, Colin, Bob, Pip and Jane Baker gathered in Television Centre to celebrate Doctor Who's Baker-related successes (as well as Pip and Jane's contributions). Hosted by Cheryl Baker (whose opening quip, "No relation!" elicited an earth-shattering wall of silence from the baffled audience), the panel discussed the various aspects of being called Baker, what they might like to be called if they weren't Baker, and finally, took part in a live bake-off, in order to establish who was the best baker/Baker. Despite being absent, represented instead by a Madame Tussauds waxwork, Tom Baker still somehow managed to win.
Critical reception to this unique broadcast was not kind, the usually restrained Nancy Banks-Smith opening her review with the line, "Well, I've seen some shit in my time, but this…"
The Michael Sheard Sheard-O-Rama! (1990)
Fans were face-smacked to find that in lieu of any new Who, then BBC Head of Drama, Charlie Fingermouse, devised and greenlit this – a series of single instalment spin-off dramas of each Doctor Who character as played by Mr Bronson himself, Michael "he was in Star Wars too" Sheard. Despite most of his characters dying in their respective episodes, the scripts wilfully ignored both these plot inconveniences and Sheard's acting range, instead having each role played as an overbearing, wig-wearing French teacher.
The shocking scene where Laurence Scarman discovers the dead body of troubled teen pupil, Danny Kendall, in the family sarcophagus is still remembered vividly by literally no viewers to this very day.
Levine Reconvenes – with Ian Levine (2002)
Needlessly confrontational webcast discussion show hosted by former series "continuity advisor" and belligerent superfan, Ian Levine. Each week, Levine invited a panel of fans to offer diverse opinions on their favourite programme, before he demonstrated exactly why each and every one of them were utterly wrong. Contained an astonishing seven minute hysterical tirade directed towards a weeping eight year old boy who had the temerity to use the title Inside the Spaceship instead of The Edge of Destruction. Remarkably, the show is still going strong, albeit in text form, across Doctor Who forums the world over.
Jago, Litefoot & Snoop (1994)
The BBC's misguided attempt to launch a series combining the charm of Weng Chiang's Victorian gentlemen with the street-smart shizzle of the West Coast gangsta rapper. The show never made it past the pilot stage, owing to a tense production shoot constantly jeopardised by its difficult star. Following four days of "bongs, blunts and bitches," Snoop Dogg walked off set, remarking, "I had no idea Christopher Benjamin was like that."
Son of Doctor Who (1966)
It's a rarely-discussed fact that William Hartnell's desperate spin-off idea actually came to fruition during Doctor Who's 1960's heyday. Playing dual roles and relying on ever more tenuous excuses to get the father and child together on a weekly basis ("So, we meet again, my child. At the same ice cream parlour no less."), the show was such a hideous embarrassment to all concerned the nation collectively agreed never to make mention of it again.
Bok, Drax & the Alien Princess (1984)
Litigation-baiting, sci-fi guff concerning the van-based antics of some renegade Time Lords (plus a winged gargoyle) on the run from some baddies, or something. Shot on VHS with a camera nicked from a Russian OB unit, the production was scheduled to run to six episodes. Regrettably however, one of the actors accidentally managed to spend the entire series budget on a Curly Wurly. Chris Chibnall was a huge fan. "I am a huge fan," he said.
Street Fighter Vs. The Master (1993)
Sky TV, pay-per-view fight crossover. Anthony Ainley was hundred-hand-slapped by a sumo wrestler for 15 minutes before taking a fireball on the chin. Essentially – old man beaten savagely, but with cracking theme music.
Planet of the Spiders (1975)
Such a success was the titular planet and its populace that the Beeb hurried into production a ninety part serial drama concerning the Metebelis III dynasty and its endlessly fascinating characters. Cancelled almost immediately when they couldn't locate Jenny Laird, who had became trapped inside a wet paper bag, trying to act her way out.
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