DOCTOR WHO Fan Films - Past, Present and Future

Michael Allen takes a look at some Doctor Who fan productions from the past, present and future.

Sometimes, although a show itself is great, it's the fans who really deliver the goods. Now, when it comes to Doctor Who we all have our personal fan theories and headcannons, but these fans went out and made their ideas into films, books, audios...

Quality obviously differs, but there's always one thing that stays the same – the effort put into them really is brilliant. Over the course of this article, I'll be looking at some of the prominent fan productions, and I'll even be directing you towards another future fan made project.

The Convention Films
When the first convention hit fandom in 1977, it was a big thing. From what had been a small, slightly unloved show, became a huge thing. Fans would gather from all around the world, all to meet their favourite celebrities or just meet other anoraks. But there were also fan films shown at the conventions – usually a short sketch featuring the fourth doctor. For the first time, fans were getting creative.

Welcome To The Wilderness
From those years on fans would show their efforts at the many gather ups, and kept writing new fan fiction and producing art. But when the show was put on a (very!) long hiatus, not only were fans desperate, they were also full of ideas of where the show could of gone, and emerging affordable technology was given them the chance to make their ideas into reality. The two main 'companies' producing these stories were BBV and Reeltime. Both featured characters and actors from the show, and both had some very sketchy moments.

BBV was full of interesting ideas, and had a good budget. Their productions were often referred to as 'Who clones' - they're not actually 'canon' but at times are very close to Doctor Who. The character of Liz Shaw (played by Caroline John), UNIT and the Autons appeared in stories produced by BBV, and the company was clever enough to do things without ruining the continuity of the show. A lot of their productions are more adult, and quite confusing – but there are some really good ones! The Airzone Solution is certainly interesting – it features nearly every living doctor up to that point (guess who didn't get involved!) and although it isn't the best (that Six/Peri scene is very odd...) it's certainly a great try. 

There's also The Stranger series, including both film and audio stories that feature Colin Baker as The Stranger and (in the early adventures) Nicola Bryant as Miss Brown...

...Later installments were written by, and featured, Nicholas Briggs. 

BBV also produced a range of audio adventures starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred as "the Professor" and "Ace" - this proved too much for the BBC, and they demanded changes to not infringe copyrights. For their next adventure they went under the names "the Dominie" and "Alice."

Reeltime Productions were mostly the same, but with slightly higher production values...and they weren't quite as strange. If you want to get into them, I'd recommend Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans – its patchy in parts, but its written by Terrance Dicks, so brilliance is obviously trying to get through.

The 'Nearly Canon' Stuff
Now, its up to you what you think is in the Who universe – but can we really deny these ones? I'm sure many of you know of Big Finish, and know that their productions were recently confirmed as canon in the rather wonderful 50th Anniversary mini-sode, The Night of the Doctor. But before Big Finish there was a small company called Audio Visuals who made Doctor Who audio stories on cassette which featured Nicholas Briggs (him again!) as the Doctor. This was back in the 1980s, and while the stories produced by Audio Visuals probably don't 'count' they certainly led on to great, official things, as lots of people from Audio Visuals would go on to Big Finish, and even the television series. 

Canon meets Non-Canon
Devious, is in my opinion, the greatest fan film of them all. It was even included within the Special Features on the DVD release of The War Games. It tells the story of what happens between the end of the Second Doctor's era and the start of the Third. Great writing, great production values and good acting – it even had an appearance from the Third Doctor himself, Jon Pertwee! Devious was filmed in 1995 and so was actually the last ever time Pertwee played the Doctor...

The Modern Age
Now that I've gave a quick summary of the past, lets look at fan productions now – they're bigger than ever! Just go on youtube, and you'll see a plethora of productions, good and bad. Its not just fan films though – there are songs, title sequences, puppet productions, and wonderful audio adventures. All fan produced by people who just love the show.

Welcome to the Vortex
Remember when I said I'd be talking about an exciting upcoming project? Well, here it is – let me introduce you to Vortex Productions. What we plan to do is simple – make Doctor Who fan made audios and upload them onto youtube for everyone to enjoy – we make no profit, its just for fun. Writers will be able to tell stories from any era of the show, then editors, actors and producers will bring it all to life.

The first story we plan to release is called 'The Voices of Kapten', and will be set in the Third Doctor era, with the whole Unit crew! It is written by me, but we have around sixty members on the team, all planning future stories by other talented writers. But we need actors! Although we have already got a Third Doctor, we need people to play the companions, so if you can do a good impression of them, please email if you're interested. Even if you can't do impressions, but you're still interested, then please contact us anyway, we'd love to have you involved in someway!

Thanks everyone, and I can't wait for you all to get involved!
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