For a franchise as wide-ranging and long-lasting as Doctor Who, it’s not surprising that for every TV episode aired, multiple alternative scripts or concepts were very nearly produced in its place.
These “what if” stories were dropped for a variety of reasons… many because the budget needed to realize them was too great, some because they simply were not strong enough while others were rewritten to become different episodes entirely.
Of these unproduced stories, we’ve found a few that, had they made it to screen, would have gone down as some of the more memorable and intriguing stories in Who Lore. Read along as we uncover 5 Awesome Unproduced Doctor Who TV Stories…
5) CRIME OF THE CENTURY
Written by Ben Aaronvitch, featuring the 7th Doctor and a new safe cracking, aristocratic companion named Raine Cunnigham, this episode was planned for the aborted Season 27 of the classic series.
All the elements for a great Who story were in this one; including a terrific opening teaser scene in which Cunnigham steals away from a stuffy party in a country house to crack open a safe only to find The Doctor waiting for her inside.
Other details included the Doctor leaving a timey-wimey message for himself from the 1960s that falls into the wrong hands and the establishment of a home base and network of agents for The Doctor to draw help from when he returned to current times on Earth. NuWho fans will recognize these elements as the basis for the Patermoster Gang.
And the delicious imagery of the Doctor discovered locked inside a mysterious vault calls to mind the famous Churchill quote about Russia, being a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside a enigma” Is there a more apt description of the Doctor?
4) GENESIS OF THE CYBERMEN Featuring the Fifth Doctor, planned for Season 19 of Classic Who, dropped/reworked in favour of EarthShock.
We admit, recycling the premise of perhaps the greatest Classic Who story (Genesis Of The Daleks) isn’t particularly original, but for our money anytime we get to see the origins of a loved villain it’s worth being a copycat.
The outline for this prequel to The Tenth Planet was penned by Who alum Gerry Davis, the co-creator of the Silver baddies. The intriguing story focused on the Cybermen’s ancestors on Mondas, and a Prince named Sylvan who accidentally activates the TARDIS and sends the crew 50 years into the future. They discover that a piece of TARDIS equipment that was left behind has been used to create the first wave of Cybermen, led by the Prince’s assimilated brother. There was even a role detailing the origins of the first Cybermen Krail.
It’s a shame this story never made it to screen (although it’s unlikely the production values of the show in the 80s could have fully realized the scope of the story) but Genesis didn’t entirely vanish; Big Finish Audio took the broad strokes of the plot and produced one of it’s best radio Who adventures, Spare Parts.
3) THE 1920s Written by Stephen Fry, planned for Series 4 of NuWho, dropped due to lack of production time.
There isn’t much info. about the specifics of this episode scribed by Who fan, and all around charming smarty pants Stephen Fry, but it was said to involve an alien connection to a popular British legend.
Another fun nugget depicted The Doctor getting stuck in a Haunted House and having to enlist the help of Donna to escape, who through some manner of timey-wimey was to be watching the entire ordeal on TV at home.
While there was potential for lunacy in this story that might have come across as farcical; it’s disappointing that a creative genius such as Fry (also a BFF of Who alum and Geek God Douglas Addams) didn’t get a chance to tell his TARDIS tale. Here’s hoping a future episode gets his name on it, soon.
2) THE FINAL GAME Written by Robert Sloman, planned as the final serial for Series 11, dropped due to the death of Roger Delgado.
This conclusion to the Master vs. The Doctor arc that began in Series 8 was to have delved into the relationship between the “best enemies” and revealed that The Master and The Doctor were actually brothers, or in an even more interesting twist, two aspects of the same being.
The episode had to be dropped when Roger Delgado, the Master’s original portrayer, lost his life in a tragic auto accident before filming began. At the time, Delgado and Pertwee had both opted to exit the show so the story called for a dramatic finale during which The Master sacrifices his live to save The Doctor, who lives but is still forced to regenerate.
Delgado’s untimely passing meant we never got to see how this story might have played out, but given the tremendous chemistry between he and Pertwee we can safely surmise it would have had all the makings of a iconic Who story. Of course, the show did revisit this notion of the Master saving The Doctor, to great dramatic effect, in The End Of Time. Jon Simm and David Tennant’s compelling performances were a fitting tribute to their predecessors.
1) THE DARK DIMENSION Written by Adrian Rigelsford, planned as a direct to video or TV Special in 1993 to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Doctor Who, cancelled due to the BBC’s decision to focus on the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie.
Even though the show had been off-screen for over three years, the BBC green-lit this one-off special, featuring the return of the most recent Doctor Sylvester McCoy along with Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Jon Pertwee in a traditional multi-Doctor/anniversary motif. The interesting storyline picked up with Ace and the Brigadier’s son (aided by troopers from the future) confronting a nefarious, alien possesed Proffesor named Hawkesbury who is running for Prime Minister. Ace locates the 4th Doctor, who has been trapped in that regeneration and living as an amnesiac for some fifteen years, but shares her memories of the Doctor’s future which heals his mind.
Stalwart baddies such as the Daleks and Cybermen were set to appear as well as the 4th Doctor leads Ace to a dark dimension to free his future selves who have been imprisoned there by Hawkesbury, and all of the Doctors unite to, of course, save Earth.
Pre-production of this intriguing episode was well underway when problems emerged; namely that budget restrictions meant the roles of all the former Whos were limited to little more than cameos. Naturally, none of them were very interested in appearing for such a short amount of time and the tightened purse strings aborted the chance of casting a big name like David Bowie as Hawkesbury.
Ultimately, the whole project was dropped when David Segal (the producer of the DW Movie) complained to the Beeb that the release of a low-budget special like Dark Dimension would negatively impact the reception of the coming BBC/FOX co-production, which the BBC hoped to be picked up a series on the U.S. network.
What do you think of our list? Are there any “almost” episodes you think would have been fantastic? Let us know in the comments!