Eastenders: a gritty soap about the trials of working-class folk who inhabit the fictional east London borough of Walford.
Doctor Who: a long-running sf series about the adventures of an eccentric alien who travels through time and space in a Police Telephone Box.
Their worlds collided in 1993. The most bizarre of Brit crossovers appeared several years after the end of the original Doctor Who series’ twenty-six year run, as a part of a Children in Need special. About fifteen minutes in length, it reunited all surviving tv Doctors, but in the context of a rushed, confused, and very silly story-- with a few bright moments.
The plot concerns the Rani, a renegade Time Lady, who has an Evil PlotTM. It’s pointless to try to make any sense of her scheme. It involves the genetic pattern of every known species, a "time-brain," and the Greenwich Meridean. She wants to "control evolution" and.... Do evil stuff. Anyway, she fears that the Doctor can stop her, so traps various incarnations of him and several of his companions in a time-loop that will keep them forever wandering in a "dingy backwater." Specifically, the Gallifreygian do-gooder and an assortment of sidekicks find themselves bouncing among 1973, 1993, and 2013-- in working-class Walford. While freeing themselves from their dilemma and saving the world, they casually interact with numerous Eastenders characters. If that isn’t enough, the show was filmed in 3-D, and features many hastily-created effects, such as images of characters’ heads floating around the Rani’s TARDIS while she mercilessly chews scenery.
Director: Stuart McDonald
Writers: John Nathan-Turner, David Roden
Sylvester McCoy as The Doctor
Colin Baker as The Doctor
Peter Davison as The Doctor
Tom Baker as The Doctor
Jon Pertwee as The Doctor
Kate O’Mara as The Rani
Sam West as Cyrian
Sophie Aldred as Ace
Deeak Verma as Sanjay Kapoor
Shobu Kapoor as Vita Kapoor
Bonnie Langford as Melanie Bush
Wendy Richard as Pauline Fowler
Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Beale
Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman
Letitia Dean as Sharon Mitchell
Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith
Nicola Bryant as Peri Brown
Sarah Sutton as Nyssa
Pam St. Clement as Pat Butcher
Mike Reid as Frank Butcher
Caroline John as Liz Shaw
Nicola Stapleton as Mandy Salter
Lalla Ward as Romana
Louise Jameson as Leela
Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale
Richard Franklin as Mike Yates
John Leeson as the Voice of K-9
Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier
In principle, the premise makes for an original and interesting way to combine two disparate shows without really damaging the established realities of either. In practice, the Dr. Who story is overly silly in ways that it needn’t have been. The balance established with the Eastenders, meanwhile, crumbles in the second act when a Cyberman, an Ogron, and other creatures sent by the Rani stomp around their neighbourhood. Still, the concept, like Archie Meets the Punisher has the potential to be simultaneously hilarious yet perfectly sound. The humour in having these characters meet works best when both sides play it straight. I found myself wishing they would have tweaked this just a little bit more in the direction of a serious Doctor Who script. Instead of a goofball curiosity, they could’ve had a genuine comic gem.
The entire production suffers from its rushed pace, but the Eastenders actually do a good job of playing ordinary characters experiencing a brush with extra-terrestrials, and fans of the Doctor will enjoy seeing so many of the show’s alumni reunited. Favorite Doctor Tom Baker, however, makes only a cameo appearance, which he looks to have performed from the edge of a hospital bed.
Another saving grace is the show's length. At fifteen minutes, Dimensions in Time is too short to grow tedious, and much happens, even if little of it makes sense. It’s rather silly, but fans of both shows will derive some enjoyment from it–- especially after a few pints.