Originally published on Timebase Productions (12/06/2018)
Listed below are the 10 Doctor Who fan videos that I have found most entertaining, inspiring and impressive over the many years that I’ve been interested in such things. I use the words ‘fan video’ in the traditional sense, meaning dramatic or comic presentations, rather than clips edited to music (which we called ‘scratch videos’ in my day). They’re listed in chronological order, rather than order of merit, because they’re all equally special to me. If you’re lucky, you might find some of them online.
DAY OF THE DUSTBINS / ALISTAIR ANORAK INVESTIGATES
The West Midlands Whonatics (1987)
I’m cheating a bit by lumping these two together, as they are two distinctly different productions, but they were both extremely influential upon my group of friends when we first started making fanvids. Day of the Dustbins is a below-zero budget spoof of Day of the Daleks, clearly filmed in a handful of Walsall homes and gardens, but it simply shines with the sheer joy of a group of friends picking up a camera and having fun! We wanted to emulate that fun and that’s why we started in fanvids. Made slightly later, Alistair Anorak Investigates is a spoof documentary that manages the almost impossible task of being genuinely, uproariously funny whilst still retaining the sense of a group of pals mucking about.
Seattle International Films (1988)
Back when Jodie Whittaker was a mere 6 years old and about as far from being cast as Doctor Who as anyone could possibly conceive, there was another female Doctor. Played by the late, great Barbara Benedetti, she appeared in three (or should that be four?) dramatic videos produced by Seattle-based Ryan K. Johnson, which really showed what can be achieved on a small budget. The Wrath of Eukor and Visions of Utomu were both great fun, but it’s Broken Doorsthat I like the best. The only film not directed by Johnson (it was directed by Steven Hauge), Broken Doors has a shadowy, menacing quality reminiscent of Sapphire & Steeland it lingers in the memory long after viewing. Barbara Benedetti and Randy Rogel as Carl Evans remain one of the great fan Doctor and Companion double acts.
RESURRECTION OF EVIL
MEV Productions (1993)
A lot of professional film-makers, both in front of and behind the camera, dabbled with Doctor Who fan films in their early days. Produced and directed by Marq English, Resurrection of Evil is an excellent example of that trend. Mark Bennett plays the Doctor as the perfect English gentleman, facing up against something seemingly satanic in an old country house. It’s a lovely amalgam of Doctor Who and Hammer Horror, evoking The Dæmons and the brooding menace of the Hinchcliffe era. English’s eye for direction is evident even at this early stage and it’s not at all surprising that he went on to bigger and better things.
TIME RIFT / TIMELESS
Half-a-Dozen Lemmings Productions (1996)
If most fan videos are a vigorous jog, Time Rift is a marathon and its lengthy running time might put a lot of viewers off, but if you stick with this epic love letter to the Seventh Doctor, you’ll be handsomely rewarded. Jonathan Blum’s delightful caricature of Sylvester McCoy keeps the story buoyed up if it starts to sag a little and Itzy Friedman is probably the definitive fan video iteration of the Master. Jonathan used characters and elements from Time Rift in the novel Vampire Science, written with Kate Orman (which I guess kinda makes it canon… ish) and later revisited the main characters in the short film Timeless several years later. Timeless distils everything that is great about Time Rift into a much shorter running time and a single location.
TIME AND AGAIN
Mendicant Productions (1996)
Time and Again is a movie, of that let there be no doubt. It has the epic scale and matching running time of the Paul McGann TV movie, from which it draws a lot of its influences. Sagging scripts are the bane of many fan videos, but Time and Again does not suffer from this malaise; its script never lets up and in combination with Ryan Thorson’s cinematic direction, it makes this feature eminently watchable. As the Doctor, Dennis Kuhn has a likeable Roddy McDowell-esque quality and he sparks beautifully with Paul Christopher’s Master, especially in the interrogation scene, which is a tour de force. A lot of Time and Again looks strangely prophetic in the era of New Who, but sadly, an anticipated follow-up never came about.
Faded Flowers Productions (1998)
Steve Hill’s extraordinary Colin Baker impression (he really is uncanny, check it out) is working overtime in this surreal little number, in which he gets to play not only the Sixth Doctor, but also Mr Baker himself! Presaging The League of Gentleman’s Apocalypse by seven whole years, Realitywarpsees the Sixth Doctor travelling into a reality where he encounters the actor who plays him as a fictional character in a television series. Jennifer Adams Kelly provides able support as Peri / Nicola Bryant in a film which is both delightfully silly and hugely entertaining.
THE MILLENNIUM TRAP
VTC Productions (1997)
Nick Scovell, probably the best known fan Doctor with a substantial number of stage and screen appearances in the role, absolutely shines in the best known of all those appearances. Beautifully filmed in moody monochrome, The Millennium Trap pits the Doctor against his arch-enemies the Daleks in a handsome recreation of 60s Doctor Who. The production values are very high and it beautifully recreates the era, which is not to say that it doesn’t have some original and unique points of its own – such as a female Dalek, something that the TV series itself has never even tackled. This is definitely one of the most professional looking fan videos that you’re likely to see and still widely available for viewing online.
Westlake Films (2000)
From the prolific Yorkshire-based Westlake Films comes this delightful adventure starring Kevin Hiley as the Doctor. A lack of budget is more than made up for the fantastic choice of scenery as the action makes the best use of deserted mills and ruined churches. An arch turn by Gareth Preston as the villain helps toward a generous mixture of adventure and comedy. I’ve always loved the scene where the Doctor’s companion helps himself to a buffet that is standing unattended during an otherwise particularly tense scene in a boardroom. Westlake Films produced a plethora of other Doctor Who related videos, but Future Investment is the one that stands out for me.
FIRE AND ICE
Doctor Who 2009 (2009)
Fire and Ice is the first post-New Who fan video that I ever saw and it’s heavily influenced by Russell T. Davies’ vision of Doctor Who. The companion in this US-set adventure even dresses exactly like Rose Tyler! That’s not a criticism, by the way – it’s beautifully observed and nuanced and makes for an excellent homage to the show in its newer incarnation. Kevin Raymond Moore (a dead-ringer for Matt Frewer in some shots) plays an excellent post-modern Doctor, all moody silences and slightly misplaced smiles; there’s more than a hint of Eccleston about him. His companion Alice is played by Jennifer Richman, who also puts in a winning performance. The monsters in Fire and Ice are the Ice Warriors, but you won’t really care because it’s Moore and Richman who draw your eyes at all times. A charismatic and beautifully made fan video that takes some beating!
DOCTOR WHO VELOCITY
Chris Phillips (2017)
This is Doctor Who for the YouTube generation. Fast, sexy and irresistibly funny, Velocity is the brainchild of British director Chris Phillips and American comedienne Krystal Moore. The episodes (two to date) are short but zip along at a hell of a pace and absolutely sparkle on both the visual and acting fronts. Immaculately produced and extremely professional, this is surely the stick by which all future Doctor Who fan videos must be measured. Krystal Moore makes such a charismatic Doctor that it’s almost impossible to dislike her and she leads the way towards the first female Doctor in the actual series. Doctor Who Velocitypositively defies you not to like it – I’m sure some people will still manage it, but I’m not one of them. I think it shines!
Finally, an honorary mention for Cheeky Monkey Pictures’Tyranny of the Daleks, which I could not, in all modesty, include in the main list because I’m kinda in it. I was invited down, along with Neil Johnson and Steve Palace, to play the small part of Gultarn the Red. With his shades and leather trousers, Adam Manning’s rock’n’roll incarnation made the Doctor hip before David Tennant was even a twinkle in Russell T. Davies’ eye! Excellent stuff, give it a whirl.