Thursday, 8 March 2001 - Reported by Marcus
Radio 4 Refuses Doctor Who Drama: Despite a finished pilot starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, Radio 4 have turned down the pilot for "Doctor Who: Death Comes to Time," including both an initial broadcast and the option to create a full series. Dan Freedman, the producer, contacted Outpost Gallifrey, letting us know that "True to form Radio 4 have turned down the pilot, despite it being called 'terrific' by Stephen Fry and 'brilliant' and 'Epic' by Sylvester McCoy... We tried everything to get it on the air, but Radio 4 have turned it down flat. You can guess how disappointed we all are. Everyone who heard it loved it, but there we are. Luckily, BBC Worldwide like it a lot and may give us enough to make the series, and online too." Freedman told us he is negotiating a release with BBC Worldwide (expected to be released under their BBC Radio Collection label, the same group that releases the Doctor Who episode soundtracks) and other radio avenues. Radio 2 is considered to be the likeliest option. Freedman confirmed that negotiations had been taking place in January which would see the six episodes being co-funded by BBC Online and BBC Worldwide, with first run of the episodes coming via the BBC's own Dr Who website. "It's going well," said Freedman. "We've got to see how things go now with (Worldwide) but it's looking promising... Right at the start I offered to show them the script, before we had started, but they turned that down," he revealed. "There was never any feeling that we were anything other than a disease (to them). There was nobody there saying 'Yay, let's go and make some new stuff here.'" Freedman also told the official BBC Doctor Who website, in response to whether it will likely be released on CD: "Very likely .... and I think it will probably be webcast too, as a series. I'm having loads of meetings to finalize it at the mo." Doctor Who Magazine recently said, however, that BBC Spoken Word have no intention of releasing the story as a BBC Radio Collection release alongside the missing stories.
A few details about the plot, courtesy SFX Online: The Doctor and his companion (now played by Kevin Eldon) arrive on an alien planet under siege from warmongering, bloodthirsty aliens (led by John Sessions) and set about stopping them. Meanwhile, Ace is having difficulties of her own... When asked to give an idea of a 'great moment' in the story that fans are missing out on: "There's a bit in a garden on Gallifrey where an old Timelord is explaining how the Universe works, which is actually quite moving, and when the Doc first appears it's a real back of the neck tingle!"
Originally reported by DWM and several British newspapers, the radio pilot featured Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred reprising their roles as the Seventh Doctor and Ace. The script was written by Dan Freedman and Colin Meake of Radio 4's Loose Ends comedy show. Freedman told Doctor Who Magazine that "This will not be a comedy. I'm keen to develop a new take, to bring forward darker aspects of the character... We don't want to build up fans' hopes." The drama bore the provisional title "Doctor Who: Death Comes to Time" and also stars Stephen Fry, Leonard Fenton, Huw Thomas, Kevin Eldon, John Sessions and Jacqueline Pearce ("Blake's 7"). It was taped in October 2000. Rumors that David Bowie was involved are untrue, but it was confirmed by Freedman that he was interested in an appearance if the pilot had gone to series (as a character called the Duke of White). However, William Hartnell does appear in the pilot (after all, this is a series about time travel...) (With thanks to Dan Freedman, Iain Hepburn at SFX, Peter Anghelides, David Whitten, Gareth Fenton)