In Review: Downtime (DVD)

Downtime is a unique British 1995 sci-fi movie from the Doctor Who universe (but unofficial) featuring treasured characters and talent from the franchise and only now released on DVD - it's a must see for fans of the Time Lord.

Synopsis: Downtime is a unique British 1995 sci-fi movie from the Doctor Who universe (but unofficial) featuring treasured characters and talent from the franchise and only now released on DVD – it’s a must see for fans of the Time Lord.

We follow The Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney – Doctor Who) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen – Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures) of UNIT who investigate New World University; a sinister school run by old enemies Victoria Waterfield and Professor Travers. The technology obsessed University holds a gateway to Earth made by classic foe the ‘Great Intelligence’. Fighting alone this time – without their famous time-travelling scientific advisor – The Brigadier and Sarah Jane are hard pressed to decide who is friend or foe as they search for a missing Locus, which binds the Intelligence’s power. The battle is broadened when the Brigadier’s own family is threatened and UNIT faces a powerful new breed of Yeti!

Review: Due out next week via Koch Media ‘Downtime’ is a ‘Doctor Who’ spin-off movie, which was adapted from the virgin books ‘Doctor Who: Missing Adventures’ series, which was released in the early 90s in a time when fans were still mourning the loss of the classic TV series.virginbook-ma-downtime

The story is an effective sequel to the Patrick Troughton stories ‘The Abominable Snowman‘ and ‘The Web Of Fear’, which introduced us to the Yeti and The Great Intelligence.

The film, which would be of great interest to fans of the classic series may also appeal to fans of the newer series as well given that it introduces Kate Lethbridge-Stewart who is played by Beverley Cressman. This is interesting to see because it is at a time in her life before she is involved in running UNIT.

It was also pretty insightful to see the relationship between Kate and her father The Brigadier played out on screen because its something we would probably never have seen or had time for in the classic series.

Written by Marc Platt the story is filled with lots of fun character moments with the different characters.

Fans will also no doubt be thrilled to see Nicholas Courtney, Elisabeth Sladen and Deborah Watling reprise their roles, but it is Watling that seems to have a fun twist to her character in this story, which sees Victoria being effectively conned into working with The Great Intelligence, which is trying to take over earth via computer networking and the internet. The Intellegence has cultivated the UK’s youth culture and created a cult called the Chilly’s who seem to be networked. Its all rather sinister as you’d expect.

My favorite moment as a fan of Classic Doctor Who was seeing the Yeti’s run rampant as the film draws to its dramatic conclusion.

The story also sees a return for Professor Travers who is again played by Jack Watling who sadly succumbs to a horrible end.

It’s really an amazing achievement for the makers of this film to have been able to get so many of the shows actors together in this film, but you can tell that certain compromises had to be made when it comes to the films budget.

Given that the film was shot in 1995 back when the internet was still relatively new to UK users the graphics used on the computers throughout the story seemed to hark back more to perhaps late 80s or very, very early 90s. It’s not something that pulls you out of the story and its not something that particularly bothered me because the strong narrative and acting performances keep you engrossed, but the it is something that newer fans may find hard to adjust to given that they are used to CGI and the near flawless effects on offer by the new series.

Due out for the first time on DVD on November 16. ‘Downtime’ is a must have for those ‘Doctor Who’ fans who are nostalgic for some of the shows more classic style of story telling.

  • Fun story and great to see Nicholas Courtney and Liz Sladen again
  • The computer graphics maybe a little primitive for modern viewers
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Visual & Practical FX
  • Incidental Music
  • Packaging

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
One Comment