5 Stories That Could Have Been Great Doctor Who Movies

The news that behind the scenes divisions at the BBC are seemingly delaying the potential development of a Doctor Who feature film, revealed in a series of leaked emails, has got fans talking about a big-screen adaptation of their favourite show. Would it be a success? Would it detract from the series?

Would Roberta Tovey be in it?

The route from television show to cinema release is, of course, a tricky one to negotiate. Get it right and you’ve got a big hit on your hands, securing a string of sequels and generating renewed interest among the paying public (Star Trek, Mission: Impossible). Get it wrong and you’ll risk opprobrium from critics and fans alike (The Avengers, Lost In Space).

But one thing’s for sure; if and when a Doctor Who film does get the green light it’s going to need a script, and with over fifty years of history there’s a wealth of material to choose from. Join us as we present the (not entirely serious) Kasterborous guide to Doctor Who stories that could have been (or could still be) amazing movies!

The War Games

dw-sn6-thewargames-warEpic in scope and rich in cinematic potential, is there a better candidate from the black and white era than the story that saw out the 1960s, along with Patrick Troughton’s Doctor and his companions? All those different time periods clashing would be a production designer’s dream and would surely help secure all-important co-production funding from producers across the globe (American Civil War, Roman legions… you get the idea). The movies do love an origin story, and here we got a typically quirky Doctor Who take on it, coming at the very end of a ten part epic, six years in to the series . Peter Jackson has made no secret of his desire to direct Doctor Who and I reckon he’d be an ideal fit for this one – just don’t go upsetting us by squeezing out one too many movies from the material, eh Peter?

The Time Monster

"Throbbing with time energy"

“Throbbing with time energy”

Okay, there’s something to be said for heading straight for the classics when looking for planning a Doctor Who movie, but why not try another approach? Pyramids, Androzani and Blink are just fine as they are, so how about opting for one of the, ahem, less universally lauded stories? This truly bonkers tale from the mid-Pertwee era boasts a wealth of cinematic imagery with its Atlantean setting, mythic creatures and bloke flapping his arms about pretending to be a bird. And there’s something about the Third Doctor and the Master facing off against each other that just demands to be seen on the big screen. Hell, they could even get dear old Dave Prowse back for one last hurrah, crashing around the set as the Minotaur… Come Kronos, come!!!

Genesis of the Daleks

Genesis of the DaleksI’m contradicting my own argument here (these are my principles – if you don’t like them I do have others…) but there’s surely a reason why this early Tom Baker tale is the most-repeated Doctor Who story of all time, at least in the days before BBC3…. Because it’s so wonderful, that’s why. Davros provided arguably the most memorable Doctor Who villain of all (I’m thinking Kevin Spacey for the movie) and the central plot of a morally-conflicted Doctor having to go back in time to avert the creation of his most deadly foes is the kind of arresting, says-it-all-in-one-sentence plots that studio executives love. On top of all that you’ve got the Kaleds as thinly disguised Nazis, and Nazis on the big screen have been a winner far more often than they’ve been a flop.

The Five Doctors

Doctor Who: The Five Doctors

Aside from the Daleks, the element you can guarantee that a key element studio bosses would want to see in a Doctor Who film is a multi-Doctor story. In this age of Avengers and Justice League-style team-ups it’s virtually a prerequisite, so let’s consider how to make it happen. It looks like a movie is still a few years away, so perhaps by the time it happens we’ll be on our fifth full-time Doctor since the series returned? Send for Terrance Dicks! Yes, his anniversary classic from 1983 is surely ripe for re-invention, especially with all those great action set-pieces: Cybermen being massacred, the Doctor risking life and limb to zip-wire across to the Tomb of Rassilon, Sarah-Jane plunging down that hazardous ravine… Add in that old movie stand-by of characters who don’t get on being forced to co-operate in the interests of the greater good and this one’s a sure fire hit.

Aliens of London/World War Three

Aliens of London - Slitheen

We’ve all accepted by now that Russell T Davies, late of this parish, isn’t coming back to the TV series. He’s said it often enough so let’s allow him to move on. Except… the one thing that Russell has hinted might just lure him back is if he got the chance to oversee a big-screen version of Doctor Who… and personally I reckon he’d kill to be given a chance to have another crack at this early effort from the revived series, made as it was when everyone was finding their way. Just think what you could do, knowing what you know now Russell: make the Slitheen truly threatening and scary, sort out the dodgy costumes and CGI, tone down some of the more comedic performances, re-do that shot of Big Ben so it’s the right way around and you’ve got a perfectly good alien invasion plot with some good twists along the way. And it’s got a space pig in it!

That’s what we think, but what about you? Which stories would you want to see given the big-screen treatment? Tell us below!

(Inspired by 10 Doctor Who Episodes That Would’ve Made A Great Movie.)

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  1. Dr Moo says:

    Mindwarp. All the Christmas specials. The Time Warrior. The Enemy of the World. The Hirl in the Fireplace.

  2. FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    I think The Time Monster is best left barely-remembered as it is. Actually, Aliens Of London/World War Three falls into that same category. It is very disturbing the amount of attention a Doctor Who film has been recieving lately (the leaked Sony emails are the most worrying). As the televised episodes The Day Of The Doctor and Deep Breath have shown, it is quite possible to continue to make the show and also show special and important episodes in the cinema at the same time. If I’m not mistaken they did pretty darn well – especially considering their limited releases against the Hollywood blockbusters. The show isn’t broke so please don’t try to fix it!!!

    • Dr Moo has regenerated says:

      The fact that they did well is probably why there’s all this talk going on. When they announced The Day of the Doctor’s cinematic release I was nervous about exactly this happening. Directors and producers are all too often more interested in lining their wallets with cash than actually doing justice by the material they’re covering. Trouble is they know we’ll all pay up for a Doctor Who movie and so they’ll continue to fight for one until it happens. And then there’ll come the inevitable stream of sequels.

      That’s why I say if we want to take the “Whoniverse” to the movies it shouldn’t be ‘pure’ Who, rather set something in the same universe — JUST DON’T COMPROMISE MY FAVOURITE SHOW!!!

      • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

        I really don’t know what others think, but I wasn’t even tempted to see the specials in the cinema despite having the chance to do so. Doctor Who will ALWAYS be best enjoyed at home on the small screen – if it is during dark nights then even better but that is how it is in my eyes. Plus, why would I want to spend stupid amounts of money to watch something that I’ve already paid a License Fee for? All I want is the TV episodes, our sofa and my wife and daughter with me.

        • Dr Moo has regenerated says:

          My thoughts too! I could sit at home with my dog on my lap, my family either side of me and the TV at maximum volume and my mother complaining about us watching the Doctor Who fiftieth instead of the X Factor tenth which it clashed with. Apparently cinema audiences all shouted out at different moments too: Rose as the Moment, David Tennant, Capaldieyes, all the past incarnations appearing, Gallifrey Falls No More and most of all Tom Baker. Deep Breath had less of such moments but I was on holiday at the time and had to iPlayer it later that week when I got home.

    • Mr McJohnson says:

      AoL/WW3 isn’t that bad!

      • Doctor Moo says:

        The story’s good. It’s well-acted. The script’s a strong one.
        But then there’s the farting.

        • Mr McJohnson says:

          You can forgive the farting as the show was still figuring itself out at the time. (It was my first ever Doctor Who experience I should point out.)

          • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

            When figuring yourself out or the show you are running the first response should not be farting! Why would that be anyboy’s first repsonse? The burping bin in Rose was bad enough!

          • Mr McJohnson says:

            I guess it was a way of getting it to appeal to kids? Underestimating their intelligence but still…

          • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

            Ironic how all the kids I know, including my own, didn’t find it very funny or clever. They universally enjoy the darker episodes more (Dalek, Empty Child, Parting Of The Ways). Kids who watch Doctor Who want to be scared – not to laugh at burping bins and farting aliens!

          • Mr McJohnson says:

            I’m with you on that! Like I said, it was “underestimating their intelligence” but if you look at what kids TV often entails you can see what they were going for.

      • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

        Yes it is, rewatch it! 🙂

        • Doctor Moo says:

          I’ve been watching Eccleston’s series lately (he regenerated yesterday evening) and trust me: It’s not especially awful. Far from perfect but still good.

  3. Colin D Smith says:

    Assuming, contrary to what I think is best for the show (and The Moff certainly isn’t asking my opinion), there is a movie forthcoming, and assuming they were to draw from previous stories for that, I agree “The War Games” and “Genesis of the Daleks” would translate well to the big screen. I’m not so sure about the others. “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” would, I think, be a better choice from the “new era.”

    But let’s hope this is all just Moff chewing the cud, tossing ideas around, sending the tabloids/Internet off on wild goose chases. He probably anticipated the email leak. Heck, he might even have leaked the emails himself…! 😉

  4. Rick714 says:

    If they ever did manage to do a movie–don’t adapt an old adventure, do a new one. War Games, Genesis, etc. we’re all excellent but why copy them?

    And really, if BBCWW demands a movie be done, be smart about it—maybe it’d be best to shoot a movie as a start to a new season?

  5. Gareth Lloyd says:

    I would of loved to have seen Peter Cushing in a film version of The Chase or The Dalek Masterplan.

    • James Lomond says:

      Oh GOD YES that would have been AMAZING 😀

      Am taken up with thinking about it now… Who would’ve played Mavik Chen and Steven and Sarah?… Who would’ve played Bret??

      • Ranger says:

        Oh God, Masterplan with Capaldi would be beyond brilliant.

        But no. No movie wanted or needed.

        • Doctor Moo says:

          Couldn’t agree with you more!

          • James Lomond says:

            Ranger! Moo!


            Doctor Who would be AWESOME as a movie – it just has to be done *really* well and in a way that supports and furthers the TV show while standing on its own two legs.

            But Peter Cushing in The Daleks Master Plan (or The Chase) – THAT I would like to see.

          • Doctor Moo says:

            I don’t doubt that. The question is if it should happen, not if it could.

          • James Lomond says:

            But if it was AWESOME why wouldn’t you want a movie? 🙁

          • Ranger says:

            James! *big hug!*

            Movie would be just a distraction from the series. BUT if it was Capaldi in Masterplan I would totally go for it. I never said I was consistent in my views.

          • Doctor Moo says:

            Why take Capaldi in Masterplan to the big screen? Just give him a proper epic story on the TV series that spans several weeks and sweeps up at the awards. Our chance to do this for series nine has been and gone, but we can still let series ten become an improved version of season twenty-three.

          • Ranger says:

            Yep, I agree. On second thoughts Masterplan as a film would not be good: too short a format to tell that story well. Unless, we have a Peter Jacksonesque 3 hours per film trilogy. But your suggestion sounds suspiciously like an arc. You know how I feel about arcs.

            Being consistently inconsistent today.

          • James Lomond says:

            But why need it be a distraction from the series? The series is only on 13 weeks of the year and Xmas… We could equally say that the Xmas special is a distraction from the series. Why does a different medium have to be separate from the narrative?

    • TheLazyWomble says:

      possibly something like this:

  6. Mr McJohnson says:

    The Daleks Master Plan.

  7. Peter Webb says:

    I’d much rather have an original film. I liked the Cushing films, but part of that is because they were made in the 60s. Repeating the same story beats over and over would not be engaging; it would be the same as what John Leekey tried to do with the 90s series, except even more slavish to continuity.

  8. The Vodka Yeti says:

    What planet is Jonathan Appleton on? Surely the main point of the film is to attract NEW punters to the Doctor Who universe. The last thing you want to be doing is confusing them with a multi-Doctor story.set on Gallifrey. A great way to lose your new audience from the get-go. If the film is made only to play to its established base then it is doomed from the start.

    Hypothetically if you were going to copy an old Classic it would have to be Spearhead From Space. Most folks love an invasion of Earth story and what a great way to introduce The Doctor to a new audience, by joining a newly regenerated incarnation on his first adventure!

  9. Mick Reed says:

    Patrick Troughton always maintained that his 1967 serial. The Evil of the Daleks would have made a great movie and I heartily agree with that story. For me it had everything in a classic Who story!

    • Mr McJohnson says:

      Agreed. Shame that it only exists today in the form of reconstructions (save episode 2) but it’s such a good one that I don’t mind.

  10. Baldwin Collins says:

    I think film director peter Jackson would do a perfect job in directing a doctor who movie
    especially if he’s a longtime fan like myself

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