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Doctor Who Spin-offs

Doctor Who has generated spin-offs since the moment the series began. In recent years, there have been a plethora of spin-off novels and audio plays, most of which are designed to fit in with the style of the tv series. But perhaps the earliest spin-off was the comic strip, which started only a year after the programme debuted. Barring a few short breaks, the strip has run continuously ever since (featuring in several different publications) - even during that long period when the tv show was off the air. The comics have deviated wildly from the style of the tv series, often being aimed at a more juvenile market - though in the early 1980s, it could be argued that the strip was of a much higher quality than the programme.
Another long running spin-off was the Doctor Who Annual. For years, these books were the staple of every fan's Christmas stocking. Like the comics, the Annuals would often bear very little resemblance to the tv show - so much so, you'd be forgiven for thinking the writers and artists had never even seen it. In fact, they probably hadn't. They've been derided by fans for many years, but I love these Annuals - especially the psychedelic artwork and wilfully surreal stories of the late seventies editions - preferring to see them as fantastic expressions of the wonderful diversity that is Doctor Who.

Peter Cushing

Doctor Who has featured in almost every conceivable medium - how about a story made up by collecting the different wrappers of a chocolate bar? - but perhaps the most notable is the medium of film. There have been three Doctor Who movies made. The first two were cinema releases in the mid-sixties, starring that wonderful actor Peter Cushing. It would be thirty years before another film was made. Although there were many rumours and aborted projects during the seventies and eighties, in the end it was an American tv movie that saw the light of day in 1996. This starred Paul McGann, and was intended to launch a new series of Doctor Who in the US. In this it failed, but McGann has featured in plenty of comic strips, novels and audio plays, firmly establishing him as the eighth Doctor.

Paul McGann


Rowan Atkinson

In 1999, we were presented with a ninth Doctor, in the person of popular comedy actor Rowan Atkinson. He starred in a spoof Doctor Who story as part of the Comic Relief charity evening. Affectionately parodying the show's clichés, this proved to be the highlight of an otherwise lacklustre night of entertainment. The programme also featured the Doctor's subsequent incarnations in the form of celebrity cameos. Another ninth Doctor appeared in 2003, in an animated adventure webcast on the BBC's Doctor Who site. The voice of the Doctor was provided by Richard E. Grant, who ironically had played one of the celebrity Doctors in the Comic Relief spoof. (Both of these were before the "real" ninth Doctor's debut in 2005, of course...)
Another noteworthy production was K-9 and Company, which for a long time was the only tv show ever to have spun off directly from Doctor Who. The Doctor's robot dog K-9 had been popular with younger viewers, and the new show sought to capitalize on that - teaming him with former companion Sarah Jane Smith (played by Elizabeth Sladen) who could handle the actual acting requirements. Like the Paul McGann movie, this was intended as a pilot to launch a new series, but nothing ever came of it. Nevertheless, a number of K-9 and Sarah adventures subsequently surfaced in other media - these are recorded in the additional adventures listing.
25 years later, Sarah and K-9 turned up in another spin-off show. The popularity of the new Doctor Who series had turned it into a massive snowballing franchise - and after a triumphant return appearance, Sarah must have seemed a good bet for a spin-off. (Elizabeth Sladen had already headlined her own series of audio plays by this point as well, and was ever-popular with fans.) The new show was called The Sarah Jane Adventures, and was pitched as a children's adventure series - this time the emphasis was firmly on Sarah and some new young sidekicks, with K-9 relegated to a cameo role. And this wasn't the only spin-off from the 2005 series - the ninth Doctor's companion Jack Harkness (played by John Barrowman) turned up in Torchwood, leading a team to investigate alien activity and paranormal phenomena in contemporary Cardiff.

Peter Cushing, the cinematic Doctor Who

The comical Doctor Who

Apocryphal Adventures

Additional Adventures

Doctor Who, the television series