Real Time (Doctor Who)

Real Time
Album cover
Big Finish Productions audio drama
Series 'Doctor Who'
Release no. I
Featuring Sixth Doctor
Evelyn Smythe
Written by Gary Russell
Directed by Gary Russell
Produced by Gary Russell
Jason Haigh-Ellery
Executive producer(s) for BBCi:
 Martin Trickey
 James Goss
for BBC Worldwide:
 Jacqueline Rayner
Production code BBCi01
Length 6 episodes, 10 mins each
Release date 12 December 2002

Real Time is a webcast based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who which was then subsequently released on CD. It was produced by Big Finish Productions for BBCi, which was then the interactive television service arm of the BBC, and was originally webcast on the BBC Doctor Who website from 2 August – 6 September 2002.


There has been a series of mysterious vanishings on the desert planet Chronos in the 33rd century. Survey teams working for a university seem to have simply vanished amongst the pyramids on the planet. Alongside two other survey teams and an expert on cybernetics, the Doctor and Evelyn learn the deadly truth: that the planet Chronos is being used as a base for one of the Doctor's oldest and deadliest foes the Cybermen.


Production background

After the success of the first online webcast story, Death Comes to Time, it was decided that a second would involve Big Finish Productions, who were already doing a number of audio plays involving members of Doctor Who's original cast. This webcast would involve Colin Baker playing the Sixth Doctor accompanied by Maggie Stables as Dr Evelyn Smythe, his companion in the Big Finish audio plays.

The limited bandwidth allowed by broadcasting across the Internet meant that writer and director Gary Russell approached the story with the edict that it would be shorter than many of the Big Finish plays. He decided that the story would therefore run, more or less, in "real time", with its complete 60-minute running time being exactly how long the Doctor would be involved within the story. The webcast was accompanied by very limited animation based on illustrations by artist Lee Sullivan.

The storyline was left without a definitive conclusion, allowing for a possible sequel to be made at a future date. However, the following webcast was a remake of the uncompleted 1979 serial Shada, written by Douglas Adams. When BBCi decided to take the production of the next webcast, Scream of the Shalka, completely in-house, this led to a brief falling out between Big Finish and BBCi, and any plans for a sequel to Real Time were shelved at that point. This extended to Russell even suggesting that Real Time be considered non-canon as far as the audio plays were concerned.

An extended version was released on CD in December 2002 by Big Finish, minus the illustrations/animation that had been included in the webcast but with the addition of further scenes designed to help the plot along, including an opening scene set inside the TARDIS.


Character Options released a special figure of the Sixth Doctor in his "toned down" blue suit as part of its Doctor Who Classic 5" action figure series.

A second action figure of the Sixth Doctor in his blue outfit was released in 2016, as part of a set including all 13 incarnations of the Doctor. This version is far more detailed than the first, featuring multiple shades of blue.

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