First released in 1987, Wartime was the first independently released Doctor Who spin-off video. John Levene returned to the role of Sgt Benton and this is very much his story, diving as it does into his personal history. Writers Andy Lane and Helen Stirling deserve credit for putting together an interesting if somewhat surreal tale, though some elements are left entirely unexplained. As an unofficial product this is forgivable. Less forgivable is how long fans have had to wait for a DVD version.
The story was re-released in 1997 this time with some other material (including behind the scenes content). The story also picked up a Nicholas Courtney cameo at the start, reprising the role of Lethbridge-Stewart. It has taken until now for this to become available on DVD, and it comes not only with a collection of documentaries, but also a second disc giving us a whole hour of Jon Pertwee at Panopticon.
The story itself centres on Sgt Benton’s ghostly reminiscences of his father going to war, his brother and his mother. As Benton approaches the epicentre of past tragedy we learn a lot about his motives and relationship with his father. Michael Wisher (the original Davros) is very strong as Benton’s father and the scenes where the two interact are the best of this short tale. If you don’t blink there’s also an appearance by Nick Briggs as an unnamed soldier. Nick appears on the extras, as does Katy Manning and producer / director Keith Barnfather.
Although the story of Wartime is better than it might have been, this far out it is somewhat of a curiosity and may well only be of interest to the most dedicated of fans. At just over 30 minutes it is shorter than the Jon Pertwee footage, and that is as collectable in its own right. The set is inexpensive though, and there are worse products for fans to spend their money on.
THE WARTIME CHRONICLES / CERT: PG / AUTHOR: ANDY LANE, HELEN STIRLING / PUBLISHER: REELTIME PICTURES / STARRING: JOHN LEVENE, MICHAEL WISHER, NICK BRIGGS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW