David Burton, the Doctor Who that never was

Logo by Hewy Lewis

fan made logo by Hewy Lewis

In 1989, Doctor Who ended its run on BBC with Survival, a story that saw the Doctor and his punk rock companion Ace wandering off into the unknown after defeating the Master once more. In the interim, there were many rumors of the program being brought back as a feature film or as a completely revamped as an entirely new program.

David Burton

David Burton

In the midst of all this, was a very weird rumor.

There is a fascinating Easter egg on the Inferno Special Edition DVD that explores the interim Doctor Who which no one has ever seen, David Burton. Filmed independently in 1988, three stories were reportedly filmed (it is unclear if they were completed) and dealt with at least one known plot element, an underwater adventure (possibly called Doctor Who and the Monster of Ness). Directed by former Doctor Who alum Paul Bernard (Inferno), the story would be a return to the origins of the series, bringing it back as a children’s program, albeit with an edge of horror and weirdness. Paired up with twin companions Heart and Diamond, the Doctor would  be closer to the Hartnell incarnation and dressed in a patchwork costume.

My own concept drawing of David Burton as Dr Who

My own concept drawing of David Burton as Dr Who

The very strange part of all this is that there is nothing (as far as I know) to back up any of this as the tapes had been wiped. The only real evidence is a novelty car bearing the announcement ‘the New Doctor Who’ to promote the upcoming program. When the new project quickly folded (reportedly three months production were put in), the lettering was scraped off and all that remains is Burton himself and his ghostly tale.

It’s unclear if any of this (beyond the novelty car) is true, but it is a rabbit hole of what ifs and what could have been. There is an appeal to bringing the program back to its roots as children’s entertainment rather than what it had become (nothing against the McCoy era which I greatly admire).

What I find especially fascinating about all of this is that there is always a flurry of excitement when an incumbent Doctor and/or production team are on the way out. With Matt Smith departing this coming Christmas, it’s anyone’s guess what will come next. The likelihood of a DJ coming out of nowhere as the surprise Doctor in an independent production is admittedly slim. But keep this in mind as the rumors start to fly.


One thought on “David Burton, the Doctor Who that never was

  1. Once again time for two hopes of mine (though I know that they will not happen):

    1. Ignore the current timeline… Bring in Paul McGann and start right after the 1996 TV movie… give us a few years of Paul McGann adventures. No casting call needed, Paul can do the job and wants to… and fans have been asking for him for years now.

    2. Go back to the beginning… give us a younger version of Hartnell and explore the Doctor’s early years from when he first left Gallifrey.

    I know neither will happen… but this is the time when they could diverge the story a bit if they wanted.


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