‘DO YOU HAVE A LICENCE TO SAVE THIS PLANET?’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
That’s how I describe ‘Do You Have A Licence To Save This Planet?’ overall!
It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when ‘Doctor Who’ wasn’t on TV between 1989 and 2005. Well, that’s exactly what happened! Thankfully though, ‘Doctor Who’ was kept alive by the fans during the 1990s and the early 2000s through the books, audio dramas, comics and other mediums.
However, whilst Big Finish got the licence to do proper ‘Doctor Who’ stories with the actual Doctors in them, there were some exceptions to this rule. Some production companies didn’t get the licence to do actual ‘Doctor Who’ stories with having the Doctor in them. One of those companies was BBV.
BBV stands for Bill & Ben Video. This was a British video production company founded by Bill Baggs that produced ‘Doctor Who’-related productions during the wilderness years. This included audio dramas, video productions, documentaries, etc. The production company was founded during 1991.
‘Do You Have A Licence To Save This Planet?’ was a short 30-minute comedy film produced by BBV to celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary in 2001. It was also a spoof on ‘Doctor Who’ itself, as it featured plenty of in-jokes and references to the show and it featured monsters that appeared in it.
How did I come across this video production I hear you ask? Well, I discovered it advertised on the back of the CD cover for ‘Wirrn: Race Memory’ starring Sarah Sutton, also produced by BBV. I soon purchased the DVD of the film at one of the ‘Pandorica’ conventions in Bristol. The 2015 one, I think.
The film stars Sylvester McCoy as the ‘Doctor’. When I purchased the DVD for it at the ‘Galaxy 4’ stall in the ‘Pandorica’ convention, I heard fans say that Sylvester McCoy was really good and hilarious in it. It would take me a while to get around to watching this as I soon saw the film a few times in 2018.
The reason why I saw this film a few times wasn’t simply because I enjoyed it. But it was more to do with the fact that I didn’t get what was going on. So I hoped by watching it a few times, I’d be able to understand it more. Even after a few watches, I am still none the wiser for what this film was about.
The film has been entertaining in a strange kind of way. But it’s all just jokes and silliness throughout. I don’t think an average viewer would be able to understand this, let alone a ‘Doctor Who’ fan like me. It just feels all over the place as it doesn’t seem to have a logic and structure to fully appreciate.
Speaking of which, the DVD for ‘Do You Have A Licence To Save This Planet?’ isn’t that impressive. There aren’t any DVD extras. It’s just the ‘PLAY’ option for the film and that’s it. Couldn’t they have provided a behind-the-scenes documentary on how the film was made and what logic this had to it?
‘Do You Have A Licence To Save This Planet?’ was produced and directed by Bill Baggs. The script was written by Paul Ebbs and Gareth Preston. From what I’ve read in other reviews, this film was essentially a mockery on that BBV didn’t have the licence to include the Doctor in their productions.
It could also be an attack on the BBC itself since they wouldn’t give BBV the licence to do proper ‘Doctor Who’ stories anyway. Big Finish got lucky. I know that afterwards, BBV weren’t popular with the BBC and they didn’t produce so many productions by the time ‘Doctor Who’ had revived in 2005.
So what can I say about the plot? Well, not much really since the film doesn’t seem to have one. It begins oddly with an animation sequence of Rasillon (voiced by Nigel Peever) and a Delivery Man (voiced by Gareth Preston) delivering toasters of Rasillon. I’m not sure why this scene was animated.
It’s not a very good animation sequence anyway. Anywho, Rassilon calls upon the services of the real Doctor, which happens to be Patrick Troughton taking place during ‘The Mind Robber’? Why Rassilon didn’t call upon the other Doctors, I don’t know. Anyway, it’s not part of the ‘Doctor Who’ continuity.
As I said, this film stars Sylvester McCoy as the ‘Doctor’. But he’s not the real Seventh Doctor as we know and love him for. He’s actually the Chiropodist – ‘bless you’ – better known as the Foot Doctor. Essentially, he’s a version of the Doctor that doesn’t do a very grand job as the real Doctor would do.
The Foot Doctor soon gets called upon in his time-travelling washing machine (not a police box) and sorts out a number of alien menaces from the ‘Doctor Who’ universe. Apparently the Foot Doctor isn’t a Time Lord at all. He’s actually a Chrono Duke. Get it? Get the joke? Ha, ha. Yeah, it’s not funny.
This film allows Sylvester to put his comedy talents of acting to use. Sometimes his comedic acting is amusing to watch in the film. Sometimes it gets silly. It’s the sort of acting that makes you relax and not care about what’s going on in the production. But at least Sylvester gets to use his spoons. Hehe!
The film also features Mark Donovan as the Salesman, who essentially becomes the Foot Doctor’s companion in this film. Mark Donovan has done a number of BBV productions in the past as well as Nigel Fairs. His double act with Sylvester McCoy has been amusing to watch whilst watching the film.
I don’t know who this Salesman is and why he’s called that. Didn’t he have a real name? Didn’t he deserve one? The Salesman keeps a bag of jokey things which even made me say like Sylvester did, “I don’t understand!” The Salesman also keeps this Krynoid. He said he’ll explain later. I wish he did.
Nigel Fairs and Jo Castleton star as Geoff and Gloria, the couple next door in a suburban street during the film. That’s another thing. The film itself has a home video quality about it. It looks like it was made on the cheap; despite it featuring ‘Doctor Who’-related monsters and dodgy CGI effects.
Anyway, the married couple of Geoff and Gloria don’t make much sense. It seems like they don’t get on well with each other when they pay a visit to the Cyberons’ house and Gloria faints for some reason as Geoff drags her back to their house. Also, does Gloria have a wig? None of it makes sense.
Nigel Fairs also plays the Licensor, who is essentially the Master in this short comedy film. Yeah the Licensor don’t make much sense either, since his campiness level is raised which has him change his clothes. He’s somehow defeated by Sylvester’s Foot Doctor via some licence or un-licence reasons?
This happens during a bizarre moment when the Foot Doctor votes the Licensor off by saying “You Are The Weakest Link! Goodbye!” They actually had four people with cards to vote the Licensor off as ‘The Weakest Link’. It’s very brief, doesn’t make sense and comes out of nowhere. But it is funny.
In terms of the monsters, there are the Cyberons, which are BBV’s version of the Cybermen in their ‘unlicenced universe’. Apparently the Cyberons sound a lot like the ‘Earthshock’ Cybermen. This is because they say “Excellent!” a lot. Ah! I knew the ‘Earthshock’ Cybermen were fakes all the time. 😀
The film also features the Autons and the Sontarans that were created by Robert Holmes. Interesting! BBV were able to get the Autons, Sontarans and Krynoids for their productions, but not Cybermen or Daleks. Were the Autons, Sontarans and Krynoids unlicenced away from the BBC then?
The Autons and Sontarans also seem silly just as the Cyberons in this film. There’s a very awful battle scene where the Foot Doctor uses his ‘Janis Spoons’ to fight the Autons, Sontarans and Cyberons. Honestly, it doesn’t make much sense while watching it and it’s supposed to be amusing with jokes.
There is one scene I have to address which got me baffled and astonished. There happens to be an off-screen sex sequence between a Cyberon…and an Auton. What?! Where did this come from? And more importantly, did Geoff and Gloria keep a Cyberon/Auton in their house or was that next door?
There’s also a bizarre moment when Gloria answers the door to meet a Sontaran who sticks his tongue out at her and she faints. That is just bizarrely creepy. There also doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to why it’s important to the story. It’s meant to be amusing, but it seems very silly.
The Foot Doctor also regenerates when he gets shot by an Auton. And Sylvester McCoy regenerates into…Sylvester McCoy. Yeah, he can’t change his form since two other Doctors are away at a convention in Barbados. This scene doesn’t make sense at all, but it was ironically amusing to watch.
‘Do You Have A Licence To Save A Planet?’ is a pretty inconsistent comedy film that features many ‘Doctor Who’ references and jokes. I appreciate it for its silliness, but I don’t think that many ‘Doctor Who’ fans would appreciate it for that. It’s all over the place and I don’t understand what it’s about.
Sylvester McCoy is entertaining to watch and whilst this won’t appeal to many fans, it does have a certain relaxing quality about it. I haven’t seen or heard many BBV productions on film or audio, but I’m sure they’re better than this. Can I be forgiving for the film’s silliness though? Yeah. I suppose so.
This film doesn’t get talked a lot about these days and for good reason, since it was made at a time when ‘Doctor Who’ was unloved. But the fact that it is a silly film doesn’t mean it doesn’t celebrate ‘Doctor Who’ at its best and worst. If you’re in the mood for a silly ‘Doctor Who’ thing, this is for you.
‘Do You Have A Licence To Save This Planet?’ rating – 4/10
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