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When Doctor Who was created, the plan was to tell adventures set in the past, in the future, and sideways into other dimensions. So what happened to the sideways stories?
Two of Doctor Who’s chief architects: CE ‘Bunny’ Webber (top) and David Whitaker.

Acurious feature of the first three years of Doctor Who is that the series alternated so reliably between stories set in Earth’s past and stories set on alien worlds, yet this pattern never aroused comment from the Doctor’s companions, Ian and Barbara. You’d think that, by the time they got to The Reign of Terror (1964), they’d be turning to each other and saying, “Well, our last adventure was in space, so now we must be in history again…” Perhaps even more curiously, the original plan for Doctor Who was that there would be a third category of story.

According to the series proposal prepared by CE Webber in April 1963, the stories would be about what it means to be ordinary human beings ‘in other times, or in far space, or other physical states’ and involve excursions ‘into time, into space, or into any material state we can make feasible’, with the first story involving ‘the use of a micro-reducer in the machine which makes our characters all become tiny’. A month later, this was developed by Webber into a two-paragraph outline for a story called The Giants, in which the Doctor’s schoolteacher companions find themselves back in their school laboratory but ‘reduced to the size of pinheads’, where ‘their dreaded enemies turn out to be the other students and teachers... who might step on them at any moment’.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

The Doctor has always challenged the linear conception of time. Since his television voyage began in 1963, the TARDIS has travelled backwards, forwards and even sideways through the mysterious Vortex. This lavish publication traces the development of these time-bending narratives, describing the rules that were laid down – and subsequently revised – by the series’ writers and producers. We unravel this timey-wimey journey with exclusive interviews, rare images and revealing features that explore the most intriguing corners of the Doctor Who universe.