BILL & BEN VIDEO (BBV) is a video and audio production company created and owned by Bill Baggs.
Between 1991 and 2008, the company produced a number of direct-to-video dramas and audio CDs featuring actors from Doctor Who playing different characters. The dramas were of varying lengths, ranging from 35 to 90 minutes in duration.
The company secured licences from the BBC and the original writers who created them to use characters from the TV series, such as Liz Shaw, Romana and K9, the Rani, and aliens/monsters like the Autons, Draconians, Sontarans, Wirrn, Zygons and the Krynoid.
The video dramas were initially released under the BBV label on VHS cassette with behind-the-scenes bonus features. A year or so later, some tapes were repackaged and distributed by Reeltime Pictures, while DVD editions also followed for a selection of titles in the early 2000s.
In 1995, Baggs directed The Doctors - 30 Years of Time Travel and Beyond, an interview documentary inspired by the controversial book from Adrian Rigelsford, published by Boxtree, 1994.
The 60-minute documentary was released on VHS by MasterVision Ltd in 1995 (a special 80-minute extended edit was also available via mail order exclusively through Doctor Who Magazine (DWM)). A DVD with additional interviews was released under the BBV label in 2002.
Rights Sold to Television
To assist with the funding of projects, Baggs entered into co-production deals with the newly-launched Sci-Fi Channel Europe (who later co-funded the final two titles in the P.R.O.B.E. series), as well as seeking support from American backers (such as retailer Who North America) in exchange for the broadcasting rights. (Baggs's colleague Nick Briggs also worked for the UK SF Channel at the time.)
The following productions are the ones for which the rights were at least under option; those marked SF were to have been shown on the Sci-Fi Channel, but were dropped (see below); those with ++ are believed to have been shown on UK TV; the ones marked # were definitely shown on US TV:
- The Stranger - Summoned by Shadows (35m; Sep 1991) SF
- The Stranger - More Than a Messiah (40m; Feb 1992) SF
- The Stranger - In Memory Alone (40m; Mar 1993) SF
- The AirZone Solution (50m; Sep 1993) #
- The Stranger - Terror Game (45m; Jul 1994) SF
- The Stranger - Breach of the Peace (45m; Aug 1994) SF
- P.R.O.B.E. - The Zero Imperative (65m; Dec 1994) ++
- The Stranger - Eye of the Beholder (90m; Jul 1995) SF
- P.R.O.B.E. - The Devil of Winterborne (90m; Sep 1995) ++
- The Doctors - 30 Years of Time Travel and Beyond (60m; 1995) #
- P.R.O.B.E. - Unnatural Selection (45m; Oct 1996)
- P.R.O.B.E. - Ghosts of Winterborne (45m; Nov 1996)
- Auton (60m; Oct 1997) #
- Auton 2 Sentinel (60m; Oct 1998)
- Auton 3 Awakening (60m; Sep 1999)
BBV on TV - UK
30 YEARS OF TIME TRAVEL AND BEYOND
The 55 minute documentary was aired by Sci-Fi Channel Europe for the first time on Monday, 20 May 1996, at 9pm. Its second showing was on Wednesday, 29 May 1996 at 9.30pm - this was the only Doctor Who content on Sci-Fi UK the week the Paul McGann TV Movie aired on BBC1.
It was reshown at least 23 more times from 1996 to 1998, often edited into shorter 20, 30 or 45 minute segments and used as late night filler material (often listed under the shortened title of The Doctors - 30 Years of Time Travel). It aired a further eleven times during 1996 - five times in June, twice in July and August, once in October and November, three times in December; that's 16 times in 1996! It was played five times during 1997, and three during 1998 (see November clipping below). Its last known showing was on Saturday, 6 March 1999.
For the evening of Saturday, 15 June 1996, the Sci-Fi Channel Europe's cable service (but not on its satellite feed) had scheduled the 30 Years… documentary (again) at 6.10pm, this time followed by a six-hour session (from 7.10pm to 1am Sunday) of all six instalments of BBV's "The Stranger", under the collective title Doctor Who - Chain Reaction: The Stranger Series. ("Chain Reaction" was a standard term used by Sci-Fi for its late evening marathons.)
The six stories were also scheduled to be repeated from midday to 6pm the following day, Sunday 16 June 1996. Several genre magazines, such as the June cover-dated issues of Cult Times (#9) and DreamWatch Bulletin (#22), had The Stranger marathon down for both days.
However … the planned screenings were ultimately dropped because (as noted in the following issue of Cult Times) the rights to show them weren't actually held by Sci-Fi as negotiations had not been completed in time. In place of The Stranger, Sci-Fi ran a "Chain Reaction" of the short-lived 1970s US series Future Cop (which had already aired on the channel several times before). More up-to-date publications such as the weekly TV Times and daily newspapers that came out closer to those June airdates printed the amended schedules.
According to the July Cult Times, there were plans to perhaps show The Stranger later in the year (the autumn), however we have been unable to find any evidence that The Stranger marathon was ever rescheduled.
Making of AUTON 2
In May 1998, a team from the Sci-Fi Channel went on location during the filming of the second Auton story to record a special "Making of Auton 2" documentary; this short aired on the UK channel in mid-1998 during one of its regular daily editions of SF Scene (aka SF Scene Special). An extended 7-minute edit was included as a special feature when the story was released on VHS in October.
The generic sample listing here for 29 August 1998 from the Radio Times shows four listings for SF Scene throughout the day. Note: the listing for Probe that follows the 3.45pm "SF Scene Special" is for an instalment of the 10-episode 1988 US series of that name (which had previously screened on Sci-Fi in 1997), rather than being one of the four BBV dramas of the same name.
According to several first-hand accounts, the second of the four Elizabeth Shaw / P.R.O.B.E. spin-offs, The Devil of Winterborne, was shown by the Sci-Fi Channel Europe in a late night timeslot in 1998, believed to have been around the anniversary, so circa late November?
Given its 90 minute running time, it may have occupied one of the regular late night "Film" slots, but despite perusing a number of newspapers and TV listings magazines and guides from that period, we could not find any billings for that production (or for any other BBV drama for that matter).
The Zero Imperative apparently also screened on the Sci-Fi Channel, but again, no listings could be found.
[If you know for a fact that these screenings took place and when, please drop us a line!]
BBV on TV - US
As far as US screenings go, The AirZone Solution and the first in the Auton trilogy debuted on US television when they were screened in a back-to-back pairing on two PBS stations, which had acquired them as special "Pledge Night" presentations:
- KTEH Channel 54 in San Jose, California, screened them on Sunday, 17 August 2003 from 8pm, then again on Friday, 22 August 2003, from 11.30pm.
- It was stated in pre-publicity that if successful with its fund-raising, KTEH would look at acquiring further titles from the BBV back-catalogue (KTEH said there were 19 stories on offer, although BBV had not actually made as many as that at that time), as well as offering the syndication rights to the rest of the US. However, after reaching only 80% of their pledge target, it would appear they did not proceed with purchasing any additional titles from BBV.
- Iowa Public Television also aired the two stories on its own Pledge Night, a month later on 27 September 2003, from 9pm.
- On Saturday, 13 March 2004, The Doctors - 30 Years of Time Travel and Beyond was screened by IPTV at 11.45pm during that weekend's Pledge Drive Festival.
BBV on Amazon Prime