Animated "Doctor Who" Series, "Dreamland," to Premiere on BBC Red Button, November 21st

--BBC Exec: One Goal of Salford Move Will Be to Build "Center of Expertise" in IP-Based Interactive TV

The BBC said Wednesday that "Dreamland," a new, six-part animated series based on its long-running sci-fi program, "Doctor Who" (note: for some background on the show, see the article published on, August 24th), will premiere daily on its BBC Red Button interactive TV service and on its "Doctor Who" Web site (, starting Saturday, November 21st. Written by Phil Ford ("Doctor Who," "Torchwood," "The Sarah Jane Adventures"), "Dreamland" begins with Doctor Who, played by David Tennant, landing his time-traveling "Tardis" in a US desert. During a visit to a local diner, he stumbles across a mysterious alien artifact which, the BBC says, leads him on a mission to Area 51, "also known as Dreamland, the US' most secret base," that sees him attempting "to rescue Rivesh Mantilax from the threat of the Viperox and the clutches of the American military."

The series, which the BBC says was created in "eye-catching high-definition 3D animation," is executive produced by Russell T. Davies, Julie Gardner and Piers Wenger, and directed by Gary Russell. It was commissioned by BBC Drama Multiplatform and is produced by Brighton-based animation company, Littleloud. According to the BBC, it will be "enhanced by a brand-new mobile comic reader application."

The BBC has published a summary of "Dreamland's" six episodes:

  • Episode 1: "Dry Springs, Nevada, 1958. The Doctor befriends a young waitress, Cassie, and her friend, Jimmy, at a diner. The Doctor activates an alien artifact and, after finding further signs of alien activity, the US Army intervenes and takes him and his new companions to the mysterious Area 51 in Roswell, where they find out about Operation Fallen Angel. Will Operation leader Colonel Stark succeed in making the curious trio forget what they have just seen?"
  • Episode 2: "Seeking refuge in the abandoned town of Solitude, Jimmy stumbles across a disconcerting discovery and the trio encounter Viperox royalty."
  • Episode 3: "The Doctor cannot understand why the Alliance of Shades' mop-up team are more concerned with the whereabouts of a piece of space flight hardware than the hordes of Viperox pods hidden underground. Things start to fall into place when Jimmy's grandfather, Night Eagle, introduces the Doctor to Rivesh Mantilax."
  • Episode 4: "Captured by the US Army, Rivesh is finally reunited with his wife, Saruba Velak. Meanwhile, the Doctor discovers the unsettling truth about his real identity."
  • Episode 5: "The Doctor and Saruba have to confront the mysterious alien force in the vault housing her space ship if they are to save her husband and stop Lord Azlok from rousing his sleeping army."
  • Episode 6: "As sunset falls, the Viperox drones start to attack the US Army base. Can the Doctor find a way to halt the seemingly unstoppable aliens in their tracks?"

"Dreamland" will be available through the red button on Sky, Virgin Media and Freeview, but not on Freesat. On Sky and Virgin, it will run continuously from 7:00AM, November 21st through 4:00AM, November 28th. On Freeview, it will be available at the following times:

  • November 21st: 7:00-8:50AM, 11:10AM-2:20PM, 7:25-10:35PM
  • November 22nd: 12:10AM-7:50PM
  • November 23rd: 12:10AM-7:50PM (on November 24th)
  • November 24th: 10:40PM-2:00PM (on November 25th)
  • November 25th: 3:00-10:15PM, 11:10PM-9:50AM (on November 26th)
  • November 26th: 7:10PM-9:50AM (on November 27th)
  • November 27th: 6:10PM-4:00AM (on November 28th).

In other BBC news: In a posting on the BBC Red Button team's "Press Red" blog, Nick Gallon, the BBC's technical manager of TV platforms, north, discusses the pending move of the corporation's TV Platforms Group, the department responsible for the BBC Red Button service, from London to Salford (note: the latter city is located in the northwest of England, close to Manchester).

According to Gallon, one of the BBC's goals for the 2011 move is to focus the TV Platforms group on building its expertise in the kind of IP-based interactive TV that is made possible by the increasing availability of broadband-connected set-tops, TV sets and other devices (note: Gallon uses the phrase "IPTV," which in the US is more typically used to describe telco-TV services delivered over private networks than "connected-TV" services delivered over the public Internet): "As the team behind the Red Button service and with our colleagues in R&D we have been behind numerous innovations, but perhaps the biggest opportunity to unlock the potential of truly interactive TV is that presented by IPTV," he writes. "The new generation of televisions, set-top boxes and games consoles are starting to demonstrate what is possible when traditional TV converges with content and functionality previously associated with the Internet. The result has to be so much more than previous 'Web on TV' experiences, instead, as the viewer is more than likely watching a big screen in a communal location, it has to offer a tailored experience to match. By having additional content delivered or streamed via a broadband connection, the traditional limitations of the broadcast model are to a degree circumnavigated and to the viewer this may well provide a whole host of additional choice, involvement with and enjoyment of BBC content in new and exciting ways. Building a center of expertise in IPTV and a hub for 'Future TV' development is one of the key goals behind our move north," Gallon continues. "These provide stern challenges for ourselves and the region, so taking the bull by the horns, we have already set up an advance team in Manchester to tackle them. As a Northerner myself, and after 10 years in London, I've recently moved to Manchester in order to lead this advance team. We are going to be spending time on honing our requirements, growing relationships and refining our ways of working to become a more collaborative organization from day one in Salford which will hopefully enable us to become everything that the new BBC North is about...The journey continues with us starting to understand how the Red Button must re-invent itself in anticipation of these technological developments and changes in audience needs. We are focused on building connections and partnerships with local industry and academia, to tap into some of that rich heritage that the North has of developing interactive entertainment. In addition, the chance to work towards creating job and skills opportunities in the North, enhancing its Digital economy and to see it become a real alternative to London is a fantastic challenge."