Real Time was originally released in six, 10 minute episodes throughout August 2002, after the success of the earlier production Death Comes to Time. Likely in part due to the negative reception of that earlier story, Real Time would slot almost seamlessly into Doctor Who canon.
BBCi brought aboard audio stalwart Big Finish to craft a story suitable for adaptation as an animated story. Due to the limited bandwidth capabilities of the time, writer Gary Russell embraced the sixty minute running time, and allowed the story to play out in "real time" for the Doctor.
When later released on CD, the story was extended and expanded with new scenes. However, the animation that the story had originally been written for, was left out and the Real Time animation has not been released on physical media to this day.
While Real Time suffered from many of the same problems as Death Comes to Time, it also provided several "firsts" for Doctor Who. The story was the first time a Big Finish original companion was featured in a visual medium.
It was also the first time that a Big Finish original companion was seen in an official BBC production. While not canonising the existence of Big Finish - it certainly showed a "stamp of approval".
Much like Death Comes to Time, the animation was not created in Flash but as a fully fledged video project with zooms, pans and fades used to bring the artwork (again created by Lee Sullivan) to life.
Despite being released less than a year after Death Comes to Time, the video quality was already massively improved, as you can see by the comparison above. That said, there's still a lot of work that can be done to bring the animation up to 1080p HD.
Using the same methods we used with the earlier animation, we have gradually reconstructed the production frame by frame using the original artwork. Much like DCTT, this involved piecing together shots of multiple characters on backgrounds and then using video effects to scan over the images.
From here, the soundtrack was then re-edited from the CD release to improve the bitrate and remove any audio imperfections present in the webcast version.
Much like Death Comes to Time, our HD remaster is unavailable online at this time.
We'd like to dedicate this HD production to the late, great, Maggie Stables.