Doctor Who spinoffs can be separated into two distinct categories: officially licensed BBC productions, and other productions (not licensed by the BBC.)

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For the former there are only three examples: K9 and Company, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures

The latter are all Doctor Who spinoffs which generally contain a monsteror element of Doctor Who (licensed from the original holder) and then produced without BBC licensed elements.

Beginning in 1987 with the release of Wartime by Reeltime Pictures, a number of professionally produced spin- off films and audio dramas have been produced. As noted above, these differ from BBC and Big Finish productions in that they usually only feature characters or monsters not owned by the BBC, but rather licenced from their creators. Some spinoffs are original works using original character strongly suggested by characters in Doctor Who (such as The Stranger). In many cases, original cast members from Doctor Who reprised their roles for these films and several involved behind-the-scenes veterans of the series (for example, Christopher Barry, who co-directed the very first daleks story in 1963-64, directed Downtime).

A number of writers and actors involved in these productions later went on to work with fully licenced Doctor Who spin offs such as the Big Finish Productions audio dramas, and even on the revived Doctor Who series itself when it returned to in 2005 (most notably Nicholas Briggs and Mark Gatiss). By way of comparison, these spin- off productions, often classified as fan films, are in spirit similar to the professionally made fan films based upon the Star Trek franchise that began to emerge in the early 2000s when the rights holders for Star Trek relaxed their restrictions, unlike The Doctor Who-related productions, however, no restrictions on character use have been imposed.

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