Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

*** If you’re not a Doctor Who fan, then please don’t bother reading this. Really - save yourself. ***

Well, I've just spent the last half an hour reading up on New Zealand's long history of screening Doctor Who. Apparently they showed the very first episode less than a year after the UK did, in 1964! Not only that, several missing episodes were recovered here (including the last one that I watched with my dad - The Lion), and it was a New Zealander who used to cine-film clips of the show off the telly, saving what is now the world’s only known copy of, among other things, the start of the very first regeneration scene.

And that caring really is the difference between viewers and stations, as the next 20-years showed a dogged commitment by NZ’s broadcasters to what I call LWT (London Weekend Television) principles.

I couldn't possibly list the whole lot of broadcasting atrocities here, but the most unbelieeeeevable instance would have to be the incredible 5-year break in transmission mid-way through Davison's run. Mawdryn Undead - you remember - the one with the 2 Brigadiers and the Black Guardian manipulating Turlough? For 5 years that was Davison's final story. When the series came back, he was played by...can you guess?...yes that's right Patrick Troughton. (in black-and-white)

Not only that, but they billed it as a repeat of "the very first Doctor Who story". (yes, it was neither)

They then showed every surviving story all the way through until they had almost caught up again, except for the b/w Invasion Of The Dinosaurs #1, as the BBC had carefully only sold them the surviving colour installments 2-6 with new episode numbers 1-5 on the start.

And then, ages later, with a mere 3 stories to go before catching up with the break in Davison's run again, yes, William Hartnell's the new Doctor, in a 'repeat' of his unscreened Dalek Invasion Of Earth. And that was followed by another 'repeat' of Troughton's unscreened Seeds Of Death, publicised with the synopses of The War Games.

Then, on 20th November 1988 (note the date), at MIDDAY, who'd have thought it, Davison actually snuck briefly back into the role again for the specially-made one-off Australian co-production twentieth... err... now twenty-fifth anniversary episode The Five Doctors.

Well, Davison fans could be forgiven for thinking that their hero had finally returned to them, but the fact is that a mere 90 minutes after Davison's somewhat diluted return (he was sharing the role with 4 other actors after all), would you believe, straight afterwards, at 1:30pm, it was time for another actor to take on the role of the Doctor. An esteemed professional whose characterisation was a bit controversial in fan circles. Many people consider him to be a very poor Doctor, but that's not really fair, as he wasn't in the role very long, even in Britain. Yes that's right, The Five Doctors was immediately followed by the opening story of Peter Cushing's run.

Cushing must have quit or something, because the very next day he and his entire family were replaced by newcomers Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, who coincidentally also only made one story - Revelation Of The Daleks. (in the UK this was his penultimate one) But it's not all bad news for Colin, as while in the UK we only got 2 episodes of Revelation Of The Daleks, here in NZ they got 4.

Nonetheless, despite his unusually short episodes (only 25 minutes each) Colin played the role with distinction (although he's hardly in that story) and became one of the longest serving Doctors, notching up, as I said, a whole 4 days in the role before being replaced by Sylvester McCoy. The very next day.

This was a movie-length edition of McCoy's 7th UK story Silver Nemesis...the last two-thirds of which had, believe it or not, never been shown anywhere else in the whole world. Even then, one minute was missed out while commercials were running, and although the episodic opening/closing credits were cut, the episode numbers over the action weren't.

About 2 weeks later, things again looked hopeful for Peter Davison’s long-awaited return, as his next 2 sequential stories were repeated. Unfortunately, with just one story to go before 'new' Davison episodes, the whole show was taken off the air again until Easter.

Finally, on 6th April 1989, Mawdryn Undead was repeated, and things finally carried on with next story, continuing the whole Turlough/Black Guardian storyline, after an absence of over 5 years.

The story was ironically called Terminus.

The fifth Doctor, getting caught for stealing some celery
Fig. 1: The fifth Doctor locked in combat with a NZ TV scheduler for 5 years.

***Told you.***

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