Australia TX 1985-1990

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Block 18: C BAKER ---- December 1985 to January 1986

Attack of the Cybermen, part one; Sydney Morning Herald, 9 December 1985
First Run 6T----6V----6W----6X----6Y----6Z

By late 1985, the ABC assumed responsibility for its own censorship of programmes. The first block of Doctor Who under this new policy was season 22. It was at the ABC's request that the BBC edited the episodes into 25 minute instalments, to fit in with the station's scheduling policy.

  • From late August 1985, the ABC extended its transmission coverage via one of the AUSSAT satellites to reach the island of New Guinea.
  • Satellite links also meant that broadcasts across Australia could begin to be fully synchronised.
  • After eleven months with no new episodes or repeats, it wasn't until Monday, 9 December 1985 that fans could see the first full season of the sixth Doctor. Screening Monday to Thursday, at 6.35pm, the season aired in the re-edited 25 minute episode format, with 6W and 6X in production order. Over the Christmas / New Years period, there was a break in the schedules, with part one of 6W screening on 23 December 1985, and part two held over to 30 December 1985. Part three of that serial aired two days later, on 1 January 1986.
  • Colin Baker's first season concluded on Tuesday, 28 January 1986. This was immediately followed by a long run of repeats and some new episodes, which has been treated as a separate Block of its own…
    • These episodes were also the first of Doctor Who to be available simultaneously in Papua New Guinea. Refer to that country profile for further information.

Block 19: PERTWEE ---- January 1986 to November 1986

First Run DDD----FFF----JJJ
Repeats UU----WW----AAA----BBB----CCC----EEE----GGG----HHH----KKK----MMM----LLL----NNN----OOO----RRR----PPP----QQQ----SSS----TTT----UUU----WWW----XXX----YYY----ZZZ----4A----4C----4E----4D----4F
Articles in Perth newspapers complaining about black and white repeats, and a response complaining about the complaints!
TV Week articles about "first-run" "repeats" in 1986

The BBC had released the package of all 24 Jon Pertwee serials (but not part one of WWW) for the United States. This package was also made available to New Zealand (where the repeat run had commenced in April 1985) and Australia. With the ABC now in control of its own censorship, three serials that had previously been "A" rated were reviewed and given "G" ratings, and aired for the first time in Australia. This run consisted of episodes that were black and white, PAL colour or NTSC to PAL conversions.

  • The repeat run, Monday to Thursday, commenced on Wednesday, 29 January 1986, at 6.35pm, with the Patrick Troughton serial UU followed by WW (both of which had been acquired by the ABC over a year earlier, and had already aired in New Zealand in April 1985). (These were the first Troughton episodes to screen since 1972.)
  • The full run of 127 Pertwee episodes commenced on 13 February 1986. The previously "A" rated DDD aired from 18 March 1986; FFF (b/w) from 7 April 1986, and JJJ (b/w) from 5 May 1986. All 24 serials also aired for the first time in their correct story order.
  • Commonwealth Games coverage interrupted the run mid-way through QQQ, from mid-July to early August. Part three of SSS was in b/w, but WWW was repeated only in its five-part full colour version.
  • Yet another repeat of 4A commenced on 8 October 1986. 4B was missed because the schedulers did not want the run to conclude in the middle of the week. The repeat run concluded with part four of 4F on Thursday, 13 November 1986, to make way for sports coverage over the summer. (Some newspapers, such as in BRISBANE, did list both parts of 4B, but also that the run ended with 4F part two; these are clearly editorial errors.)

Block 20: C BAKER / T BAKER ---- February 1987 to July 1988

First Run 7A----7B----7C----4K----4P
Repeats 4H----4G----4J----4L----4M----4N----4Q----4R----4S----4V----4T----4X----4W----4Y----4Z----5A----5B----5C----5D----5E----5F----5J----5H----5G----5K----5L----5N----5Q----5R----5P----5S----5T----5V----5Z----5W----5Y----5X----6L----6N----6P----6Q----6R
The Pirate Planet Omnibus, 19 December 1987

The ABC had assumed the responsibility of censoring its own programming in 1985. It was during this run that the "A" rated 4K and 4P were newly assessed by the ABC, given "G" ratings, and screened for the first time. (4K had previously aired in a late-night truncated edition). They screened (two episodes edited together) on 9 and 16 May 1987 and 18 and 25 July 1987 respectively.

  • Colin Baker's second season commenced on Saturday, 7 February 1987. For the first time since 1977, the series was back to screening once per week. The ABC had screened the 45 minute episodes of season 22 as re-edited 25 minute instalments, however, for season 23 they edited the 25 minute episodes together, airing them as seven 50 minute episodes, from 6.10 to 7.00pm.
  • For BRISBANE, only three weeks into the new run, the series was moved to Sundays at 5.10pm for 12 weeks, presumably to make way for Saturday sports coverage. This date change was from 1 March 1987, with parts seven and eight of "The Trial" until 17 May 1987, with The Brain of Morbius parts three and four. From 17 May 1987, the series was moved back to Saturday.
    • NOTE: There were probably many other regional differences occurring at this time: during the first half of 1987, in Queensland, Doctor Who was shown on Sundays rather than Saturdays. This was to accommodate broadcasts of Rugby Union (both local, as well as the 1987 Rugby World Cup), which generally played Saturday afternoons.
  • From Saturday, 28 March 1987, a run of repeats continued from where the previous run had ended in November 1986, starting with 4H. As with season 23, two episodes were edited together, playing Saturdays. There were some regional variances during this run, usually due to coverage of sporting events, such as football and golf; ADELAIDE, MELBOURNE and HOBART aired them at 1.00pm or 1.15pm. Some states skipped stories, or played them in a different order. HOBART had to skip 4H in order to keep in step with screenings in MELBOURNE. MELBOURNE missed parts three and four of 4V.
  • SYDNEY and PERTH aired the two episodes at 6.10pm. It remained in SYDNEY at that timeslot through until September, but for PERTH there was a variation when, to accommodate local broadcast of the WAFL Match Of The Day, it was moved to 4.10pm from 4 April (with 4H parts 3/4) through to 29 August (with 4K episodes 3/4). Then, from Saturday 5 September, both SYDNEY and PERTH moved the two episodes to 1.00pm (starting with 4S 3/4).
  • In ADELAIDE, a scheduling error resulted in parts 3-4 of 4P airing before parts 1-2. To make up for this blunder, the ADELAIDE station broadcast the story as a complete omnibus on 1 August 1987.
  • In some regions, 4V may have aired as a complete omnibus on 19 September 1987, with no episode the following week.
  • From Saturday, 17 October 1987, starting with 4W, all the stories now aired with all episodes edited together as omnibus "movies", playing from 1.00 to 2.35pm, or from 12.20 to 2.35pm for the longer six-parters. (It was one of these edited omnibuses that actress Karen Gledhill saw during her holiday in Papua New Guinea – see that country's profile for more on these Papua New Guinea episodes.)
  • The rest of the Tom Baker serials aired in this omnibus format.
  • From 9 April 1988, the screenings in MELBOURNE (Victoria) went out of sync with the rest of the country: instead of full story omnibuses, the region aired only two episodes back to back, starting with 5P.
  • From 7 May 1988, all regions bar Victoria aired the first four Peter Davison stories, then with a jump to four serials from season 21 (the stories spanning 6A to 6K were skipped as most of them had already been repeated in 1983, 1984 or 1985). Three further serials were omitted from this run: 6E, 6D (which remain the only two serials never to be repeated in Australia during the initial ABC runs) and 6M, which was skipped because of its shorter length, and the ABC did not have other material to fill the other 50 minutes of the extended timeslot.
  • The omnibus repeat run concluded on Saturday, 2 July 1988 with the omnibus of 6R. Although some TV publications had it listed for that week, the final Davison serial may have been dropped from the schedule in some regions. It did air in SYDNEY. (In QUEENSLAND, TV listings also had two further repeats announced: 6D scheduled for 2 July 1988 (instead of 6R), and a repeat of 6F for the following week - but both scheduled screenings were dropped.)
    • Some of these repeats did not play in some regions, mainly due to pre-emption by sports coverage. The omnibuses aired in the main cities but not out in the provincial areas. And when cricket was rained-off, Doctor Who would sometimes be slotted in as an unbilled replacement.
  • The out of sync screenings in MELBOURNE came to an end on 10 September 1988, with the final serial, 6P, shown as an omnibus.

Block 21: McCOY ---- October 1988 to November 1989

Remembrance of the Daleks, part two; Sydney Morning Herald, 21 November 1988
First Run 7D----7E----7F----7G----7H
Repeats 4A----4C----4B----4E----4D----4F----4H----4G----4J----4K----4L----4M----4N----4P----4Q----4R----4S----4V----4T----7D----7E----7F----7G----7H

Although the ABC now assigned its own censorship classifications, and had recently screened stories which had previously been classified "A" under the old regime, they were not able to acquire replacement tapes of the stories that had been cut by the AFCB, so ironically, they were forced to continue broadcasting the cut episodes from the same tapes they had been using since 1978...

  • During 1988, the ABC reviewed its policy towards the series; despite a virtually non-stop run (of new episodes and repeats) from February 1987 to July 1988, it was decided that with the next series, Doctor Who would no longer occupy a primetime early evening slot, and would instead be part of THE AFTERNOON SHOW, a children's cartoon / magazine programme that aired from 5.00 to 6.00pm five days a week.
  • The seventh Doctor made his debut on Monday, 31 October 1988. And because the new series would run into November, the series' 25th anniversary month, the ABC was able to advance purchase 7H and play it as the last story of the run, from 18 to 23 November 1988. A technical fault during transmission of 7F resulted in the opening titles playing blank but with the music audible!
  • From Monday 6 February 1989 to Friday, 31 March 1989 (at 5.30pm), commenced another run of Tom Baker repeats, running from 4A (again!) through to 4K. After a three month break, the run resumed from Monday, 19 June 1989, with 4L to 4T. A scheduling error resulted in 4L part four starting late, and as a result the episode was cut short about five minutes before the end. The "missing" five minutes was then tacked onto the start of part five the following day! (4K and 4P both aired for the first time episodically during this run.) This run of Bakers concluded on Friday, 11 August 1989.
  • After a short break for two months, repeats of the first five Sylvester McCoy stories aired from 20 October 1989 with a lot of pre-emption due to sports events coverage; this run ended 16 November 1989, followed by the rest of season 25…

Block 22: McCOY ---- November 1989 to October 1990

The Happiness Patrol, part three; Melbourne, 4 December 1989
First Run 7J----7K----7L
Repeats 4X----4W----4Y----4Z----5A----5B----5C----5D----5E----5F----5J----5H----5G----7J----7K----7L
  • The remaining season 25 stories aired weekdays, still part of THE AFTERNOON SHOW, from Friday, 17 November 1989 (immediately after the run of Block 21 repeats above), but in production order. The first episode of 7K screened on the 26th anniversary date of 23 November 1989. The remainder of this anniversary serial were held over until 29 November for country regions. The third part of 7L was delayed until the following week (due to interruptions by tennis), bringing the run of season 25 to an end on Monday, 4 December 1989 in metro areas, and 8 December in country areas.
  • Five months later, from 2 April 1990, at 5.30pm (and still part of THE AFTERNOON SHOW line-up), the repeats that had ended in August 1989 recommenced from where they had left off, with the rest of season 15 (4X, and then all of the Key to Time sequence). There was no episode on 23 April, to make way for broadcasts from parliament, and 25 April, to make way for ANZAC Day celebrations. And on at least one other airdate between 2 and 24 April or 26 April to 7 May, another episode did not screen. The only episode known to have been pre-empted was 5B part three, which was dropped on 8 May 1990 (and not subsequently re-scheduled) to make way for televised coverage of the opening of Parliament! This was followed by the first three serials from season 17.
  • A few days later, the Australian media programme Backchat featured letters from irate Doctor Who fans complaining about the missing episode not going to air. However, the show incorrectly identified the story as City of Death, even going as far as showing clips from that as compensation.

  • After a short break, the repeats resumed from 15 October 1990, with season 25, (again, in production order), but skipping 7H, which had already been repeated in November 1989. The day after part three of 7L, season 26 was screened…

Block 23: McCOY ---- October 1990 to November 1990

First Run 7N----7Q----7M----7P
  • The last ever new series of Doctor Who screened from Tuesday, 30 October 1990, at 5.30pm, in the correct story order. Part one of 7M did not have the Russian to English subtitles.
  • The run concluded on Friday, 16 November 1990.

Table of Airdates in Australia
1965-67 | 1967-71 | 1971-75 | 1976-78 | 1979-82 | 1983-85 | 1985-90 | 1991-2002 | 2003-





Key: BOLD = first airing | ITALICS = repeat (TABLE OF REPEATS IS HERE)

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