Costa Rica

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COSTA RICA is part of the Central American isthmus, between Nicaragua and Panama.


Country Number (33) 1971 and 1980 SECOND WAVE
Region Central America
Television commenced 1958
Colour System 1973 NTSC
Population 1972 1.7 million
TV Sets 1972 120,000
Population 1984 2.3 million
TV Sets 1984 450,000
Language/s Spanish Dubbed

Television Stations / Channels

Costa Rica began its television service in 1958, when Televisora de Costa Rica – Canal 7 (aka Teletica) was launched.

By the early 1970s, there were five television broadcasters.

Dr Misterio aired on Televisora de Costa Rica – Canal 7 in the 1970s, and on Corporation Costarricense de Televisión – Canal 6 in the 1980s.


The principal language of Costa Rica is Spanish. Foreign television programmes are dubbed into Spanish.


Doctor Misterio logo

In Latin America countries, Doctor Who was known as Dr Misterio.

Costa Rica was the approximately the 33rd country to screen Doctor Who.

BBC Records

A BBC memo dated 10 December 1973 lists Costa Rica as receiving prints dubbed into Spanish of serials A, B, C, E, F, G, J, L, N, Q and R. Interestingly, the country is not named in any other documentation covering sales of William Hartnell stories, and yet the series aired there in 1971. (The existing sales documentation does record two sales of the same stories to Chile: could it be that the "second" sale was actually to Costa Rica?)

In The Eighties - THE LOST CHAPTERS, records a sale of "(1)" story to Costa Rica (by 10 February 1987). However, this figure cannot be accurate, as the TV listings summaries clearly illustrate many more stories were purchased by Costa Rica. (Unless one story was repeated over 80 times?!)

Costa Rica is not named in any of the DWM story Archives.

Stories bought and broadcast


First Episode, 5.00pm, 8 June 1971

Twelve stories, 56 episodes:

A An Unearthly Child 4
B The Daleks 7
C Inside the Spaceship 2
E The Keys of Marinus 6
F The Aztecs 4
G The Sensorites 6
J Planet of Giants 3
K The Dalek Invasion of Earth 6
L The Rescue 2
N The Web Planet 6
Q The Space Museum 4
R The Chase 6

Costa Rica therefore bought the standard package of GROUP A, B, C and D of the William Hartnell stories dubbed into Spanish.

The programme was supplied as 16mm black and white film prints with Spanish soundtracks.

The sale to Costa Rica may even have been handled through Time-Life Films. Was it the successful sale of the Hartnells to Costa Rica that sealed the deal between the BBC and Time-Life for the sale of the Jon Pertwee stories into US syndication a year later?

Origin of the Prints?

The prints would most likely have been supplied by Chile, where the series had concluded in March 1970. (If the sale to Dominican Republic had been "cancelled" after receipt of the films, then the prints supplied to Costa Rica may have come via that Caribbean country…)


23 stories, 98 episodes:

4A Robot 4
4B The Sontaran Experiment 2
4C The Ark in Space 4
4D Revenge of the Cybermen 4
4E Genesis of the Daleks 6
4F Terror of the Zygons 4
4G Pyramids of Mars 4
4H Planet of Evil 4
4J The Android Invasion 4
4K The Brain of Morbius 4
4L The Seeds of Doom 6
4M The Masque of Mandragora 4
4N The Hand of Fear 4
4P The Deadly Assassin 4
4Q The Face of Evil 4
4R The Robots of Death 4
4S The Talons of Weng-Chiang 6
4V Horror of Fang Rock 4
4T The Invisible Enemy 4
4X Image of the Fendahl 4
4W The Sun Makers 4
4Y Underworld 4
4Z The Invasion of Time 6
  • See the dedicated chapter for the Spanish titles given to these serials.

Costa Rica therefore bought GROUPs A to D of the standard package of Tom Baker stories. Time-Life would have supplied the NTSC video tapes for El Doctor Misterio that had been dubbed into Spanish. (Mexico, Chile and Nicaragua also played the series at this time.)

According to this blog DR MISTERIO, a series of Tom Baker stories aired in 1978-1979, however the years that are cited are incorrect.

And this blogger: DR MISTERIO, says the series aired on channel 7, where in actual fact it was on channel 6. (It was the earlier William Hartnells that had aired on Canal 7.) They also suggest that the series was brought to Costa Rica by ITC, which does not seem likely as ITC did not distribute BBC programmes.



Time change to 3.30pm from 5 October 1971
Time change to 2.30pm from January 1972

The series commenced on Canal 7 on Monday, 8 June 1971 at 5.00pm.

There were no listings for Canal 7 on 7 September 1971; if the series didn't air that week, that "break" does fall between Inside the Spaceship and The Keys of Marinus.

From 5 October, the time slot shifted to the earlier 3.30pm. Assuming the stories aired in the correct order, this was part-way through The Keys of Marinus.

From 12 January 1972, the day moved to Tuesdays at the even earlier time of 2.30pm. (Again, assuming the stories aired in the correct order, this change occurred with part two of Planet of Giants.) The series remained in that slot until the final episode, which aired Tuesday, 5 July 1972.

Although there were several newspapers missing from the archived files, and there were no listings for Canal 7 in the 7 September 1971 issue, the date range covered by the first and last billing accounts for all 56 episodes. If an episode did air on 7 September, then it's likely that one was pre-empted on one of the "missing" dates.

We did check papers after 1972 in case the series was repeated at a later date, but did not spot any further listings.

Fate of the Prints?

It's possible that the Spanish prints held by the BBC in the late 1970s were returned from Costa Rica after 1972...


"El Dr Misterio – color" in 1980
"Dr Misterio – color" in 1980

The series started on Monday, 4 February 1980, at 5.00pm on channel 6, and screened most weekdays. (No episode aired on Good Friday 4 April 1980.)

If this was the standard package of 98 Tom Baker episodes, then the run ended on (or around) 19 June 1980.

The following day, the series continued, presumably a full run of repeats.

From 5 November 1980, a second run of repeats commenced. The series took a break for a few weeks during December 1980, and resumed from 6 January 1981, now playing only once a week, Tuesdays at 4.00pm. From 6 March it moved to Friday, then on 7 May to the earlier time of 3.15pm on Thursdays.

The run ended on 30 July 1981. If our episode count is accurate, then this was midway through the second repeat of season 14.

After a break of 16 months, Dr Misterio returned on Tuesday, 16 November 1982, again playing on weekdays, at 1.00pm. (It's possible it started earlier, as several newspapers were missing.)

But after only ten episodes, the series took another break during the whole of December 1982, and returned on Monday, 3 January 1983, still at 1.00pm. It aired for 54 episodes before stopping on 18 March. During February 1983, the second repeat run would have ended, and the series recycled again for a fourth run.

The next billed episode is Monday, 4 July 1983, at 10.30am, again five days a week. However, the TV listings from March to July 1983, and from 18 July onwards are inconsistent with their television coverage – Dr Misterio aired at 10.30am, but since TV listings in both papers often started from noon or 11.45am, any earlier listings are unknown, making it uncertain when the series officially stopped.

No further listings for Dr Misterio were found in random issues to the end of 1984.

NOTE: It is only an assumption that these 330+ episodes were all Tom Baker serials on a repeat cycle. But as noted on the profile for Colombia, there is a possibility that some Peter Davison stories were also shown (in English?) in order to explain how the fifth Doctor was apparently seen in Colombia in 1984. But this could only be possible if signals from Costa Rica could be received (by cable, satellite?) in Colombia…


The 1996 TV Movie was available via the HBO OLE cable station in 1999.

TV listings

Airdates in Costa Rica

TV listings have been obtained from hard copies as well as those archived online of the Costa Rican newspapers La Prensa Libre and La Nación.

The name of the series was generally given in both as "El Dr Misterio" or just "Dr Misterio". In the 1980s, some Prensa listings also added that it was in "color".

The Prensa listing for 4 March 1980, however, did erroneously say the series was El Sr Misterio.

On 11 September 1980, there was no billing in Prensa for El Dr Misterio; however Superamigos (Superfriends), the half-hour cartoon that played earlier was given the timeslot 4.30 to 5.30, rather than its usual time of 4.30 to 5.00, so this can be taken to be a typo, and the scheduled episode of Dr Misterio aired at the usual time. A similar error happened on 21 November – Dr Misterio was not listed, but Superamigos was billed for 4.40 to 5.30 rather than 4.35 to 5.00. (The corresponding issues of La Nación were missing.)