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ETHIOPIA is located in Eastern Africa


Country Number (33) 1970 FIRST WAVE
Region Africa
Television commenced 2 November 1964
Colour System 1979 PAL
Population 1974 25.9 million
TV Sets 1971 8,000
Language/s English, Amharic, Oromigna, Tigrinya

Television Stations / Channels

Ethiopia began its television service in 1964. Ethiopian Television Service (ETV), a government-owned commercial broadcaster, was set up with the assistance of TIE Ltd, which also acted as its programme purchaser.

Colour transmissions began in 1979 using the PAL colour broadcast system.


The principal languages of Ethiopia are Amharic, Oromigna, and Tigrinya. English is also recognised as a secondary language. From the evidence given in the TV listings (see below), Doctor Who aired in English (possibly also with subtitles or dubbed?). News bulletins were also provided in French.


Ethiopia was the 33rd country to screen Doctor Who (and the 12th of the 13 African nations). Significantly, it was also the very last country to screen Marco Polo, The Reign of Terror and The Crusade, three of the now-missing or incomplete stories (see Selling Doctor Who).

BBC Records

Ethiopia is one of the 27 countries named in The Making of Doctor Who (1972 Piccolo edition).

The Seventies records a sale of "(14)" stories by 28 February 1977. The Handbook identifies these as being: C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q and R.

In DWM, Ethiopia is identified in the same 14 story Archives.

Although neither source includes, A or B, it is clear that both did screen, making it sixteen stories in total.

Stories bought and broadcast


"The Fire Maker", 5 November 1970
"To Be Announced", 12 November 1970
"Age of Destruction", 7 January 1971
"The Singing Sounds", 28 January 1971

Sixteen stories, 77 episodes:

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

Ethiopia therefore bought GROUP A, B and C of the standard package of William Hartnell stories, bar The Time Meddler.

It was the very last country to air the run of stories from The Romans to The Chase. It is not known why The Time Meddler was omitted. Perhaps there were no longer any available prints in circulation in 1970?

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

In Alwyn W Turner's 2011 book "The Man Who Invented the Daleks", he notes that "in 1971, [Terry] Nation received £3.12 [in royalties] when The Chase was sold to Ethiopian television".

Origin of the Prints?

The films may have been bicycled across from Barbados and Jamaica, which were also part of TIE's distribution network, and where they had aired some three years earlier.

But since ETV was the last TV broadcaster to air these 16 William Hartnell stories in English, they may have been supplied with a fresh set of the new Stored Field telerecordings of serials A to L direct from the BBC, and M to R which were bicycled in from Jamaica.



The series apparently commenced on Thursday, 22 October 1970, and aired weekly on that day, until it switched to Wednesdays just shy of a year later, from 22 September 1971. As noted under TV Listings below, it is not clear when the series ended, or whether any episodes were pre-empted. If the series ran uninterrupted, the 77th and final episode aired on 5 April 1972.

The start time ranged from 7.00pm to 7.35pm. Doctor Who was usually the second programme of the evening.

There is no record that Ethiopia screened Doctor Who again, even after the switch to PAL colour in 1979.

Fate of the Prints?

The Ethiopian Television Service was the last-ever country to air the English soundtrack prints of the standard GROUP A, B, C, D and E package of William Hartnell stories. As a distribution client of TIE Ltd, its film holdings may have been returned to the distributor or the BBC or destroyed.

The country was in a state of political and civil turmoil during 1974, with the army seizing power following a coup in September of that year. If the film prints hadn't already been returned to the BBC, and they were still held but couldn't be returned (see our theory about the 1974 Recall), it's possible they were destroyed during the many periods of conflict.

On 6 October 2013, it was reported in the Mirror newspaper that "over 100 episodes" had been found in Ethiopia. However, the report was quickly dismissed by several people as being "untrue":

TV listings

Airdates in Ethiopia

TV listings have been obtained from the English newspaper The Ethiopian Herald.

Listings give the series name as "Dr Who" or "Dr WHO".

The first direct listing for Doctor Who was on 5 November 1970: "The Fire Maker" (sic). The following week it was "Dr Who – to be announced". The week after that it was "Dead Planet". The next six episodes are clearly identified as being for The Daleks, followed by Inside the Spaceship and Marco Polo. Therefore, the episode labelled "Fire Maker" would actually have been "The Forest of Fear", part three of An Unearthly Child.

"500 Eyes" is the final episode to be identified by its title (4 February 1971). Many of the subsequent newspapers were missing, or didn't have any TV listings. And the few times when there were listings, all they gave was "Dr Who (Film English)", "Dr Who (F.E.)" or close equivalents.

The fact that the programme is identified as being "Film" and "English" does support the thought that the programme was indeed broadcast in that language.

There were no TV listings available between 26 January and 14 June 1972. From 21 June 1972, the 7.00pm timeslot was occupied by "The Abbot and Costello Show". It is not known when that programme began its run. If Doctor Who ran uninterrupted, then its 77th and final episode (The Chase part six) aired on 5 April 1972.

Some of the listings had mistakes: "The Firemaker" as "The Fire Maker"; part one of Inside the Spaceship as "Age of Destruction"; part two of Marco Polo became "The Singing Sounds", and part three "500 Eyes".


Fan Aid Save the Children, DWM 107

In 1985, the FAN AID campaign was launched by Paul Cornell, with the aim of raising money for famine relief in Ethiopia. Cornell organised a convention in Bath on 29 June 1985, managing to raise over £32,000. A second convention was held in Leeds, on Saturday, 2 November 1985. The FAN AID concept was supported by a set of three special fanzines, the proceeds from which went "to assist famine relief in Africa".

DWM supported the campaign, and ran a full-page advertisement in the December 1985 issue (#107). An original piece of comic artwork drawn by Dave Gibbons was offered as a prize draw.

Fan Aid fanzine #1
Fan Aid fanzine #2
Fan Aid Convention 2

Other magazine coverage of FAN AID:

  • DWB #21 (April 1985) had a registration form for the Bath convention.
  • DWB #24/25 (July 1985) had a report on the Bath convention.
  • DWM #105 (October 1985) had a report on the Bath convention.
  • DWM #106 (November 1985) had a registration form for the Leeds convention.