|Country Number (63?)||1989||THIRD WAVE|
|TV Sets||1990||22 million|
Television Stations / Channels
France began its television service in 1949. Colour transmissions with the SECAM system commenced in 1967. All foreign television programmes are dubbed into French.
Under the correct atmospheric conditions, and with specially modified aerials, some viewers in the north-western regions could tune into transmissions directly from the BBC propagating across the English Channel.
Doctor Who was initially broadcast by Television Francaise (TF1), on Channel 1.
(Since this station broadcast in SECAM, it had limited availability in border countries, most of which used the PAL colour system; listings for TF1 do however appear in some Spanish newspapers, usually stating it was available in northern Catalonia only.)
The TV Movie aired several times between 1997 and 2010, broadcast on different stations.
DOCTOR WHO IN FRANCE (DOCTEUR WHO)
France was about the 63rd country to screen Doctor Who.
PETER CUSHING Movies
Only the second of the two Peter Cushing Dalek films played in French cinemas (dubbed) during the late 1960s; this was titled "Les Daleks Envahissent la Terre". (The IMDB reports the French premiere was on 20 October 1967.)
There is no clear evidence that the first film was ever shown at the cinema in France.
(The IMDB records that the film had a limited French release from 10 January 1969 - two years after the sequel had been shown - but we have been unable to locate newspaper clippings from that date, or find any examples of movie posters displaying that title. If it was shown, it would have been dubbed.)
The second film also aired on French television several times: it was shown on pay-TV channel, Canal+, on 3 May 2000 (at 8.30am), at 7.15am on 20 May 2000, and again on 22 May 2000 at 1.55am. (French-owned distributor StudioCanal (founded in 1988) had acquired British Lion Films' library, which included both Peter Cushing Dalek movies.)
The sequel was then released on DVD in November 2001 by Canal+ under its "Cinema de Quartier" collection. The dubbed film also had an English audio track and French subtitles. A special feature was an introduction by film historian Jean-Pierre Dionnet.
The French TV station Ciné FX (launched in 2002) aired the first film on Tuesday, 1 June 2010; this was billed as Docteur Who et les Daleks.
If the movie didn't play in cinemas in the 60s, this is likely to be one of, if not the, first showings of the film in France.
It was aired again Wednesday, 2 June, Sunday, 8 June 2008 (see below) and Monday, 9 June 2008.
The sequel - Les Daleks Envahissent la Terre - was shown by Ciné FX for the first time - on Tuesday, 8 June 2010, at 9pm. This was followed by Dr Who et les Daleks' at 10.25pm, after which came the TV Movie (billed as Docteur Who) at 11.45pm!
Ciné FX screened both Dalek movies several more times during that year, the last being in November 2010; there are far too many showings to try and list all of them here.
In October 2015, the two films (both with French and English audio plus French subtitles) were released on DVD for the first time together as Doctor Who et les Daleks - Le Coffret; the newly-dubbed first movie was titled "Dr Who Contre les Daleks". This 3-disc box set also included the "Dalekmania" documentary (subtitled).
In 2021, the films were also available to stream on Ciné+, another pay channel subsidiary owned by the Canal+ group of companies -- see above.
Both unrestored films (only subtitled, not dubbed) are available to watch on the UniversCiné platform.
SELLING DOCTOR WHO TO FRANCE
The BBC made several attempts over the years to sell Doctor Who to France:
- February 1977: At the annual Brighton BBC Showcase, the BBC was unsuccessful in luring European buyers to pick up the series. "TOO TERRIFYING FOR EUROPE" was the press reaction (see Europe for clipping.)
- September 1979: In a letter to French writer, Jean-Marc Lofficier, producer Graham Williams informs him that France is to be offered the series again "later this year".
- 1979-1981: Lofficier pens The Doctor Who Programme Guide, a side-project he developed while researching for an article about the series for French genre magazine, L'Ecran Fantastique (PROGRAMME GUIDE) (The first part of "La Saga du Docteur Who" subsequently appeared in issue 23, published in March 1982, and the second part plus an interview with Terrance Dicks, appeared in issue 24, published May 1982.)
- 1986: Alain Carrazé, executive producer for the 'magazine' programme Temps X, tries to interest channel TF1 into buying Doctor Who. He convinces them to let him make a documentary about the series…
- May 1986: A French film crew for Temps X visits the BBC studios to film segments for Who is Who, the 16 minute documentary about the series, and interviews the cast and crew during the filming of serial 7B of The Trial of a Time Lord (aka "Mindwarp"). A short segment is also filmed a week or so later featuring fans at the Forbidden Planet specialty store in London. (The DWAS newsletter Celestial Toyroom (July 1986) carries a full report of the shoot, complete with break down of elements used in the final production.)
- December 1986: It is reported in DWB (issue #41/42) that France is to screen a run of Tom Baker stories from January 1987, but with The Sontaran Experiment, The Android Invasion, The Masque of Mandragora and Horror of Fang Rock rejected by the buyers for being "too boring"! (There is reason to doubt the validity of this statement, since Carrazé had selected stories from Tom Baker's first two seasons only, a package which would not have included the latter two serials.)
- February 1987: Despite the gallant efforts of Alain Carrazé, TF1 passes on screening the series as presented. The fully dubbed episodes languish in a storage vault...
- 1987: Although the series was no longer to feature as part of the Temps X line-up, eight novelisations translated into French by Editions Garanciére were published, with covers adorned with the images of "Temps X" hosts Igor and Grichka Bogdanoff:
- DOCTEUR WHO -
- Entre en Scène (An Unearthly Child)
- Les Croisés (The Crusade)
- Les Daleks (The Daleks)
- Les Daleks Envahissent la Terre (The Dalek Invasion of Earth)
- Le Cerveau de Morbius (The Brain of Morbius)
- Le Masque de Mandragore (The Masque of Mandragora)
- L'Abominable Homme des Neiges (The Abominable Snowmen)
- Méglos (Meglos)
- From 24 March 1987, Doctor Who is available in France (in English) on the UK satellite station Super Channel.
- 19 February 1989: After a very long delay of several years, Carrazé's editions of Doctor Who finally make it onto French television screens, airing as part of the Club Dorothée Dimanche Sunday morning cartoon line-up - but even then, its journey was far from plain-sailing... (see Transmission below...)
- TIME SCREEN: A full account of Carrazé's struggle to get Doctor Who onto French television was published in issue #17 of Time Screen magazine (cover dated Spring 1991). The full article can be read here:
When Doctor Who finally aired in France, it joined the many European countries of the THIRD WAVE of sales in the late 1980s (see Selling Doctor Who). It was roughly the 63rd country to screen the series.
In DWM issue 52 (May 1981), there is a report that an omnibus edition of "La Genèse des Daleks" (Genesis of the Daleks) had screened in France, but there is no solid evidence that such a broadcast ever took place.
Since Doctor Who was sold to France in late 1986, it is not named in the 1987 memo that appears in The Eighties – THE LOST CHAPTERS.
Stories bought and broadcast
Six stories, 26 episodes, although aired out of order:
|4E||Genesis of the Daleks||La Genèse des Daleks||6|
|4C||The Ark in Space||L'Arche dans l'Espace||4|
|4D||Revenge of the Cybermen||La Revanche des Cybernators||4|
|4F||Terror of the Zygons||La Terreur des Zygons||4|
|4H||Planet of Evil||La Planète Diabolique||4|
France therefore bought part of GROUPs A and B of the Tom Baker stories.
This posting on the French Doctor Who fan forum GALLIFRANCE confirms that these were the only six to be acquired.
The programme was supplied as colour video tapes, but were converted and transmitted in the SECAM format. TF1 prepared, recorded and dubbed full French soundtracks. The voice for the Doctor was provided by Jacques Ferrièr, and Ian Marter was (apparently) dubbed by Maurice Sarfati.
Composer Dudley Simpson provided new music cues, including for the serials for which he did not originally provide a score. (In the interview with Simpson in DWB issue 57 (August 1988), he says "BBC Enterprises asked me into their offices for a chat about the sale of the early Tom Baker's to France. They couldn't lift the voices off from the music track (they had to redub all the dialogue into French you see) and so they'd got the filmed stuff but without the music track and they couldn't find a copy of my music anywhere so I've had to lay down a completely new score for them on tape which will go on with the French dialogue".)
For the opening titles, as the DOCTOR WHO logo appears, a voice-over announces "Docteur Who-who-who-who-who-who" which fades as the logo moves away. At least two different voices can be heard speaking these titles - on some episodes it is Maurice Sarfati; the identity of the other voice is unknown.
Fate of the Tapes
The 26 French-dubbed video tapes were sent to the Canadian station TVOntario to be shown during its Sunday afternoon/evening French-language programme schedule, and to also play on the French-language channel La Chaîne Française; the episodes commenced there on 14 October 1990.
The dubbed French tapes later screened in Poland (with added "Polish Lektor" narration) in 2002 and 2003.
The dubbed tapes for "La Genèse des Daleks" surfaced again when France 4 aired a special "La Nuit Doctor Who" event on 19 May 2012 - see more below.
TV Movie, 84 minutes:
|TVM||The TV Movie||Le Seigneur du Temps : Docteur Who : Le Film|
After a very long delay (see the chronology above), the series finally started on Sunday, 19 February 1989, at 9.00am, being part of the line-up of CLUB DOROTHÉE DIMANCHE (CDD) children's programmes, hosted by the Anneke Wills' lookalike "Dorothée".
The scheduled timeslot for CDD ran from 8.10am or 8.15 to 10.30am on Sundays, with "Docteur Who" appearing between 9.00 to 9.30am for the first three weeks, then 8.55 to 9.25am after that.
According to Alain Carrazé's account above - the first serial was Genesis of the Daleks, and this is supported by various online publications, including the weekly TV listings magazine Radio TV8. Oddly, the Tele 7 Jours listings mag has a synopsis which suggests it was The Ark in Space that aired first - see clipping below.
However, whether The Ark in Space part 1 was actually shown on 2 April is unknown, since the series was by then dropped from the CDD line-up.
Of the other newspapers we accessed, some don't agree on whether or not "Docteur Who" aired 19 or 26 March – two of them list "Docteur Who" for 19 March, and the one that doesn't instead lists it on 26 March, while none of the three papers has a listing for 2 April.
When the series did return on Saturday, 8 April, it was now in the new graveyard slot of 6.37am. (Alain Carrazé incorrectly stated this was 7.00am in his Timescreen article.) Although the listings don't give any titles, the first story would have been The Ark in Space. (Whether part 1 was a 'repeat' is unknown.)
Two weeks later, a second episode was added to the schedule: from 16 April the series was also shown on Sundays just prior to the regular CDD programme. This meant that the final part of each serial aired on a Saturday, and the first episode of the next story screened the following day.
The Saturday and Sunday slots fluctuated between 6.34am and 6.39am for the rest of the run - although the papers didn't always agree on the exact start times.
None of the newspapers provided a title for the episodes that went out on 8, 15, 16, and 22 April. Carrazé said the second and third serials were The Ark in Space and Robot. However, the next set of listings clearly show that the third serial to air was actually Revenge of the Cybermen, from 23 April. Robot was the fourth serial, from 7 May 1989.
The final two serials to air were Terror of the Zygons, starting 21 May 1989 (some billings said "Zigons"), and Planet of Evil, which brought the run to an end on Saturday, 17 June 1989 - however some papers such as France-Soir - still list the series on 24 June 1989, however this is clearly a printing error.
23 years later, Genesis of the Daleks received a repeat screening on Saturday, 19 May 2012, as part of France 4's La Nuit Doctor Who which launched the start of the New Series (from Matt Smith's second year) on that channel - see more below.
- A run down of the French episodes and titles can be found HERE.
The 1996 TV Movie aired for the first time on channel France 2, part of the France Télévisions group of stations (also available in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Monaco, Switzerland and Portugal); it debuted on Tuesday, 18 March 1997, at the very late time of 11.00pm – its on-screen title was "LE SEIGNEUR DU TEMPS DOCTEUR WHO : LE FILM" (The Lord of Time / The Time Lord).
NOTE: Despite what may be recorded on other websites, the TV Movie was never released on VHS in France.
For the French dubs, the following actors voiced the lead roles:
- Pierre Hatet (for Sylvester McCoy)
- Pierre-François Pistorio (for Paul McGann)
- Céline Monsarrat (for Daphne Ashbrook)
- Patrick Floersheim (for Eric Roberts)
Additional credits for the French version:
- Version Française : Karina Films [Dubbing studio]
- Direction Artistique : Claudio Ventura [artistic director]
- Texte Français : Jacqueline Cohen [Adaptation]
The film was shown by the Luxembourg station RTL9 in 1999 and 2000 , which was also available in France. (See that page for more details.)
The TV movie was shown again several years later on another channel owned by France Télévisions; it aired six times on Festival between 22 February and 25 March 2005.
"Festival" was rebranded as France 4 on 30 March; the film was shown by that "new" channel a further two times, on 31 March and 5 April 2005.
In June 2010, it was played several times by Ciné FX; the first screening was on Saturday, 5 June 2010 at 9pm, then Sunday, 6 June at 1.35pm, then again on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 (as noted above, this was following the two Peter Cushing Dalek movies), Thursday, 10 June (at 2.20pm) and on Friday, 11 June 2010 at 4.05pm. The following week it was on Tuesday, 15 June at 4.40pm.
In all these cases, the weekly TV listings magazine Radio TV8 billed the film as "Docteur Who" rather than "Le Seigneur du Temps". Some of the listings also indicate it with the symbol "VO" (Version Originale (Original Version) which might mean the film was in English, which could be why the French title is not used..?
LA NUIT DOCTOR WHO (2012)
On Saturday, 19 May 2012 and running into Sunday 20 May 2012, French station France 4 held a special TV event to launch the start of Series 6 of the New Series - Matt Smith's second year.
La Nuit Doctor Who ran from 8.35pm on Saturday, and closed just after 6am on Sunday. Five episodes from the New Series and 12 from the Classic run were shown, along with interviews with Steven Moffat and French fans, plus mini-documentaries about the series.
Three stories, 12 episodes:
|4E||Genesis of the Daleks||La Genèse des Daleks||6|
|C||The Edge of Destruction||Le TARDIS Ne Répond Plus / La Machine est Vivante||2|
|5H||City of Death||Paris va Mourir||4|
The dubbed video tapes of Genesis of the Daleks were apparently the same ones that had played on TF1 back in 1989, then sent to Canada to play on TV Ontario's French channel between 1990 and 1993, and had also aired in Poland in the early 2000s. The other two serials were subtitled; curiously, Romana's name was written as Ramona.
Commencing at 8:35pm, the first episodes to screen were the first four stories of Series 6 (from 2011). After those came Rose (2005).
Then, starting at 12:40am on the morning of Sunday, 20 May, was all six parts of Genesis of the Daleks.
After this came the first French TV broadcast of a William Hartnell story: The Edge of Destruction - the episodes were given the titles "Le TARDIS Ne Répond Plus" (The TARDIS Doesn't Respond) and "La Machine est Vivante" (The Machine is Alive).
The next story to play was one that was set in France: City of Death - under the title "Paris va Mourir" (Paris Will Die).
La Nuit Doctor Who finished just after 6am on Sunday 20 May, having run for a marathon nine and a half hours!
A full run down of the schedule and contents of La Nuit Doctor Who can be read here (in French):
The 1999 DVD release of the special re-edit of The Five Doctors had French subtitles as an alternative language option. However, it's doubtful that the DVD was actually sold there or in other countries where French is spoken, such as Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
The 50th Anniversary book, Doctor Who The Vault by Marcus Hearn, was translated into French and released under the title Doctor Who Les Archives.
A French translation of Gareth Roberts' novelisation of Shada was also released. Other translated novels include Stephen Baxter's second Doctor story The Wheel of Ice (as La Roue de Glace), and Alastair Reynold's Third Doctor adventure The Harvest of Time (La Moisson du Temps). A set of translated New Series novels were also published, as well as comics originally issued by IDW and Titan.
Doctor Who Classics Vol 1 - a compilation book of DWM 's fourth Doctor comic strips drawn by Dave Gibbons - was released in France, with translations of:
- The Iron Legion as La Legion de Fer
- City of the Damned as La Cite des Damnes
- Timeslip as Glissement de Temps
- Star Beast as La Bête des Êtoiles
|← AIRDATES ...... (CLICK ICON TO GO TO TABLE SHOWING EPISODE BREAKDOWN AND AIRDATES - N/S = story title is Not Stated)|
The initial block of TV listings were obtained from the Parisian newspapers Le Monde, France-Soir and Le Parisien Libre. Of note, all three papers give slightly different timeslots for when the series aired.
Online editions of various TV listings magazines HERE provide more detailed information, including story titles.
All listings give the series name as "<<Docteur Who>>" or "Docteur Who", sometimes with the addition of Série. Only one billing in Le Monde gave a story title – La revanche des cybernators - on 30 April 1989.
There are several French fan sites:
France in Doctor Who
- An Unearthly Child: Barbara gives Susan a copy of a book on The French Revolution.
- The Reign of Terror: The story is in 1792 France, during the French Revolution. This period of history is the Doctor's favourite.
- Planet of Giants: Arnold Farrow plans to holiday on the rivers of France.
- The Romans: The TARDIS crew stay at Giscard's villa while he is away fighting in Gaul.
- The Crusade: Reference is made to Philip of France.
- The Time Meddler: William the Conqueror is name-checked.
- The Massacre: The story is set in Paris, August 1572.
- The Celestial Toymaker: Steven refers to his recent visit to Paris.
- The Tenth Planet: International Space Command security-general, Wigner (Steve Plytas) appears to be French.
- The Highlanders: The freed Scots prisoners plan to sail the captured ship, The Albatross, to France.
- The Moonbase: Jules Benoit (Andre Maranne) is a crew member on the Gravitron base.
- The Evil of the Daleks: Maxtible tells Ruth and Arthur that Victoria has gone to Paris. France was allied with the UK against Russia in the Crimea.
- The Mind Robber: Cyrano de Bergerac, d'Artagnon, and a giant book called "Un Renarde" appear in the Land of Fiction.
- The Seeds of Death: There was a T-Mat terminal in Paris.
- The War Games: Napoleonic troops are kidnapped by the War Lord.
- Spearhead from Space: Paris is mentioned.
- Doctor Who and the Silurians: The first foreign victim of the Silurian plague dies in Paris.
- The Ambassadors of Death: Taltalian (played by French-born actor Robert Cawdron) appears to be French - although his accent changes from scene to scene. Mars Probe 7 was being tracked by monitors in Nancy.
- Inferno: The Doctor once met the Queen's great grandfather in Paris.
- Day of the Daleks and The Monster of Peladon: Napoleon Bonaparte gets a name-check.
- The Time Warrior: Irongron refers to "Norman ninnies".
- Pyramids of Mars: The Doctor uses a French pick-lock, given to him by Marie Antoinette.
- Champagne is mentioned in The Android Invasion, Enlightenment, The Twin Dilemma and Attack of the Cybermen.
- The Masque of Mandragora: Several of the dignitaries invited to attend the masque are from France. The Doctor mentions the Battle of Agincourt.
- The Robots of Death: The Doctor mentions Marie Antoinette again.
- The Talons of Weng-Chiang: The Doctor mentions the Battle of Agincourt again.
- Horror of Fang Rock: Lord Palmerdale's yacht was returning from Deauville.
- Destiny of the Daleks: The Doctor accuses Davros of misquoting Napoleon.
- City of Death: The story is set in Paris, 1979.
- The Visitation: Richard Mace was taught the art of lock-picking by a French acrobat.
- The King's Demons: The Master poses as French swordsman, Sir Giles Estram. Philip of France is name-checked again. Aquitaine is mentioned.
- Frontios: The Doctor compares the TARDIS to a chicken vol-au-vent.
- Planet of Fire: Peter Wyngarde was born in Marseille.
- The Two Doctors: The second Doctor mentions famous French chef, Escoffier.
- The Trial of a Time Lord: The Doctor quotes from Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.
- Time and the Rani: The Rani kidnaps Louis Pasteur.
- Remembrance of the Daleks: A speech by Charles de Gaulle is heard in the opening sequence. Ace finds a book on The French Revolution in one of the classrooms.
- TV Movie: The Doctor claims he knew Marie Curie.