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LEBANON is a Middle Eastern country, on the east Mediterranean Sea.


Country Number (43?) 1977 SECOND WAVE
Region Middle East
Television commenced May 1959
Colour System 1975 SECAM
Population 1977 3.5 million
TV Sets 1978 420,000
Language/s Arabic and French Dubbed

Television Stations / Channels

Lebanon began its television service in May 1959.

The first television station was La Compagnie Libanaise de Television (CLT) on Channels 7 and 9 (later adding Channels 4 and 2).

In 1962, a second broadcaster was established, Compagnie de Télévision du Liban et du Proche Orient (Télé-Orient) broadcasting simultaneously on Channels 5 and 11.

In the early 1970s, when both stations experienced financial difficulties, they would sometimes broadcast the same programmes simultaneously. (This practice was still being utilised in early 1977, because Doctor Who was broadcast on both stations.)

Channels 5 and 7 (which occasionally showed the same programme) generally had regionally or locally-produced Arabic programmes or dubbed series imported from the West. Channel 9 was mostly western fare in English or French.

Colour broadcasts commenced in 1975, using the SECAM system.

Following the Civil War in 1975, it took many months before the government had established some stability. Both television stations continued to broadcast during the conflict, but transmissions were limited due to damaged equipment and transmitters. It wasn't until December 1976 that regular television broadcasts resumed. Doctor Who screened in early 1977 during this period of restructure.

In late 1977, the two stations, with the Lebanese government as a third partner, merged to form Télé-Liban.


الدكتور هو in Arabic, Al-Anwar, 29 April 1977
Both listings for الدكتور هو circled
New Episode بمسلسل جديد << الدكتور هو>> , 8.30 - in Arabic, Al-Anwar, 29 April 1977
French listings Dr Who – simulcast on Canaux 7,4,2 and 5; L'Orient le Jour, 22 April 1977
"Silbrians" (sic), 29 April 1977
الدكتور هو in Arabic, Al-Anwar, 13 May 1977
"Silvrians" (sic) episode 7, 10 June 1977
Ambassador (singular), 17 June 1977
Spear Head from Space No 2, 11 August 1977 – listing in English (see below)
الدكتور هو, Al-Nahar, 11 August 1977 – listing in Arabic (see above)

The principal languages of Lebanon are Arabic and French. Television broadcasts are also provided in English.

BBC Radio's Arabic Service had a production centre in Cairo, Egypt, but following the 1956 Suez war, the department re-located to Beirut, Lebanon until the 1975 civil war.

Due to the popularity of BBC radio programmes in Arabic countries it wasn't surprising that BBC would later offer its television programmes to the same market.

In the 1950s, ARAMCO (see Saudi Arabia) had its foreign programmes subtitled in Beirut; and during the 1960s, Lebanon became the centre of the Arab world for subtitling and dubbing. One of the Beirut-based companies responsible for dubbing programming was called Al-Ittihad Al-Fanni Studios. The name Al-Ittihad Al-Fanni (or its spelling variant Al Ettihad al Fanni) roughly translates as The Art Union or The Union of Art, but it's Anglicised name was UNIART. It was at these studios that the William Hartnell episodes of Doctor Who were dubbed for supply to those markets where Arabic was the principal language (Tunisia was the first country to screen these dubbed episodes). (While there is no evidence that any of the Jon Pertwee stories were dubbed into Arabic, they may instead have been subtitled or had Arabic narration recorded for them.)

The company name can be heard in the Arabic narration of the foreign language alternative soundtracks on the DVDs of Inside the Spaceship, The Aztecs and Planet of Giants. (See the page on Arabic language.)

A bit of background to Al-Ittihad Al-Fanni Studios can be read here:


الدكتور هو

Lebanon was, as far as we can tell, the 43rd country to screen Doctor Who, and the ninth in the Middle East (see Selling Doctor Who).

BBC Records

In a BBC memo dated 7 July 1965, Lebanon was one of several countries to which the series had been offered. The stories on offer were The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion of Earth. However, the offer was not accepted and no sale eventuated.

The Seventies records a sale of "(3)" stories by 28 February 1977. The Handbook identifies these as being the William Hartnell serials A, E and L.

The Eighties - THE LOST CHAPTERS records a sale of "(5)" stories (by 10 February 1987).

In DWM, Lebanon is identified in seven story Archives: A, E, L, AAA, BBB, CCC and EEE.

Although there are two Hartnell stories in the 1965 memo, and three recorded in the 1977 sales document, there is no firm evidence that the series did screen prior to 1977. From the listings that have been found, the only stories that screened in Lebanon were three Jon Pertwee stories.

It's possible the word "Lebanon" in the 1977 memo was a miss-reading of "Libya", which is not named in the 1977 memo. After all, both countries have a major city called Tripoli, and the television station of the former, "Liban/Libanaise", is very similar to that of the latter, "Libyan"... Or, the error lies in the very simple fact that the Hartnell episodes had been dubbed into Arabic in Lebanon.

Stories bought and broadcast


Three stories, 18 episodes (out of order):

BBB Doctor Who and the Silurians 7
CCC The Ambassadors of Death 7
AAA Spearhead from Space 4

Lebanon therefore bought part of GROUP A of the Jon Pertwee stories.

Other BBC sales records indicate that Inferno and Terror of the Autons were also purchased (as noted in The Eighties and DWM), but those sales were subsequently cancelled -- it would appear that this was because of the restructuring of the Lebanese television services in late 1977.

The programme was most likely supplied as 16mm black and white film prints. These may have been supplied with separate Arabic soundtracks per Huw Wheldon's comments in the 1974 edition of the WRTH about his seeing "Dr Who in my own office in Arabic, and a curious experience it was". There is no documentation to indicate that any Pertwees were supplied with "Music / Effects" only tracks, so Wheldon's comments may have been in reference to dubbed Hartnell episodes, rather than recently-dubbed Pertwees.

Origin of the Prints?

Qatar had purchased Spearhead from Space around the same time, while Saudi Arabia had purchased a much larger set of Jon Pertwee stories.

Saudi aired each episode of Doctor Who and the Silurians three days before Lebanon did, but Lebanon aired The Ambassadors of Death seven months before Saudi. We think it's extremely likely that Saudi was the source of all the film prints, with Lebanon acquiring the Doctor Who and the Silurians, Inferno and Terror of the Autons immediately after they had aired in Saudi, but 'borrowing' Spearhead from Space and The Ambassadors of Death ahead of Saudi, and sending them back afterwards. (Although there are no clear listings for Spearhead from Space on Saudi TV, BBC paperwork does show that the serial was purchased by them before Lebanon, and as such prints would have been supplied even if the serial subsequently did not go to air.)



الدكتور هو

The first billing appears in the paper for Friday, 22 April 1977 at 6.30pm, but has no story title. The following seven weeks are billed as being Doctor Who and the Silurians. It's possible that the first serial scheduled to air was Spearhead from Space, but the films hadn't arrived in time (from Saudi Arabia?) so they pre-empted the debut of the series, and delayed it a week and aired The Silurians instead. Alternatively, the first episode of The Silurians did air on 22 April, but one of the subsequent six episodes was pre-empted.

Doctor Who and the Silurians was therefore the first serial, on Friday, 29 April 1977, at 6.30pm. It was simulcast on the two rival stations, CLT Canaux 7,4,2, and on Télé-Orient Canal 5.

This was followed by The Ambassadors of Death, commencing 17 June 1977. With part five of that serial, the series moved to Thursdays (from 14 July 1977), at the later time of 8.00pm.

The third and final serial to air was Spearhead from Space, from 11 August 1977 to 25 August 1977. (As we noted above, it's possible that Lebanon planned to screen Spearhead from Space first, but the films didn't arrive from Saudi Arabia in time, so they aired The Silurians the following week instead (hence the "extra" billing on 22 April.)

There were two further listings for Doctor Who in the paper – on 1 and 8 September 1977 (there was no paper for 15 September available, so it's unknown if there was a listing for that date as well, but there were no further listings in the newspapers after that); those two episodes may well have aired, but the serial (presumably Inferno) was dropped early when the restructure of Lebanese television was underway. The remaining Pertwee episodes that were purchased (Inferno and Terror of the Autons) therefore did not screen.

There is no clear record that Lebanon ever screened Doctor Who again.

Fate of the Prints?

As noted above, Lebanon may have 'borrowed' the films prints of Spearhead from Space and The Ambassadors of Death from Saudi Arabia, and as such they would have been returned after broadcast. The other serials were retained, destroyed or returned to the BBC.

TV listings

Airdates in Lebanon

TV listings have been obtained from the French newspaper L'Orient le Jour and the Arabic papers, Al-Anwar and Al-Nahar.

The series was called "Dr Who" for most of the listings, but the French spelling "Docteur Who" was used three times. The billing for 21 July was for "Docteur No"!

Although a French paper, the Le Jour episode titles for the series were in English! The first serial was called "Dr Who and the Silbrians" (sic) and "Silvrians" (sic). The Ambassadors of Death was in the singular – "Ambassador".

Some of the episodes were numbered: Dr Who and the Silvrians (7e episode) and Spear Head From Space no 2.

Some of the listings from Canal 5 gave the timeslot as one hour, but the same listing for the other channel was only half an hour.

In the Arabic text – which reads right to left - the programme title is followed by text - بمسلسل جديد - which translates as "New Episode".