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QATAR is a peninsular Middle Eastern country on the Persian Gulf.


Country Number (?) 1978? SECOND WAVE
Region Middle East
Television commenced 15 August 1970
Colour System 1 July 1974 PAL
Population 1977 175,000
TV Sets 1977 34,000
Language/s Arabic Subtitled in English, or English with Arabic subtitles or narration

Television Stations / Channels

Qatar was one of the last countries in the Persian Gulf area to launch a local television service, which commenced in August 1970.

Qatar Television Service was a government-owned commercial broadcaster, operating on two channels, 9, 11, both being exclusively Arabic. (An English-only service, Channel 37 was not launched until the mid-1980s.)

Doctor Who therefore probably screened with Arabic narration or subtitles.

Although QTS didn't commence its own colour transmissions until 1974, those with PAL colour sets could receive transmissions from nearby Bahrain, which had been transmitting in PAL colour since 1973.

PAL television receivers in United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia could also receive transmissions from Qatar, and depending on weather conditions, vice versa.


The principal language of Qatar is Arabic, with English a secondary common language. Television programming with Arabic dialogue was often subtitled with English, while English programmes had Arabic narration or subtitles. Doctor Who was probably broadcast in a dual language format.


الدكتور هو

Qatar was we think the eighth country in the Middle East region to buy Doctor Who.

BBC Records

The Eighties - THE LOST CHAPTERS records a sale of "(3)" stories by 10 February 1987.

In DWM, Qatar is identified in only two story Archives: AAA and PPP, with a sales date given as 1977.

According to other BBC documents, the third story was Day of the Daleks.

Stories bought and broadcast


Three stories, 12 episodes:

AAA Spearhead from Space 4
KKK Day of the Daleks 4
PPP Carnival of Monsters 4

According to the BBC sales paperwork, these three serials were sold in April and May 1977.

Based on an eye-witness account (see below), although QTS was at that time a colour broadcaster, Doctor Who aired in black and white, in which case the serials were supplied as 16mm black and white film prints.

If the series did broadcast in colour, then it would be from PAL video tapes. (Since Spearhead from Space was made on 16mm colour film, it may have been supplied in that same format.)

Another possibility is that Spearhead was supplied on b/w film and the other two serials were supplied on PAL colour tapes.

As noted above, since the English-only channel did not launch until the mid-1980s, Doctor Who probably aired in English but with Arabic narration or subtitles.

Origin of the Prints / Tapes?

If Qatar aired Spearhead from Space before Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and from film, the prints could have come from Gibraltar. If the serial aired later than 1977 and was on film, then Saudi Arabia would be the source.

If it was on tape, then United Arab Emirates is the likely source. (Note: Spearhead from Space aired twice in the UAE: it first aired in Dubai in mid-1975, then again in Abu Dhabi in late 1976.)

As for the other two serials, depending on the format (film or tape) and when they aired, there are several different sources: if they aired in 1977 and were on film, they may have been supplied from Gibraltar, but if they aired after 1977, then Saudi Arabia is the likely source.

If they were on tape, then United Arab Emirates and Brunei are the likely sources.



Generic listings for Qatar TV from Emirates Daily News in late 1977

We have been unable to find any identifiable Doctor Who airdates for Qatar.

Although BBC paperwork gives a sales date of mid-1977, it appears that the episodes may have aired more than a year later. We have been reliably informed by a viewer who lived in Saudi Arabia between August 1978 and December 1979 that because they could receive broadcasts from nearby Qatar, they caught some of the QTS broadcasts of Doctor Who during that period.

Our viewer recalls that the series aired on Fridays in the late afternoon, and was in black and white. (We should point out that the colour signal may have been very weak, and only appeared to be black and white. Or the viewer was watching on a black and white set. Or as noted above, only Spearhead from Space was in b/w.))

From this information, Doctor Who aired on Qatar TV at some point during the 16 month window spanning late 1978 to late 1979, one or two years after the programme had actually been "sold" to the station. This delay may have been caused by a supply issue: Saudi Arabia aired the same three Pertwee stories at some point during 1977 and 1978, and Qatar may simply have had to wait until after broadcast there.

Another possibility is that the 1978/1979 screenings seen by our 'man on the scene' were repeats.

Fate of the Prints?

Spearhead from Space may have been sent to Swaziland.

If the airdates were in 1977, the other two serials may have been shipped to Saudi Arabia, but if they aired later than 1977, then they were the last ever broadcasts of these two black and white Pertwees, in which case the films would have been destroyed or returned to the BBC.

TV listings

Despite having accessed and checked several Persian Gulf newspapers from 1976 onwards, we couldn't find any identifiable listings for Doctor Who on the Qatar Television Service.

As can be seen from this Channel 9 & 11 listing in the United Arab Emirates's Emirates Daily News from late 1977 (above), Thursday and Friday both had a generic "Children's Series" at 3.45pm, while Thursday had an unidentified "Children's Program" at 7.05pm, and Friday had a "Foreign Series" at 9.30pm.

Although this listing is at least a year too early for when our eye-witness said Doctor Who aired in Qatar, it is likely that any TV billings from the actual dates that the series did screen would also have the same generic "Children's Series" listings instead of naming Doctor Who by title.