United States--1972

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Time-Life Films logo
  • Early 1971: With the expansion of educational and public television services across the country, all hungry for quality material, the BBC strikes a distribution deal with Time-Life Films, the film and television distribution division of media empire, Time-Life. (The BBC's previous US distributor had been known as Peter M Robeck & Company Inc; it changed its name to Time-Life Films Inc in December 1969 as part of a merger.)
  • This new deal gives Time-Life the exclusive rights to sell BBC product throughout the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. The deal includes such fare as War & Peace (a co-production between Time-Life and BBC), The Ascent of Man, and Doctor Who.
  • February / March 1971: In industry journals such as Broadcasting magazine, Time-Life reports that it is considering putting 45 episodes of "Dr Who" on offer: this episode tally appears to cover Spearhead from Space through to Colony in Space only, although by the time this report was published, the latter story had not yet screened in the UK.
  • June 1971: "Dr Misterio" commences in Costa Rica. Was this sale of the William Hartnell stories arranged through Time-Life Films, who also handled programme distribution to Latin America?
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  • By early 1972, the package on offer is for 50 episodes, and includes the nine serials covering Doctor Who and the Silurians through Day of the Daleks), all in full colour. (Pertwee's debut serial, Spearhead from Space is no longer included in the package.) These episodes are converted from the PAL to NTSC (525-line 2-inch colour video tapes):


Nine stories, 50 episodes (initially)

Time-Life Films ad, Variety, 5 April 1972 - DR WHO in the sixth TV down
BBB Doctor Who and the Silurians 7
CCC The Ambassadors of Death 7
DDD Inferno 7
EEE Terror of the Autons 4
FFF The Mind of Evil 6
GGG The Claws of Axos 4
HHH Colony in Space 6
JJJ The Daemons 5
KKK Day of the Daleks 4

- Inferno is supplied with an early edit of part five, featuring a scene deleted from the UK broadcast. (This highlights that the BBC still held the original colour tapes of these three seasons as late as 1972.)

- Day of the Daleks is called "The Daleks" in publicity material, and subsequently appears under that title in many of the TV billings.

- One interesting thing about the promotional material, it never states the Doctor being from another planet. If anything, the publicity goes to great lengths to avoid mentioning anything about the good Doctor's alien origins.

  • April 1972: Time-Life presents the package of 50 episodes at the April 1972 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) event, initially selling to eight markets (as was later reported in the 3 May 1972 issue of Variety magazine). And indeed, station WPHL, the first to purchase the series, did only buy that many episodes.
  • By May 1972, Time-Life sells the first 50 episodes to a further eight markets, making 16 in total.
    "50 half hours" sold to 16 markets, Time-Life ad; Variety, May 1972

  • June 1972: By the middle of the year, a further four stories / 22 episodes is added to the package. All the markets that bought the earlier nine adventures purchase the additional four stories - except for WPHL, which did not take up the extra set of episodes:

JON PERTWEE (continued)

Four stories, 22 episodes:

MMM The Curse of Peladon 4
LLL The Sea Devils 6
NNN The Mutants 6
OOO The Time Monster 6
Time-Life ad, circa 1972/73
TV Guide, June 1972

  • The 10-16 June 1972 issue of TV GUIDE has a two-page feature, Yoo-Hoo, Monsters! introducing viewers to "Dr Who", the Sea Devils and the Master. It reveals that the series was coming in "the fall".
WNBC-TV4 screens the two Peter Cushing Dalek movies in July 1972
  • The two Peter Cushing Dalek movies were making frequent appearances on television by the early 1970s. For instance, both aired again on WNBC channel 4 in New York in July 1972 as part of a week-long horror / monster movies marathon.

Philadelphia Inquirer billing, Dr Who (Premiere), 21 August 1972
  • 21 AUGUST 1972: Doctor Who makes its USA TV debut on WPHL, channel 17, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.