United States--1981

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  • At the 14-18 March 1981, NATPE exhibit in New York, Time-Life Television promotes its latest syndication package, which includes 74 brand new episodes of Doctor Who (seasons 16-18, the latter of which had not yet concluded on British television):

TOM BAKER (continued)

Part of Time-Life's sales brochure from the March 1981 NATPE exhibit

18 stories, 74 episodes

5A The Ribos Operation 4
5B The Pirate Planet 4
5C The Stones of Blood 4
5D The Androids of Tara 4
5E The Power of Kroll 4
5F The Armageddon Factor 6
5J Destiny of the Daleks 4
5H City of Death 4
5G The Creature from the Pit 4
5K Nightmare of Eden 4
5L The Horns of Nimon 4
5N The Leisure Hive 4
5Q Meglos 4
5R Full Circle 4
5P State of Decay 4
5S Warriors' Gate 4
5T The Keeper of Traken 4
5V Logopolis 4
  • Two of the first stations to buy this new package are KRMA in Denver, Colorado, and OETA, in Oklahoma; they start screening them in May 1981. (See list of other stations below.)
  • However, this promotion is short-lived: Time-Life's ten year contract with the BBC expires on 30 April 1981, and not renewed because their Film and Television division was in the process of withdrawing from active film and television distribution.



Lionheart print ad, May 1981 - Doctor Who top row, fifth box
  • By 6 May 1981, Lionheart Television International Inc had been formed by several ex-senior-executives from Time-Life Television. The company is co-owned by Western-World Television Inc (49%), Public Media Inc (49%), and the BBC (2%). Lionheart formally takes over from Time-Life Television as US distributor of BBC programmes. (Western-World assumes the distribution to Latin America, effective from 1 April 1981.)
  • By 27 May 1981: Lionheart has on offer all 41 Tom Baker stories, including new edits of the 23 earlier Tom Baker stories, now without the Howard da Silva narrations. They also offer the stories as 41 re-edited "Movie Version" omnibuses. (Some PBS stations had made their own in-house 'movie' versions of the earlier serials; Lionheart now offered stations a choice of format.)
Lionheart BBC Logo Lionheart Inc Logo
1981/82 Lionheart sales brochure cover
1981/82 Lionheart sales brochure back cover
1981/82 Lionheart sales brochure internal spread
Fantasy Empire magazine, selection of covers
Sales by Lionheart as at August 1981; North American Celestial Toyroom, August 1981
  • June 1981: The fourth and final issue of Marvel Premiere Doctor Who comic is published. (The reprint comic series resumes in 1984.)

  • July 1981: The first issue of Fantasy Empire magazine is published by New Media Publishing Inc. The magazine contains news and features on all manner of British television; Doctor Who gets extensive coverage. (NMP publishes 19 regular issues, plus various specials and compilation editions, between 1981 and 1985.)

  • 14-16 August 1981: Before he has appeared on screen as the Doctor in the UK, Peter Davison makes his first US convention appearance, in Tulsa Oklahoma. This is also John Nathan-Turner's first US convention. Interviews with both are published in Fantastic Films issue #28 (cover dated April 1982).
  • September 1981: Even though the first season of Peter Davison stories has yet to screen in the UK, those seven serials are offered in advance to the US Cable station, The Entertainment Channel. However, for reasons that are not clear, it appears that the Entertainment Channel deal never went ahead.
  • Late 1981: "The Doctor Who Fan Club of America" is formed in late 1981; it is based in Denver, Colorado.