Doctor Who on New Zealand Television
By Paul Scoones
May 2000 - June 2001
In May 2000, the UHF and satellite channel Prime Television began a screening of every complete story in order from the beginning. The episodes were initially screened five nights a week (Monday to Friday), and after the first three weeks, an extra episode was added to the schedules on Sundays. The start time was 6.25 PM. The screenings commenced on Monday 15 May. The Hartnell transmissions on Prime included six stories that had never before screened in New Zealand: The Keys of Marinus, The Aztecs, The Sensorites, The Web Planet, The Chase and The Gunfighters. The Time Meddler episodes screened on this occasion were the unrestored versions recovered from Nigeria with the cuts made by the New Zealand censor in 1968 still in evidence. Some of the Hartnell episodes screened on Prime were edited to remove 'Next Episode' captions and some had end credits that had been made for US syndication.
The Hartnell era screenings ended Sunday 13 August with the last episode of The War Machines, but the series continued the following day with the first episode of The Tomb of the Cybermen. Every complete surviving Troughton story screened on Prime Television in 2000, screened from 14 August to 21 September, beginning with The Tomb of the Cybermen followed by The Dominators - making its New Zealand television debut - The Mind Robber, The Krotons, The Seeds of Death and finally The War Games, also screening on New Zealand television for the very first time, more than thirty years after this story first screened in the UK.
From 22 September Prime screened every Jon Pertwee episode in the correct sequence and without a break. This run saw the New Zealand debut of Invasion of the Dinosaurs Part One, and the rest of this story was broadcast with correctly numbered episodes for the first time and, in addition, a slightly longer edit of Part Three.
A number of episodes that had previously screened in New Zealand in black and white were broadcast for the first time in colour on Prime, including The Ambassadors of Death Episode 5, and all of Terror of the Autons and The Daemons - all of which had been successfully restored to transmission-quality colour by the BBC in the early 1990s. Although BBC held a colour version of Episode 1 of The Ambassadors of Death and a colour-restored version of all seven episodes of Doctor Who and the Silurians, black and white recordings of these instalments were supplied to Prime. Also broadcast in black and white were Episodes 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 of The Ambassadors of Death, The Mind of Evil, Planet of the Daleks Episode Three and Invasion of the Dinosaurs Part One.
From Death to the Daleks onwards, Prime doubled their Doctor Who screenings from six to twelve episodes per week by moving the start time to 6 PM and running two episodes per night back to back. These were presented with the middle closing and opening titles and recap removed. The Pertwee era ended on Prime on 8 February 2001 with the screening of Parts Five and Six of Planet of the Spiders.
A further run of Tom Baker era repeats commenced on 9 February 2001 with Robot, following on directly from Planet of the Spiders the previous day. The two episodes per day back-to-back format lasted until The Sun Makers Part One & Two on Friday 30 March 2001. Thereafter the schedule changed to single episodes at 6 PM from The Sun Makers Part Three on Sunday 1 April 2001. The run ended with The Horns of Nimon Part Four on Thursday 7 June 2001. For the first time on New Zealand television, all of the stories from Seasons Twelve to Seventeen were played in the correct sequence. Prime planned to resume the series with The Leisure Hive from Monday 7 January 2002 but around this time the channel changed owners and a major change to the schedules meant that Doctor Who was dropped from Prime's programme line-up.
The second Dalek movie, Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 AD (1966) was screened on Prime on Wednesday 6 February 2002 at 10.35 AM. As with two previous New Zealand screenings of the Dalek movies, this was scheduled on a public holiday, in this case Waitangi Day.