Doctor Who on New Zealand Television

By Paul Scoones

1964-1970 | 1970-1981 | 1981-1989 | 1989-1999 | 2000-2002

Note: This is a reworked version of the articles written by Paul Scoones for the 'Selling the Doctor' sections of The Handbook - The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Production of Doctor Who (Telos Publishing, 2005)

September 1964 - May 1965

New Zealand holds the distinction of being the first country outside the United Kingdom to screen Doctor Who. The New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation (NZBC) acquired the first three stories, An Unearthly Child (a.k.a. 100,000 BC), The Daleks (a.k.a. The Mutants) and The Edge of Destruction (a.k.a. Inside the Spaceship), in June 1964. All thirteen episodes were rated Y, which meant they were considered unsuitable for screening before around 8 PM.

A single film print of each episode was held by the NZBC necessitating the staggering of the schedules so that the films could be transported between New Zealand's four regional channels: Auckland (AKTV-2), Wellington (WNTV-1), Christchurch (CHTV-3) and Dunedin (DNTV-2).

The episodes were first screened in the Christchurch region from 18 September to 11 December 1964, then in Auckland from 30 October 1964 to 29 January 1965, Wellington from 6 November 1964 to 5 February 1965 and Dunedin from 5 March to 28 May 1965. The episodes were screened on Fridays across all regions, usually at 7.57 PM, although from 19 March 1965 the screening time moved to 8.07 PM in Dunedin.

The New Zealand screening rights for this first batch of thirteen episodes expired 16 June 1966 and the episodes were sent on to Denmark on 26 March 1968.

October 1966 - May 1967

Marco Polo was received 27 May 1966 was rated G, after censor edits to all but the first two episodes. The serial was first screened in the Auckland region on Thursdays from 27 October to 8 December 1966, then in Wellington on Tuesdays from 1 November to 13 December 1966, Dunedin on Thursdays from 15 December 1966 to 26 January 1967 and Christchurch on Mondays from 20 March to 1 May 1967. The start times were mostly around 6.50 PM. The New Zealand screening rights for Marco Polo expired 19 November 1968, by which time the NZBC were only the five edited episodes of the story as the first two uncut episodes had been dispatched to Iran on 20 October 1967. The five remaining episodes were still held at the Wellington Hill Street film store in April 1970; their fate after this date is unrecorded. However, the reused film can that had previously contained the last episode, Assassin at Peking, was discovered by Graham Howard at a Television New Zealand film storage facility in Wellington in 1990.

A BBC Enterprises document from 1977, detailing overseas sales of Doctor Who stories, notes The Keys of Marinus, The Aztecs and The Sensorites as having been sold to New Zealand, but if this was the case, there is no evidence that these stories were ever received.

January - August 1968

A batch of seven stories was received on 19 September 1967, including The Reign of Terror, Planet of Giants, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Rescue, The Romans, The Web Planet and The Crusade, however three of these were omitted. All episodes of The Dalek Invasion of Earth were rated Y. Episodes 1 to 4 of The Web Planet and Episode 1 of The Crusade were also rated Y - although the remaining episodes of both stories gained G ratings. These three stories with Y-rated episodes were apparently held by the NZBC for some time with the intention of rescheduling them in a later post-8 PM time-slot, however this never eventuated.

The Reign of Terror, Planet of Giants, The Rescue and The Romans first screened in the Christchurch region from 26 January to 3 May 1968, then in Wellington from 8 March to 14 June 1968, Dunedin from 29 March to 5 July 1968 and Auckland from 24 May to 30 August 1968. The episodes played on Fridays across all regions, mostly around 5.30 PM.

After the transmissions, the episodes from this batch were retained at the Wellington Hill Street film store and were logged as held there on 1 April 1970. The Reign of Terror was subsequently destroyed on 18 June 1971 and Planet of Giants was destroyed on 14 July 1971. The first episode of The Crusade, The Lion, was still held in storage in Wellington in 1975, at which time it was scheduled to be destroyed. The 16mm film print was rescued from dumping by film collectors and was held in private hands until January 1999 when it was discovered in the collection of Auckland film buff Bruce Grenville by fans Neil Lambess and Paul Scoones, who arranged for the film to be loaned to the BBC.

October 1968 - February 1970

A further batch of eleven Hartnell stories was received 23 September 1968, including The Space Museum, The Time Meddler, Galaxy 4, The Myth Makers, The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, The Ark, The Celestial Toymaker, The Savages, The War Machines, The Smugglers and The Tenth Planet. Four stories were not purchased which were: The Chase, Mission to the Unknown, The Daleks' Master Plan and The Gunfighters. All eleven stories were rated G, however some censor edits were required to gain this rating. The film trims edited from The Ark, featuring several minutes of footage, were discovered by Graham Howard in New Zealand in 2002.

The eleven stories were screened in one transmission block which continued with the first five Patrick Troughton stories; The Power of the Daleks, The Highlanders and The Underwater Menace were acquired in March-April 1969, followed by a further two stories, The Moonbase and The Macra Terror.

The stories first aired, beginning with The Space Museum, in the Christchurch region from 27 October 1968, then in Wellington from 24 November 1968, Auckland from 5 January 1969 and Dunedin from 12 January 1969. The start time was initially mostly around 5.45 PM but later moved to around 6.10 PM in all regions from July 1969. The series initially screened on Sundays in all regions, however the series moved to Mondays in October 1969. Monday screenings started in Wellington from 6 October, Auckland from 13 October, Christchurch from 20 October and Dunedin from 27 October. Start-times were mostly around 6 PM.

The Moonbase and The Macra Terror screened in Christchurch and Wellington, but for viewers in the Auckland and Dunedin regions the series stopped after The Underwater Menace. This staggered break in the schedule allowed for all four regions to stop screening the series within the space of a month, between 26 January and 23 February 1970. The Moonbase and The Macra Terror later screened in Auckland and Dunedin as part of the next transmission block.

Following the transmissions, the episodes appear to have been stored in Wellington. The last recorded location of The Space Museum was at the Wellington Hill Street store in April 1970. The Time Meddler was sent on to Nigeria on 2 March 1973, from where the film prints were subsequently returned to the BBC in 1985. Government censor documentation indicates that the cuts present in these recovered episodes were made in New Zealand. Galaxy 4, The Myth Makers, The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, The Ark and The Celestial Toymaker were sent to Singapore on 20 September 1972. The Savages, The War Machines, The Smugglers and The Tenth Planet had all previously been sent to Singapore on 10 January 1972. The War Machines film prints, which had had censor cuts made in New Zealand, were later found in Nigeria and returned to the BBC in 1984. The Power of the Daleks was sent on to a television station in Singapore in January 1972. The Highlanders film prints are noted as having been destroyed at some point after April 1970, the fate of The Underwater Menace is unrecorded and records show that The Macra Terror episodes were destroyed on 27 June 1974. The fate of The Moonbase is also unrecorded, but the reused film can that had previously contained Episode 3 of this story was discovered by Graham Howard at a Television New Zealand film storage facility in Wellington in 1990.

1964-1970 | 1970-1981 | 1981-1989 | 1989-1999 | 2000-2002