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Edited Episodes on Prime

By Jon Preddle

Several observant readers have pointed out that some of the sixties stories screened on Prime — and the Hartnell episodes in particular — were edited. There were cases of missing scenes, missing ‘next episode’ captions and even a new set of end credits on certain stories. These edits were not made by Prime TV which has screened the stories as supplied to them by the BBC. It is simply that the BBC holds more than one version of certain episodes (some complete, others incomplete) and that Prime were not always supplied with the most complete version.

The Hartnell stories with individual episode titles originally had ‘next episode’ captions on screen just before the closing credits of each instalment. For the purposes of selling the stories individually to overseas TV stations from the mid-1980s onwards the BBC re-edited some stories to produce versions with the ‘next episode’ caption missing from the final episode. These were in most cases the versions supplied to Prime, but three stories, The Aztecs, The Space Museum and The Ark retained their ‘next episode’ captions. This is particularly unusual in the case of The Ark's caption: ‘Next Episode: The Celestial Toyroom’ — as the promised episode wasn't part of the run.

‘Next episode’ captions were usually only absent from the final episodes, however they were also cut from all parts of The Daleks, Inside the Spaceship Part One, The Aztecs Part Four, Planet of Giants Part One and The Web Planet Part Two.

In some cases the scrolling cast and crew credits would begin playing over the ‘next episode’ caption, making the removal of the caption impossible without also removing some of the credits. The solution to the problem was to create a brand new set of end credits for the last episode of certain stories. These are easily identified, because the credits don't scroll up the screen as usual, and they bear a 1984 or 1985 copyright date. The stories screened on Prime with final episodes featuring these redesigned credits included: The Sensorites, , The Web Planet, The Chase and The Gunfighters.

In addition to the removal of ‘next episode’ captions, some stories have also had a portion or the entirety of the last scene removed from the final episode. These were cliffhangers that provided a teaser for the following story and as such were removed for the same reason as the captions. The scenes we missed were as follows: The Daleks Part Seven (The TARDIS lurches and the crew collapse on the floor); Inside The Spaceship Part Two (Susan discovers a large footprint in the snow); The Rescue Part Two (The TARDIS falls off the edge of a cliff); The Romans Part Four (The Doctor tells Ian that the TARDIS is being dragged down to a planet); The Gunfighters Part Four (As the TARDIS crew leave the ship, a man carrying a spear appears on the scanner screen).

In most cases, these cuts amounted to a matter of seconds, but there was a much longer edit at the beginning of the first episode of The Time Meddler. This was again not Prime's doing, but due to the fact that the BBC holds two copies of the episode — an incomplete version recovered from Nigeria in 1985, and a complete version recovered in 1992. The missing sequence lasts over two and a half minutes and features the Doctor and Vicki discovering Steven hiding on board the TARDIS.

This item appeared in TSV 61 (December 2000).