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Doctor Who in Advertising

The Pr1me Computer Commercials

By Jon Preddle

Thanks are due to Graham Howard for his assistance.

With a slogan that was Step through the 80's!, the Prime Computer television commercials were made in Australia around late 1980. Prime Computers had a division in New Zealand (who, ironically, had an office on the floor above me in the building where I used to work in 1985!), and therefore the commercials also played in this country. The 'Dr Who and the Aliens' one was known to have screened during a break in part two of Warriors' Gate on 21 July 1981.

The four commercials starred Tom Baker and Lalla Ward as the Doctor and Romana, wearing their costumes from the series. The sequence in which the commercials were intended to be seen is unknown, but the order in which they are presented here seems the most likely. Baker wore his Season 17 costume for the first two and his Season 18 costume for the remaining two; Lalla Ward wore her Destiny of the Daleks pink attire in the last one.

The first and last ads appeared on the More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS video release. The only known 'merchandise' related to these promotions was two postcards, featuring scenes from the first ad, reproduced in DWM 136, page 2, Timeframe, page 72, and Howe's Transcendental Toybox Second Edition, page 394.

The TARDIS materialises on the rooftop of a building. (The slogan Step into the 80's! flashes up) The Doctor walks towards the TARDIS and enters. Inside, he stops in amazement at the set-up. At the rear of a white room is a computer console. Romana stands before it looking very proud.
ROMANA: Do you like it?
DOCTOR: Do I like it? I love it.
Romana smiles.
DOCTOR: Is it really a Prime Computer?
ROMANA: Do you know them?
The Doctor approaches the console and opens a panel to inspect the interior.
DOCTOR: Know about them? I've seen them on Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborus. (He stands) Aha! At last I'm up to date!
Romana sits down at a terminal.
ROMANA: Would you like to be introduced?
ROMANA: It's terribly interactive.
DOCTOR: Interactive? (He peers over her shoulder as she types) You mean immediate response?
ROMANA: Immediate.
On the computer screen appears:
DOCTOR: Okay, Prime. How long's my scarf? (The Doctor holds his hands apart)

[Doctor and Romana]

On the screen appears:
ROMANA: (mockingly) Well, it's not that impressive.
DOCTOR: (hurt) What?
A series of vital statistics about the computer flashes up on screen.
DOCTOR: It uses seven computer languages and five protocols.
ROMANA: Protocols?
DOCTOR: Yes, that's how it talks to other computers.
ROMANA: (amazed) It talks to other computers?
DOCTOR: Yes, of course, it's a Prime. (He pats the computer) You're going to be all right, kid.
On the computer screen appears:
The Doctor stares in surprise.
(The PR1ME Computer logo appears.)

The TARDIS stands on the rooftop of a building.
(The slogan
'Step into the 80's!' flashes up)
Inside, in a white room filled with computer equipment, the Doctor stands with his back turned, whilst Romana studies a computer print-out in the foreground.

ROMANA: Doctor!
DOCTOR: (turning towards her) Hm?
ROMANA: The universe is about to end!
ROMANA: We need the orbital coordinates of nine hundred planets of the constellation of Kasterborus in seventeen seconds!
DOCTOR: Seventeen seconds?
ROMANA: Sixteen!
The Doctor rushes over to a computer terminal and, sitting down, starts typing furiously into the keyboard.
DOCTOR: Constellation of Kasterborus in how many seconds?
ROMANA: (glancing at her watch) Eleven...
DOCTOR: ... Good interaction so far... Nine hundred planets?
ROMANA: Ten...
DOCTOR: Excellent response.
ROMANA: Come on, Doctor
DOCTOR: Nine hundred planets in how many seconds?
ROMANA: Three!
DOCTOR: Three seconds?!
ROMANA: One second, Doctor!
DOCTOR: One second...
On the computer screen appears:
DOCTOR: Well done, Prime.
Romana leans over his shoulder.
ROMANA: (admiringly) Prime Computer.
The Doctor holds up a warning finger.
DOCTOR: (whispering) Shh, not so loud.
ROMANA: (whispering) Prime Computer.
DOCTOR: (still whispering) That's better.
Romana grins.
(The Slogan 'Step Into the 80s - PR1ME COMPUTERS' appears.)

The TARDIS is in a white void. A title flashes up:
The Doctor is standing by a Prime Computer. Suddenly a disembodied voice is heard.
ALIEN: Doctor Who?
DOCTOR: (looking up) Yes?
ALIEN: We know that you know the supreme computer.
ALIEN: The name, Doctor. We need the name! (the Doctor puts his hand over the Prime logo on the computer to hide it.)
DOCTOR: Why should I tell you?
ALIEN: Turn on your monitor, Doctor.
DOCTOR: All right.
The Doctor crosses to a monitor screen. Romana appears on it, tied to a chair.
ROMANA: Don't tell them anything Doctor.
ALIEN: Now, we know this is an incredible communicating system. It understands all industry standard languages and has a fantastic range of software solutions.
The Doctor moves to a keyboard and starts busily typing.
ALIEN: We also know that you can easily increase its power.
DOCTOR: (stopping typing) And I know that you come from Liprogopolis!
ALIEN: Very good Doctor. No other computer could have done that so now we know you have one!
DOCTOR: (hitting his forehead) Damn!
ALIEN: We believe that it comes from Earth in the constellation of Sol. The name, Doctor!
On the screen, a tentacle moves over Romana's face. She screams.
DOCTOR: It's a Prime! A Prime Computer from the planet Earth! Just tell me why!
ALIEN: We just want to buy one.
The Doctor sighs. Romana materialises beside him.
ROMANA: Doctor, who were those people?
DOCTOR: On, just some over-excited Prime buyers.
(The Slogan 'On through the 80's - PR1ME COMPUTERS' appears.)

The TARDIS is in a white void. The Doctor enters. A title flashes up: Dr. Who meets his match Inside, the Doctor sees a room full of computer equipment. Romana steps up to him, and starts to speak.
DOCTOR: (interrupting) Hi. I've just discovered I can increase the power of my Prime by five times in a hundred and eleven seconds!
The Doctor jams his hat on Romana's head. She takes off the hat and places it on the nearby coat-stand. The Doctor sits at the computer and starts typing. Romana stands behind him and drapes her arms over his shoulders, giving him a big hug. She nuzzles his neck.
DOCTOR: Office automation: revolution. Accounting: no more books. Around the planet communications - instantly! (He stops typing and stares in amazement) I can design ships, run power stations: oil, gas! Where would the energy industry be without Prime?
Romana stops cuddling him.
ROMANA: Ask it how to handle a woman.
The Doctor types in the question and does a double-take at the screen, which says:
Romana smiles.
DOCTOR: Romana, will you marry -
DOCTOR: Oh, Prime.
ROMANA: Clever Prime.
DOCTOR: You can say that again.
ROMANA: Clever Prime.
(The Slogan 'On through the 80's - PR1ME COMPUTERS' appears.)

This item appeared in TSV 26 (December 1991).

Parts of this article were printed in TSV 25 and TSV 27
Reprinted in: TSV: The Best of Issues 21-26