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The Doctor at the Dunedin Art Gallery

By Vernon McCarthy

In June I was invited by Whitcoulls to attend meeting between themselves and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery (DPAG). The Gallery was interested in screening some Doctor Who videos and wanted the involvement of someone who knew something about the programme. Robyn Notman from the DPAG explained that the Gallery had a policy of attaching events to current major exhibitions, in this case the Don Driver exhibition With Spirit. The purpose was to increase floor traffic, with people viewing these special programmes encouraged to view the major exhibition. Don Driver worked in various media and so the Gallery felt that special video screenings would be most appropriate. As to why they chose Doctor Who I am not sure.

Whitcoulls were sponsoring the event and supplied advance copies and promotional material detailing what titles were available to purchase from their George Street store. Each person attending the screenings could go into a draw to win a video of their choice.

At the initial planning stages the DPAG checked with Roadshow (the video distributor), requesting permission to publicly screen Doctor Who videos. Permission was granted because no money was being charged for admission to the event. As long as the copyright holder grants permission for a pubic screening then copyright law is not infringed.

It was up to me to choose what would be screened. At first I had delusions of grandeur, thinking I would screen what I considered to be classic Doctor Who, and essential viewing. Many younger fans might never have seen stories such as The Dæmons or The Talons of Weng-Chiang and this was to be their chance. These grand ideas quickly dissipated when I realised that my choice was limited to the currently available official release videos.

There were other factors influencing which titles would be chosen. The DPAG were enthusiastic about presenting the most well known aspects of Doctor Who, namely the Daleks and Tom Baker — not necessarily together — and for timing purposes each of the Saturday and Sunday screenings needed to feature one or two four-part stories followed by a six-part story. The tapes provided by Roadshow were promotional copies of recently released Tom Baker stories Terror of the Zygons, Invasion of Time, Revenge of the Cybermen, and the Colin Baker adventure Revelation of the Daleks. I felt it was important to have as many Doctors as possible represented but in light of the current Prime screenings I decided to avoid the First and Second Doctors. For a short time The Invasion was considered as it hadn't been screened on Prime, but it was no longer available from the distributors. The DPAG purchased The Hand of Fear, The Green Death and The Curse of Fatal Death. Feeling that the selection was somewhat lacklustre and more titles were needed, I decided to provide some of my own tapes: The Caves of Androzani, City of Death, The Five Doctors (Special Edition), and Planet of Spiders.

The screenings were to be over two weekends, 21-23 July and 4-6 August (an extra weekend, 7-8 July, was later added to the schedule to tie in with the Youth Festival happening at the same time). The sessions were held in the lecture hall at the DPAG, which utilises a video projector and surround sound system. This full frequency sound reproduction was particularly effective for both The Five Doctors and The Curse of Fatal Death and the reaction from the audience was one of definite excitement.

The screenings were successful and the Gallery was pleased with the attendance levels at each session. There has been no talk of future screenings but you never know!


The Screenings:

Friday 7 July The Curse of Fatal Death The Caves of Androzani Revelation of the Daleks
Saturday 8 July The Curse of Fatal Death City of Death The Invasion of Time
Friday 21 July The Five Doctors The Hand of Fear
Saturday 22 July City of Death Revenge of the Cybermen The Invasion of Time
Sunday 23 July The Curse of Fatal Death Revelation of the Daleks Planet of the Spiders
Friday 4 August Revenge of the Cybermen Terror of the Zygons
Saturday 5 August The Hand of Fear Revelation of the Daleks The Green Death
Sunday 6 August The Curse of Fatal Death The Caves of Androzani The Five Doctors

This item appeared in TSV 61 (December 2000).