The CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION (CBC) is the public broadcaster of Canada. Television service began on 6 September 1952 in Montreal and in less than a decade service stretched from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast. A major milestone was achieved in 1958 with the completion of the national microwave relay network providing live CBC network feeds from coast to coast.
Doctor Who commenced on the CBC network in January 1965.
Unlike other public broadcasters, the CBC television network of 1965 included transmitters owned and operated by the CBC (usually the larger cities) along with transmitters owned by private firms that operate under an affiliation agreement with the CBC (usually the smaller centers). Affiliates are required to carry a minimum amount of network programming but are otherwise free to set their own programme schedules and potentially decline to carry some CBC programmes.
Due to its size, Canada stretches across 6 time zones; making television distribution a very complicated affair resulting in a significant amount of regional variation. The English language programming hub for the network is station CBLT in Toronto. For the western provinces a time-shifting operation is employed to videotape the Toronto feed for playback at the desired local time a few hours later. For the west this was mainly achieved by the Calgary Delay Centre with its bank of VTR machines along with the videotape centre at CBWT Winnipeg.
The Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador) lie to the east of Ontario and Quebec (Eastern Time Zone) and thus are ahead in time. In 1965 there was no facility for an overnight pre-release of programmes to the Atlantic Provinces for a videotape time-shifting operation. This had to wait for the launch of the Halifax Videotape Centre on 15 September 1968. Until then, Atlantic Canada had to accept a time zone shift for most programming.
However, Atlantic Canada flagship station CBHT Halifax did perform a programme delay operation for the weekday 3 PM to 6 PM programming block. The Toronto 3 PM to 6 PM weekday schedule includes panel shows, daytime dramas and after-school youth programmes and this weekday afternoon block had to be time-shifted by CBHT Halifax or else it would extend past 6 PM, the normal time for the start of local supper-hour newscasts. The solution was to make 16 mm film recordings (kinescopes or kines) of the Toronto feed and have Halifax play it back a week later at the desired local time and relay the signal to all of Atlantic Canada. Hence, when Doctor Who moved to Wednesday afternoons in Canada it was seen in Atlantic Canada via kinescopes with a network delay of one week relative to Toronto.
The term "kinescope" for a film recording of a TV broadcast is chiefly used in North America. In Britain and many other nations the term "telerecording" is used instead.
Although Canada had an extensive microwave relay network for TV carriage, it did not reach everywhere. A number of smaller stations in Northern British Columbia, Northern Manitoba and Labrador had to rely on a package of kinescope films that were shipped from station to station via a bicycle system. The fate of the kinescope recordings as well as the BBC supplied prints is of obvious interest.
Stories bought and broadcast
Five stories, 26 episodes:
|A||An Unearthly Child||4|
|C||Inside the Spaceship||2|
|E||The Keys of Marinus||6|
CBC therefore bought GROUP A of the William Hartnell stories.
The broadcaster paid £331 2'6 (pre-decimal Sterling) for each of the 26 episodes.
The programme was supplied as 16mm black and white film prints with English soundtracks.
The first episode was evaluated by technical staff on 9 December 1964. The light levels for the film print were deemed too dark and "not suitable for telecasting", and a technical recommendation was given that "this show not be accepted". But clearly a subsequent evaluation was given a few weeks later, and the series was cleared for broadcast in January 1965.
Sales paperwork shows that The Aztecs and The Sensorites had both been cleared for a sale to Canada at the same time as the above five serials, but those two were never formally purchased and did not air.
A BBC memo dated 7 July 1965 also records that the other serials up to and including The Crusade had also been offered to "Canada", but that "(so far) they have not been accepted". By the time that memo was circulated, the CBC had already dropped Doctor Who from the schedules.
(See our dedicated page which investigates the possible reasons why Doctor Who was dropped by the CBC in 1965.)
Origin of the Prints
The CBC would have received a fresh set of telerecording (kinescope) prints from the BBC. BBC Enterprises had a sales office within one of the CBC office towers in Toronto (at 135 Maitland Street), and the films would likely have passed through that office before being dispatched to the CBC's headquarters also in Toronto.
Canada was the third country outside the UK to screen the series. It was the first to do so in a commercial operation where commercial breaks were added to the programme. (Although New Zealand was the first commercial country to screen Doctor Who, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that no commercials were played during the programme at any time in the 1960s.)
The duration of each broadcast was fixed at 30 minutes, a time slot that would include the actual programme, commercials, station ID, announcements, etc. Commercial insertion patterns for Canada in the 1960's were the same as that of the United States with usually two commercial breaks per 30 minute broadcast totalling up to about 5 minutes. Each commercial was typically one minute in length for that era.
For Serials A to E, the run-times for this set of 26 episodes varied from 22:11 minutes to 26:34 minutes (episodes C2 and D2, respectively). It is not known whether the CBC had to cut down any of the Doctor Who episodes to shorten them to fit the 30 minute time slot with all the added inserts.
Since it's unlikely that the BBC would have supplied a print already edited for North American-style programming, that task would have fallen to the CBC to undertake, by either directly modifying the BBC prints or making duplicates, whether as film copies or videotape dubs, and editing that copy. If the CBC did edit the BBC print or a film copy of this print to add commercials it is possible (though on reflection highly unlikely) they shipped this out to the remote stations not connected to the microwave network instead of a kinescope recording of the Toronto broadcast.
(NOTE: The same commercials would have been played nationwide, since the sponsors' messages were inserted into the broadcast print that was then transmitted into the live microwave feed. Only the pre- and post- station idents would have differed, as they'd have been played in locally.)
Taking all that into account, the most likely scenario -- and the most simplest – is that the CBC made any edits to the original films as supplied to them by the BBC, spliced into that same print all the commercials and 'blank' leaders for idents, and broadcast from that. The kines that were created from those broadcasts had the commercials 'printed in' as this was the standard pattern to prepare material for the remote stations.
The series premiered on the CBC microwave network on Saturday, 23 January 1965. For most stations, air times were 5:00 PM but this varied considerably due to time zone shifts. The series continued on its Saturday slot for a total of 10 episodes. For stations employing a microwave (live) feed the Saturday episodes continued to 3 April 1965 at which point the series moved to Wednesdays from 14 April 1965.
In moving to Wednesdays, Doctor Who swapped time slots with the popular Forest Rangers programme. To coincide with the start of school vacation time, the series shifted to weekday screenings. For stations with a microwave (live) feed the final five episodes ran from Monday, 28 June to Friday, 2 July 1965.
For stations that utilize kinescopes (see the Kinescopes network) the start and end time for the series depended on the planned network delay for the kinescopes to arrive at the station via the bicycle system. With its one week delay for the last 16 episodes the series wrapped up on 9 July 1965 in Atlantic Canada. For station CBWBT Flin Flon in Manitoba the series ran through to 16 July 1965. It is unclear when the series may have ended for station CFLA in Goose Bay, Labrador as the local newspaper ceased to carry television listings after 1 March 1965. If the series did continue in Goose Bay it would have likely ended in mid-August 1965!
Following the first run of the series it appears that stations in Saskatchewan aired repeats of Doctor Who, possibly using kinescopes returned to Winnipeg from CBWBT Flin Flon. Station CFQC Saskatoon aired nine repeat episodes on weekdays starting 5 July and ending 16 July 1965.
List of CBC Stations
Of the following CBC stations, 47 of them aired Doctor Who in 1965.
Station call signs and ownership are current to 1965. Only stations with studio facilities are included. Unmanned signal repeater stations operating on a different channel used to extend the coverage of a studio station are not included. The list below summarizes the number of episodes aired by a station but does not include repeat episodes in the count (CFQC Saskatoon aired all 26 episodes then aired 9 repeat episodes).
|Station||Ch||City||Prov||# of eps||Signal Source||Ownership|
|CJIC||2||Sault St. Marie||ON||10||Live||Private|
|CFLA||8||Goose Bay||NL||At least 1||Kine||USAF|
- CFXU Antigonish was a semi-satellite of CJCB Sydney but under different ownership. As a semi-satellite deriving the majority of its programming from CJCB it most likely broadcast all 26 episodes of Doctor Who purchased by the CBC. CFXU was acquired by CJCB in 1966. A question mark has been placed next to the number of episodes aired by CFXU pending direct confirmation.
- The CFXU transmit tower collapsed on 2 January 1965 following an ice storm but a temporary tower was erected in its place on 18 January 1965 in time for the Doctor Who premiere, albeit with appreciably reduced signal coverage.
- It is not known at this time how many episodes were broadcast by station CFLA Goose Bay as Canadian newspaper TV listings simply do not exist (local paper stopped publishing listings after 1 March 1965). Possibly, TV listings were published by the USAF in the base newspaper (GAB) but copies of this publication have not yet been located.
- In his book, Script Doctor, Doctor Who script-editor Andrew Cartmel recalls having watched The Daleks on CJAY-TV channel 7 in Winnipeg when he was young; he might actually be misremembering, as the only CBC affiliate in Winnipeg in 1965 was CBWT Channel 6; CJAY was actually part of the CTV network...
The list above includes 52 stations in all. Of this list, 47 stations aired Doctor Who episodes.
Five stations could not/would not show any episodes. Privately owned station CKLW Windsor elected not to show the series. CJCN Grand Falls could not show the series as it was a combined CBC/CTV transmitter and Doctor Who was scheduled for times allotted to the CTV network (meaning the author of this piece never basked in the warm glow of a Doctor Who broadcast in his youth). The other three sites were new stations that were part of the kinescope bicycle network that came active near the end of the Doctor Who run in Canada and thus received no episodes (CHGH Churchill, CJCL Labrador City and CFKL Schefferville).
Of the set of 47 stations that carried Doctor Who episodes, we can compile the following statistics:
|Number of Stations that aired all 26 episodes||35|
|Number of Stations that aired some of the episodes||47|
All CBC-owned stations carried the full set of 26 episodes. Many privately owned stations did as well, however some privately owned stations dropped certain episodes. There were various reasons why this happened:
- When the schedule switched from Saturdays to Wednesdays some privately owned stations could not accommodate it in their schedule and thus dropped the series.
- As the series continued after 24 June (start of school vacation period) some stations elected not to show the last five episodes and switched to their planned summer schedule.
- In other cases some stations elected not to show the episode scheduled on Canada Day (July 1).
- In the special case of CKPG Prince George it aired the first three episodes via kinescope then became connected to the live microwave network on 1 March 1965. As its kinescope service was operating with a two week network delay the switchover to live feeds meant that the station missed two episodes in synching up to the main network: episode four of An Unearthly Child and the opening instalment of The Daleks.
TRANSMISSIONS and AIRDATES
Doctor Who debuted in Canada on Saturday, 23 January 1965. The 26 episode run ended on Friday, 2 July 1965.
But it's not as simple as that.
As Canada covers six time zones and the CBC consisted of a mixed public/private network using two delivery methods (live/microwave or delayed broadcast via Kinescope), the amount of regional variation is vast. As such, it is necessary to break down our transmission and air dates coverage into four sections / pages:
Please note that individual provinces may straddle two time zones, and in 1965, Daylight Savings Time, which started from 25 April, was not observed by all provinces or regions (e.g. Saskatchewan).
Fate of the Prints?
The broadcast prints and the remote station kinescopes likely all ended up back at BBC Toronto by the end of July / early August 1965 for disposal.
There are several possibilities as to what subsequently happened to them, and these are dependent on whether or not there were any edits made to the films:
- a) All or some of the prints were destroyed (the low grade kines with printed in commercials were most likely destroyed as they'd have been unsuitable for bicycling to other countries)
- b) The BBC prints that weren't destroyed were either sent back to BBC London for disposal, or they were sent to other countries (via BBC London / BBC New York or another intermediary, such as TIE Ltd?) to be used as audition prints, or (depending on whether they were cut) for broadcast.
If the CBC's prints had been edited for timing reasons to insert commercials, etc, the BBC may have been reticent to send modified prints of their brand new series to those foreign stations that did not need 'shorter' episodes. But it's possible that the pre-cut prints were supplied to those stations that would have benefited from the 'shorter' prints.
If this was the case, and given that many of the commercial broadcasters in the Caribbean primarily showed US programming and were used to and expected to receive prints suitable for North American-style carriage with programmed commercial breaks, then Trinidad, which was the first Caribbean country to screen Doctor Who (in October 1965) may have been the first recipient of the CBC prints. (And these were subsequently bicycled to Bermuda, then Jamaica then to Barbados.)
An alternative is that the prints instead went directly to Bermuda, where the same short run of only 26 episodes commenced in December 1965.
But if the Caribbean countries bicycled the same set of prints locally (i.e. per the TIE Ltd distribution network), the ex-Canadian broadcast prints may have ended up in Ghana, where the same short run of only 26 episodes commenced in early 1966.
The papers called it "Doctor Who" or "Dr Who". The Globe labelled it as "(Juvenile)" in the listings.
TV listings have been obtained from 34 newspapers/magazines spanning all of Canada:
Our main sources were the CBC Times (which has its own dedicated page here) and TV Guide (Lake Ontario Edition), which was sold in Ontario and the US cities of Buffalo and Rochester in New York state. (The CBC transmissions could therefore be received by those US cities close to the Canadian border.)
Each Province, region or main city had its own local newspapers, which had detailed TV listings for that region, and on occasion also articles about the series. (Samples of these listings and articles can be found on each of the Transmission pages):
- Peace River Block News (Dawson Creek)
- Kamloops Daily Sentinel
- Kitimat Northern Sentinel
- Prince Rupert Daily News
- Prince George Citizen
- Quesnel Cariboo Observer
- Vancouver Sun
- Vernon News
- Ottawa Citizen
- Ottawa Journal
- Sudbury Star
- Peterborough Examiner
- Toronto Daily Star
- Toronto Globe & Mail
- Toronto Telegram
- London Free Press
- Windsor Star
- Calgary Herald
- Edmonton Journal
- Montreal Gazette
- Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph
- Flin Flon Daily Reminder
- Churchill Taiga Times
- Winnipeg Free Press
- Winnipeg Tribune
- Halifax Chronicle-Herald
- Corner Brook Western Star
- St. John's Evening Telegram
- Labrador News
- Regina Leader-Post
- Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
- Whitehorse Star
Missing Listings -- How You Can Help
There are TV listings for some regions we have not been able to track down.
TV Listings for CFLA Goose Bay
It is not known at this time how many episodes were broadcast by station CFLA Goose Bay as Canadian newspaper TV listings simply do not exist (local paper stopped publishing listings after 1 March 1965).
Station CFLA Goose Bay was operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). Possibly, TV listings were published by the USAF base newspaper (GAB) but copies of this publication have not yet been located. If you can locate the USAF Goose Bay GAB newspaper and obtain TV listings for the period from January 1965 to August 1965 it will be greatly appreciated.
There is also a remote chance that TV listings for CFLA Goose Bay were carried by the Newfoundland entertainment weekly, The Newfoundland Herald (microfilm copies available at the Memorial University QEII Library in St. John’s). However, as newspapers reaching Labrador could be a week late there are doubts that a weekly such as the Newfoundland Herald would have carried CFLA listings.
July/August 1965 TV Listings for Smaller Cities in Saskatchewan
It appears that Doctor Who episodes were repeated by station CFQC Saskatoon based on newspaper listings in Saskatoon and Regina. It is possible that stations in smaller centers may have aired repeats as well and corroborating information from other newspaper sources is required. Newspaper TV listings for smaller centers such as Prince Albert, Swift Current and Yorkton is requested.
1965 TV Listings for Thompson, Manitoba (CESM-TV)
The cable TV operation in Thompson, Manitoba may have transmitted videotapes of CBC Winnipeg broadcasts to its subscribers. TV listings for Thompson, Manitoba for the period running from January 1965 to August 1965 are desired. Possible sources are the Thompson Citizen and the Nickel Belt News.
Research and Text © by Randy Howell and Jon Preddle
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