Ghana

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GHANA is a small republic located in West Africa. It had been a British colony, before gaining its independence in 1957. It is a member of the British Commonwealth.

Profile

Country Number (16?) 1966 FIRST WAVE
Region Africa Commonwealth
Television commenced 1965
Colour System 1980 PAL
Population 1966 7 million
TV Sets 1966 1,000
Language/s English

Television Stations / Channels

GBC logo.jpg

Ghana's television service was launched on 31 July 1965 by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), which also administered the country's radio stations. (The GBC was previously known as the Gold Coast Broadcasting System (GCBS), which had been established in 1954; the name was changed to GBC after the country achieved independence in 1957.)

In the first year of transmissions, only one thousand televisions sets were registered for a population of more than seven million.

PAL colour transmissions began in 1980 using the PAL colour broadcast system.

At 5:45pm on Tuesday, 23 May 1989, a fire broke out on the second floor of the GBC television production building. The fire completely destroyed the station's film and video tape library, which contained valuable historical visual material dating back to pre-independence days.

Only a handful of tapes could be saved by staff during the evacuation of the building. It took over three hours to eventually bring the fire under control. All the offices on the first floor below suffered from major smoke and water damage. Despite this major set-back, the GBC was able to resume broadcasts the following day.

Original TV news coverage of the fire, and a video of the remains of the building shot 20 years later, can be seen here: GBC FIRE.

Daily Graphic report on the GBC fire; 24 May 1989


DOCTOR WHO IN GHANA

We are not sure exactly when Doctor Who commenced on the GBC, but Ghana was – we think – the 16th country (the fifth in Africa) to broadcast Doctor Who (Selling Doctor Who)


BBC Records

The Stanmark Productions Ltd advertisement from 1966, identifies Ghana as one of the sixteen countries screening Doctor Who in that year.

Ghana is named in the list of 27 countries in The Making of Doctor Who 1972 Piccolo edition.

Doctor Who - The Seventies records sale of "(5)" stories. Doctor Who - The Handbook identifies these as being the first five William Hartnell stories.

DWM also identifies the same five stories.

Since the Tom Baker stories aired in 1988, the sale would not have appeared in the list that was compiled in 1987 as mentioned in The Eighties The Lost Chapters.


Stories bought and broadcast

WILLIAM HARTNELL

Five stories, 26 episodes:

A An Unearthly Child 4
B The Daleks 7
C Inside the Spaceship 2
D Marco Polo 7
E The Keys of Marinus 6

Ghana therefore bought just the first Group of William Hartnell stories. (Canada and Bermuda were two other countries to screen but then 'drop' the series after only the first five stories.)

The programme was supplied as 16mm black and white film prints with English soundtracks.

Origin of the Prints?

Without the actual fixed start date for Doctor Who in Ghana, it's impossible to determine where the prints were sourced from. But there are three likely places: both Canada and Bermuda screened the same group of 26 episodes in 1965 and 1966 respectively. Geographically, Bermuda is 'closer' to Ghana, and there is only a short window of two months or so between when Bermuda stopped screening Doctor Who and when Ghana may have started.

An alternative is that the films came from Nigeria, where the same five serials had aired (as part of a longer run of serials) between August 1965 and January 1966.


TOM BAKER

Unknown number of stories and episodes, except for:

4E Genesis of the Daleks 6

The episodes were supplied on PAL colour video tapes, with English soundtracks.

It is unknown exactly how many fourth Doctor serials were acquired by the GBC. During the late 1980s, various countries around the world played all sorts of different selected packages of Tom Baker stories – Nigeria had 17 serials, while the Seychelles only four -- so it's more than likely that the run of episodes in Ghana was also very brief (but at a guess it was at least all of season 12).


Transmission

WILLIAM HARTNELL

First available listing for 'Dr Who'; 11 July 1966
"Dr Who", 1 August 1966

TV transmissions commenced in Ghana on 31 July 1965. Due to inconsistent newspaper listings, only six consecutive billings for Doctor Who could be found, in July and August 1966. Therefore, we don't know whether these dates are towards the start, mid-way through or coming to the end of the 26 episode run.

BBC Records indicate that Ghana bought all five serials by 22 January 1966, which certainly ties in with an early 1966 start.

None of the editions of the Ghana Radio & Television Times available from mid-1965 to the end of March 1966 have listings for the series, so clearly it cannot have debuted any earlier than April 1966.

In the Ghana Daily Graphic, the first listed airdate for Doctor Who was on Monday, 11 July 1966, at 9.30pm. Six weeks later, on 15 August 1966, Doctor Who was still screening, but at the earlier time of 8.45pm. But no issue of the Graphic printed TV listings after that date.

If these few listings are the start of the 26 episode run, then Doctor Who aired from July 1966 to early January 1967. But if they mark a mid-way point, then it started no earlier than April 1966, and ended later that same year.

Of particular note, the 23 April 1966 issue of the UK paper the Daily Mirror carries an interview with William Hartnell ("Oh, the Agony of being Dr Who"), in which it says "Canadians, Maltese and Ghanaians all send him fan-mail..." (See Peter Haining's Doctor Who – The Key to Time for the text from the Daily Mirror article; another version of the same article can be found on our profile page for Zambia.)

But even with registered television sets numbering only 1,000 in 1965, there could only have been a very small number of fan letters coming from Ghana that early on after its debut there. But, if fans in Ghana were indeed writing to him as early as April 1966, then the series must have started between 25 March and 23 April.

On balance, we think the series probably commenced the last week of March 1966. The printed listings are mid-way through the run (possibly for Marco Polo?), and the run ended at the end of September 1966.

Fate of the Prints?

It's likely that Ghana sent the 26 films prints to nearby Sierra Leone, where the series commenced from 12 April 1967.

Alternatively, if the films had been sourced from there, they may have been returned to Nigeria.


TOM BAKER

As noted above, it is unknown how many serials aired. Three listings have been found in The Mirror, dated 12 November, 19 November and 26 November 1988; the first billing just says "Dr Who", the second has a brief synopsis that mentions Daleks, Davros and Nidar [sic], but the third identifies it as DR WHO - (Episode 6) "Genesis of the Daleks".

These three identified episodes aired on Sunday mornings at 8:45am. (If the station played from the start of Tom Baker's run, then Robot part 1 would have screened on or around 16 July 1988. The first episode of Genesis of the Daleks would have aired on 22 October 1988.)

Genesis of the Daleks part 5; The Mirror, 19 November 1988
Genesis of the Daleks part 6; The Mirror, 26 November 1988

Fate of the Tapes?

It is unknown if Doctor Who was still playing at the time of the May 1989 fire (see above), but the tapes of all the aired and any unaired episodes would probably have been stored in the film and video tape library at the time, and were therefore destroyed…


PATRICK TROUGHTON HOAX

"Power..." in Ghana hoax; DWB107

It was reported in DWB issue #105 (September 1992) that "the BBC archives are currently following up a claim that all six episodes of The Power of the Daleks were shown in Ghana six years ago…". There is no indication as to where the claim had been made, although it has been suggested it was at a fan gathering in London.

Two issues later, DWB #107 (November 1992) revealed that the investigation had been halted because the BBC had been informed "that Ghana television's film library was completely destroyed by a fire in 1989".

The report of the 1986 screening of that Troughton serial was later revealed to have been a silly hoax -- the perpetrators of this little bit of mischief had chosen Ghana as it was the most obscure place they could think of! – but as noted above, the fire that destroyed the film library was an actual event.


Dr Who on the Radio

Dr Who on Hot FM

Ghana also has its own version of Dr Who!

Eben Kofi Hammah Anderson (aka Anderson Ebenezer) is the host of "Hot & Classic Showbiz Review" on the Accra-based radio station Hot FM (93.9FM), and he goes by the name of "Dr Who".


TV listings

Airdates in Ghana
← AIRDATES ...... (CLICK ICON TO GO TO TABLE SHOWING EPISODE BREAKDOWN AND AIRDATES - N/S = listing Not Specific)

The few 1960s TV listings have been obtained from the newspaper Ghana Daily Graphic.

Although GBC-TV had commenced broadcasts at the end of July 1965, TV listings did not appear in the paper until September 1965. But from that month and through to May 1966 there was no sign of Doctor Who, however there were quite a few regular billings saying "To Be Announced", which could well have been Doctor Who, although with 26 episodes to air, how long would a TV station continue to be unsure of what they were screening each week?

The newspapers for the four weeks prior to 11 July 1966 were available, but on 13 June, the 9.30pm timeslot was filled by coverage of a sports event; while for both 20 and 27 June, the listings reported the station "close down" at 7.30pm (it was usually at 9.30pm or 10pm); and there were no TV listings at all in the 4 July issue.

For the five listings found between 11 July and 15 August 1966 (there were no TV listings in the 18 July issue), the programme was billed as Dr Who or "Dr Who", complete with punctuation. From 22 August 1966, TV listings disappeared completely for the rest of the year and into 1967.

Also checked were the available editions from 30 July 1965 to 25 March 1966 of the Ghana Radio & Television Times, but none contained listings for Doctor Who, which supports our belief that the series did not air until shortly after 25 March.

Our Airdates table therefore reflects two options: the series starting circa 28 March, which places the five known screenings mid-way; and a start in July 1966, making these six listings the very start of the run, which would have concluded circa January 1967.

For the three 1988 listings, these have been sourced from the few editions of The Mirror that are archived online via Google Books. Micro-filmed copies of the available 1988 and 1989 issues of the People's Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times were also checked, but neither paper printed TV listings. (Both papers did however feature reports on the 1989 fire, one of which is posted above.)


Ghana in Doctor Who

  • In episode four of The Chase, the box office outside the Frankenstein’s House of Horror exhibit declares that it is part of the 1996 "Festival of Ghana".


Links