Selling Doctor Who

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This chapter looks at the sales of Doctor Who broken down into "waves".

Buying and Selling a TV Programme

For a summary of the processes relating to the buying of a TV programme, click HERE.


The THREE WAVES of Doctor Who

In the 1960s and 1970s, but less so into and beyond the 1980s, members of the Commonwealth of Nations operated a "quota" system, by which a percentage of all cinema releases and television programmes sold and purchased had to be products from other Commonwealth countries. The BBC therefore had an obligation under this quota system to sell Doctor Who to other Commonwealth nations.

From as early as mid 1964, the BBC began offering Doctor Who to Commonwealth broadcasters, starting with regular purchasers such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong, with other Commonwealth countries in Africa, North America, the Caribbean and Europe soon to follow.


A few years later – from 1967 - they began to exploit the series to non-Commonwealth and non-English speaking territories such as Thailand, the Middle East and other Arabic nations, and Latin American countries.


There were in effect three major "waves" during which the BBC exploited Doctor Who, with each wave spanning a period of around six years. The following tables list the countries in - as close as we can get it - chronological broadcast order.


FIRST WAVE

The first wave of airdates was of William Hartnell stories and Patrick Troughton stories.

1 New Zealand 18 Sep 1964
2 Australia 16 Jan 1965
3 Canada 23 Jan 1965
4 Singapore 7 Apr 1965
5 Gibraltar 8 Apr 1965
6 Malta 24 May 1965
7 Aden 4 Jul 1965
8 Nigeria 3 Aug 1965
9 Rhodesia 26 Sep 1965
10 Zambia 19 Oct 1965
11 Trinidad & Tobago 31 Oct 1965
12 Bermuda 13 Dec 1965
13 Uganda 18 Jan 1966
14 Jamaica 3 Mar 1966
15 Cyprus 12 Mar 1966
16 Barbados 25 Apr 1966
17 Hong Kong 26 Apr 1966
18 Kenya 16 Jun 1966
19 Ghana 11 Jul 1966?
20 Thailand 20 Aug 1966
21 Mauritius 21 Oct 1966
22 Venezuela 26 Feb 1967
23 Sierra Leone 12 Apr 1967
24 Tunisia 13 Apr 1967
25 Mexico 25 Mar 1968
26 Morocco circa 1968
27 Saudi Arabia circa 1968
28 Chile 5 Jan 1969
29 Iran Jan 1969?
30 Jordan circa 1969
31 Libya circa 1969
32 Ethiopia 22 Oct 1970
33 Costa Rica 8 Jun 1971


SECOND WAVE

As more and more countries switched to colour, the opportunity arose to sell the series to many more countries than was possible before.

The BBC exploited the Jon Pertwee stories, both in colour and black and white, and the Tom Baker stories, in PAL and NTSC colour to North and Latin America. (Overlapping with this wave was the final sale of William Hartnell stories, sold to Algeria in 1973.

34= United States 21 Aug 1972
34= Guam 27 Nov 1972
35 Algeria 31 Dec 1973


Several countries that had screened a brief run of Hartnells in the 1960s later purchased new Pertwee and/or Baker episodes. These are marked #.

Many sales occurred in the same region at the same time: there were several sales in 1977 to Middle Eastern countries, while 1979-1980 saw a much wider distribution in Central America and South America.

And after limited success with conquering Europe in the 1970s, the BBC was able to finally crack the European market.

And by this point, the BBC had sold Doctor Who to nearly 39 countries. Does that number sound familiar? See 110 MILLION VIEWERS.

From this point on, we have not numbered the countries, as there are too many debut airdates that we have not been able to determine. We have placed the countries in likely broadcast order.

. United Arab Emirates late 1974/early 75
. Netherlands 28 Jul 1975
. Bahrain circa 1975?
. Philippines 6 Mar 1976
. Brunei 8 Aug 1976
# Canada 18 Sep 1976
. Lebanon 22 Apr 1977
# Saudi Arabia 26 Apr 1977
. Qatar mid-1977
. Korea (South) 7 Nov 1977
. Swaziland 4 Feb 1978
. Japan 3 Mar 1978
# Nigeria 8 Jan 1979
# Rhodesia 13 Jan 1979
# Malta 20 Apr 1979
# Mexico 4 May 1979
# Chile 9 May 1979
. Denmark 8 Jun 1979
. Puerto Rico 23 Oct 1979
. Brazil circa 1979
# Costa Rica 4 Feb 1980
. Italy 6 Feb 1980
. Colombia 13 Feb 1980
. Ecuador 19 Mar 1980
. Bangladesh 8 Jul 1980
. Nicaragua 6 Aug 1980
# Jordan 7 April 1981?
. Sri Lanka 30 Apr 1981
. Honduras 1980 or 81?
# Venezuela 31 May 1981
  • By the end of 1981, the BBC had sold the series to just over 54 countries. Does that ring familiar? See 110 MILLION VIEWERS.


THIRD WAVE

From 1984, the BBC sold Doctor Who even further afield than before (did the extensive publicity for the 20th anniversary have anything to do with this?)

In 1984 and 1986, there were more sales to Asian countries that ever before, with three near-neighbouring countries picking up the series all around the same time in 1986.

After a 1985 sales showcase in Nassau, several more Caribbean countries were added to the list.

In 1985, the BBC reissued all the available and complete Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee stories to the United States and Canada, with Australia and New Zealand also picking up these back-catalogue packages by the turn of the century.

From 1986, the BBC tempted more countries in Europe, following the October 1985 MIPCOM TV fair in Cannes.

Of note, the vast majority of all these sales in the 1980s were of Tom Baker stories.

"New" countries that previously appeared in WAVE ONE or TWO, are marked with a #.

. Monaco 9 Nov 1983
# Netherlands 30 Sep 1985
# Trinidad & Tobago 11 Dec 1985
# Barbados 30 Dec 1985
. Malaysia 6 Feb 1986
. Armed Forces Network 15 Mar 1986
. Bahamas 26 Jun 1986
. Taiwan 18 Aug 1986
. Yugoslavia 5 Oct 1986
. Greece 5 Dec 1986
. Seychelles 14 Feb 1987
. Spain 22 Feb 1988
. Turkey 9 June 1988
. France 19 Feb 1989
. Germany 22 Nov 1989
. Sweden 24 Aug 1996

This brings the country total to just under 70.


Ratio: Doctor per Country

Not every country saw all seven Doctors, and not every story of each Doctor was seen.

With the exception of Australia and New Zealand, the only two countries to have the first seven 'classic' Doctors in 'chronological order', most countries saw only one or two Doctors. This table illustrates the nineteen (known) combinations of Doctor/s per country for the period 1964 to 1997, exclusive of back-catalogue sales of past Doctors:

(For countries marked ?, there is some uncertainty as to where they fit in the chart)


1st Dr 2nd Dr 3rd Dr 4th Dr 5th Dr 6th Dr 7th Dr No. Countries
X 14 Aden, Algeria, Bermuda, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Kenya, Jamaica, Libya, Mauritius, Morocco, Thailand, Tunisia
X X 2 Uganda, Zambia
X X X 1 Singapore
X X X X 1 Hong Kong
X X X X X 1 Gibraltar
X X X X X X X 2 Australia, New Zealand
X X X 1 Nigeria
X X 1 Sierra Leone
X X X 2 Malta, Saudi Arabia
X X X X X X 1 Canada
X X 8 Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Jordan, Mexico, Rhodesia, Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela
X 6 Bangladesh, Guam, Korea (South), Lebanon, Philippines, Qatar
X X 3 Brunei, Sri Lanka, Sweden
X X X 1 Swaziland
X X X X X 2 United Arab Emirates, United States
X X X 1 Japan
X 19 Bahamas, Bahrain?, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Greece, Honduras, Italy, Malaysia, Monaco, Nicaragua, Poland, Puerto Rico, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, Yugoslavia
X X 2 Netherlands, Seychelles
X X X 1 Germany
35 8 23 46 10 6 7 69
  • Not included in this table are the countries marked "Countries Unconfirmed" and "Relayed Broadcasts" on the Broadcasts around the World index page.

In short, 14 countries saw only William Hartnell, 6 had just Jon Pertwee, and for 19, Tom Baker was the only Doctor.


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