Thailand

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THAILAND is part of Southeast Asia, and lies at the tip of the peninsula of Malaysia.

Profile

Country Number (20) 1966 FIRST WAVE
Region Australasia/Asia
Television commenced 1955
Colour System 1973 PAL
Population 1966 30 million
TV Sets 1966 250,300
Language/s Thai Dubbed (simulcast with English)

Television Stations / Channels

Thailand began its television service in 1955.

Thailand has two television stations: THAI TV, channel 4, a government-owned broadcaster, and The Royal Thai Army Television Company - HSA-TV, channel 7, a privately owned broadcaster, run by the Thai army.

It was on the Army TV channel 7 that Doctor Who aired.


Language/s

The official language of Thailand is Thai, although English is recognised as a secondary language taught in schools.

Television is broadcast in a mixture of both Thai and English - the Thai soundtrack was dubbed locally; the original English soundtrack was simulcast on FM radio bands. For channel 4 it was on FM radio 96.5 Mcs, and for Channel 7 it was 90.25 and 105 mcs.

Another common "dubbing" method used by the television stations in the 1960s was for actors to perform the Thai soundtrack live during transmission. Whether this method was utilised on Doctor Who is unknown. (The fact that Thailand aired Marco Polo and The Reign of Terror, two stories for which "Music / Effects" only soundtracks were not available, suggests that "dubbed live" may have been used by channel 7 for these two serials at least.)


DOCTOR WHO IN THAILAND

Thailand was the 20th country to screen Doctor Who. It was also the first non-Commonwealth country, and also the first non-English-language nation to screen the series (see Selling Doctor Who).


BBC Records

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

The Seventies records a sale of "(9)" stories by 28 February 1977. The Handbook identifies these as being: A, C, D, E, F, H, J, K and L.

In DWM, Thailand is identified in 11 story Archives: the same nine as above, plus B and G.


Stories bought and broadcast

WILLIAM HARTNELL

Eleven stories, 53 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
F The Aztecs 4
G The Sensorites 6
H The Reign of Terror 6
J Planet of Giants 3
K The Dalek Invasion of Earth 6
L The Rescue 2

Thailand therefore bought the standard package of GROUP A, B, and C of the William Hartnell stories.

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

Origin of the Prints?

Thailand TV would have required Music / Effects only soundtracks to enable them to dub the episodes into Thai – or in the case of the serials that didn't have a M / E sound track, i.e. Marco Polo and The Reign of Terror, dubbed "live" (as noted above), or maybe broadcast just in English.

It's highly likely that the 53 films were supplied from Hong Kong, the only other country in Asian country to screen just those same 53 episodes. Hong Kong would have sent each serial over to Thailand soon after transmission; that Thailand had a number of pre-emptions during the run (see below) may be on account of the films arriving very late from Hong Kong, or perhaps it was due to the dubbing requirements of certain episodes taking longer than expected.


Transmission

WILLIAM HARTNELL

"Dr WHO!", 17.30pm, 3 September 1966 – note FM radio frequencies, and footnote disclaimer

The series started on Saturday, 20 August 1966, at 5.30pm. It screened weekly at that time, or at 5.28pm for 17 episodes mid-way through the run. There were three weeks in which no episode aired (4 and 11 February 1967, and 30 September). However, the run ended after 68 weeks on 2 December 1967, which means there were 12 "extra" weeks. But it's more likely these are due to pre-emptions rather than repeats or additional episodes sold but not recorded in our main BBC Records sources.

It is noted in the book, Broadcasting in Asia and the Pacific (John A Lent, 1978), it was not uncommon in Thailand that published schedules were "often unrelated to what is aired. Programs run late, or not at all, and substitutions are made without prior notice".

Indeed, the TV listings contain (as they are all want to do) the disclaimer: "N.B.: Program is subject to changes without notice".

This would certainly explain the discrepancy of twelve "additional" episodes during this run.

If the "dubbed as it was transmitted" method was used for the series, it's possible most of the pre-empting was on account of the live recording facilities not always being available on the night.

There is no clear record that Thailand screened Doctor Who again, even after the switch to PAL colour in 1973.


Fate of the Prints?

Thailand was the last of the five Asian countries to air the original 53 episode package of William Hartnell stories. It's likely that Thailand destroyed or returned the films to the BBC.

In November 2008, the world's news agencies reported that "researcher Damian Finucane" was on the hunt for missing episodes of Doctor Who in Bangkok. Needless to say, nothing positive came from his efforts...


TV listings

Airdates in Thailand
← AIRDATES ...... (CLICK ICON TO GO TO TABLE SHOWING EPISODE BREAKDOWN AND AIRDATES - N/S = listing Not Specific)
Dr Who, 17.30pm, 28 January 1967

TV listings have been obtained from the newspapers, Bangkok Post and Bangkok World. The latter gave the full week's listings in the Wednesday issues.

Listings initially gave the series name as "Dr Who" or "Dr WHO!" (complete with capitalisation and punctuation).

None of the listings had story titles, so we can only assume that the stories aired in the correct order. As noted earlier, there are 12 additional listings for the series – all of which can be attributed to pre-emptions.

At times the Bangkok World would have a different starting time than that given by the Bangkok Post: the example imaged here for 28 January 1967 shows a two-minute divergence from the 17.28 time.

One striking aspect of the listings for "Dr WHO!", is the start and end times – 17.30 to 19.05 in the first example shown here. This shouldn't be read that the programme ran for over 90 minutes! No, the reason for this is, that non-English programmes would also screen during the evening's schedule, but these would understandably not be recorded in the TV listings of English-language newspapers. (Compare the two listings above; the second one also omits several programmes that the first listing includes.)


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