Selling Doctor Who
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.
|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|
|27||Saudi Arabia||circa 1968|
|28||Chile||5 Jan 1969|
|32||Ethiopia||22 Oct 1970|
|33||Costa Rica||8 Jun 1971|
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 once the first 23 Tom Baker stories had been dubbed into Spanish.
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|
|.||Philippines||6 Mar 1976|
|.||Brunei||8 Aug 1976|
|#||Canada||18 Sep 1976|
|.||Lebanon||22 Apr 1977|
|#||Saudi Arabia||26 Apr 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|
|#||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 Apr 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.
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?)
And of particular note, the vast majority of all these sales in the 1980s were of Tom Baker stories.
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 taking up serials from the back-catalogue.
From 1986, the BBC tempted more countries in Europe, following the October 1985 MIPCOM TV fair in Cannes.
And from the mid-1980s there were also sales to various Cable and Satellite stations, such as HBO OLE, Super Channel, UK Gold, BBC World Service Television Europe and BBC Prime, whose reach extended across continents, bringing the good Doctor to many countries that had never screened the series before. See our full list HERE.
"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|
|.||France||c. May 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 Jun 1988|
|#||Ghana||c. Jul 1988|
|.||Germany||22 Nov 1989|
|.||Sweden||24 Aug 1996|
- This brings the country total to just under 70.
- Not included in this list are the "Countries Unconfirmed" without airdates marked on the Broadcasts around the World index page.
- Although the series didn't air in France until 1989, the series was purchased by them in 1986, hence that country's placement under that year.
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||X||X||X||X||X||2||Australia, New Zealand|
|X||X||X||2||Malta, Saudi Arabia|
|X||X||9||Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Ghana, 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||X||X||2||United Arab Emirates, United States|
|X||19||Bahamas, Bahrain?, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Greece, Honduras, Italy, Malaysia, Monaco, Nicaragua, Poland, Puerto Rico, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, Yugoslavia|
- 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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