/* *********** TRACKING ******* */

Bookmark and Share Doctor Who On Television

6/22/1997 09:50:00 pm - Reported by Marcus

Compiled by:
Shannon Patrick Sullivan
Will FOX be picking up Doctor Who for more movies or a series?

Sadly, the answer now appears to be a definitive no. In an e-mail to a fan in late November, a spokesperson for FOX scheduling confirmed that FOX had declined to exercise its option on Doctor Who.

According to Ceefax, the BBC has also decided not to proceed with a new series, given the end of its American co-production partnership. A spokesperson suggested that a second movie was not out of the question, however. All this is particularly unfortunate as, in a phone-in poll conducted in late May and early June, 96% of 6000 voters indicated they would like to see Doctor Who return as an ongoing series.

At the Conservative Party Conference on October 9th. Will Wyatt, Head of BBC Television, confirmed that he felt Doctor Who was simply too expensive to make without American support. Wyatt also argued that the movie had been "too dark" and bemoaned what he perceived as a lack of quality in 1980s Who. He was, however, complimentary toward the enthusiasm of executive producer Phil Segal.

So what happens now?

It's hard to say. FOX's "first choice" option expired at the end of 1996, and Universal's will do the same in December if there is no positive activity (certain reports, and indeed Phil Segal himself, had suggested the option would terminate in April, but this does not appear to have been the case). Some reports suggest that BBC Worldwide is looking to countries where the film was a success for a new co-producer. Other sources, including BBC engineer Steve Roberts, claim BBC Worldwide may be interested in making a new series themselves. Roberts was quoted as saying on the CompuServe SF/Fantasy Media Forum in late March that BBC Worldwide "can't wait for the Universal option to expire so they can do something with it next year" (ie possibly make a new series). However, Philip Segal and others have pointed out in the past that BBC Worldwide likely lack the resources to make Doctor Who themselves, and would still require a co-production deal. Furthermore, it appears that BBC television is becoming increasingly less enthusiastic about Doctor Who, though the return of former BBC-1 Controller (and known Who supporter Alan Yentob as head of BBC Television (and official deputy of Will Wyatt, chief executive of BBC Broadcast) could potentially mean a change in this attitude. On March 17th, Segal was quoted on ITV Teletext urging the BBC to keep Doctor Who alive.

What were the US and UK ratings like? How about video and merchandise sales?

In the US, the movie netted a disappointing 5.5 rating and a 9 share, placing it joint 75th out of 98 network programmes for the week; this is far below the 15 share FOX was apparently hoping for. The half-hour breakdown in terms of rating/share was 5.3/9, 5.5/9, 5.4/8 and 5.7/9. Reportedly, the movie netted a 14 share amongst teenagers, a 12 share amongst men aged 18 to 49, and an 8 share amongst women aged 18 to 49. The 9 share is a little below the average for the FOX Tuesday Night movie, which stands at around an 11 share. The movie did do quite well in some regions, though, netting as high as a 15 share in the Washington, DC area. It was also the most-taped programme of the week.

The show faced tough competition, including programmes like Roseanne which ended up with a crushing 25 share.

Final UK Ratings are now in, and are significantly better than the early estimates predicted. Doctor Who finished with 9.08 million viewers, placing it 15th overall (9th when only counting once those programmes with multiple episodes that week) in the BARB charts for the week ending June 2nd (which was topped by an episode of Coronation Street at 16.02 million viewers), and at 10th place (5th place counting EastEnders and Neighbours only once) in the BBC's Top Ten. Doctor Who also finished 2nd amongst dramas, beaten only by ITV's The Knock with 9.92 million viewers. According to DreamWatch, its Audience Appreciation figure was very high at 75, a mark previously reached only by The Five Doctors. It is also important to note that Doctor Who's ratings may have been affected by its being aired on a Bank Holiday Monday -- that night's episode of Eastenders, for instance, was down 18% on the previous week.

The video, meanwhile, entered the CIN sales charts at 3rd place. The following week, it slipped to 6th and then disappeared off the Top Thirty in its third week of sales. While this is below expectations, it is nevertheless second amongst Doctor Who videos to Tomb Of The Cybermen.

The money lost to BBC Worldwide on video sales has apparently been recouped by stellar sales of movie-related merchandise, specifically that offered in Radio Times.

If Doctor Who returns, will Segal, McGann, Roberts and Ashbrook all be back?

With FOX having now passed on Doctor Who, it is unclear whether Paul McGann -- who had been contracted for five years if FOX had gone ahead with the programme -- is still bound to Doctor Who in any way. McGann, however, has suggested to Sylvester McCoy that he would like to play the role again (contrary to popular fan rumor), and even suggested the possibility of attending a convention if McCoy was there "to hold his hand".

Segal now has commitments to Lakeshore Productions, making it seem unlikely that he would return to Doctor Who. However, if the reports that Segal was influential in Universal's extension of their Doctor Who contract are true, it could be that Segal has reconsidered this position. Furthermore, he has hinted that, should nothing pan out for the programme in the near future, he may be interested in spearheading another revival as a cinematic venture.

As for the others, Ashbrook's involvement would presumably be contingent on the actress' schedules and on the willingness of any future production team to involve her. Roberts was essentially a one-shot guest star and would probably not return to Doctor Who again.

UPDATED! When will Doctor Who air in my country?

Doctor Who was aired on the French station France2 on Tuesday, March 18th at 11pm under the title Le Seigneur du Temps ("The Time Lord"). According to ITV's Teletext, Spain, Portugal, Greece and South Africa are also interested in purchasing the movie.

FOX still has the rights to repeat the movie one more time (and a video release in North America cannot occur before this happens). Although rumors had suggested this would take place this summer, FOX Scheduling now preports that Doctor Who will most likely not appear amongst their summer movies.

Where can I find more information about the movie?

A brief synopsis, as well as a cast/crew list and production history are available on my Eighth Doctor Page.

Is it true the BBC is being sued over the TV movie?

Yes. A consortium called Daltenreys, headed up by George Dugdale, John Humphreys and Peter Litten but also including two members of the band Dire Straits amongst others, had obtained the right in 1987 to make a cinematic version of Doctor Who. After several failed attempts, Daltenreys entered into a deal with Lumiere Pictures in 1993. Things appeared to begin to turn around then, with a new script written by Star Trek scribe Denny Martin Flynn, Leonard Nimoy on tap to direct, and Alan Rickman reportedly on the verge of signing to play the Doctor. Then, in 1994, the BBC seized back the rights, claiming Daltenreys had run out of time; the principals, however, claim that the BBC obstructed their attempts to move the production along, and made the deal with Phil Segal (which ultimately led to the production of Enemy Within) before their rights had actually expired. The Daltenreys principals -- who claim the BBC's actions financially bankrupted them -- are seeking about 14 million pounds in compensation and lost profits.

Is there anyone else interested in making Doctor Who?

A report in Doctor Who Magazine #252 suggests that an Atlanta-based company (which had previously tried to instigate a Doctor Who animated series in the Eighties) has entered into discussions with a British company with regard to a new series of Doctor Who. The Atlanta company is developing a format for two full 22-episode seasons of the new programme and hope to conclude talks this summer. However, BBC Worldwide is not yet involved and, given how many other such rumors have been bandied about in the past eight years, fans would be well advised not to get their hopes up at this stage.

Will there be a new K-9 TV show?

Doctor Who Magazine reports that a four-part programme featuring K-9 -- intended as a precursor to a full-fledged new series -- is now in development. Produced by Bob Baker (who created K-9 along with Dave Martin) and Paul Tams, K-9 will be redesigned and updated from his original appearance by Steve Mansbridge, who worked on several late Eighties Who episodes. The programme (which has not been picked up by a network yet, but has garnered interest from the BBC) will be targetted at a family audience -- featuring a variety of child sidekicks for K-9 -- and will demonstrate no obvious links to Doctor Who. The new K-9 episodes will begin filming later this year, allegedly with a seven-figure budget.