Bookmark and Share Finally... New Series Begins on US SCI-FI Channel in March

1/12/2006 03:05:00 am - Reported by Shaun Lyon

January 12, 2006 • Posted By Shaun Lyon
At long last... America will finally get the first season of the new Doctor Who television series, according to a press release on the official Doctor Who website. The US-based Sci-Fi Channel, owned by NBC Universal, has secured a deal to broadcast the 13 episodes in America starting in March, beginning on what Outpost Gallifrey believes is likely March 17 (the week after the season finales of the popular "Battlestar Galactica" and two "Stargate" shows), at 9:00pm Friday nights, and it will likely conclude at some point in mid-to-late June in time for Sci-Fi's summer premieres of those shows. The press release notes that Sci-Fi has an optionfor series two, likely to be acted upon after initial ratings come in.

In conjunction with the announcement, the press release also mentions the delay of the US DVD release of the first season, now rescheduled for July 2006 to follow the final broadcast of the show's first season. While no official announcement had recently come, speculation persisted that the DVDs had been pulled from their original February 14 release date. However, interestingly, the release of the DVD set is listed in Canada on for February 14, perhaps indicative of a possible Canadian release on that date and having the US release follow five months later.

Also, missing from the announcement is any indication of the status of the classic Doctor Who series. BBC America previously pulled the broadcast of the classic series, opting not to renew broadcast rights (only two stations in the US currently show it, on long-term broadcast contracts) to sell both series together. It is likely that a new offer was made to Sci-Fi without the classic series, but the status of the 'old show' remains to be seen.

Date, Timeslot Notes: Where are we getting the March 17 date, people are asking? That's the week after the end of the current 'back ten episode' seasons of the "Stargate" and "Battlestar Galactica" series currently running on Sci-Fi, and we're told this will follow immediately. As Sci-Fi is preempting "Stargate Atlantis", what this means for the other shows on that night is anyone's guess -- i.e. whether or not "Stargate SG-1" or "Battlestar Galactica" continue in reruns or are pulled from the schedule -- but it's potentially an attempt to continue the ratings Sci-Fi currently has, as the channel has several shows now in production (including the sci-fi drama/comedy series "Eureka") that it might pair the series with; we simply don't know at this point.

Whither "Confidential"?: There is no official word on any potential airing of the "Doctor Who Confidential" documentary series that aired along with the UK run of the program (on BBC Three), though it is extremely unlikely that this was part of the package purchased. However, Sci-Fi is known for one-shot documentaries to introduce new shows, and some footage from the Confidential series could potentially be used if such a documentary were considered.

Press Clips: The Sci-Fi Channel has posted its news story about the acquisition; other reports have come from a variety of locations includingBBC NewsUnited Press InternationalThe Futon CriticIF MagazineTV Squad,Chicago TribuneIGN FilmforceNow Playing MagCinescapeGateworldTV Shows on DVDAddict3d,CBBC NewsEntertainmentwiseShort NewsComingsoon.netThe RegisterDark HorizonsHollywood ReporterWeb IndiaNew KeralaMenafnSci-Fi OnlineAccess HollywoodZap2It,WorldscreenDigital Spy, Also, the Associated Press has distributed the story and it's shown up so far in dozens of online editions of US print newspapers (all the same story, so we won't link them here).

The press release is below. Outpost Gallifrey will continue to keep you posted on this developing story.

(Thanks to Paul Engelberg, Steve Tribe, Rich Kirkpatrick, and the literallyhundreds of eager fans who've written into Outpost Gallifrey about the news... we suggest you visit our Forum, where the discussion has been running wild all day!)

SCI FI Channel and BBC Worldwide Americas announced today a major licensing deal for the first series of the latest Doctor Who adventures.

The 13-part drama is about a mysterious time-travelling adventurer known simply as "The Doctor" (Christopher Eccleston) and his companion, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). The Doctor and Rose risk death and danger, battling aliens and monsters.

The deal, brokered by Lisa Hofer, Director Co-Production & Sales, BBC Worldwide Americas, grants SCI FI Channel the first run rights for series one with an option for series two. The award-winning series will premiere on SCI FI beginning in March, airing Friday nights at 9.00pm.

Russell T Davies, Head Writer and Executive Producer told us: "The Doctor's made all sorts of journeys in Time and Space, but this is one of his most exciting yet! I'm a huge fan of the SCI FI Channel, and I'm delighted that Doctor Who is appearing on a channel that supports and enhances the entire genre."

"With its rich history of imaginative storytelling, Doctor Who is a true sci-fi classic," stated Thomas P. Vitale, SCI FI's Senior Vice President, Programming & Original Movies. "We're excited to add the show to our lineup."

Commenting on the deal Candace Carlisle, Senior Vice President, BBC Worldwide Americas, said: “The new production has fantastic storylines and production values and has already gained an iconic status around the world. SCI FI Channel is the perfect home for the show and will introduce Doctor Who to a whole new generation of fans in the US.”

In addition, BBC Video has moved the US release date of the DVD from February 2006 to July 4, 2006 to capitalize on the exposure from the TV broadcast. As part of the deal, BBC Video and SCI FI Channel have agreed to work together on joint marketing promotions to support the brand launch.

Burton Cromer, Vice President, Consumer Products, BBC Worldwide Americas said: “We are delighted to be working with SCI FI Channel on the launch of this exciting new take on Doctor Who. The additional marketing support from SCI FI, as well their ability to reach such a broad audience base, made moving the release date an easy decision.”

Executive Produced by Russell T Davies (lead writer) and Julie Gardner, the first series of Doctor Who attracted huge ratings and received critical acclaim when it aired on BBC ONE in March 2005.