Wednesday, 16 March 2016

At Last the 1948 Show

The surviving files that make up the Rediffusion library are available to view at the Reuben Library located at the BFI Southbank. Electronic copying of any sort is not allowed, only the use of a notepad and pencil for note taking. For that reason, file numbers only have been quoted in this article. The documents are free to view and no accreditation is required. A complete set of camera scripts for the classic series of Doctor Who is available as are some minor props from the series. I had noticed them before but mistook them for a film library, until Michael Pummell pointed out my error - thanks, Mike

At Last the 1948 Show: Australia bought both series and paid £700 for each episode of the first series and £850 for each episode of the second series. Both series were also sold to Hong Kong via the Rediffusion station there. There were also further sales via GTS (Global Television Services) Ltd to Dublin, Norway, Sweden and New Zealand. All 13 eps of At Last 1948 aired in NZ as one run, regionally from December 1968 to August 1969. The films were all returned to Global in July 1971. 

I am sure there must have been others but there was nothing to indicate further sales, anywhere. Oddly, the Dublin sale appears to have been to a radio station? Although, AIR (All India Radio) owned India’s National Broadcaster and the Out of the Unknown episode Level Seven was found at Radio Bremen, so that may not be unusual.

"Happily, a 16mm film print of the play was discovered in the archives of German television broadcaster Radio Brennen and returned to the BBC in early 2006.":

GTS Ltd was a subsidiary of Rediffusion responsible for foreign sales. Here is a Rediffusion internal memo from TL Donald of GTS to Johnny Johnson of Rediffusion, 4th of July 1975:

“As you know it was agreed some time ago to junk all the drama/comedy material which would have little non-theatric value and kept the educational stuff till last.
The 48 show was junked some time ago, but when the demand for episodes came up, we were able to rescue two from the rubbish. Since then a third has come to light, and this was sent up today. “

This provides a little insight into their values and more can be found from Johhny Johnson here:

Where Chris Perry also mentions, “I have read 90% of the special collections. It’s mainly contracts for artistes so they get paid, mingled with scripts, stills and limited overseas sales stuff.” So like the BBC, the sales paperwork is incomplete at best. Another Johnny Johnson related quote from Chris Perry on the same thread: “John Johnson always hinted that 'shedloads of film' was taken away privately rather than be junked but I don't know how true that was.”

I saw a bit of other stuff and will be going back for further visits to view files for DNAYSHMS Paradise, Murder Bag and No Hiding Place as well as others.


Jon Preddle at

BFI Special Collections files: ITM-8898 and ITM-8899

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Singapore and ...

Singapore is situated at the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula and gained independence in 1963. In the same year, television services began on 15 February with Radio Television Singapore (RTS) launching a limited TV service. Regular TV services began on Channel 5 on 2 April 1963. Channel 8 launched on 23 November 1963 – a date with obvious significance.

Singapore became a republic in 1965, and RTS began transmitting Doctor Who 7th April that year. RTS operated two TV channels: Channel 5 (showing English and Malay programmes), and Channel 8 (mainly Chinese and Tamil). Malaysia never bought the same programs as Singapore because TV signals from Singapore could be picked up with clarity in Malaysia and vice versa. Though, Singapore did broadcast fifty-six episodes of Doctor Who that are currently missing from the BBC archives: Nine Hartnells (Marco Polo and the two missing episodes from The Reign of Terror) along with forty-seven Troughton episodes.

RTS bought the first ten seasons of the classic series of Doctor Who except for:

1 - Mission to the Unknown (1)

2 - The Daleks’ Master Plan (11/12 depending on whether you include FoS )

3 - Inferno (7)

4 - The Mind of Evil (6)

5 - The Daemons (5)

6 - The Green Death (6)

The ‘A’ (Adult) rating received from The Australian Film Classification Board prevented screening in Australia. It seems likely that further sales to other countries did not follow because none of these were bought at the much higher rate of $600 AUD that Australia normally paid for Doctor Who. None of these stories were broadcast in New Zealand by the ZNBC who paid closer to £50 (presumably GBP).

Paul Vanezis indicated on the that the archives of Singapore had been checked, turning up nothing. This seems to leave two possibilities, either the prints were disposed of on site, sent back to the BBC or they were sent on to somewhere else, but where? At after Singapore screened the War Machines in 1972 the prints were sent on to Nigeria. The recovered films stilled bared the censor cuts made in New Zealand and were eventually returned to the BBC. Aside from The War Machines, Enemy of the World and Web of Fear, the fate of the prints is still unknown.

Though we can't know for sure, there have been plenty of rumours and supposition over the years, and as always, scepticism is advised but the Facebook comment below is talking about The Celestial Toymaker is interesting nonetheless:

Richard Molesworth, author of Wiped: Doctor Who's Missing Episodes, posted the following on Gallifrey Base Forum:

I wrote to the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation just after 'Tomb' was returned from Hong Kong in early 1992, asking them what episodes of 'Dr Who' they had screeed, and if they still had any copies. (This was waaaay before we knew which countries had screened what and when, as we do now for 95% of the world.)  
They replied with details of sales dates and serial codes which (as later paperwork proved) was pretty comprehensive - not totally, but enough to tell me that someone had actually sat down and done the research to answer my query, perhaps about 90% accurate to what we know now. The letter ended with them saying that they'd checked their archive records, and that they didn't retain any of the programmes. As the answer was pretty damn comprehensive, I have very little reason to doubt that Singapore didn't retain any 'Dr Who' prints. They'd done the research, which was more than could be said of most of the other countries I wrote to in 1992! 
Without actually going there and checking in person, who's to say 100%, but I'm quite satisifed that SBC have no 'Dr Who' films at all, missing or otherwise. 


The clipping below is from Wednesday, July 1975 and provides some insight into the problems facing RTS at the time, the subsection 'Bundles from Britain', is particularly noteworthy:

With thanks to Jon Preddle, and the British Library