50 Glorious Years: Episode 15 - 1977
1977 was the year that changed things dramatically for science-fiction in the English-speaking world. It was the year Star Wars hit the cinemas and science-fiction (and the trappings of sci-fi) went mainstream. The effect of the change was probably more profound in North America - and the US in particular, as sci-fi had already been mainstream in the UK, as evidenced by the success of Doctor Who. At the end of its 14th season the classic series hit a peak in popularity in the UK that it was never quite to regain again, with viewing figures regularly hitting 11 to 12 million viewers. The series was the subject of a proper documentary for television for the first time - “Whose Doctor Who” for the BBC2 Lively Arts programme. Broadcast in April 1977, the documentary points out that Doctor Who had domesticated science-fiction in the UK. One month later, Star Wars would start to do the same in the USA, something that would in turn help to have a positve effect for Doctor Who‘s fortunes in that country.
Doctor Who of course was now featuring Tom Baker and Louise Jameson as the stars of the show, Elisabeth Sladen having left after an unprecedented length of time as the main companion towards the end of 1976. Before the end of the year however Leela’s arrival would be eclipsed by the addition of another companion - neither male nor female, but robotic. Unwittingly capturing the “cute robots in sci-fi” zeitgeist that emerged with Star Wars in 1977, Doctor Who now had K9, an enduring character who not only stayed with the show until 1981, but also was the first character to get his own televised spin-off adventure (later in 1981). Yes, Elisabeth Sladen was in K9 and Company as well, but you only need to look at the title of spin-off to see what was meant to be the top marketing draw. Brought back again in 1983 and in the new series, K9 is a character that is sure to live on as long as Doctor Who does, and 1977 was the year of his birth.
Posted by Luca on Tuesday, April 16 at 8:15 pm