Doctor Who Blog

50 Glorious Years: Episode 16 - 1978

As alluded to a couple of episodes ago, 1978 was a big year for Doctor Who in the United States. Although the series had been seen in a handful of US markets since 1972, 1978 was the year the show went national and started to become popular. In the wake of Star Wars the previous year, the Tom Baker episodes (starting with Robot) became a huge success and made Tom Baker THE Doctor in this market - the definitive article, some might say.

In the meantime, in the UK new episodes were proceeding as per usual. The show it its 15th anniversary in stride but without a great deal of fanfare - no special anniversary episodes were made nor was there much in the way of a celebration by the BBC - an appearance in costume by Tom Baker and Mary Tamm (and Carole Ann Ford in civies) on the BBC news programme Nationwide (where a seemingly annoyed and possibly intoxicated Tom Baker gets annoyed with interview Frank Bough for everyone to see nation-wide) was about it. A planned scene where the Doctor is given a birthday cake by Romana in the first episode of The Stones of Blood (the 100th Doctor Who story and also the story broadcast during November 1978, the anniversary month) was nixed by producer Graham Williams.

Something interesting to note about 1978 which is rarely commented upon - when The Androids of Tara was broadcast in December 1978, it was the 101st Doctor Who story and the 51st to be broadcast in colour. As such, only by the end of 1978 could it be said that there were more stories made and broadcast in colour than there was in black & white. Of course by 1978, most shows that had all or a significant number of black and white episdoes made were long gone. Not Doctor Who. There would be plenty of life still to come.


In the area where I live (Southern Ontario) this was the beginning of what seemed to many Doctor Who Fans as a very long time loop. Although my self I didn’t get into Doctor Who Until around 1981 I remember a friend telling me about how the PBS station was only playing Tom Baker episodes from Tom Baker’s debut story Robot to the end of the Key to time season’s Armageddon Factor. Looped over and over Monday to Friday. When I got into it I had the pleasure of seeing Robot to Logopolis over and over for, what seemed like at the time, years and years and years. (Although looking back it might have only been 3 or 4 years, I’m not sure)Eventually Jon Pertwee got thrown into the mix and the “Loop” became a little longer covering Inferno and most of the Pertwee Era from there to Logopolis. I never understood why everything post Logopolis was never included in Channel 17’s weekday run of Doctor Who. Even when we did get Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy episodes they were only broadcast on Saturdays in an Omnibus format.

Posted by Doug Grandy  on  04/26  at  01:21 PM

I remember that too.  I think Channel 17 called them “Doctor Who movies”.  They used to do pledge breaks around these stories, but not around the daily repeats, which if memory serves, used to get bumped for special pledge-period programming.

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