Doctor Who Blog

50 Glorious Years: Episode 36 - 1998

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1998 was Doctor Who’s 35th Anniversary, and was the quietest major anniversary still to this date. There was no news about a new series or tv movies (although there were reports of a possible feature film by BBC films that did give a brief flicker of hope for a day or two) that fans could even talk or day-dream about. The series celebrated its 35th Anniversary primarily with the publication of The Infinity Doctors novel. Fans also got to celebrate with the VHS release of The Ice Warriors on video, for many the first chance to see these episodes in good quality - well, episodes 1, 4, 5 and 6 that is - ten years after these missing episodes had been recovered. A couple more spin-off videos were made and released featuring monsters from Doctor Who, but there was no celebration of any kind broadcast of new material (be it new episodes or new documentaries).

Times have obviously changed.

What no Doctor Who fan knew at the time was that 1998 would be the last time the franchise had a quiet anniversary, or this quiet of a year. In 1999, things started to change again for the better, and we would never be so quiet again.

4 Comments...

You sort-of overlooked the Oct 17, 1997 launch of Space: The Imagination Station, a new Canadian cable channel originally owned by CHUM Ltd. Non-Canadian readers can tune out if you like, but at the time we were excited that Space immediately started running the Hartnell and Troughton episodes three times a day, and became the first North American (or worldwide?) broadcaster of ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ since its rediscovery.  You might agree it was a gutsy move for the station to not start with a buy of the Pertwee and Tom Baker episodes that local audiences remembered well from 1980s public broadcasters. You’d be right… 130 episodes were included, that was all complete stories up to the end of ‘The Ambassadors of Death’, plus ‘The Sontaran Experiment’ included as a non-sequential filler. At the end of that run in early 1998, instead of acquiring more, they looped, cut broadcasts to once a day at 7:30 AM, eventually dropping even that. They also showed the Reeltime Pictures docu ‘I Was A Doctor Who Monster’.

The 35th anniversary did feel good, though official channels were not very amped up.  In early 1998 the first large whack of British book authors participated in the Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles, reporting back to their Internet followers what a wonderful time they had, and how much they looked forward to returning next year. Fanzine projects were becoming very elaborate in 1998, for example ‘Perfect Timing’ assuming some of the mantle Virgin had supposedly handed back to BBC Books.  1998 at the end of the year was also the final year of the Visions convention in Chicago (replaced in 2000 by Chicago TARDIS.)

Posted by Eric  on  10/25  at  02:12 PM

Eric,

I must pedantically state that WXXI, the PBS station here in Rochester, NY, showed a movie-edit “Tomb of the Cybermen” in the early 90s for a pledge drive.

WXXI had stopped showing “Doctor Who” a year or two prior, and I remember my shock opening the TV listings book that came with the Sunday paper, and seeing “Tomb of the Cybermen” listed to show on Saturday.

Yes, that was actually how I learned that the story had been found.

I have no idea if other PBS stations (whether they were still running DW or not) did something similar. But in any case, I’m afraid Space wasn’t the first to show “Tomb” in North America.

Posted by Curt  on  10/26  at  12:50 PM

Thanks for the correction Curt, more screenings of ‘Tomb’ are always good for somebody even if I missed them!

Posted by Eric  on  10/27  at  11:39 AM

I remember the PBS I got in my hometown Goderich showing it very very soon after the announcement that Tomb had been found.  I missed it because at the time I had gone to Northern Alberta for a job.  We had satellite access up there & I missed the chance to tape it but it was one of the first videos I bought from Who Enterprises in early 1993.

Posted by Ray Currie  on  10/30  at  09:25 PM

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