Dave Galanter
December 1st 1969 - December 12th 2020
He was loved.

Doctor Who >> View Post
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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
In Reply To
Ancient One 

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,517
Subj: Re: The Beginning of the End?
Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2020 at 06:27:14 pm GMT (Viewed 83 times)
Reply Subj: Re: The Beginning of the End?
Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2020 at 06:20:34 pm GMT (Viewed 88 times)

Previous Post

    Doctor Who is similar. Back in 1963 it was only intended as running a few weeks initially, and that went on to a reprieve of months, which somehow turned into years, and then decades!

This is another myth that needs to go. Doctor Who was never intended to run for only a few weeks. It was planned right from the start as a serial that would run for a year. 52 episodes.

The confusion probably stems from two things:

1) The way artists were contracted for long running series. You could *plan* a show to run for 52 weeks, but there's no guarantee it would be a hit. It might turn out to be a disaster and end after 4 weeks. But if you contracted an actor for 52 weeks and the show ended after 4 weeks, you'd still have to pay the actor for the length of the contract.

So actors were contracted for shorter blocks of episodes, with an option on the BBC's part to extend if the show continued. For example the contract Bill Hartnell signed in 1963 was for 8 episodes, with an option for a further 12, and a further option covering the remaining 32. This was a practice that continued right through the 1960's

2) Early teething problems on the show lead to an emergency meeting being called between Verity Lambert and BBC execs. The upshot was that Lambert was told to be prepared to end the show after 13 weeks if the problems weren't solved. This is the reason the two-part 'Edge of Destruction' was hastily written and thrown into production. An Unearthly Child and The Daleks accounted for 11 episodes, and the next available story was the 7 part Marco Polo.

But when you think about it, it's impossible for Doctor Who to have been planned only to run for 6 or 8 weeks.

Once a script was ready to enter production, the lead time needed to design and build sets, design and make costumes, props, models etc, to cast and rehearse, was a minimum of 8 weeks. That's not counting post-production work, minimal as it was back in '63.

So that would mean that Doctor Who was planned to end with The Daleks episode 2 or 4 (Or episode 2 or 4 of the six-part Masters of Luxor if their original plans had materialised). Which is crazy.

Plus, BBC paperwork makes a nonsense of the myth. Studio time (Ealing pre-filming) for episode 1 of Marco Polo was booked on July 15th 1963, 18 weeks or so before transmission of An Unearthly Child episode 1. Even discounting the two filler episodes, they were planning the first 18 weeks of episodes at a very early stage.

So no. Doctor Who was always planned as a year-round production. A full 52 week initial run.

There does though seem to be much more of a eye on quality and continuity checking back then is currently going on the show!

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