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DOOMWATCH IN AUSTRALIA

Doomwatch ABC Preview - Canberra Times - 17 April 1972

'Science fact' dangers to the human race

'DOOMWATCH', a highly-praised BBC television drama series which gave a new word to the English language, begins on Channel 3 at 9.15pm on Tuesday.

When the program began terms such as "technological hazard" and "environmental pollution" were little known in Britain and although the main purpose of the series is to entertain, it has drawn attention to some of the dangers threatening the human race.
More science fact than science fiction, an alarming number of dangerous situations used in the series have since been paralleled by real life events.
The series is set in Britain after the election of a new government, which has promised to answerthe increasing public outcry about many of the after-effects of industrial and scientificresearch. Through the Ministry of National Security, a small group is set up to study both the practical and ethical problems arising from specific research activities.

The Press quickly names the group Doomwatch. On the surface it is little more than a sop to public opinion, yet it is well financed and has been given the brief not only to investigate and report but also to take action in emergency situations.


Discovering where DOOMWATCH was aired outside of the UK, is no easy task! We have previously covered as best we can, the transmissions in Canada and thanks to Jon Preddle at the excellent Doctor Who foreign transmission resource site BroaDWcast we can shed a bit more light on what the Australians were enjoying...

"Doomwatch played on ABC in 1972. However, there is no evidence the first season was screened. The first listing is for the second season episode You Killed Toby Wren on the 6th of June (the Adelaide TV Week described this as the “premiere”).

Doomwatch was never aired in New Zealand. The reason for this is - at least as far as I have been able to determine - was that at the time it would have been made available (by 1973), the NZBC was preparing to switch to colour, and with so many episodes available only in b/w, they passed on it. Sure, they could have taken just the colour eps, but it seems they didn't want to go down that track. While researching for BroaDWcast, I did make note of other BBC programmes that other countries aired, and I must say I can't recall ever seeing Doomwatch listed... Mind you, The Goodies was everywhere, even Korea!"


The Second series commenced on Sydney's Channel 2 and Canberra's Channel 3 on 18 April 1972. (The two stations were connected by microwave link which enabled them to play the same programming simultaneously.) It aired Tuesdays, in a timeslot that ran from 9.15pm to 10.05pm (no commercial breaks) The run was for 13 weeks, uninterrupted.

18-Apr-72 You Killed Toby Wren


Sydney Morning Herald - 17 April 1972

25-Apr-72 Invasion
2-May-72 The Islanders
9-May-72 No Room For Error
16-May-72 By the Pricking of My Thumbs
23-May-72 The Iron Doctor
30-May-72 Flight into Yesterday
6-Jun-72 The Web of Fear
13-Jun-72 In the Dark
20-Jun-72 The Human Time Bomb
27-Jun-72 The Inquest
4-Jul-72 The Logicians
11-Jul-72 Public Enemy

The Canberra Times dated 17 April 1972 previews the series, (as well as the accompanying listing for Episode 1 at the top of the page). The billing from the Sydney Morning Herald of the same date (the Monday editions of both papers have a TV guide for the full week is included here too). 

As the series commenced in Tasmania on 25 April, it means the film prints were shipped from Sydney to Tasmania during the week. The series commenced in Adelaide, South Australia on 6 June.

The series commenced the following week in Melbourne, Victoria on Tuesday, 13 June. (The films would have been shipped from Adelaide to Melbourne that week.) The timeslot varied, being 9.15pm or 9.25pm for some episodes. It's not possible to determine when the run concluded there, since not all newspapers for the period are available; at least one episode was pre-empted during the run, because there was an episode on 12 September, which pushes the run to over 13 weeks. 

Although airdates for the other regions (Brisbane, Queensland; Perth, Western Australia) aren't available, the series probably aired in those regions during the 'gap' between the Sydney and Adelaide runs.

Based on ABC sales paperwork it's clear that the first series was never offered to the ABC. The ABC's paperwork refers to the second series as "Doom Watch Series II", so they were certainly aware that there was an earlier run. It's very odd... Maybe the master tapes of series 1 had been wiped very early on before they could be telerecorded onto film.

The ABC formally accepted Series 2 on 24 February 1972. The rights period -- which was for one run across all regions - ran from 1 April 1972 until 30 September 1973. They had an option for a repeat run, but this was not taken up. (They had until April 1973 to notify the BBC if they wanted to do so.)

Invoices for the purchase are filed: they paid in two instalments: $14,600 Australian dollars, due on 30 April 1972, and $14,000 AUD, due on 30 June 1972. That's a total of A$2,200 per episode! 

But that's not all. I can confirm that the ABC was offered series 3! On 27 February 1973, a 16mm TR of 'Say Knife, Fat Man' was previewed as an audition print. It was considered "GOOD" and "up to the best of Doomwatch", but they note that "later programs fell off a bit". 

Despite a "good" assessment of this single episode, the ABC decided not to proceed with a purchase of series 3. (Interesting how the opinion of one person viewing one random episode can seal the fate of an entire series!)

That the ABC didn't acquire series 1 or 3 is why there were such limited sales anywhere else. New Zealand never acquired the series, Canada got a limited batch of episodes, Jamaica (as noted on the this site) may have got it in 1974, but there are no TV listings to confirm this; Zambia apparently got series 3...    

As Doomwatch aired in Gibraltar in 1973, I suspect that it would be just series 2, since Gibraltar would have been able to buy only the same ones that Australia did (it was the same with Dr Who); the 1973 airdates suggests perhaps that the ABC sent the prints to the GBC. If Jamaica *did* get series 2, the prints may have been bicycled over from Gibraltar a year later.

Gympie Times - 20 April 1972

As a clipping from a Queensland newspaper (Gympie Times) shows; an episode aired on 20 April 72; there's no way of telling if that's the first or a later episode which means Brisbane commenced the run either before or after the Sydney/Canberra screenings. (It can't have commenced before 1 April, as that was when the rights started.) That just leaves Perth and Darwin without a clear timeframe for the series.

It's likely the Australian prints went to Singapore first, then to Gibraltar, with the GBC screenings commencing a matter of only a few days/weeks after the Singapore run had concluded. Gibraltar could still have sent the films to Jamaica (if at all).


*************

Thanks to help from Retroz TV Forum, more information has been uncovered. Dr. Kyron Mallett investigates DOOMWATCH in Tasmania and discovers that Season 2 only was shown in Black and White...

"I eventually made it into the local studies library today and managed to find the 1972 screenings of Doomwatch listed in the paper. I only had time to search the Examiner (based in Launceston) and not the Mercury (based in Hobart). As the show was shown on the public broadcaster ABC, it is very likely that any listings were identical. There were only three stations in Tasmania up until I got married in the early nineties and you could only access one commercial channel and the ABC at either end of the state. 

The show was listed as 'Doomwatch' except for the first broadcast. I have since discovered that this appears to be made up of season 2 episodes. The running length of the first episode suggests that it was not 'Doom Watch' the original movie (?) but perhaps 'You Killed Toby Wren' (?). The other episodes exactly correlate episode listing guides on the net. This strange listing suggests to me that this may have been the first time this programme was broadcast in Tasmania (and therefore in Australia as ABC scheduling was pretty much uniform across the nation except of course for local news content). 

The show appears to be slotted in a later time-slot than Doctor Who (which was playing sporadically at that time) which suggests that it was probably seen as a more 'adult' programme. I do not know if the first season was shown before or after this transmission schedule or if any of the episodes were ever repeated. I can keep an eye out fro the programme as I work my way through transmission listings from about 1964/65 onwards. Significantly, none of these transmitted episodes appear to be missing from the archives.

If there was a write up on the show it may have been included in a magazine like TV Week which began in 1957. Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, this was where the mainstream got their TV info. They often had articles on new shows."


Tasmanian Doomwatch Listings

April

Examiner, 25 April 1972, p. 25
Doom Watch – listed only as ‘Doom Watch’ - more than likey it was 'You killed Toby Wren'
09:35PM-10:15PM    

May

Examiner, 02 May 1972, p. 33
Doomwatch – ‘Invasion
09:45PM-10:35PM    


Examiner, 09 May 1972, p. 41

Doomwatch – ‘The Islanders
09:35PM-10:25PM
The small island of St. Simons in the South Pacific suffers an earth tremor, which threatens the inhabitants. A British Protectorate, it has been the home of emigrants from Britain for 150 years. Doomwatch is given the opportunity of measuring them against the environment of western industrial civilisation.

Examiner, 16 May 1972, p. 21
Doomwatch – ‘Room for Error’ should be 'No Room for Error'
09:35PM-10:25PM

Examiner, 23 May 1972, p. 25
Doomwatch – ‘By the Pricking of My Thumbs
09:35PM-10:25PM

Examiner, 30 May 1972, p. 21
Doomwatch – ‘The Iron Doctor
10:15PM-11:05PM

June

Doomwatch - Flight into Yesterday - Examiner 06-06-72, p. 33

Examiner, 06 June 1972, p. 33
Doomwatch – ‘Flight into Yesterday
09:35PM-10:25PM
Doomwatch - The Web of Fear - Examiner 13-06-72, p. 17
Examiner, 13 June 1972, p. 17
Doomwatch – Incorrectly billed as ‘Web of Fear’ - should be 'The Web of Fear'
09:35PM-10:25PM

Examiner, 20 June 1972, p. 25
Doomwatch – ‘Into the Dark’  - should be 'In the Dark'                                             
09:35PM-10:25PM
Doomwatch - The Human Time Bomb - Examiner 27-06-72, p. 33
Examiner, 27 June 1972, p. 33
Doomwatch – ‘The Human Time Bomb’ 
09:40PM-10:30PM

July

Examiner, 04 July 1972, p. 17
Doomwatch – ‘The Inquest’ 
09:35PM-10:25PM
Hardcastle has been sent ot Suffolk to investigate the death of a child from rabies. He visits a Dr Fare, who complains of persecution by the community in general, and one woman, Mary Lincoln, in particular. He is being held responsible for the child’s death because of his work on tsetse flies.

Examiner, 11 July 1972, p. 21
Doomwatch – ‘The Logicans
09:30PM-10:20PM
Ridge and Fay Chantry are involved in routine checks with the pharmaceutical firm Beresfor, when the company is robbed of a vital new formula of value to competitors.

Examiner, 18 July 1972, p. 22
Doomwatch – ‘Public Enemy
09:40PM-10:30PM
Two deaths are traced to a compound used in the manufacture of an alloy being developed by Carlingham Alloys. Final Programme.


A huge thanks to Dr. Kyron Mallett at Retroz TV Forum  and Jon Preddle at BroaDWcast Also, thanks to George Rainey from Australia for the listing from the Australian TV Guide The Gympie TimesDoomwatch is listed in 1972 which would have been a B&W 16mm print. Interesting, that it appears to be on at 9.20pm reflecting the same time as the UK showings and also the name is split DOOM WATCH.

CSO Issue 3

Issue 3 of CSO - The Cult Television Fanzine (68pp) features an expanded article on the story of DOOMWATCH by Charles Norton. On their Facebook page they currently have a competition to win 1 of 5 copies here until 14th December 2015. You can visit the website here where the previous 2 issues are available to view online for FREE

SCIFINOW ISSUE 92 (MAY 2014)

The current issue of ScifiNow contains an 8 page feature on DOOMWATCH written by Charles Norton. The principal production designer Ian Watson (one of the designers of the original DOOMWATCH office), original series writer Don Shaw and Ian McDonald (Winter Angel) and Actor John Nolan (Geoff Hardcastle in Season 2) all feature with a potted history of the original three seasons, Film and Channel 5's 1999 TV Movie and the erm... controversy surrounding the still unbroadcast episode Sex and Violence. What would Sir Cliff Richard make of it? Anyone want to ask him?

THE QUEST FOR PEDLER - Book News Update

Doomwatch fans will no doubt be excited by the news of Michael Seely's  forthcoming 2014 biography, The Quest for Pedler: The Life and Ideas of Dr. Kit Pedler.
Michael has also unearthed something previously unseen since 1966: a preview of the top sheet can be viewed on MIWK's Facebook page... Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis’ original draft script for the Doctor Who story The Tenth Planet, unusual because it predates the decision to write out actor William Hartnell. And that’s not all he’s found...

“I found this script and two more from The Moonbase (known then as The Return of the Cybermen) among a very large collection of Kit's papers which one of his children had kept
in their attic. As I looked through it, I realised it was the first draft Gerry Davis prepared when Kit fell ill in June 1966.“ says Michael Seely.
“The structure is more or less the same, though a lot of the dialogue is different. Some things were cut, especially involving the Cybermen. For example, the Cybermen planned to convert Polly and the Doctor into Cybermen towards the end of the story, and kept them prisoner in what they described as a waiting room. The most eye catching difference is what didn't happen at the end of the episode.“

The relevance of this early draft, and the date it was prepared goes some way to illustrating the hasty nature of Hartnell’s departure: “Gerry Davis and Innes Lloyd were always very diplomatic and tactful in their interviews. Both died in 1991, long before 'warts and all' interviews became the norm. We know that William Hartnell was being persuaded to give up the role he loved over the summer of 1966, and that they were sounding out replacements. He only decided to leave in the middle of July, the month after this draft was written.”

Michael Seely is no stranger to the work of Dr Kit Pedler, he has previously written two books (‘Prophets of Doom’ and ‘Deadly Dangerous Tomorrow’ – both available from Miwk Publishing) on the subject of Doomwatch and there’s something here for Doomwatch fans too: “Doomwatch fans will be interested to learn that over five original story lines were among Kit's papers, including several that did not get made. One of these was responsible for the BBC removing Kit's influence over the programme he and Gerry created as a warning over unchecked science and technology. There were a couple of radio plays too, which had
been known about but remained a bit of a mystery since they were not made. Unfinished books and short stories, and proposals for television series. Environmentalists, though Kit did not consider himself to be one, and students of the 1970s environmental movement, will be pleased to learn that a lot of his writings, lectures and scripts for TV and radio, also exist within this collection.”

Michael’s biography of Kit Pedler will be released in early 2014 by Miwk Publishing. Authorised by his family and produced with their assistance, the book will tell the full story of Dr C.M.H. Pedler, MB. BS., Ph.D, M.C. Path. A research scientist well known to Doctor Who fans as the co-creator of the Cybermen, but in reality a leading activist and campaigner for more sociably responsible and sustainable scientific research and understanding. Pedler’s role in Doctor Who is also clarified: “He was not a scientific advisor. Kit wasn't there to throw in the science, or vet scripts for their accuracy. He was there to give plausible science fiction ideas, which Lloyd and Davis had no clue about.
 “He argued that we were conditioned to accept whatever science had to offer us as automatically a good thing, and not to enquire deeper.  He used to describe himself as a 'defrocked scientist.' His words are still true today.”

The Tenth Planet will be released on 18th November 2013. It's just a real shame that it is almost certainly too late for this new find to be included.

DOOMWATCH ORIGINAL SCRIPT FOR SALE

The author's copy of the classic season one DOOMWATCH episode "Re-Entry Forbidden" written by Don Shaw has now been listed for sale on auction site ebay. The script has been listed for 10 days from today. Bidding starts at £149. Click here to see the listing.
Happy bidding!

DOOMWATCH Fan Produced audio episode reconstruction completed

It's been a long time in production but the fan produced DOOMWATCH episode reconstruction of Season 1 finale Survival Code is finally here. FREE to download and listen to. A huge thanks to all involved in it's production. For more information on it's production visit Bandril Productions

DOOMWATCH DVD COMPETITION

CSO, The Cult Television Fanzine is currently running a competition on Facebook. Just search for "CSO - The Cult TV Fanzine" and "Like" their page to be in with a chance of winning one of three available DVD copies of the Channel 5 1999 film DOOMWATCH - Winter Angel. Competition winners will be announced on 30th March 2013. There is also a website available showing page spreads and news and information here

A Date With Doctor Ridge


"A Date With Doctor Ridge" is a feature on Simon Oates from "Love Affair" Magazine, published 13th May 1972 - priced 8p. As a treat we purchased this magazine, just for your reading pleasure!

Colette O'Hare meets Simon Oates, the dish from ‘Doomwatch'…

SIMON OATES, the man from 'Doomwatch', is an affable, easy-going guy. And like Dr. John Ridge, the television character he plays in the series, due to return soon, he has a preference for broderie Anglaise shirts and brightly coloured neck scarfs-in his case, made human by the addition of a suede waistcoat which looked, frankly, niffy.
With a nice eye for detail, though, he was intrigued by the man, sitting near the lady whose perfume was making his left eye sting, who was wearing a shirt with a very strange collar, at least six or seven inches deep. “Too much the collar,” he said, shaking his head, "much too much the collar."
The man was making copious notes about something, and Mr. Oates was concerned that he might be copying his jokes down.
But, despite the funnies, he seemed a little down-cast, perhaps as a result of having just returned to London where he lives, after three months in a country retreat.
“I wonder if the idea that London is the only place to be, is really a myth. I suppose it is the centre of all that's happening, but on the other hand you do get a bit fed-up with tearing about all over the place. For instance, I eat out a lot. There are about four restaurants I'm really fond of and I tend to stick to them. I could probably find four decent restaurants in an average small town-without all the hustle of London.
“I really enjoyed being in the country. I had a small cottage loaned to me by a friend. There was no television or telephone. If anyone wanted to contact me they had to send a runner across the fields with a message in a cleft stick.
 “But as soon as you get back to London, the phone starts ringing, and that's it, what
actor can resist answering the telephone, I ask you?"
 Ordering a drink, and co-incidentally making the barmaid's day, he said, almost sadly, "There you are, I can’t even order a drink without turning it into a five minute cabaret spot." As it happened, he was due to do a cabaret show that evening.
 He told a few more jokes by way of a demonstration.
“Now you can say Simon Oates did nothing but tell rude stories."
“I remember interviewing you once before," I told him, "and you did nothing but tell rude stories then, too.”
“Did I?'' he said. "Oh well, you probably started it."
I probably did.
When he is not Doomwatching, or doing cabaret, (he sings too, folks), he has an interest in a agency for dancers.
I like the theatre,” he said, but it's hardly ever worth doing financially, unless it's a very long run-and that means you're very tied. It's the same with a long running television series like 'Doomwatch'. That's why in the new series I'm not in every episode.”
He hadn't seen the completed ‘Doomwatch' film-he just did his bit and departed.
Divorced, he has a twelve-year-old daughter, Beverley.
I think my attitude to womenhas become rather cynical, which is a pity, because basically I'm a hopeless romantic. In my heart I still think that somewhere, maybe in the jungles of Equador, there's the right woman for me. When we meet, bells will start ringing, etc. I keep hoping it will happen, but of course it never does, and, let's face it, it probably never will. I don't have affairs, I'd like to think they were affairs, but they aren't really, more like incidents. They never end badly, they just end. I mean, I don't beat women up, I don't ever lose my temper really-it's just that I can't honestly say that I've ever known a woman who I'd really mind too much if I never saw her again-except maybe my daughter-I think I'd do myself in if anything happened to her.
The trouble is, I'm quite happy as I am, but I have this horrible nagging suspicion that maybe I shouldn't be-that maybe it all ought to be a little more-I don’t know-difficult."
An ex-plumber's mate from Camden Town, "anywhere's got to be an improvement after that," his real name, he confides, is Arthur. "But it wasn't quite the image I was after.” (I still don't know whether to believe him.) He doesn't think his pride would allow him to return to plumbing now.
But if, for some reason, I had to give up acting, I wouldn't mind going into P.R. or something like that. I think I'd probably do quite well in P.R., don't you?"
I said that I did, too.
I think that maybe he could even be bottled and sold at nine guineas an ounce. Agreed, girls?

Kit Pedler on Car Pollution

FLASH ANIMATOR WANTED

A complete, fan produced full cast audio soundtrack has been created for the missing Season 1 DOOMWATCH story "Survival Code" and we are looking to recreate the episode using Flash Animation. If you or anyone you know can help us out with this project. Please email here for more details. Thank you.