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NO WATCH DOOMWATCH

When someone asks me what hobby I have got, I say that I collect 'old television.'  Usually this sparks off an interesting conversation, and before too long we are discussing old television programmes that we both remember.  It intrigues me the way that so many people have happy memories of TV programmes that they used to enjoy - but have no idea that many of them can be purchased online and enjoyed again whenever they want.  When I was applying to university at the dawn of the 1970s I listed TV programme history as my main hobby.  Even back then I thought that television was an important medium and that it was something that was worth preserving and talking about many years after a programme had first aired.  I still have very vivid memories of lots of television programmes that I remember from the early sixties. Paradise Walk, The River Flows East, Paul of Tarsus, Orlando, Object Z Returns, The Master, Prudence Kitten, Cyrus the seahorse, the Bumblies etc. might not mean all that much to most of the population, but I have very happy memories of watching these shows and many others.  The biggest problem with being a TV fan back in the 50s and 60s was that you had to be there in front of the television when the show was being broadcast - or you didn't get to see it.  A TV programme wasn't like a book which you could pick up, read and put down again whenever you wanted to.  A programme was once seen and then forever afterwards simply a memory.

Pictured (left) is the BBC DOOMWATCH 40TH ANNIVERSARY DVD BOX SET.
At last, breathe a sigh of relief and take you're VHS recorder to the nearest Kit Pedler approved recycling centre. You don't need it anymore! 2 Entertain have finally given in under the barrage of emails and constant telephone enquiries just to give them all a well deserved rest from reselling the same episodes of Doctor Who 20 times over and release this 'DOOMWATCH' thingy that only people who have ever used a Black and White television set remember. Filmed in glorious colour it features all the episodes the BBC forgot to wipe and annoyingly all those CBC insisted on giving back. What's left of this classic series is still as relevant as any newspaper story it based itself on. It promises to keep those with an attention deficit order awake with the reward of an apparantly never seen before episode featuring a no holds barred Sex and Violence fest with Dot Cotton telling it like it is and lots of very un-PC comedy from Dr. Ridge whilst he pinches ladies bottoms. No doubt this is the reason for the 18 certificate.
This DVD set should help all those wanting to see the series from pointlessly looking on Youtube and finding that the slightest hint of intelligent TV drama has been removed. It will also save you from having to download those crummy quality episodes transferred from a scabby Scotch VHS from UK Gold by internet pirates. Even better, you don't need to fork out £16 to one of those same pirates who sells the copies on cheap DVDR's pretending they are legitimate. The unusually high retail price of the set should also help to cover the law suit that Cliff Richard will surely take.
Extras: A cold potato, a signed replica feather duster and a sample bottle of something called Variant 14 (which I must say has done wonders to remove all those plastic bottles I had to keep chucking out for recycling!) and best of all a cute toy Rat for you to sew onto you're trousers. There was going to be reconstructions of the missing episodes but David Butler and Graham Strong were down the pub at the time and nobody bothered photographing the TV as, well, it's just a bit of a weird thing to do isn't it?
R.R.P £499.99
Release date: Don't bother looking on Amazon.
 
I did used to write and ask the BBC to repeat old programmes but in the main they did not seem to be interested.  Back in the 60s and 70s there was the feeling that once one series finished there would be another one coming along which would be even better than the one before.  I remember once reading an article which stated that it was easier and cheaper to keep on making mew Doctor Who episodes rather than repeating the original ones.  Now I would have to say, that I would have personally have preferred to have had that show finish in 1977 IF it meant that all the episodes made up until then were now still in the archives.  But that is a purely personal viewpoint. 

I'm not sure if I knew what happened to old TV shows after they had been shown.  I definitely knew that some were sent off overseas.  And I remember wondering if perhaps one day all the episodes will the first Doctor Who might be screened in some cinema.  Certainly I was rather saddened when I learned that not only was Doctor Who not complete in the archives neither were many other TV shows that I had enjoyed as a youngster.  I know that with the start up of the Doctor Who Preservation Society - which was keen on the second Doctor's era- around 1977 - I was aware that the archives did not have everything.


In the 1980s old shows started to be rescreened on the BBC.  And it was then that I wondered if I would get the opportunity of seeing some of my favourites again.  Of course as time went on more and more series began to get released on VHS.  The tapes became cheaper in time and BBC Video started to experiment with releasing programmes other than the big ones like Doctor Who.  I was delighted when two Doomwatch videos appeared along with one of Adam Adamant Lives! episodes.  These were two of my all time top ten favourite series and so I was delighted to see them on VHS.  However, I was disappointed that only these three videos were released.  I thought that as regards Doomwatch it was an interesting choice of episodes.  Tomorrow, the Rat was an obvious one.  You Killed Toby Wren was an interesting choice but as the last episode of season one did not exist -  then it was the only chance to see the shocking demise of Toby Wren - something which really put the show on the map.  So  I suppose that it was inevitable that that episode made it to video.
 
When I started to buy DVDs instead of videos at the beginning of the noughties I was delighted to see that Adam Adamant Lives and Doomwatch made it onto the new format.  I was disappointed though that only one Doomwatch DVD was available -  although there was a promise that the other video would appear on DVD at some time in the future.  However, that has not happened.  And the remainder of the surviving episodes of Doomwatch remain unreleased on DVD along with Winter Angel -  the Doomwatch remake. 
I was delighted when the surviving Adam Adamant Lives episodes made it onto DVD in a nice boxset with a great booklet.  My interview with Tony Williamson was included with no me in sight .  But never mind.  When Adamant was released 2 Entertain chose to release other classic BBC SF series at the same time.  I later learned that they were disappointed with the sales and no more would be produced.
 
However, as more and more well remembered series are now sitting on my shelves I keep on hoping that one day a collection of the surviving episodes of Doomwatch will join them.  However, to date this has not happened.
 
I recently contacted 2 Entertain who have started to release more of my kind of products in recent months and they said they were looking into it.  I contacted Acorn the other day and I got the answer back that they looked into releasing Doomwatch but that ' copyright and clearance costs were too high to make it a viable release.'  I believe that there is interest in a Doomwatch release and with Scott's excellent website it shows that the series still has a number of fans.  It seems such a shame that at the moment these episodes are just sitting on the archive shelves.  What I find particularly strange is that the BBC Four series...The Cult of....included Doomwatch as one of its programmes - and is strangely the only series that can not be bought on DVD.  I wonder why that is......?
Now there was a rumour  recently that a new series of Doomwatch was being planned and it could be that while whatever company was planning on making it has the rights  - then the old episodes can not be released.  It could be because of the Channel 5 film.  It could be that some people are blocking the release in some way - but as episodes from the first two seasons have already been released on DVD I find that unlikely.  After all, sadly season 3 has only 3 surviving episodes and if the problem lay there, I am sure the fans would be happy with the surviving episodes of season 1 and the complete season 2. 
I know that as Doomwatch was a mixture of video and film then it makes it a less likely release than some other programmes.  And I appreciate that other similarly made and popular BBC series like Dixon of Dock Green, Doctor finlay's Casebook, Z Cars, Softly, Softly. Cluff, etc. have not made it onto DVD yet either - so why should Doomwatch?  I think what makes it surprising to me is that the BBC, by making The Cult of Doomwatch several years ago,  showed that it is still  a well remembered series .  That there is still an interest in it.  And that it does deserve a place on  the shelves of fans of ' old television' alongside Hadleigh, The Power Game, The Guardians, Public Eye and Mystery and Imagination.   Hopefully some DVD company will release DOOMWATCH - WHAT STILL SURVIVES soon. 

With thanks to Ian K McLachlan for the main article and Scott Burditt for the fake DVD Review and Cover. Please do not steal the cover for selling pirate copies or we will send Dr. Ridge round to gas you with Hai Karate!

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