This is not a review as such, but more a rare foray into public service announcements for anyone who is a fan of the classic Doctor Who era of stories and who has access to CBS Studio’s Horror Channel digital satellite and cable station in the UK.
In case you missed the recent announcements, the Horror Channel recently just completed a deal with BBC Worldwide to show a number of Doctor Who stories from the original run between 1963 and 1989 and starring William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy – and of course the iconic Tom Baker, who has been also lending his voice to a number of on-air promotional trailers that have been running in the past week.
The Doctor Who reruns start this weekend, with an airing for the very first episode “An Unearthly Child” at 7pm which is as perfect a set-up for the show’s unique premise as you could hope for. That’s followed by the next three episodes from 1963 in which the Doctor and his new companions are caught up in a caveman power struggle over the secret of fire which is frankly … Not so gripping.
But fear not, because after that the Easter weekend is swimming in Doctor Who goodness: a second chance to see “An Earthly Child” at 11am on Saturday is followed by Troughton’s five-part story “The Mind Robber” at 1.20pm, and then by the Jon Pertwee story “Terror of the Autons” at 3.50pm which is the four-parter that introduces renegade Time Lord The Master (Roger Delgado) for the first time.
One of the all-time best-loved classic stories follows at 6pm when Tom Baker seeks the first two episodes of “The Brain of Morbius”, which continues with the second half of the story at 11am on Sunday ahead of the superb Davison entry “The Caves of Androzani” at 12.10pm (possibly the single best story of the entire original run), Colin Baker thwarting the “Attack of the Cybermen” at 2.30pm and then McCoy meeting his oldest foes in the remarkably strong “Remembrance of the Daleks” at 4.50pm.
After that marathon Easter blowout, the Horror Channel settles down to what looks like it be it more normal daily schedule for Doctor Who, with William Hartnell back on Easter Monday for seminal first Daleks serial airing in two back-to-back episodes per day starting 10am and rerun at 3.10pm and 7.50pm. Later in the week, reruns of the 1969 serial “The Seeds Of Death” start in the same slot on Thursday.
Die hard Doctor Who fans will doubtless already have the stories on DVD, but there’s still something very special about seeing them airing on TV and hopefully collecting new fans in the process. It’s been a while since the classic era shows had a regular home on a TV station – UK Gold used to rely on the show as a mainstay to its schedule in its early years but sadly seems to feel it is beneath the network these days, with an honourable exception for last year’s short run of stories to mark the 50th anniversary of the show on UK Watch – so it would be good for fans to support this latest initiative by the Horror Channel and demonstrate via the ratings that there’s still a demand for this type of programming, especially if you want to see more stories aired down the line.
In the meantime, Saturday and Sunday’s marathon airing should be quite a treat for Who fans. Lie back, stock up with drink and munchies, and enjoy…
Dubbed “the UK’s number one destination for horror movies and supernatural series”, The Horror Channel is available on the Sky Digital satellite platform on channel 319; on the Virgin Media cable network on channel 149; and on the free-to-air Freesat system on channel 138. Incidentally, this post was not paid for, encouraged or endorsed in any way by the channel, just in case you were wondering.