Doctor Who in Australia

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Doctor Who in Australia refers to the Australian history and culture around the British Broadcasting Corporation science fiction programme Doctor Who.

Australians have had many links to the series from its origins. Two Australian writers played key roles in the gestation of the whole series, C.E. "Bunny" Webber, and Anthony Coburn, who worked on the pre-production and first story, and the iconic Doctor Who theme music, was written by an Australian musician Ron Grainer. One-time Australian ballet composer, Dudley Simpson, wrote the incidental music for a great number of stories in the 1960s and 1970s. Janet Fielding played the popular companion, Tegan, in the 1980s.

Outside the production itself, the Australian Broadcasting Commission was one of the first and longest term purchasers of the series from the BBC from its beginning, initially planning to screen the series in May 1964, within months of the UK premiere. The ABC later put up production money for an anniversary special The Five Doctors (1983), and organised a nationwide promotional tour by the then current Doctor, Tom Baker in 1979. Australia was also a key market for the many products licensed by BBC Enterprises, and the success of the series in Australia was an important factor in the worldwide penetration of the series. Generally speaking many other English-language countries in the Asia-Pacific bought whatever episodes the ABC had cleared for its use, and BBC Enterprises' office for the entire region was in Sydney and dealt with the censors and marketing.

Australian contributions to Doctor Who[edit]

Australians have played significant roles in the creation of Doctor Who. The first Doctor Who story to air, An Unearthly Child, was written by Australian author Anthony Coburn. Another Australian writer for Doctor Who was Bill Strutton who wrote The Web Planet.

The Doctor Who theme music was written by Australian Ron Grainer. In 1981, the theme was adapted into a "raunchy song" by an Australian "Bush Rock Band", the group "Bullamakanka", which in 1983 was re-released by BBC Records and used in the United States for the series' 20th anniversary.[1][citation needed]

Also significant for his musical contribution is Australian composer Dudley Simpson, who wrote the incidental music for a great number of stories in the 1960s and 1970s and retired back to Australia in the 1980s and he has appeared at a number of Australian Dr Who events. Composer Tristram Cary, who lived in Australia for many years until his death in April 2008, also wrote incidental music for several serials.

More visibly, many Australian actors and actresses have appeared on the programme, or British actors and technicians (etc.) have migrated there. These include actress Janet Fielding who played the companion Tegan in the early 1980s, singer/actress Kylie Minogue, and Katy Manning (who played the companion Jo Grant), who resided in Australia for many years and became an Australian citizen, she is the patron of the DWCA.

Broadcast history[edit]

The series was initially scheduled for May 1964, but it appears after the censors classified most of the episodes "A" for Adult the ABC had to find a later time-slot, so it was held over until the start of 1965, thereafter becoming an important part of the ABC's schedule, often with at least one repeat of each story during school holidays which meant Australian viewers saw the series more times than those in Britain where it was very rare for any part to be repeated. However, the BBC switch to colour for the series featuring the Third Doctor was not reflected in Australia due to the late start of colour broadcasting there (1975), so nearly the entire set of Jon Pertwee era stories were first seen in black and white. A few from his last series were screened in colour in 1976-77, but the earlier stories were not until the ABC repurchased them for extra repeats in the mid-1980s.

The 1960s[edit]

Doctor Who was first broadcast in Australia by ABW-2, the Perth station of the national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday 12 January 1965.[2] The episodes were transported to Australia by the BBC in the form of 16mm black and white film (one per episode), if simultaneous broadcasts were wanted the ABC had to make copies to send around the country to be screened by local transmitters, as until the later 1960s there was no uniform national broadcast network.[3] But in many instances the episodes were physically transported from city to city and so shown in each on different dates. For example after screening in Perth the first episode An Unearthly Child was screened in the Sydney area on Friday 15 January 1965; in the Brisbane area on the 22nd; in Melbourne, 20 February. As a result different areas saw different episodes on different days, or even weeks apart. Later improvements in the capacity of cable or microwave and other broadcasting links, enabled the ABC to broadcast on an increasingly national basis. But even into the 1970s the screenings could be weeks apart, the first screening of Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor was first in Melbourne, 11 July 1971, followed by Sydney on 1 August.[4]

The switch to colour in Britain with Jon Pertwee's first series in 1970, was not matched in Australia until the screening of the last Jon Pertwee story in 1976, with the next three Tom Baker stories, so all material before that date was shown in black and white. The launch of a satellite in the mid-1980s enabled the broadcasting on a truly national scale, although there have been regional variations due to different time zones (the west being 2 hours behind the easternmost states), and to precedence being given occasionally to local events (sport, elections, etc.).

The switch to the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, was first seen in Australia (Sydney) on 21 July 1967, and to the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) on 11 July 1971.[4] In Victoria from 1969 into the 1970s the early Troughton stories (series 4 & 5) were screened on a Sunday afternoon in a weekly format at 4:30pm, until being moved to the Friday 6:30pm timeslot from series 6 onwards. This arrangement continued until the commencement of the first episodes of Countdown in 1974, which briefly took over this timeslot. Between series of Doctor Who other shows of a similar genre were shown, such as Timeslip, Phoenix Five and Frank and Francesca. In the early 1970s reruns of B&W Troughton stories were shown during the May and September school holidays at approximately 2:10pm daily: stories included Fury from the Deep, The Enemy of the World, The Mind Robber, The Krotons, The Wheel in Space, The Invasion and The Space Pirates, immediately followed by episodes of The King's Outlaw. Generally speaking, a six part story would be shown in the May school holidays as these lasted for one week and a day, and a four part was coupled with a six part for the September school holidays as these lasted for two weeks. Later on when the May school holidays were extended to a fortnight, a six part story would have two episodes shown on the Friday, resulting in The King's Outlaw being omitted.


The last of the Second Doctor series were repeated in impressive bursts in some of the school holidays, around the same time as the first two series of the new Doctor played by Jon Pertwee, in some instances there were up to 11 episodes screened in one week. But by about 1973 this lavishness was running down and for several years in the mid-1970s, there was a haphazard, on and off scheduling of Doctor Who - with cancellations, abrupt unannounced screenings when the Cricket was washed out, and so Doctor Who was put on as a sudden back-up. Furthermore, always about a year behind British screenings the series drifted further behind. From 1975-77 the number of new episodes screened shrank each year as the ABC let it drift ever further behind the BBC screenings in the UK.

Colour television was rolled out into Australia in 1975 and Doctor Who was shown in colour for the first time that year. However only 14 new episodes of the new season 11 were shown — The Time Warrior, Death to the Daleks and The Monster of Peladon. As BBC Enterprises had authorised the master tapes of Invasion of the Dinosaurs to be wiped in August 1974,[5] effectively withdrawing it from sale, that story was not screened in Australia. Planet of the Spiders, the concluding story of that eleventh season, was unaccountably not screened until the following year, being grouped with the first three Tom Baker stories which started on 23 April 1976: Robot, The Ark in Space, and The Sontaran Experiment, thus making another year with an incomplete season, this time of just 16 new episodes. The final 10 episodes of Baker's first season were held over from 1976 until 1977 (Genesis of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen).

An uproar was created when the ABC decided in mid-1976 to cease purchasing any new Doctor Who episodes; this left it with the first Tom Baker (new material) and some rights to repeat the last Jon Pertwee series. Fans discovered this and staged an on-going series of protests (see below). With a new Controller of Television, James Fitzmaurice, the ABC changed its mind about 18 months later, and thereafter regularly screened much Doctor Who in prime time, from Mondays to Thursdays at 6:30 pm — but there were some exceptions (e.g. The Brain of Morbius, see below).

The ratings of the second and third Tom Baker series marked a major up-turn in the show's popularity,[citation needed] and the ABC bought up many older colour episodes from the Jon Pertwee era, including ones that had previously been blocked by the censors. For a nationwide promotional campaign, the ABC also brought Tom Baker himself out to tour Australia and do a media blitz. He later made a second visit (this time only to Sydney) to popularise the new line of merchandise centred on him as the Doctor (posters, buttons, etc.). New episodes would be shown, followed by a rerun of selected colour episodes from Spearhead from Space onwards.


The period from the late 1970s and early 1980s continued to see Doctor Who screen in the 6pm-7pm Monday to Thursday time-slot screening back-to-back with The Goodies throughout the year (except for the summer holidays) — The Goodies screened at 6pm and Doctor Who at 6:30, followed by the screening of a single music video clip to fill in the extra time before the 7pm news (episodes of Doctor Who only being 25 minutes long). However, in early 1981, those eagerly awaiting the return of Doctor Who after the end of summer were dismayed to find an unknown Japanese fantasy TV show called Monkey screening in The Goodies & Doctor Who's spot — after all two seasons of Monkey finished screening however, things returned to normal, much to Doctor Who (and The Goodies) fans relief.

The early 1980s saw the departure of the longest running Doctor, Tom Baker, who was replaced by Peter Davison. The ABC continued screening the series almost as soon as it was shown by the BBC in Britain, and for the 20th anniversary special, The Five Doctors, it even put in some production money and made a big promotional effort, although the nation-wide visit by Peter Davison in 1983 was organised by commercial department stores. The pattern of new episodes and repeats continued, with both colour and black and white episodes now being shown. Two Patrick Troughton stories (The Mind Robber and The Krotons) were repeated in 1986, as were nearly all Pertwee episodes that only existed in black and white, with the exception of Invasion of the Dinosaurs part 1 (although the remaining colour episodes were shown as a five part story). A full run of available black and white material was not done until 2003, but without some Dalek stories due to disputes with Terry Nation's estate. The problems within the BBC over what direction to take the series were reflected Down-Under by delays, but the ABC continued as a faithful host of the series until the BBC finally axed it in 1989. Even after the last airing in Britain, the ABC showed some series again as repeats.

Several stories were not purchased on first run: Invasion of the Dinosaurs, apparently as the first episode was not available in colour;[citation needed] another, The Brain of Morbius was played many years later (in 1978) at a late time slot, in the BBC's "omnibus" version (a Christmas holiday special, cut down from the full four episodes to a 60 minute telefilm), as it was deemed to be too dark and violent for children. Later in the 1980s it was screened by the ABC in full.

Outside of the UK, Australia is the only country to have usually aired every series shortly after it had been produced (despite some big delays in the mid-1970s), with the possible exceptions of a truncated series 7 and series 8 (commenced in late 1973) and series 18 (held over until early 1982, the show having been absent from ABC TV for over a year).[citation needed]

1996: The Telemovie[edit]

The first attempt to revive the series was with the made for TV telemovie made with US money by FOX in 1996 with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, this was screened in Australia on the ABC on 7 July at 8.30 PM (delayed from a 3 July schedule to avoid clashing with The X-Files). Material in the "film" was cut in the US for extra advertising, but these cuts were largely restored for the screening in Australia. A publicity screening of the cut version had been held earlier on 5 June, at "Planet Hollywood" in Sydney with several fan built Daleks operated by fan club members acting as ushers.[6]


Between September 2003 and February 2006, the ABC repeated the majority of the earlier series. These were screened in chronological order every Monday to Thursday night, just as they were in the 1970s and 1980s. The screenings ncluded almost every surviving complete story from 1963 to 1989. Part 1 of Invasion of the Dinosaurs finally received its ABC premiere, with all six episodes of the story being screened for the first time. A few surviving serials were skipped due to the BBC's disputes with the estate of Terry Nation over the rights to the Daleks.[citation needed] These included Day, Planet, Destiny, Resurrection, Revelation and Remembrance of the Daleks, as well as Frontier in Space. The War Games, a ten-part serial which features a Dalek for a few seconds, was skipped, while The Five Doctors had its Dalek scenes edited out. Some episodes of Inferno, Carnival of Monsters, Invasion of the Dinosaurs and The Trial of a Time Lord were shown as early edits which differed from the final versions broadcast by the BBC. Other episodes were cut to reduce violent scenes.

2005 – The revival of Doctor Who[edit]

When the BBC revived Doctor Who in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and with Russell T. Davies as producer, the ABC quickly followed by broadcasting it about two months after its UK transmission. Series 1 of the new Doctor Who started screening in Australia with the first episode Rose being broadcast on 21 May 2005.[7][8]

All series of the new Doctor Who has been screened by the ABC in Australia soon after the premier screenings in the UK. Unlike the previous eras, which had numerous instances of censorship, the new series has generally been free of editing, indeed an episode was edited in Britain but screened in full in Australia.[citation needed]

The third series was broadcast on the ABC on Saturday evenings from 30 June 2007, following The Runaway Bride on 28 June.[9]

Series 4 saw the series move to a Sunday night timeslot, commencing on 29 June 2008 with Voyage of the Damned, with the rest of series 4 screened on subsequent Sundays at 7:30pm. For the first time, the ABC achieved audiences of 1 million+ viewers for every episode. The ABC also began screening Doctor Who Confidential (in cut-down form) in 2008, immediately following each week's episode. In early 2009, some episodes of the second season with David Tennant were repeated on Tuesday nights but the season was cut halfway through to be completed at a different timeslot on ABC2.

The first episode of the Fifth Season starring Matt Smith aired on 18 April 2010, on ABC1. It could also be viewed on ABC's website iView two days prior to the television airdate. Each episode was broadcast only two weeks after its airdate in Britain due to the fact it is one of ABC's most successful shows.

The 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, was simulcasted to ABC and iView at 6:50am on 24 November 2013 and repeated at 7:30pm on the same day, followed by An Adventure in Space and Time at 8:50pm. There was also a limited run of 3D cinema screenings of The Day of the Doctor.

Non-ABC screenings[edit]

UK.TV, a pay TV channel in Australia, also broadcast the old series, and after the free to air screening on the ABC it showed Series 1 of the new episodes (which began on 7 October 2006).[10] The Series 1 finale first aired on 17 December 2006. The versions shown by UKTV were edited, meaning portions of each episode were not shown. Starting 2007, the repeats of the new series 2 have been accompanied by cut-down version episodes of Doctor Who Confidential, reportedly the first time that a broadcaster has shown this programme outside of the UK.

SciFi Australia, another Australian pay TV channel, started screening all the Tom Baker stories from 17 August 2011.


Channel Ten has broadcast Davies' spin-off series, Torchwood, after both the ABC and SBS passed on buying the rights.[citation needed] The series premiered on 18 June 2007. Torchwood started to air every Monday at 9:30pm or 9:40pm - depending on the programme preceding it - for the first six episodes but was then moved to 12am Wednesday, apparently due to lower than anticipated ratings.[citation needed] Torchwood was bought by the ABC and series 1 and 2 were shown on ABC2 in 2009, on Fridays at 8.30 from 19 June, and followed by a cut version of Torchwood Declassified. Children of Earth was shown on Friday nights at 8:30 as well, however, only one episode was shown per week instead of the 'one per day over a week' format it was created for. Torchwood: Miracle Day (series four) has been bought by Eleven, a Network Ten digital only channel.[11]

Lost Episodes in Australia[edit]

Since some states differed in their school holiday dates, the ABC had no alternative but to have multiple copies of some of the early 16mm format episodes for different states. Hence it was hoped by fans in the 1990s that copies of episodes deemed lost by the BBC, might yet be found in Australia, having been mis-shelved in the various state based offices of the ABC. The agreement with the BBC required that all such episodes should be destroyed or returned, although it is known that some were souvenired by staff, since at least five ended up in the hand of a private collector, and three were seen by some Sydney fans in the 1970s. But despite these, and a few episodes turning up in the ABC in the 1990s, nothing new has since come to light (as of Mar. 2009). The ABC archive went through a major review following the closure of the ABC's old Sydney studio headquarters at Gore Hill, and many "lost" film and video resources were rediscovered and the ABC has also begun the process of archiving old film and video materials in digital format (such as segments from the 1970s pop music series GTK, which are now available for viewing on the ABC's YouTube channel. However, no new Doctor Who finds have been reported to date, and if anything more is likely to be found it will be during this enormous sorting and conversion process, which may take years, depending on the resources available.


All overseas imported films had to be checked and rated by the Australian censors, so all stories were viewed by them, prior to purchase by the ABC. At this point some Doctor Who episodes failed to obtain a clearance for a pre 7pm timeslot, so they were not purchased by the ABC (such as The Daleks' Master Plan). Although, a few stories, such as the first two Dalek stories, despite being rated "A" (for Adult), were run in the first batch in 1965 because the ABC had initially scheduled the series to run after the national 7 PM news, so these stories were allowed to be screened at 7.30 PM. But they could not be repeated, as the ABC subsequently shifted the series from this later slot to the more family oriented time of 6.30 PM. In addition, stories could be accepted by the censors, but only if certain scenes, or even brief shots, were deleted. The issue of "A" rating again became a problem with the Jon Pertwee era and several stories were not screened as a result, e.g. The Ambassadors of Death, Inferno, The Dæmons, and The Mind of Evil). Only a few Tom Baker stories were thus rejected in full, such as The Deadly Assassin, and The Brain of Morbius. All were later re-rated and screened in the 1980s when the decision on these issues was decentralised down to the ABC, which passed these items. Some broadcast delays being due more to poor quality videotapes (sourced from countries with differing video format, such as the USA), or to episode availability in black and white only (having originally been filmed in colour). In many cases some of the cuts now seem utterly inconsequential, and it is hard to imagine why anyone was bothered, but they stand as a testament to changing community values over the decades.

In 1996, about 25 minutes worth of some very short censored black and white 16mm film clips were recovered from the National Archive vaults, snipped by the censor from a variety of 1960s episodes, these cut portions of 16mm film had not been in the hands of the ABC, and had been impounded by the Australian censors.[12]

The Peter Cushing Dr. Who & the Daleks films[edit]

The two Peter Cushing as Dr. Who (sic) and the Daleks films, produced by Milton Subotsky (which were based on the first two televised BBC Dalek stories) were screened in Australia —but only for about a week each, at least in Sydney— during Christmas holidays. Dr. Who and the Daleks premiered in Sydney on 23 December 1965, with one of the Daleks (apparently the Red one) from the film in the foyer, while the next, Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. was unaccountably delayed for well over a year after its first British screening (from 22 July 1966), not being shown in Sydney until 15 December 1967. It is probable that one of the film Dalek casings was acquired from the film distributor by the new TV station, Channel Ten, as a Dalek made a number of appearances introducing children's programmes, it had been re-equipped so the many dots on its sides flickered as it spoke. The original 35mm CinemaScope film prints would subsequently have been sent around the South Pacific and on to other areas with links to Britain (presumably Singapore and Hong Kong), so were no longer available in Australia by 1974. Copies of the films were, however, retained as 16mm colour prints by "British Empire Films" later renamed "Australasian Film Hire", but these prints were not widescreen, but based on the standard TV format, available for hire to home and small-scale screenings. In late 1975, such a screening of Dr. Who and the Daleks premiered in Sydney on 23 December 1965, with one of the Daleks (apparently the Red one) from the film in the foyer, while the next, Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. organised by Antony Howe for a group of fans may be said to mark the first organised fan activity in Australia, certainly in Sydney.

The first film was to appear on TV on a commercial station, Channel Seven, in black and white, but the second film did not get broadcast (on Channel Ten) until about 1980.

The films' director Gordon Flemyng was later to work on several ABC TV productions in the 1980s and the leading Dalek operator, Robert Jewell also migrated to Australia.


Apart from imports of products from overseas, there have been a number of commercial products licensed to be made especially for the Australian market. Over the decades, the national broadcaster, the ABC, has produced a variety of items and promoted them vigorously on-air and in its shops. Several have basically been reprints of British products with the ABC logo on the covers replacing a British one, such as an Australian edition of what in Britain had been the "Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special" (in 1983). There was also a "Technical Manual" with supposed plans of Daleks, robots, the TARDIS, guns, K9 and sundry aliens.

In 1980, sets of Tom Baker merchandise which included posters, cards, buttons, and writing sets, was also largely a reissue of British product, marketed in Australia from Sydney by an Ian Nichols who had moved from Britain to handle the items. These were vigorously promoted in Sydney by "Grace Brothers" (nothing to do with the BBC comedy series "Are You Being Served?") a chain of department stores, which brought Tom Baker out to conduct a whirlwind autographing blitz in its many suburban stores. But after that these items were not very successful.[citation needed]

Other stray items have been "Show Bags" full of ephemeral bits and pieces, usually of a fairly poor quality for children, and sold at major "shows" (usually related to rural production with fun fairs and other activities) such as the "Royal Easter Show" in Sydney where the stall holder also distributed some leaflets to promote the national club, and he had plans to tour many rural towns throughout the state of New South Wales, and maybe to go further afield. A similar (or even identical) product was sold at the Royal Melbourne Show.[13]

The distributor of BBC DVDs Roadshow has for several years issued the BBC product but for Australian format, and often with the address of the Australian club on the wrapping.



There may have been some isolated Australian branches of Keith Miller's British Doctor Who club,[14] and there was at least one small suburban club-ette in Sydney around 1974 (recalled by Kerrie Dougherty),[citation needed] as well as occasional signs of fan activity here and there (e.g. a fan organised film screening in Sydney of Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD in 1975,[citation needed] and an issue of a Tolkien fanzine devoted to Doctor Who, issued as "Macra" in late 1975.[15][citation needed] But before 1976 there was no solid fan organisation.[citation needed] The last three of these strands came together at Sydney University in 1975-76, which led to the formation of a national club in August 1976. Members of the Sydney University Science Fiction Association ("SUSFA"), decided to build a Dalek to enter in a planned Dalek race to be held over Easter 1976 year to race other Daleks at a University Science Fiction Convention "Unicon 2" at Melbourne University over Easter (for photos of these Daleks and others, go to "External Links" below for the site "Daleksdownunder").[citation needed] Although the Melbourne students had built their Dalek in 1975, and Adelaide students also built one, there is no evidence either group went on to form a Doctor Who club. However, after winning this race the SUSFA members were fired up and organised screenings of both Dalek films, and arranged a number of other activities involving the Dalek around campus at Sydney University during 1976.[16]

But why this led to a dedicated Doctor Who club at Sydney University and not elsewhere must remain a mystery. Perhaps their Daleks were just student pranks, and not signs of dedicated fan obsession. The change at Sydney into a Doctor Who fanclub with fanzine (Zerinza) requires an outline of some of the broadcasting context as it related to fans (in more detail above). By the mid-1970s the series was not rating well and the ABC used less and less new material every year, slowly getting well over a year behind the BBC's screenings in Britain, and missing several stories. Fed up with such sporadic sequencing during 1974-77, a Sydney fan, Antony Howe, began to agitate to have the series shown in full, and soon after the premieres in Britain rather than being screened years later. Other demands were to stop the censorship of whole stories (many had been rated "A" by the censor, limited to screening after 7.30 pm which the ABC refused to do), and to have more repeats. Such criticisms were made public in the special "Dalek Soit" science fiction edition of the famous student newspaper Honi Soit which featured news and photographs of the club Dalek's conquest of the campus, and an appreciative quasi-academic article on the Doctor Who TV series, by local science fiction author Terry Dowling.[17] Also flagged was the launch of a Doctor Who fanzine (see Zerinza) and addresses were given for overseas Doctor Who fan clubs, so a local club was not yet envisaged.

This rapidly changed, however, as petitions and letter writing campaigns got nowhere. After being fobbed off again in mid-1976 by the ABC, Howe, by then the new President of the SUSFA, brought the matter up with the Uni. club for action. SUSFA had several other active members who were keen Doctor Who fans, such as Kerrie Dougherty, Dallas Jones, and Jon Noble (who also published a roneoed Tolkien fanzine, South of Harad, East of Rhun, with material on the Daleks, etc., in some issues). The SUSFA agreed that in the August vacation it would hold a protest at the ABC Head office in Elizabeth Street, Sydney, complete with the SUSFA's Dalek. The "Demo" was to urge more screenings.[citation needed]

The 1976 Save Doctor Who campaign[edit]

During the vacation Antony Howe learned the ABC had actually decided to cease purchasing ANY new episodes of the series, and the planned "Dalek Demo" now had a more urgent goal - to "Save Doctor Who". Organised by Howe, SUSFA members and others, the "Dalek Demo" of 24 August 1976 helped create a small core of people who formed fandom in Sydney, then the rest of Australia, but only about 20 turned up at the peak, with a dozen people or so were present at other times. Even ABC Programme Dept. staff said they knew nothing about the top level decision. Management's decision was also widely revealed in the student newspaper and fans urged to begin a letter writing campaign, and to join the new Australasian Dr Who Fan Club, and attend a screening of the film Doctor Who and the Daleks where further details were announced.[18] Thus was a longer term campaign to "Save Doctor Who" had been launched: complete with posters and leaflets; networking with existing Science Fiction enthusiasts around the country; a radio interview; and letter writing campaigns to the rest of the media, not just the ABC. The "Demo" and other efforts are widely thought by fans and others to have encouraged the broadcaster to change its mind.[19] Howe, however, has doubts that such a small "Demo," and club, had much effect on a huge bureaucracy like the ABC. Eventually the ABC did buy the new series (season 2 and 3 of Tom Baker), Howe believes this was probably due to the high ratings in Britain, rather than to his own efforts.

The campaign did however, lead to a fan magazine and club. Reporting on the "Demo" and associated activities, Howe formed a club, linked up with the UK club (DWAS), and launched his fanzine "Zerinza: the Australasian Doctor Who Fanzine" in August 1976 at a Sydney University screening of "Dr. Who and the Daleks" he had organised for SUSFA (on 21 Sept. 1976).[20] His fanzine was only possible because the SUSFA had a printing machine for its own fanzine "Enigma." Its editor-printer, Van Ikin kindly printed the first 3 years or so of "Zerinza" for Howe. "Zerinza" was claimed to be a Dalek word for "Good Success" in a Dalek Annual of the 1960s. The 'zine was available at fan events and some specialist shops ("Galaxy" in Sydney, and "Space Age" in Melbourne), but it was mainly sold through the post, appearing with some (more or less) regularity every year with the last routine issue #35 in mid-1984.

The associated club was announced in the first issue, but held no public or regular meetings until November 1979 as it so completely overlapped with the SUSFA in membership that there was no point in holding separate activities until the students had mostly graduated and moved on. Initially all "Zerinza" subscribers were notionally members of the "Australasian Doctor Who Fan Club" run by Antony Howe with the help of his mother who did much of the typing, and articles by other members of SUSFA and increasingly outside people who networked as part of the on-going protest over the ABC policy toward the series.[citation needed] The broadcaster abruptly changed its mind with a new Controller of TV and from 1978 the series was to be screened with great regularity.

The Doctor Who Club of Australia[edit]

Initially called the Australasian Doctor Who Fan Club, this, the national club, is also the oldest and largest Doctor Who club in Australia, formed in 1976, but initially closely entwined with the SUSFA (see above). By 1979, with the visit of Tom Baker to promote the series for the ABC, Doctor Who fandom was increasingly separate from SUSFA and other university based clubs around the country. The visit by Baker also stimulated a greater level of fan activity in Melbourne and Brisbane with clubs forming there as well. After Antony Howe resigned as President of SUSFA in 1980, he remained with the ADWFC organising a series of events, the fanzine, and a mail order business of imported Doctor Who merchandise, often unavailable in dozens of tiny rural towns outside the main cities. The ADWFC's most successful event to then was in mid-1980, when Jon Pertwee toured Sydney for cabaret shows, and kindly attended a half day "Dr Who Party." Having its founders and core workers resident in Sydney, with the ABC head office there as well, the club administration has thus been based in the state of New South Wales, and therefore runs the main club events in Sydney. From 1979, there were "parties" held multiple times most years, but conventions were seen as too expensive to risk until 1988's "Console 88" event, featuring Katy Manning, Mark Strickson, Julie Brennan and other guests who could be sourced locally, then in 1990, when Nicholas Courtney best known for his role as the Brigadier was flown out to be the main guest at the first "Whovention".

Howe had issued a few one-off newsletters to announce the Baker and Pertwee visits, and as the fanzine was often months late, Dallas Jones offered to produce a more regular newsletter, and Howe agreed, helping with typing, proof reading, and printing it using the SUSFA printing machine, thus the future "Data Extract" was launched. When Antony Howe resigned from the Presidency of the ADWFC in 1984, and ceased regular publication of Zerinza, he was succeeded by Dallas Jones, who also edited a few special issues of Zerinza. Other presidents include Kate Orman, Neil Hogan, Todd Beilby, James Sellwood and Karen Carpenter.

Over the years, as the national club, the DWCA had several name shifts, and a changing number of regional chapters around the country, and a few of these are part of the state based clubs listed below. The club still publishes the regular club magazine "Data Extract" which has had an unbroken run of publication since 1980. The current editor is Lauren Davis, and the current president is Paul Deuis. The club continues to offer a large range of merchandise for sale through the club's merchandise store at the club's website.

Other clubs and groups[edit]

The Supreme Council of Time Lords introduced the first Australian and New Zealand fan award system, the Double Gammas,[21] open to all Australia and New Zealand Doctor Who fanzines, fan writers, fan artists, with fans members of any Australian or New Zealand Doctor Who club or readers of any Australian or New Zealand Doctor Who fanzine or newsletter, able to nominate and vote. These awards were first presented in 1984 at "Who Do 84", during the Time Lord Ball.

Australia also has a number of regional (state based) clubs.[22]

The Queensland Doctor Who Fan Club was formed in about 1978. It closed in late 1980,[23] but other successor clubs almost immediately sprang up, usually affiliated to the national club, such as the Brisbane Doctor Who Fan Club (closed 2000).[24]

The South Australian Doctor Who Fan Club was formed on 1 June 1980[25] and incorporated on 7 September 1982. It held Conpanion, the first Australian Doctor Who convention, on 8 to 11 October 1983 with Katy Manning as Guest of Honour. On 18 November 2000 the club was rebadged as SFSA. It meets from 3pm to 10pm on the third Saturday of each month except December at Adelaide High School. Publications include the Doctor Who yearbook "Chameleon Factor", regular general SF magazine "SFSA" and the bi-monthly newsletter "The Wall of Lies".

League of Doctors was created in 2010 at Supanova Sydney. Their aim is to showcase all of the Doctor, past and present, including Peter Cushing from the Dr. Who (Dalek films) and David Tennant's left hand for all conventions across Australia. They also look to have accompanying assistants or companions for each Doctor. The current president of the League of Doctors is Jacob Moriarty who took over from Bron Mitchell and Sean C. Berry in 2012.

Aaron J. Climas built a Dalek in time for Robert Shearman's visit for Adelaide Writers' Week in 2012.[26] He is a member of the Australian Dalek Builders Union and frequently attends conventions with his fellow Dalek building boffins.


During the 1980s there had been many large scale fan events in various cities (see above), some rather grandly called "conventions," others by the less grand label "parties." There is a little information on the names and dates of a wide variety of conventions in the article on the Double Gammas, the Australian Doctor Who fan awards.[27]


  1. ^ A Tweed Heads based band (Northern N.S.W.), report "Dr Who Coup For Oz Band", in unspecified newspaper clipping, probably the Sydney Sun, in approx. May 1983.
  2. ^ Martin Dunne 'A Separate Adventure' in Chameleon Factor # 78, (SFSA/SADWFC, 2003)
  3. ^ Based on seeing the actual film reels; annual booklets about broadcasting in Australia; and unpublished research done in ABC TV Archives by Antony Howe.
  4. ^ a b "Australasian Doctor Who Fanclub Calendar [for] 1984 (publ. by Antony Howe in late 1983), dates on each month's page.
  5. ^ Molesworth, Richard (2010); Wiped!: Doctor Who's Missing Episodes; Telos Publishing, p. 61.
  6. ^ "Data Extract" 121, July/August 1996, pps. 1, 4, 6-9, and other parts of the (unpaginated) issue contains news and reviews of this "film" from Australians and from around the world.
  7. ^ New Doctor Who ABC Tasmania story dated 30 September 2003
  8. ^ "Long wait over for Australian 'Whovians'". Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  9. ^ ABC Schedules Who for 2007 Information released on SFSA web site; story dated 8 May 2007
  10. ^ UKTV Australia - Programmes UK.TV Australia. Accessed on 20 October 2006 but the page is ephemeral
  11. ^ Eleven snaps up Torchwood Information released on SFSA web site; story dated 19 July 2011
  12. ^ For a fuller account of the issue of censorship, see Zerinza 38, edited by Damian Shanahan, with input from Antony Howe, giving information and detailed notes of the cuts and reasons for them.
  13. ^ A little information is in David J. Howe, Mark Stammers, and Stephen James Walker, Doctor Who: The Seventies, in sidebar: "Australian Merchandise" (Virgin 1994, p. 172).
  14. ^ See David J. Howe, Mark Stammers, Stephen James Walker, "Fandom Grows Up", in Doctor Who: The Seventies, Virgin Books, 1994, pp. 173-4, Australia is only mentioned vaguely, p. 174."
  15. ^ In reality issue 2 of Jon Noble's South of Harad, East of Rhun, Oct. 1975.
  16. ^ Reported on in several issues of the Student newspaper, Honi Soit, No. 9, 27 April 1976, "Dalek Victory" on the Sports' Page, p. 15; No. 12, 15 June 1976 cover and interior articles; 12 A (no date), p. 3; No. 23, 28 Sept. 1976, p. 3.
  17. ^ Dowling, "Space Opera Plus: The Achievement of Dr. Who", Honi Soit, no. 12, 15 June 1976, p. 4, and Howe, "Science Fiction Action", p. 5.
  18. ^ Howe, "Dr Who to End, A.B.C. Decides!", Honi Soit, No. 23, 28 Sept. 1976, p. 3.
  19. ^ So credited by journalist Jan Balodis, "Dr Who's Monstrous success", in Look and Listen (a short-lived publication by the ABC, Jan. 1985, p. 44.
  20. ^ Announced in Honi Soit, no. 23, 28 Sept. 1976, p. 3.
  21. ^ Ortlieb, Marc (29 October 1999). "Double Gamma Awards". The Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet (129). Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  22. ^ Dr Who interview on George Negus Tonight broadcast 15 September 2003
  23. ^ See Zerinza #17, 1980.
  24. ^ Martin Dunne 'Death of a Club' in SFSA # 18, (SFSA/SADWFC, 2005)
  25. ^ A History of the S.A.D.W.F.C 1980-2001 dated 4 July 2005
  26. ^ Bogle, Deborah. "Touch of the Time Lord at Writer's Week". The Advertiser. Adelaide Now. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  27. ^ "Double Gamma nominations close March 31st". SFSA. 2 March 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 

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