The Gunfighters

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Story Code: Z / Season 3 UK Airdate: 30 Apr to 21 May 1966 Doctor: William Hartnell
First airings by location UK Repeats / Foreign Cable and Satellite Previous Story / Next Story

This story aired in the following countries. They are listed in chronological order according to known airdate. (Refer also to Selling Doctor Who for expanded airdates.)

Australia Jan 67 b/w
Barbados Apr 68 b/w
Zambia Jul 68 b/w
Sierra Leone Mar 71 b/w
Singapore Mar 73 b/w
  • The Gunfighters was the only serial of this batch that was not purchased by New Zealand. Although the prints were not entered into the NZBC's film register, and there is no record of the serial being assessed by the censors, it is (albeit remotely) possible that the films were received, but that the serial was rejected at an earlier stage in the process, and never got as far as being entered into the film register. (Was it rejected by the programme purchasers because it didn't meet their quality control guidelines? Was it the song?)
  • The sale to Singapore was actually "back-catalogue", as they had already started screening Jon Pertwee stories by this time. Singapore had received its prints for all the other season 3 stories from New Zealand, but where did its copy of The Gunfighters come from? If the NZBC didn't have a copy (see below...) did the BBC provide another set? (It's even possible that the prints sent to Singapore had originally been struck for the intended sale to New Zealand, but when the NZBC did not buy the serial, the unwanted prints sat 'on the shelf' for four years...) or did it come from Australia, since The Gunfighters is one of the few season 3 Hartnells that wasn't part of the consignment returned to the BBC in 1975?
  • Sierra Leone sent its prints back to the BBC in 1974.
  • The fact that the BBC retained its negatives of this story (and The Ark) but not of any other season 3 stories is very odd.
  • One possible explanation for the retention of the negatives was down to the special editing that the serial underwent following completion - did these telerecording film prints become the "master copy" instead of the original video tape?
    • CONSPIRACY THEORY: Another thought: did the timing of this late sale to Singapore have anything to do with the retention of the negatives? The BBC probably still retained all the negatives of season 3 into 1970 but were planning to junk them when the sale of the back half of the season came from Singapore by the end of 1971. When New Zealand confirmed they could supply prints of the majority of the serials, but not of the western, the BBC went ahead with junking the other negatives, but kept The Gunfighters (and The Ark?) in order to make prints for Singapore. They simply never got round to junking the negatives afterwards, and these were still held by 1978.
  • A clip from the end of part 4 (the arrival on the planet of the Savages) was shown on BBC TV news on 23 April 1975 as part of its coverage of the death of William Hartnell. Since clips of this nature would usually be sourced from the BBC's film library rather than from Enterprises, and with the print of part 4 being one of the few still held at the Film Library by the end of 1976, it appears that even as early as April 1975, the Library held only a very small collection of William Hartnell episodes from which clips could be sourced...

BBC News Item (Fan Reconstruction)


  • The serial was reissued by the BBC in late 1985, and sold to:
United States from Sep 85 b/w
Canada Dec 89 b/w
New Zealand Aug 00 b/w
  • For this reissue, the cliffhanger lead-in to The Savages was edited around: for the episodic version, Part 4 ended with the TARDIS crew exiting the control room, with the close up of the 'savage' on the TARDIS scanner removed. For the omnibus edit, the final TARDIS scene was removed in its entirety; instead, the "Movie" ended abruptly as the Doctor, Dodo and Steven step into the ship inside the barn.

US TV Guide descriptions

More Information
Title: The Gunfighters

  • Episode 1: The Doctor arrives in Tombstone, Ariz., in 1881 and witnesses the shoot-out at the OK Corral
  • Episode 2: (no plot description)
  • Episode 3: (no plot description)
  • Episode 4: (no plot description)
  • Compilation: The Doctor arrives in Tombstone, Ariz., in 1881 and witnesses the shoot-out at the OK Corral