SINGAPORE (population nearly 4.5 million) is an island of 704 square kilometres located at the tip of the Malaysian Peninsula. First settled by the Chinese around the third century, it was named Singapura, meaning the Lion City - from the Malay Sanskrit sing (lion) and pura (city) - in the fourteenth century. The city was colonised by the British in the late nineteenth century, occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War, became part of the Federation of Malaysia (which also included Malaya, Sarawak, and North Borneo) in 1963, but gained its independence and became a republic in 1965. Television services began in 1963. It is a member of the British Commonwealth.
|Country Number (4)||1965||FIRST WAVE|
|Colour System||1 August 1974||PAL|
|Language/s||English, Mandarin, Tamil, Malay||Subtitled|
Singapore has four official languages: English, Mandarin Chinese, Tamil and Malay. When Doctor Who aired on the mainly English Channel 5, it may have had subtitling for some of the other languages. However when it screened on Channel 8, which was predominantly Chinese, it would more than likely have had sub-titling to support the English soundtrack.
Television Stations / Channels
Doctor Who aired on Television Singapore (sometimes Singapura), part of the wider Radio Television Singapore (RTS) broadcasting organisation. From 1963, the broadcaster operated two TV channels – Channel 5 (also known as Singapore I), showing English and Malay programmes, and Channel 8 (Singapore II), mainly Chinese and Tamil programming. During its broadcast life on Singapore TV, Doctor Who screened on both channels.
Ironically, Channel 8 was launched on 23 November 1963!
Colour tests were run on 2 May 1974, with the first colour service using film material only was introduced from August 1974. By the time full colour was introduced in November 1977, Doctor Who was no longer screening in Singapore. The fact that the initial colour broadcasts were from film only, and colour Doctor Who could only be supplied on video tape, may explain why Singapore did not screen any further Doctor Who after 1974.
A Brief History of Singapore TV
- 1 June 1936: Radio Singapura begins transmission.
- 15 Feruary 1963: Radio Television Singapore (RTS) launches a limited TV service. Regular TV services begin on Channel 5 on 2 April. Channel 8 launches 23 November (Doctor Who's 'birth' day!).
- 16 September 1963: Malaysia is formed.
- 7 April 1965: Doctor Who begins on RTS.
- 9 August 1965: Singapore is expelled from Malaysia and gains independence.
- 6 June 1974: Doctor Who ends on RTS.
- 7 July 1974: The World Cup final on 7 July is the first live colour Singapore broadcast. Regular colour broacasts commence in August 1974.
- 1980: RTS is rebranded as Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).
- 1994: SBC becomes Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS).
- 1999: TCS bought by Media Corporation of Singapore (aka MediaCorp Singapore).
- 2001: TCS renamed MediaCorp TV.
- 31 December 2004: Creation of MediaCorp TV Holdings Pte Ltd to own Channels 5 and 8.
- 2005: The new Doctor Who begins on satellite station BBC Prime Asia StarHub channel 76.
Censorship was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Broadcasting.
DOCTOR WHO IN SINGAPORE
RTS screened only the first ten seasons, with the exception of 37 episodes. There are 355 episodes in those ten seasons, so 355 less 37 equals 318 episodes that had the potential to screen. However, airdates for 319 episodes have been found...
The Stanmark Productions Ltd advertisement from 1966, identifies Singapore as one of sixteen countries screening Doctor Who by January 1966.
Stories bought and broadcast
27 stories, 121 episodes (possibly 28 stories; 122 episodes) – see table below.
One story didn't screen in Singapore: The Daleks Master Plan (12 episodes). Despite the lack of BBC documentation to state either way, it is possible that Mission to the Unknown did screen – see discussion below.
The programme was suppled on 16mm black and white film with English soundtracks.
Origin of the Prints
Being the fourth country to screen Doctor Who, for the first two blocks of stories, Singapore would have received its own set of prints.
Film prints from New Zealand
The NZBC records held at TVNZ record the words "SINGAPORE II 10.1.72" written in red biro against The Savages, with ditto marks against The War Machines, The Smugglers, The Tenth Planet and The Power of the Daleks (22 eps).
Galaxy 4 is marked with "SINGAPORE II 20-9-72", with ditto marks for The Myth Makers, The Massacre, The Ark and The Celestial Toymaker (20 eps). SINGAPORE II is another identification name for Channel 8.
Indeed, the September batch did screen on Channel 8, but the January batch actually screened on Channel 5. We can assume they were originally going to air on Channel 8. .
21 stories, 119 episodes – see table below.
All of the second Doctor's stories and episodes screened in Singapore – although the first Troughton story to screen was The Highlanders; the last to screen was The Power of the Daleks, three years later!
The programme was supplied on 16mm black and white film with English soundtracks.
Origin of the Prints
All the other Troughton serials were likely supplied immediately after airing by RTV in Hong Kong; the SBC film assessors viewed the ex-RTV film prints of The Web of Fear on 6 May 1970 as evidenced by hand-written text on some of the film cans.
14 stories, 78 episodes
The third Doctor stories that didn't screen were Inferno, The Mind of Evil, The Daemons, The Green Death, all due to censorship issues in Australia; with Australia not purchasing them, other Commonwealth countries were also unable to do so, due to cost.
None of Season 11 was purchased by Singapore; presumably because these episodes were available only on PAL colour videotape, and RTS was then not able to transmit from that format.
The programme was suppled on 16mm black and white film with English soundtracks.
The Missing 37
BBC Records indicate that Singapore purchased the first ten seasons of Doctor Who only, with the exception of 37 episodes: Mission to the Unknown (1); The Daleks Master Plan (12); Inferno (7); The Mind of Evil (6) and The Daemons (5) and The Green Death (6). This is because these six stories had been rejected or rated A (Adults Only) by the Australian Film Classification Board. As noted under Selling Doctor Who an Australian rejection affected all sales to other Commonwealth countries.
Given that there is a one episode imbalance between the known sales (318 episodes) and the potential airdates (319), it is possible that the BBC records are wrong and Mission to the Unknown did screen in Singapore. This thought is explored in more detail later on.
Doctor Who screened in five runs or Blocks between April 1965 and June 1974. Keeping up with Doctor Who must have been a somewhat frustrating experience for viewers: the series never screened in the same time slot week after week – for instance, the four episodes of The Crusade screened at 5.10pm, 5.35pm, 4.15pm, 6.40pm, with the last on a different day of the week. And even more confusing, the series was not always screened in season order.
WILLIAM HARTNELL (PART ONE)
BLOCK ONE: 7 April 1965 to 11 May 1966 (57 episodes, 12 stories)
|A||An Unearthly Child||4|
|C||Inside the Spaceship||2|
|E||The Keys of Marinus||6|
|H||The Reign of Terror||6|
|J||Planet of Giants||3|
|K||The Dalek Invasion of Earth||6|
This first Block consisted of all of season one and the first four serials of season two (26 episodes are identified by an episode title in the newspaper. The series screened Wednesdays on Channel 5 (in English, with Chinese subtitles?), but at a number of different times – the earliest at 4.20pm, the latest 7.06pm; the majority airing in the 6.40pm slot.
Singapore achieved and celebrated its independence from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, between episodes 5 and 6 of Marco Polo, which is rather ironic given that Chinese Mandarin is one of the official languages of Singapore.
Part way through The Reign of Terror, Doctor Who took a break for one week, with the 6.45 to 7.15pm timeslot on 29 December 1965 filled by an instalment of the US historical re-enactment series You Asked For It. This was followed by a special broadcast of An interview in Chinese with Mr Chan Chong Keen, a political detainee. It is possible that RTS felt it would be irresponsible if they broadcast an episode of Doctor Who that featured political detainees imprisoned in the Bastille the same night as an interview with a real life detainee. Doctor Who ended its first run on 11 May 1966, with part four of The Romans. .
BLOCK TWO: 9 July 1966 to 25 December 1966 (24 episodes, 5 stories)
|N||The Web Planet||6|
|Q||The Space Museum||4|
|S||The Time Meddler||4|
After a two month rest, the series returned (still on Channel 5) on 9 July 1966, with the remainder of the second season, starting with The Web Planet. (Only 13 episodes are identified by a title in The Straits Times.) Was it planned or a mere coincidence that on 20 August, 11 days after the Lion City celebrated its first year of independence, The Lion, episode one of The Crusade, screened? Does this explain why this batch of episodes was held over for two months?
The second run didn't screen in a set time slot, with episodes airing at all sorts of different times, even during the same serial, with the earliest known listed time being 3.25pm, and the latest 6.55pm. The first nine episodes of this run screened on Saturdays, then after part three of The Crusade, the series moved to Friday for two weeks, before shifting to Sunday for the remainder of the run.
No paper was held for 2 October 1966, but it is clear that Doctor Who did screen that day. (The Saturday slot from 10 September 1966 was filled by the 27-part 1963 BBC series Moonstrike.)
Singapore got The Space Museum and The Time Meddler two years before New Zealand. (The prints of these two stories arrived at the NZBC around July 1968. Did the NZBC therefore obtain its prints from Singapore?) This run ended on Christmas Day. The following week, Doctor Who's timeslot was taken by the American comedy/music series The Monkees. It would be two years before Doctor Who returned… .
PATRICK TROUGHTON (PART ONE)
BLOCK THREE: 13 February 1969 to 10 July 1969 (22 episodes, [5 stories])
|GG||The Underwater Menace||4|
|JJ||The Macra Terror||4|
|KK||The Faceless Ones||6|
Just over two years later (26 months to be exact), the series returned for a five month run, on Thursdays, but now on the Chinese language Channel 8 (which had been launched on 23 November 1963 of all dates!). Despite the change of channel, it is likely the series still aired with the English soundtrack with Chinese subtitles.
Again, the time slots were variable, with the majority of episodes at 5.55pm or 6.00pm. There were no titles at all in the Straits Times, although the paper did sometimes use variants of The Adventures of Dr Who, The Adventures of Dr Who & his small crew, The Adventures of Dr Who and his crew, or Dr Who – A Science Fiction Series by way of description. (The 5 and 19 June 1969 Times did not contain any TV listings at all, but we assume Doctor Who did screen on those dates.)
According to BBC records, Singapore did not purchase Galaxy 4, the next William Hartnell story, until late 1972. But they did acquire Patrick Troughton's third, fourth and fifth stories in March 1969. Given that The Power of the Daleks was not purchased until January 1972, this third run seems to have jumped ahead a number of years – and Doctors – to start with The Highlanders!
While this might seem very odd, the known sales dates certainly support this out of order broadcast. As to why the latter twelve Hartnells were missed is not known. At a guess we'd say it was on account of rights periods expiring and not being renewed by the BBC for a couple more years, meaning those serials were not available for purchase in 1969. With The Power of the Daleks, there were issues with securing rights from Terry Nation, as at this time (late 1966 to December 1967) he had refused the BBC permission to sell any Dalek stories while he attempted to sell his spin-off series to US networks.
The uninterrupted run of 22 episodes of this Block does equate to four 4-parters and one 6-parter, which would place The Faceless Ones as the last story. Interestingly, these same Troughtons were censored in New Zealand only a matter of weeks after they had screened in Singapore; is it a coincidence that NZ and Singapore ran the very same stories around the same time? Does this mean some of the film prints received by the NZBC came from Singapore? Or does this merely mean that separate prints of these serials were sent to both countries simultaneously?
This run ended on 10 July 1969, and the series was replaced by the US animated series The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. .
PATRICK TROUGHTON (Continued)
JON PERTWEE (PART ONE)
WILLIAM HARTNELL (PART TWO)
BLOCK FOUR: 4 December 1969 to 15 June 1972 (131 episodes, [23 stories])
|LL||The Evil of the Daleks||7|
|MM||The Tomb of the Cybermen||4|
|NN||The Abominable Snowmen||6|
|OO||The Ice Warriors||6|
|PP||The Enemy of the World||6|
|The Web of Fear||6|
|RR||Fury from the Deep||6|
|SS||The Wheel in Space||6|
|UU||The Mind Robber||5|
|XX||The Seeds of Death||6|
|YY||The Space Pirates||6|
|ZZ||The War Games||10|
|AAA||Spearhead from Space||4|
|BBB||Doctor Who and the Silurians||7|
|CCC||The Ambassadors of Death||7|
|BB||The War Machines||4|
|DD||The Tenth Planet||4|
|EE||The Power of the Daleks||6|
Block Four commenced five months later (still Thursdays on Channel 8), on 4 December 1969, initially with a seven week run, followed by a two week gap in which Doctor Who was replaced with The Shari Lewis Show on 22 January 1970, and The Mysterious Castle episode of The King's Outlaw (a 1960s French series also known as Thierry La Fronde) on 29 January 1970.
If, as assumed, Block Three ended with The Faceless Ones, then it makes sense that these first seven episodes would be The Evil of the Daleks. BBC records say Evil was purchased by Singapore in January 1970, so the potential air dates do match. The reasons for the delay in screening Evil might be on account of the same serial having been delayed from its screening in Australia early that same year. (The 11 December 1969 paper is missing, so we assume that Doctor Who did screen on that date.)
After the fortnight break, there began an uninterrupted run of 124 episodes over the next two and a half years. The usual time slot was around 6.00pm. BBC records indicate the following stories were purchased at this time: The Tomb of the Cybermen (in January 70); The Enemy of the World, The Web of Fear, and The Wheel in Space (all May 1970); The Mind Robber and The Invasion (February 1971); Spearhead from Space (October 1971); assuming that Singapore aired each story soon after purchase and receipt, rather than holding onto the films for several months, the potential air dates of these stories do fit the known purchase dates.
On 26 February (seemingly mid-way through The Tomb of the Cybermen) the series moved back to the English language Channel 5, where it stayed for the remainder of the run.
The most recent Jon Pertwee story available for foreign sale in late 1971 would have been The Ambassadors of Death (Inferno having been passed over for reasons offered earlier). The number of available episodes that could screen in 1971-72 takes this run up to episode seven of Ambassadors (on 13 January 1972). (Note: the 30 December 1971 paper only had listings for TV Malaysia; Singapura TV was missing.) This leaves a further 22 episodes in this run to be identified. On 10 January 1972, the NZBC sent to Singapore a batch of 22 episodes (16 Hartnells and six Troughtons).
Although The Straits Times generally did not list any story titles for this run, the 3 February 1972 issue did actually name The Savages as screening, although frustratingly there was no indication as to what the episode number was. What this suggest is that after Ambassadors, the final 22 episodes of this run were made up of those five stories that had been sent from New Zealand a mere ten days earlier! This makes it episode three of The Savages that aired on 3 February.
It must have been very confusing for viewers, in that this Block started with Patrick Troughton (for 91 weeks), who regenerated into Jon Pertwee, then 18 weeks later it was suddenly back to William Hartnell who, after 16 weeks, regenerated into Troughton!
There were no articles in the newspapers to explain the changes between Doctors, although there could well have been an announcement given onscreen at the time. Of note, this Block of stories both started and ended with a Patrick Troughton Dalek story. (What may also be significant is that the dates on which The Ice Warriors through to The Wheel in Space might have screened are only a month or so prior to the dates these stories are recorded as having been received and censored in New Zealand. Can we conclude that Singapore sent these film prints to New Zealand?)
The last episode, The Power of the Daleks part six, screened on 15 June 1972. In the following weeks Singapore viewers watched Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, a 39 half-hour US SF/adventure serial from 1954. .
WILLIAM HARTNELL (PART THREE)
JON PERTWEE (Continued)
BLOCK FIVE: 9 October 1972 to 6 June 1974 (84 episodes, [18 stories])
|U||The Myth Makers||4|
|Y||The Celestial Toymaker||4|
|EEE||Terror of the Autons||4|
|GGG||The Claws of Axos||4|
|HHH||Colony in Space||6|
|KKK||Day of the Daleks||4|
|LLL||The Sea Devils||6|
|MMM||The Curse of Peladon||4|
|OOO||The Time Monster||6|
|PPP||Carnival of Monsters||4|
|QQQ||Frontier in Space||6|
|RRR||The Three Doctors||4|
|SSS||Planet of the Daleks||6|
The NZBC sent a further 20 episodes (Galaxy 4, The Myth Makers, The Massacre, The Ark and The Celestial Toymaker) to SINGAPORE II on 20 September 1972. The fifth Singapore run commenced a mere 19 days later on Monday, 9 October 1972, back on Channel 8. (The variable time slot was on or around the 6.00pm hour.) The logical conclusion to be made is that this Block started with these ex-NZBC episodes, followed by The Gunfighters (sourced from elsewhere?), and after that came the next batch of available Jon Pertwee stories, picking up where Block Four had left off, running through to Season Ten, but skipping The Mind of Evil, The Daemons and The Green Death due to reasons of censorship.
Presumably the 'cliffhanger' link from The Gunfighters part four to The Savages was removed since the next story to screen appears to have been Terror of the Autons. According to BBC records, Terror of the Autons was sold to Singapore in March 1973, and the likely airdates dates do match this. By this time, Season Ten was only a year old, having only just finished screening in the UK in June 1973. From the 5 April 1973 episode, the series moved from Mondays to Thursdays (which appears to have been during Terror of the Autons).
When one takes into account that Singapore screened each subsequent brand new Troughton or Pertwee season within two years of the UK broadcasts, then RTS must have wanted newer episodes first, and then once those ran out they acquired older (and therefore cheaper?) Hartnells from New Zealand to play in the gaps. As it had been with Block Four, this 'overnight' change from one Doctor to another must have been confusing for viewers.
This run broke for one week on 9 August 1973 to allow for a 95 minute broadcast of footage (starting at 5.10pm) from the Singapore National Day parade from earlier that day (celebrating Singapore's eighth year of independence), followed by the news at 6.45pm. Another break occurred on 25 April 1974, on which an episode of the children's series Hammy Hamster screened from 5.50pm – 6.20pm. Quite why this should screen in place of Doctor Who is not known, but it is possible there was a delay in the receipt and/or censoring of the next batch of episodes.
An Extra Episode?
The one episode imbalance mentioned earlier occurs in this run: there are 85 definite listings for Doctor Who in this Block. But there are only 84 episodes left to be accounted for. There are two possibilities to account for the 'extra' episode:
- a) one episode was pre-empted
- b) Mission to the Unknown screened on 6 November 1972, the date which falls at the position where that single episode would play in story order
But if the 'extra' episode was due to a pre-emption, we'll make an educated guess here and say the 'extra' episode is the one on 18 April. Planet of the Daleks was the final serial to screen, and the week before was the aforementioned one-off Hammy Hamster on 25 April. It's not unlikely that for some reason Planet of the Daleks part one was originally scheduled to screen the week after The Three Doctors part four, and the newspaper for 18 April printed accordingly.
But Planet didn't screen and something else aired that day instead. (The films might have been held up in transit to Singapore, or the censors took longer to assess them, or the films were dirty or damaged and needed repairing or replacing.) The serial was held up the following week as well, so Doctor Who was replaced by Hammy Hamster. Then after a two week 'break', Planet part one was ready to air on 2 May. Remember there was a two week gap between The Evil of the Daleks and The Tomb of the Cybermen in January 1970, so it's not as if a two-week pre-emption between serials was unique.
If the imbalance is due to an additional episode playing, then chances are it was Mission to the Unknown. Both Galaxy 4 and The Myth Makers aired in this run, so it's possible Mission played in its correct position between them. This does of course mean that the BBC sales documentation, which indicates Mission was never sold outside the UK, is wrong.
If Mission did screen, then the National Day parade played between Day of the Daleks and the following story (either The Curse of Peladon or The Sea Devils, depending on whether these two stories aired in production code or story order); if not, then National Day occurred during the second adventure. With Mission included, then the change from Monday to Thursday occurred between The Gunfighters and Terror of the Autons, rather than during Terror of the Autons. The following table for Block Five is based on the presumption that Mission to the Unknown did screen on 6 November 1972.
The last Doctor Who episode to screen in Singapore, Planet of the Daleks part six, aired on 6 June 1974 at 5.50pm. The programme was replaced by the 1968 six-part ITV serial The Growing Summer. It took nine years for RTS to screen the ten seasons (albeit out of order!); 63 of the 69 serials that had been made.
Fate of the Prints
Some time after the 1972 screenings, the four episodes of The War Machines (that had been originally dispatched to Singapore by the NZBC) were sent to one of the TV stations in Nigeria that had purchased the serial in July 1973. The four films (still exhibiting the censor edits made in New Zealand) were subsequently found in Nigeria and returned to the BBC in 1984. It is possible Singapore sent further prints to that country during the mid-1970s.
|← AIRDATES ...... (CLICK ICON TO GO TO TABLE SHOWING EPISODE BREAKDOWN AND AIRDATES - N/S = story title is Not Stated)|
Listings have been obtained from the Malaysia edition of The Straits Times, and as such the TV pages have programme listings for Malaysia as well as Singapore.
The series was always billed as "Dr Who".
For the first two Blocks, The Straits Times and Sunday Times printed the episode titles. But frustratingly, for the remaining three Blocks, only one story title was given. The Singapore Herald was similarly poor in providing titles.
The Times used a number of different headings for the television station, such as SINGAPORE TELEVISION; TV MALAYSIA (Malaysia) & TV MALAYSIA (Singapura); TV SINGAPURA and TV SINGAPORE.) Another newspaper accessed was The Singapore Herald (which folded in 1971).
We have identified 317 definite airdates between April 1965 to June 1974. There were two dates for there was either no newspapers on file or there weren't any TV listings anywhere in the issue. (These are noted accordingly in the TV Listings table.) Therefore, there is the potential for 319 episodes of Doctor Who to have screened in Singapore.
Some of the titles have been misprinted, such as The Snow of Terrors; Planets of Giants; 13 October 1965 simply says Adventure; The Walking Ally.
Season 11 and Beyond
It is understood that the BBC stopped tele-recording 16mm black and white prints of Doctor Who in 1974 (the last known serial to be fully tele-recorded was The Time Warrior, and at least episodes one and two of Invasion of the Dinosaurs), as by then many foreign stations were in the process of switching over to colour (New Zealand from October 1973, Australia from 1 March 1975, and Singapore itself was preparing to switch over to a limited service in August 1974) effectively cancelling the demand for black and white prints.
Why Singapore did not purchase Season Eleven or the Tom Baker series is more than likely on account of the fact that the early RTS colour transmissions could only support colour film rather than colour video tape, the format in which colour Doctor Who was supplied. Full colour conversion for both channels was planned for completion by the end of 1976 – so why was Doctor Who not picked up again after that year?
Doctor Who screened in Malaysia in 1986 and 1987. These broadcasts would have been received in Singapore, so some viewers saw the handful of Tom Baker stories that aired there.
TV Movie, 84 minutes:
|TVM||The TV Movie||1|
The movie was available on Singapore Air service flights from 1996.
Singapore in Doctor Who
- Ironically, the only direct onscreen reference to Singapore occurs in one of the last stories to screen there – in Carnival of Monsters one of the crates in the SS Bernice's cargo hold is labelled "SINGAPORE".
- For the original Season 23, it was planned to film a story in Singapore. Robert Holmes's three-parter, with a working title of Yellow Fever and How to Cure It (also known as Made in Singapore and Evil of the Autons), was to have featured the sixth Doctor and Peri encountering the Master and the Autons on the island. Graeme Harper was pencilled in to direct. John Nathan-Turner and Gary Downie enjoyed an all expenses paid 'holiday' in Singapore in October 1984 to scout for suitable locations, and found one in the famous botanical gardens. But the project was abandoned in February 1985 when Michael Grade placed the series on its 18 month hiatus.
- In 1987 Katy Manning featured in a series of commercials for Singapore Airlines.
- Outside the TV series, Singapore has featured in a number of Big Finish audios: in Storm Warning, the eighth Doctor says he once met a Venusian on the terrace of the Singapore Hilton. In Seasons of Fear; the eighth Doctor and Charly meet Sebastian Grayle there in 1930. The Doctor and Charly returned to the city in 1931 in The Girl Who Never Was. In the BBC Novels, UNIT-SEA's HQ in Singapore is mentioned in Bullet Time.
(This Singapore profile is adapted from an article by Jon Preddle that originally appeared in TSV, issue 75, December 2007), and is used with permission.)