On Doctor Who Viewing

Last night BBC America showed the third season Doctor Who two-parter, “Human Nature”/”Family of Blood,” in a two-hour long block.

If you missed it last night and you have BBC America, have no fear — they’re repeating it again this afternoon.

Watching the two-parter in a single sitting last night, it occurred to me how much better the story works as a single block. Watching it last spring as two separate episodes, the structural flaws of the second part are more obvious. The pacing is off in separate episodes, but as a single, two-hour long piece, the pacing works better.

Afterwards, I had another thought.

I don’t hear about British viewers of Doctor Who talking about repeats of Who or Torchwood.

So, I wonder. Are there repeats?

The Sci-Fi Channel shows Doctor Who a few times, and they also have done episode marathons. BBC America has done episode marathons of Torchwood; they just did one of the first half of the second season a few Sundays back.

Does BBC1 spend six hours on a Sunday afternoon showing Doctor Who marathons every couple of months, to keep the Time Lord in front of the audience? Does BBC2 or BBC3 run Torchwood marathons?

Or is the BBC’s attitude more like, “You’ve watched it once. You missed it? You’re shit-outta-luck.”

Personally, I love BBC America’s episode marathons. They ran a Father Ted marathon a few years ago for St. Patrick’s Day. They’ve done Jonathan Creek marathons. Blackadder marathons, too.

From the way that fans don’t mention repeats in the UK, would I be wrong to conclude that they don’t happen? Are repeats a uniquely American thing?

I genuinely don’t know.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

3 thoughts on “On Doctor Who Viewing

  1. From what I’ve heard, the season of Torchwood now playing is being screened on one channel (BBC3?) and then being repeated a week later on BBC2. I haven’t heard anything about repeats of Doctor Who though…

    Prime TV here in New Zealand has played series 1 through three times so far. “Rose” has been screened at least four times, and we’re getting the Christmas Invasion for the third time on April 10th. 🙂

  2. This season’s Torchwood was starting on BBC3 at 10pm on Wednesday, followed by a repeat (or first terrestrial airing) on BBC2 at 9pm the following Wedsnesday, and an edited down 7pm repeat on BBC2 on Thursday. That changes with the finale, which is always aired first on BBC2 (it’s to do with penalising license-payers who don’t have digital access).

    Who normally runs at 7pm on Saturday on BBC1, followed by a BBC3 repeat on Sunday night. Once a whole season is done, BBC3 will run it in a weekday stripe at 7pm for months. They also repeat the previous new seasons in that slot, and normally have a complete run, an episode a night, leading up to the Christmas special. New Who (along with old Who) is also on a pretty continuous loop on UKTV Gold.

    It’s not that we don’t have the repeats, it’s more that most UK fans will tape/DVD it on first airing, then buy the DVD boxsets and watch them as and when desired. And if you’re channel-hopping any given night at 7pm, you’ll probably catch the odd episode.

  3. Addendum: You do get Who weekends on UKTV Gold, but not on the BBC. Bear in mind that the BBC is funded through a license fee – each household in the UK paying for the services whether they watch or not – and filling the airwaves with a single show for a day would cause uproar. The BBC schedules have to contain variety every day* or there’s condemnation and questions about “why should we have to pay for X?” etc etc.

    At the moment, they really don’t need to remind people about the show. The biggest rivals on ITV are scheduled to finish their season before Who starts so they won’t be beaten by it in the ratings; little kids are collecting action figures, stickers etc; the BBC have run trailers in the cinemas; the press are always running with stories about it…the show has – to borrow from US politics – momentum.

    *except in the event of something truly catastrophic. The Beeb normally reverts to normal service after a hour or so of a major story (i.e. a tsunami, death of a royal, etc).

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