Doctor Who Blog

50 Glorious Years: Episode 21 - 1983

1983 is turning out to share a lot of characteristics with 2013. It was the biggest anniversary celebration the show had done (it remains to be seen whether the 50th will top it), featuring fewer regular number of episodes in the season itself (in 1983 it was 22, rather than the typical 26), a multi-Doctor anniversary special in November, with the public announcement that there will be a new Doctor taking place in the summer months after the filming on the anniversary special had been done in the spring but before the broadcast in November (that’s when Peter Davison announced his departure - summer of 1983. A shame that Matt Smith has now down the same in the summer of 2013).

Of course, the 22 episodes were planned to be a full run but another BBC strike put paid to the production of the final four episodes, so the return of the Daleks planned for that season was postponed until the 21st season in 1984 (much different from whatever the reasons are for the fewer number of episodes in 2013). Despite that disappointment, 1983 was for many fans the happiest time to be a fan during the classic series days. Huge conventions and events were now happening on either side of the Atlantic (in places like Chicago and Longleat in the UK). Who Merchandise was being produced at increasingly higher levels (this year saw the publication of the first of the large Hardbound Peter Haining books on the show, A Celebration (which proved to be so successful that they published a similar HB large book every year for the next 5 years even when they were without a significant anniversary to celebrate), as well as the first story to be released on home video - Revenge of the Cybermen - picked as the first choice because of how overwhelmingly popular the Cybermen now were following the broadcast of Earthshock). The 90 minute special The Five Doctors had such an incredible amount of hype for it, probably the most for any Doctor Who story to date, making it virtually impossible not to be swept up in the excitement. It was a tremendous celebration that was enjoyed by Who fans all over the world in 1983. A glorious year indeed!

1 Comment...

I can’t wait until you get to 1993.  The comparison between the 20th anniversary of Dr. Who in 1983 and ten years later in 1993 was so awfully bleak that in my opinion the bar for subsequent big anniversaries has been very low. It will be difficult for BBC Wales to disappoint in comparison to 1993.

The next big anniversary, 2003, was celebrated by ‘Scream of the Shalka’ featuring Sophie Okonedo, Richard E. Grant, Derek Jacobi, Paul Cornell and David Tennant. In hindsight, there was a monster about to be unleashed that year. 

Comparing 2013 to 1983 seems like good sport.  But is it now peaking like it clearly was then?

You have a run-on sentence in para 1.  I understand the meaning, that the press gave notice of Peter Davison’s exit long before his final episode (a familiar ploy.) 

However, it’s hard from our 21st Century re-run generation to tease out the fact that Season 20 was short, because ‘The Five Doctors’ makes it an acceptable close-out of a full season.  Not everybody remembers the special was funded from a different budget line than the other 22 episodes that year. A good idea, spoilt in its execution by industrial action killing the four other episodes that would have made a full 26-week season plus the special. Production of ‘Enlightenment’ had to be remounted in the aftermath of the strike.

Posted by Eric  on  06/02  at  10:09 PM

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