Saturday, 5 March 2016

Singapore and ...

Singapore is situated at the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula and gained independence in 1963. In the same year, television services began on 15 February with Radio Television Singapore (RTS) launching a limited TV service. Regular TV services began on Channel 5 on 2 April 1963. Channel 8 launched on 23 November 1963 – a date with obvious significance.

Singapore became a republic in 1965, and RTS began transmitting Doctor Who 7th April that year. RTS operated two TV channels: Channel 5 (showing English and Malay programmes), and Channel 8 (mainly Chinese and Tamil). Malaysia never bought the same programs as Singapore because TV signals from Singapore could be picked up with clarity in Malaysia and vice versa. Though, Singapore did broadcast fifty-six episodes of Doctor Who that are currently missing from the BBC archives: Nine Hartnells (Marco Polo and the two missing episodes from The Reign of Terror) along with forty-seven Troughton episodes.

RTS bought the first ten seasons of the classic series of Doctor Who except for:

1 - Mission to the Unknown (1)

2 - The Daleks’ Master Plan (11/12 depending on whether you include FoS )

3 - Inferno (7)

4 - The Mind of Evil (6)

5 - The Daemons (5)

6 - The Green Death (6)

The ‘A’ (Adult) rating received from The Australian Film Classification Board prevented screening in Australia. It seems likely that further sales to other countries did not follow because none of these were bought at the much higher rate of $600 AUD that Australia normally paid for Doctor Who. None of these stories were broadcast in New Zealand by the ZNBC who paid closer to £50 (presumably GBP).

Paul Vanezis indicated on the that the archives of Singapore had been checked, turning up nothing. This seems to leave two possibilities, either the prints were disposed of on site, sent back to the BBC or they were sent on to somewhere else, but where? At after Singapore screened the War Machines in 1972 the prints were sent on to Nigeria. The recovered films stilled bared the censor cuts made in New Zealand and were eventually returned to the BBC. Aside from The War Machines, Enemy of the World and Web of Fear, the fate of the prints is still unknown.

Though we can't know for sure, there have been plenty of rumours and supposition over the years, and as always, scepticism is advised but the Facebook comment below is talking about The Celestial Toymaker is interesting nonetheless:

Richard Molesworth, author of Wiped: Doctor Who's Missing Episodes, posted the following on Gallifrey Base Forum:

I wrote to the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation just after 'Tomb' was returned from Hong Kong in early 1992, asking them what episodes of 'Dr Who' they had screeed, and if they still had any copies. (This was waaaay before we knew which countries had screened what and when, as we do now for 95% of the world.)  
They replied with details of sales dates and serial codes which (as later paperwork proved) was pretty comprehensive - not totally, but enough to tell me that someone had actually sat down and done the research to answer my query, perhaps about 90% accurate to what we know now. The letter ended with them saying that they'd checked their archive records, and that they didn't retain any of the programmes. As the answer was pretty damn comprehensive, I have very little reason to doubt that Singapore didn't retain any 'Dr Who' prints. They'd done the research, which was more than could be said of most of the other countries I wrote to in 1992! 
Without actually going there and checking in person, who's to say 100%, but I'm quite satisifed that SBC have no 'Dr Who' films at all, missing or otherwise. 


The clipping below is from Wednesday, July 1975 and provides some insight into the problems facing RTS at the time, the subsection 'Bundles from Britain', is particularly noteworthy:

With thanks to Jon Preddle, and the British Library