The 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who on November 23rd is also the 40th Anniversary for the 1983 premiere of The Five Doctors — on November 25th! It’s largely forgotten now, but there was a bit of a dust-up regarding Doctor Who–specifically the first truly overt Anniversary special in the classic realm.
In the U.S. Doctor Who was just starting its ascendance in both recognition and (somewhat grudging) acceptance, and a big multi-Doctor adventure was an ideal showcase to further that rise. But there was a problem.
In ’83 November 23rd fell on a Wednesday, and. although Doctor Who hadn’t been a Saturday tea-time program since the spring of 1981–it would have made all the sense in the world to have it air on Saturday, November 26th if it couldn’t on the day itself. Instead, it aired on Friday, November 25. On the left-side of the pond however where it was getting established as a syndicated PBS staple, some stations–though not all we hasten to add–and including the Milwaukee based affiliate–aired it on the day itself, November 23rd.
In other words some lucky Americans got to see it before fans in England got to watch it. And that didn’t sit too well with long-standing British fans at the time.
As a pre-internet controversy, it was something of a tempest. But forty years on it’s just an oddity. As broadcasting windows have collapsed under the weight of insatiable fan curiosity in the nu-Who era, various attempts to create dual premiere windows for new stories were attempted. But all of these constructs were destined to fail.
Except in 1983. Because the math cannot be argued with. 25 ≠ 23.
As a new ‘season,’ and perhaps new ‘era’ of Doctor Who beckons. the Tour is breaking a small bit of our own tradition. Ordinarily, we would post both images and caps for a new story when the caps for that story were completed. But other life obligations at present are particularly unfriendly to this type of presentation so for the stories yet to air in 2023, we will be releasing images first with caps to follow, often 4-5 days after the premiere.