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Classic Doctor Who on Retro TV: A Viewers Guide

Since the recent announcement that classic episodes of Doctor Who were coming to the American TV network Retro TV, the 'Whovian Universe' (that part of the universe inhabited by Doctor Who fans), has been abuzz. A glance at 'Gallifrey Today', a site that tracks Doctor Who news across the internet shows a number of stories, as well as questions about this partnership.

William Hartnell was the 1st Doctor, with show broadcasts starting in 1963.
William Hartnell was the 1st Doctor, with show broadcasts starting in 1963.
Wikipedia
Classic episodes from the first seven Doctors will include #4 Tom Baker.
Classic episodes from the first seven Doctors will include #4 Tom Baker.
WhatsOnTV.com

The primary questions have been:

  1. "What episodes will be available?"
  2. "Will I actually be able to SEE this channel and Doctor Who?"

Number one is easy. According to 'Nerdist', nearly 500 episodes of the 694 original ones will be available, (97 are missing from the archives having been erased by BBC officials years ago) Episodes will begin with first Doctor William Harnell's initial episode from 1963, all the way up to the final classic episode 26 years later featuring 7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy.

Noticeably absent will be episodes written by Terry Nation. This includes all classic episodes that include the Doctor's arch enemies, the Daleks.

Question #2 is a bit more complicated.

First, some background. I'm a fan of Doctor Who. I'm also a former television broadcaster, primarily in the world of smaller TV stations, much like the majority of those served by Retro TV. This background helps me help you figure it out. Here are your answers in an FAQ:

  • Q: What is Retro TV? A: A television network based in Chattanooga, TN which specializes in classic television shows.
  • Q: Where can I see if the channel is available in my area? A: Check the chart here. If the channel is on cable, the channel location is on the right column.
  • Q: The channel is listed, but no channel location is given. What next? A: Two answers. 1) Contact your cable company and ask for the channel; or 2) If you've 'cut the cord', you may actually be at an advantage. Retro TV is available as a digital sub-channel on many full power televisions stations and also on many Low Power television stations. These channels are free for those using digital reception equipment.
  • Q: No local stations or cable systems carry Retro TV. What can I do? A: Lobby your local television stations and cable systems to carry the channel.
  • Q: Is Retro TV on a satellite service? A: No.
  • Q: Why not air the episodes by Terry Nation and Dalek episodes? A: There are rights issues between the BBC and the estate of Terry Nation.
  • Q: What is the start date? A: So far, the only announcement has been 'later this summer'.

There is no doubt this is a big deal for fans of classic Doctor Who. It is also a big deal for Retro TV, who hopes to take the buzz and excitement generated by the acquisition to gather more broadcast stations and cable systems to their lineup.

FYI, in preparing this article we contacted Retro TV via email and phone. The email was never answered. We did reach a member of their sales team by phone who assured us that their promotions department would contact us with information, but they never did.