Sunday, November 16, 2014

Star Trek On The BBC: 1972

Click here for part one: 1969  
Click here for part two: 1970 
Click here for part three: 1971

Three weeks into 1972 BBC1 began showing most of the stories skipped during the spring 1971 block of repeats. There's no obvious reason why these stories are suddenly acceptable for broadcast; just as it's still not clear why the episodes weren't repeated last year.

The BBC had just completed a major survey into television violence. This survey showed that American programmes made up only one third of the schedule but contained two thirds of television violence; according to a Daily Mirror story on 27 January 1972 which named Star Trek, along with the BBC's own Doctor Who, and two other Desilu programmes The Untouchables and Mannix. What may be significant is that this survey had run from November 1970 to May 1971. Miri was broadcast in December 1970, not long after the survey began. It's possible the complaints about Miri came at exactly the wrong time for a BBC already concerned about violence and other inappropriate material in imported programmes. This could explain not only the withdrawing from broadcast of Miri, The Empath, Whom Gods Destroy, and Plato's Stepchildren but also the delayed repeats of episodes which might otherwise have been expected to air during February to April 1971 while the survey was still being conducted. By the start of 1972, with the survey over and the report written, the BBC might have been able to take a more relaxed view about the content of Star Trek and was able to reschedule episodes which seemed less suitable the year before. The slightly later 7.25pm start time might also have helped deflect any complaints. It's only 15 minutes after the start time for the 1971 repeats but the difference between an 8pm finish, and one after 8pm might be important for the BBC. A post 8pm finish, presumably after the bedtime of young children, gives them a fig leaf of protection if they are concerned about being accused of showing programmes unsuitable for children too early in the evening
The Daily Mirror 27/01/1972
Regardless of the reason it seems as if the block of unrepeated stories are dropped into the schedule as soon as possible. I've already obsessed over the BBC's eccentric Star Trek broadcast order but there's something odd about the way all the previously skipped episodes are tucked in between Errand Of Mercy and The Conscience Of The King. It means all the episodes in the BBC's made-up "series one" from 1969 are shown before the repeats of "series two" episodes begin with Court Martial. As if the BBC programme planners believed they couldn't repeat "series two" until all of "series one" had been shown.

All the "series one" episodes? Well not quite. In 1969 The Naked Time was the second episode broadcast on BBC1. In 1972 it's held back a few weeks to air after The Menagerie Part 2. Court Martial which launched "series two" in 1970 is held way back and just scrapes in as the penultimate 1972 episode. Dagger Of The Mind, and The Return Of The Archons do not appear at all. In a 1984 letter the BBC justified its decision not to show Miri, The Empath, Whom Gods Destroy, and Plato's Stepchildren because they dealt, "most unpleasantly with the already unpleasant subjects of madness,torture, sadism and disease." Did the BBC still have some lingering doubts about the acceptability of The Naked Time's space-drunkeness and Finney's madness in Court Martial? It looks as if they did. The no show of Dagger Of The Mind and The Return Of The Archons implies that the BBC found those two episodes utterly unsuitable for broadcast given their high levels of madness,torture, and sadism.

In the table below the number in brackets shows how many times each story has been broadcast.

1972-01-05    19.25    The Doomsday Machine (2)
1972-01-12    19.25    Errand Of Mercy (2)
1972-01-19    19.25    The City On The Edge Of Forever (2)
1972-01-26    19.25    The Menagerie Part 1 (2)
1972-02-02    19.25    The Menagerie Part 2 (2)
1972-02-09    19.25    The Naked Time (2)
1972-02-16    19.25    Charlie X (2)
1972-02-23    19.25    The Man Trap (2)
1972-03-01    19.25    Balance Of Terror (2)
1972-03-08    19.25    Arena (2)
1972-03-15    19.25    The Conscience Of The King (2)
1972-03-22    19.25    The Galileo Seven (2)
1972-03-29    19.25    The Enemy Within (2)
1972-04-05    19.25    Catspaw (2)
1972-04-12    19.25    Who Mourns for Adonais? (2)
1972-04-19    19.25    The Apple (2)
1972-04-26    19.25    Metamorphosis (2)
1972-05-03    19.25    Wolf In The Fold (2)
1972-05-10    19.25    The Changeling (2)
1972-05-17    19.25    The Trouble with Tribbles (2)
1972-05-24    19.25    Bread And Circuses (2)
1972-05-31    19.25    Journey To Babel (2)
1972-06-07    19.25    The Deadly Years (2)
1972-06-14    19.25    A Private Little War (2)
1972-06-21    19.25    Obsession (2)
1972-06-28    19.25    Court Martial (2)
1972-07-05    19.25    By Any Other Name (2)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. My parents told me I was born on 'Star Trek' night. And this tells me I stopped my dad watching Wolf In The Fold!