Sunday, November 23, 2014

Star Trek On The BBC: 1973

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

Click here for part four: 1972

"Television's most popular space series returns," was how the Radio Times described Return To Tomorrow the episode which launched 1973's mammoth 49 week repeat run of Star Trek. This could be viewed as slightly insensitive to the BBC's home grown series Doctor Who which was in the middle of its tenth anniversary story, The Three Doctors.

Aside from the bumper length of the repeat run this was mostly business as usual for a series which had now been shown on BBC1 for five consecutive years. The only unusual event was the repeat of Dagger Of The Mind which was finally repeated after being skipped in 1971 and 1972. It was slotted in between Amok Time and Operation -- Annihilate! on 2 April 1973. This was the week Miri would have been shown for a second time if it hadn't been marked as unsuitable for broadcast following complaints in 1970. Presumably someone at the BBC realised Miri could not be repeated and looked around for another episode to show in its place. It's interesting that the BBC opted to show Dagger Of The Mind. Presumably the choice would have been between pulling the repeats forward a week, so that Operation -- Annihilate! followed on directly from Amok Time, or repeating one of either Dagger Of The Mind or The Return Of The Archons. Neither of these two episodes had been seen since they premièred in 1969, and they seem to have been caught up in the wake of the Miri complaints. The BBC must have felt that of the two episodes Dagger Of The Mind was the most acceptable for broadcast, and there must have been a desire to get value for money by repeating as may episodes as possible before the rights expired.

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

1973-01-08    19.10    Return To Tomorrow (2)
1973-01-15    19.10    I, Mudd (2)
1973-01-22    19.10    Patterns Of Force (2)
1973-01-29    19.10    The Immunity Syndrome (2)
1973-02-05    19.10    The Omega Glory (2)
1973-02-12    19.10    A Piece of the Action (2)
1973-02-19    19.10    The Ultimate Computer (2)
1973-02-26    19.10    Friday's Child (2)
1973-03-05    19.10    Assignment: Earth (2)
1973-03-12    19.10    Mirror, Mirror (2)
1973-03-19    19.10    The Gamesters of Triskelion (2)
1973-03-26    19.10    Amok Time (2)
1973-04-02    19.10    Dagger Of The Mind (2)
1973-04-09    19.10    Operation -- Annihilate! (2)
1973-04-16    19.10    The Paradise Syndrome (2)
1973-04-27    19.25    Requiem for Methuselah (2)
1973-05-04    19.25    All Our Yesterdays (2)
1973-05-11    19.25    Day of the Dove (2)
1973-05-18    19.25    The Way To Eden (2)
1973-05-25    19.30    Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (2)
1973-06-01    19.30    Wink of an Eye (2)
1973-06-08    19.30    The Cloud Minders (2)
1973-06-15    19.30    Spectre of the Gun (2)
1973-06-22    19.30    Elaan of Troyius (2)
1973-06-29    19.30    The Enterprise Incident (2)
1973-07-05    19.45    And the Children Shall Lead (2)
1973-07-13    19.30    Spock's Brain (2)
1973-07-20    19.30    Is There in Truth No Beauty? (2)
1973-07-27    19.00    For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky (2)
1973-08-03    19.00    That Which Survives (2)
1973-08-10    19.00    The Mark of Gideon (2)
1973-08-17    19.00    The Lights of Zetar (2)
1973-08-24    19.00    The Savage Curtain (2)
1973-08-31    19.10    The Tholian Web (2)
1973-09-10    19.10    The Alternative Factor (2)
1973-09-17    19.15    Turnabout Intruder (2)
1973-09-24    19.15    Where No Man Has Gone Before (3)
1973-10-01    19.15    The Naked Time (3)
1973-10-08    19.15    The City On The Edge Of Forever (3)
1973-10-15    19.10    A Taste Of Armageddon (3)
1973-10-23    19.15    Mudd's Women (3)
1973-10-30    19.00    Tomorrow Is Yesterday (3)
1973-11-06    19.05    The Menagerie Part 1 (3)
1973-11-13    19.15    The Menagerie Part 2 (3)
1973-11-20    19.15    The Devil In The Dark (3)
1973-11-27    19.25    Charlie X (3)
1973-12-04    18.55    Shore Leave (3)
1973-12-11    18.55    Space Seed (3)
1973-12-18    19.25    The Man Trap (3)

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)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Star Trek On The BBC: 1971

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

The BBC's made up "series three" continued until 10 February 1971 and was followed by nine weeks of repeats beginning with Where No Man Has Gone Before.

When the BBC started broadcasting Star Trek in 1969 it showed the episodes in a random sequence which by 1971 had somehow become the BBC's preferred order. The 1971 repeats keep the 1969 order, presumably the person in charge of the repeats simply consulted the old schedules, although some episodes are skipped.

1969 1971
Where No Man Has Gone Before
The Naked Time
The City On The Edge Of Forever
A Taste Of Armageddon
Mudd's Women
Tomorrow Is Yesterday
The Menagerie Part 1
The Menagerie Part 2
The Devil In The Dark
Charlie X
Shore Leave
Space Seed
The Man Trap
Dagger Of The Mind
The Corbomite Manoeuvre   
Balance Of Terror
The Squire Of Gothos
What Are Little Girls Made Of?
The Return Of The Archons
This Side Of Paradise

Why were some episodes missed out? My best guess is that in the wake of the problems with Miri the BBC was reassessing the suitability of all Star Trek episodes. The BBC described Miri, The Empath, Plato's Stepchildren and Whom Gods Destroy as dealing "most unpleasantly with the already unpleasant subjects of madness,torture, sadism and disease." It's easy to find matching elements in the skipped episodes; the space madness in The Naked Time; McCoy's cordrazine induced psychosis in The City On The Edge Of Forever; Pike's disease, and his torture in the clips from The Cage, in The Menagerie; more madness and torture in Dagger Of The Mind; Charlie's sadistic treatment of the crew in Charlie X. Only The Man Trap and Balance Of Terror don't have any obviously unsuitable elements, possibly the BBC just thought they were too intense. When the repeats resume in December 1971 there is a similar pattern. What Are Little Girls Made Of? and This Side Of Paradise are repeated in the 1969 order while two episodes are missed out Arena (possibly too intense) and The Return Of The Archons (madness and sadism during the festival).

In April the BBC shrewdly replaced Star Trek with Mission: Impossible episodes featuring Leonard Nimoy as master of disguise Paris. The Mission: Impossible episodes are a random selection from season four and five in no particular order. Apparently there was nothing unusual in the BBC's treatment of Star Trek, it was simply how all imported series were scheduled.

A fourteen week BBC created "series four" began in September 1971. Then on 05 November 1971 there was a treat for Star Trek fans. An episode of Ask Aspel, a children's programme where viewers could write in and ask to see clips of programmes, featured Leonard Nimoy as a guest. Presumably Leonard Nimoy was in London at the time; although this wasn't the time mentioned in his book I Am Spock when he saw the infamous Heineken poster with the drooping ears that was 1975.

Appropriately the final first run Star Trek episode shown on BBC1 was Turnabout Intruder. This was followed by the beginning of several more months of repeats which would last well into 1972.

In the listings below repeats are marked with a number in brackets after the episode title. The number indicates how often the episode has been broadcast by the BBC, all the  repeats below are on their second showing.

1971-01-06    19.20    All Our Yesterdays
1971-01-13    19.20    Day of the Dove
1971-01-20    19.20    The Way To Eden
1971-01-27    19.20    Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
1971-02-03    19.20    Wink of an Eye
1971-02-10    19.20    The Cloud Minders
1971-02-17    19.20    Where No Man Has Gone Before (2)
1971-02-24    19.20    A Taste Of Armageddon (2)
1971-03-03    19.20    Mudd's Women (2)
1971-03-10    19.20    Tomorrow Is Yesterday (2)
1971-03-17    19.10    The Devil In The Dark (2)
1971-03-24    19.10    Shore Leave (2)
1971-03-31    19.10    Space Seed (2)
1971-04-07    19.10    The Corbomite Maneuver  (2)
1971-04-14    19.10    The Squire Of Gothos (2)
1971-09-15    19.25    Spectre of the Gun
1971-09-22    19.25    Elaan of Troyius
1971-09-29    19.25    The Enterprise Incident
1971-10-06    19.25    And the Children Shall Lead
1971-10-13    19.25    Spock's Brain
1971-10-20    19.25    Is There in Truth No Beauty?
1971-10-27    19.25    For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky
1971-11-03    19.25    That Which Survives
1971-11-10    19.25    The Mark of Gideon
1971-11-17    19.25    The Lights of Zetar
1971-11-24    19.25    The Savage Curtain
1971-12-01    19.25    The Tholian Web
1971-12-08    19.25    The Alternative Factor
1971-12-15    19.25    Turnabout Intruder
1971-12-22    19.25    What Are Little Girls Made Of? (2)
1971-12-29    19.25    This Side Of Paradise (2)


1) 1971-01-06, Memory Alpha has The Paradise Syndrome transmitted here. However television listings in The Daily Mirror name All Our Yesterdays as do print editions of the Radio Times. Frustratingly BBC Genome has no records between 2 January 1971 and 9 January 1971, but the entry for 6 January 1970 currently shows a 10 minute version of All Our Yesterdays starting at 7.20pm between a Tom and Jerry cartoon and Harry Worth. The start time, day, and month are correct presumably BBC Genome has somehow assigned the wrong year and will be corrected at some point.

2) 1971-12-08, surprisingly this doesn't seem to be a repeat for The Alternative Factor. Memory Alpha suggests this episode aired on 6 December 1969 but the Radio Times is adamant the episode didn't get shown until 8 December 1971. On the face of it the Radio Times listing must be wrong. The 1971 date is way after any other first season stories were broadcast. If correct it would mean some first season stories received a BBC repeat before the première of The Alternative Factor. Astonishingly it looks as if the Radio Times is correct. When The Alternative Factor was shown in 1971 it was sandwiched between The Tholian Web and Turnabout Intruder. This also happened when it was repeated in 1973, and in 1976; and again in 1981. It does look like the BBC sat on the episode until 1971 and it ended up being the penultimate first-run BBC story. Why they sat on the episode for so long is another question.