Sunday, February 1, 2015

Star Trek On The BBC: 1984 to 1986

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

Click here for part four: 1972

Click here for part five: 1973
Click here for part six: 1974 to 1976

Click here for part seven 1977 to 1982

Two episodes of Star Trek were shown in 1982; Operation -- Annihilate! and an unscheduled showing of The Savage Curtain. Apart from that the series had been off the air since May 1981. The longest gap since the BBC began showing Star Trek in 1969.

News of this repeat run leaked out into the UK Star Trek fan community. Fans began writing to the BBC to request that the four withdrawn episodes (Miri, The Empath, Whom Gods Destroy, and Plato's Stepchildren) be included. An example of the BBC's standard negative response is available online. Presumably fans had also been writing to the BBC about the eccentric episode order used to schedule Star Trek and here they had more success. For the first time the series would be shown in NBC broadcast order. This change in policy does not seem to have been extended to other imported programmes. Mission: Impossible repeats would run after Star Trek in 1986 and the episodes shown were a random selection of stories from seasons two to five. 

That said, it's not long before the BBC breaks with the NBC order. The Squire Of Gothos and The Return Of The Archons are both missing from the 1984 repeats. The scheduling of the 1984 repeats is quite disrupted. The series starts on Tuesday at 18.40 and changes after six weeks to Monday at 19.10 where it replaces Manimal. Then on 20 August Star Trek is pushed into an earlier slot by a combination of International Athletics at 18.15 and a worthy but frankly depressing sounding programme at 20.00 called Still The Biggest Epidemic*. After a break for the August Bank Holiday the series is on the move again, back to Tuesday but this time at the much earlier time of 17.10. This is the earliest the BBC has ever scheduled Star Trek; except for the morning Christmas repeats of 1974/75/76 under the Holiday Star Trek banner.

Star Trek returned after Christmas. It was shifted to Wednesday and a later slot around 19.00. The first two episodes shown were The Squire Of Gothos and The Return Of The Archons. Could concerns over their content have caused both episodes to be held back so they could be shifted into a later time slot? In the case of The Return Of The Archons it's quite possible. This was an episode which went unrepeated between 1969 and 1976; my best guess is because the Festival scenes were felt to be too intense. It's interesting to note that four of the five episodes shown at the start of 1985 were transmitted at 18.55 while The Return Of The Archons is preceded by a Daffy Duck cartoon which pushes the start time back to 19.00. This might seem insignificant but programming before the 21.00 watershed tends to be done on the assumption that less child friendly material is shown later, by starting dead on 19.00 the BBC might have felt it was sending a message that this programme was not suitable for young children.

Home video recorders were more common by 1984. So it was probably in 1984 that this happened (it's next to impossible to tell if this was 1979 or 1984). The BBC edited their copies of Star Trek to put the titles first followed by the teaser which ran into act one. This seems to have been done on the assumption that the BBC was not a commercial channel so it shouldn't use commercial tactics to hook viewers. Cutting and rejoining the film left a weak point which is why it snaps where it does. There's an example of how the BBC went straight into the opening titles here along with a nice slow fade from the BBC globe into the Star Trek stars; one continuity announcer seems to have been particularly fond of the way that looked. 

There is no obvious reason to explain why The Squire Of Gothos was held back.

The last episode of Star Trek to be shown on BBC1 was Who Mourns For Adonais? The channel was undergoing radical changes and the following week was a key moment in the BBC's history. On Monday 18th February BBC1 was relaunched with a new look, a simplified schedule with more programmes starting on the hour or half hour, and the chat show Wogan to anchor the evening schedule on Monday Wednesday and Friday, and soap opera EastEnders on Tuesday and Thursday. This new broom approach included moving Star Trek to BBC2. In itself not an unreasonable decision, the series was by now nearly 20 years old and most episodes had been shown five times, but it seemed to also mark a sea change in the BBC's attitude to science fiction. Before 1985 science fiction had been populist -Star Trek, Doctor Who, Blake's Seven, Doomwatch, Survivors, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy- after 1985 it seems to have been regarded largely as a failed genre (see the cancellation of The Tripods, planned as a trilogy but cancelled because of poor ratings while the second series was still being made) suitable only for the "minority" channel BBC2. This was a decision which cast a long shadow and into the 1990s series like Star Trek: The Next Generation, Quantum Leap, and The X-Files premièred on BBC2 when they might otherwise have been seen on BBC1. Actually The X-Files became one of the few science fiction series to escape from BBC2. It made the transition to BBC1 in 1996 and amusingly BBC1 accidentally revived an old tradition. The first three episodes shown on the channel were in the wrong order. 

The week before the repeats kicked off on BBC2 the channel showed a special produced in 1983 called Leonard Nimoy: Star Trek Memories. According to Memory Alpha this special was often included in syndication packages to increase the number of episodes to 80. If the BBC was being supplied with syndication copies of episodes then it explains my surprise in 1990 when I discovered the VHS version of And The Children Shall Lead included a lengthy scene of Kirk in a cave on Triacus missing from the BBC2 repeat; listed as a syndication cut in The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic Trekkers. The regular repeats ran weekly on Thursday at 18.00. The BBC was now using Star Trek as counterprogramming to the hour of national and local news on BBC1. Exactly what happened to Star Trek when it first entered syndication in 1969.

A much more straightforward year in contrast to all the changes of 1985. Leonard Nimoy: Star Trek Memories was given a second repeat on Monday 2 June 1986 at 17.40. The one mystery of the year is the showing of The Galileo Seven on Tuesday 30 December. It's possible this was a delayed repeat after the showing on 9 October 1984 was postponed; that's what happened to Operation -- Annihilate! in 1982. However there's no obvious reason for why this could have happened. It's possible coverage of the 1984 Conservative Party Conference over ran but there's no evidence that this was the case. Nothing particularly newsworthy appears to have happened on 9 October 1984 which could have caused disruption to the schedule. 

Numbers in brackets below show the number of times each episode has been broadcast.

1984-06-26     18.40     BBC1     The Man Trap (5)
1984-07-03     18.40     BBC1     Charlie X (5)
1984-07-10     18.40     BBC1     Where No Man Has Gone Before (5)
1984-07-17     18.40     BBC1     The Naked Time (5)
1984-07-24     18.40     BBC1     The Enemy Within (5)
1984-07-30     19.10     BBC1     Mudd's Women (5)
1984-08-06     19.10     BBC1     What Are Little Girls Made Of? (5)
1984-08-13     19.10     BBC1     Dagger Of The Mind (5)
1984-08-20     18.45     BBC1     The Corbomite Maneuver (5)
1984-09-04     17.10     BBC1     The Menagerie Part I (5)
1984-09-11     17.10     BBC1     The Menagerie Part II (5)
1984-09-18     17.10     BBC1     The Conscience of the King (5)
1984-09-25     17.10     BBC1     Balance Of Terror (5)
1984-10-02     17.10     BBC1     Shore Leave (5)
1984-10-09     17.10     BBC1     The Galileo Seven (5)
1984-10-16     17.10     BBC1     Arena (5)
1984-10-23     17.10     BBC1     Tomorrow is Yesterday (5)
1984-10-30     17.10     BBC1     Court Martial (5)
1984-11-06     17.10     BBC1     Space Seed (5)
1984-11-13     17.10     BBC1     A Taste of Armageddon (5)
1984-11-20     17.10     BBC1     This Side of Paradise (5)
1984-11-27     17.10     BBC1     The Devil In The Dark (5)
1984-12-04     17.10     BBC1     Errand of Mercy (5)
1984-12-11     17.10     BBC1     The Alternative Factor (5)
1984-12-18     17.10     BBC1     The City On The Edge Of Forever (5) 

1985-01-09     18.55     BBC1     The Squire of Gothos (5)
1985-01-16     19.00     BBC1     The Return of the Archons (4)
1985-01-23     18.55     BBC1     Operation -- Annihilate! (5)
1985-02-06     18.55     BBC1     Amok Time (5)
1985-02-13     18.55     BBC1     Who Mourns For Adonais? (5)
1985-09-05     18.00     BBC2     The Changeling (5)
1985-09-12     18.00     BBC2     Mirror, Mirror (5)
1985-09-19     18.00     BBC2     The Apple (5)
1985-09-26     18.00     BBC2     The Doomsday Machine (5)
1985-10-03     18.00     BBC2     Catspaw (5)
1985-10-10     18.00     BBC2     I, Mudd (5)
1985-10-17     18.00     BBC2     Metamorphosis (5)
1985-10-24     18.00     BBC2     Journey To Babel (5)
1985-10-31     18.00     BBC2     Friday's Child (5)
1985-11-07     18.00     BBC2     The Deadly Years (4)
1985-11-14     18.00     BBC2     Obsession (4)
1985-11-21     18.00     BBC2     Wolf In The Fold (5)
1985-11-28     18.00     BBC2     The Trouble with Tribbles (5)
1985-12-05     18.00     BBC2     The Gamesters Of Triskelion (5)
1985-12-12     18.00     BBC2     A Piece Of The Action (5)
1985-12-19     18.00     BBC2     The Immunity Syndrome (5)

1986-01-09     18.00     BBC2     A Private Little War (4)
1986-01-16     18.00     BBC2     Return To Tomorrow (5)
1986-01-23     18.00     BBC2     Patterns Of Force (5)
1986-01-30     18.00     BBC2     By Any Other Name (4)
1986-02-06     18.00     BBC2     The Omega Glory (5)
1986-02-13     18.00     BBC2     The Ultimate Computer (5)
1986-02-20     18.00     BBC2     Bread And Circuses (5)
1986-02-27     18.00     BBC2     Assignment: Earth (5)
1986-03-06     18.00     BBC2     Spock's Brain (5)
1986-03-13     18.00     BBC2     The Enterprise Incident (5)
1986-03-20     18.00     BBC2     The Paradise Syndrome (5)
1986-03-27     18.00     BBC2     And the Children Shall Lead (5)
1986-04-03     18.00     BBC2     Is There in Truth No Beauty? (5)
1986-04-10     18.00     BBC2     Spectre of the Gun (5)
1986-09-04     18.00     BBC2     Day of the Dove (5)
1986-09-11     18.00     BBC2     For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky (5)
1986-09-18     18.00     BBC2     The Tholian Web (5)
1986-09-25     18.00     BBC2     Wink of an Eye (5)
1986-10-02     18.00     BBC2     Elaan of Troyius (5)
1986-10-09     18.00     BBC2     Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (5)
1986-10-16     18.00     BBC2     The Mark of Gideon (5)
1986-10-23     18.00     BBC2     That Which Survives (5)
1986-10-30     18.00     BBC2     The Lights of Zetar (5)
1986-11-13     18.00     BBC2     Requiem for Methuselah 5)
1986-11-20     18.00     BBC2     The Way to Eden (5)
1986-11-27     18.00     BBC2     The Cloud Minders (5)
1986-12-04     18.00     BBC2     The Savage Curtain (5)
1986-12-11     18.00     BBC2     All Our Yesterdays (5) 
1986-12-18     18.00     BBC2     Turnabout Intruder (5)
1986-12-30     18.00     BBC2     The Galileo Seven (6) 

1986-11-06: No Star Trek. All week the BBC was marking its 50th anniversary with archive repeats. On Thursday 6 from 18.00 you could have watched episodes of What's My Line?, Z Cars, Bruce Forsyth and The Generation Game, The Royal Ballet in The Firebird, Monty Python's Flying Circus, and Blue Remembered Hills.

*"Road accidents are the single biggest killer for people aged between 4 and 45. Accident statistics show that we are all likely to be injured on the road at some time in our lives.
One in three corpses dragged from a crashed car was 'drunk".'
Today the same is still true.... The wearing of front seat belts has brought the figures down to their lowest level in 30 years - 'the best piece of public health legislation this century'. It shows what can be done. But there are still 75,000 deaths and serious injuries each year. Why is this epidemic allowed to continue? Does no one care about the thousands of needless killings, twisted bodies, crippled minds ... because 'it'll never happen to me'? The carnage could be cut in half -this film shows how. "