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Dr Who

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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

See DVD regarding DVDs from an in-universe perspective.
This article is written from the Real World point of view. TARDIS

Since the late 1990s, many Doctor Who episodes have been released to the DVD format, primarily by BBC Video.





Doctor Who, like many other television programs, has seen many of its episodes released to DVD since the late 1990s. The first story to be released in this format was a remastered and reedited version of DW: The Five Doctors. Since then, BBC Video, later in conjunction with 2 entertain, has released many classic-series stories in the format, often with commentary, documentaries and other features. Some serials, such as The Ark in Space, have included the option to view with upgraded special effects, while some releases such as The Curse of Fenric have included extended versions with previously unbroadcast material.

Serials from all seven original Doctors have been released to DVD in both the UK and North America, while the 1996 telefilm has also been released in that format, but in the UK only, due to complex licensing issues surrounding the film in North America.

Except for the two season-long story arcs, The Trial of a Time Lord and The Key to Time, BBC Video/2|Entertain has chosen to release individual serials, rather than complete seasons, for the classic series, although several themed releases, or multi-story arcs, have been issued as well. It's also common for shorter two-episode stories to be paired with a longer storie following or preceding it (though some, like The Sontaran Experiment, have also been released on their own). Occasionally, releases have occurred to correspond with events in the 2005-present revival series, such as the release of DW: The Invasion of Time, featuring the Sontarans, which occurred around the same time as the Sontarans made their return appearance to Doctor Who in the DW: The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky two-parter.

A special release, Lost in Time, collected "orphaned" episodes from the 1960s (the remainder of the stories in question having been wiped). Another release of an incomplete story, DW: The Invasion, saw the two missing episodes of that story reconstructed using animation and off-air audio recordings; as of 2010 this experiment has not been repeated for other incomplete stories.

Unlike other TV series that have seen home video release in a sequential fashion, this has not happened with the 1963-89 series of Doctor Who, creating a seemingly randomized order of releases. Discounting Paul McGann's TV movie it was not until 2009 and the release of DW: The Twin Dilemma to DVD that it was now possible to watch a complete classic-series Doctor's era -- the Sixth Doctor, in this case -- on DVD without interruption. All other eras remain to some degree incomplete.

This story-by-story release format has resulted in BBC Video releasing massive amounts of supplementary material for the series. Each release includes at least one (sometimes more) behind-the-scenes featurettes, commentaries, and related material, such as promotional clips from Blue Peter, deleted scenes, outtakes, and even BBC continuity announcements, where archived. As a result, Doctor Who stands as the most-documented TV series ever released in a home-video format.

The revived series has been released differently, with BBC Video choosing to initially issue "vanilla" (special feature-lite) single-disc releases of two or three episodes, followed by a full-season box set (with extras) later (and, unlike the classic series, these releases occur sequentially). Included in each box set are specially edited versions of Doctor Who Confidential, as well as, when applicable, charity mini-episodes such as Time Crash; David Tennant has been closely involved in the production of the box sets featuring his episodes, recording sometimes-extensive video diaries for each. North America consumers have been able to buy the full-season box sets for all four series to date, although so far only Series 1 (2005) has been issued in Region 1 in the UK "vanilla, single disc" format, too. The spin-off animated adventure The Infinite Quest has also seen DVD release on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2009 and into 2010, BBC Video released the 2009 Specials (including the 2008 Christmas special, The Next Doctor) individually (although the discs are not "vanilla" as they include features such as Doctor Who Confidential and the 2008 Proms concert). A box set collecting all the specials (including The Next Doctor) has been announced for release in January 2010 (with North American release in February), and a UK DVD release of the second animated serial Dreamland is also scheduled for February.

All official Doctor Who spin-offs have also been issued to DVD: K-9 and Company: A Girl's Best Friend, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures (as of January 2010, Series 3 of Sarah Jane had not yet been released to DVD, but a release is expected in the fall of 2010). The behind-the-scenes series Torchwood Declassified and Doctor Who Confidential have also been released, usually as bonus features in box sets for the applicable seasons, although most episodes of Confidential, due to music and footage rights and space restrictions, are usually only available on DVD in a shorter version dubbed Doctor Who Confidential Cutdown (there have been a few exceptions). No episodes of Totally Doctor Who have been released to DVD, with the exception of The Infinite Quest which originally aired as a segment of the programme.

There has also been limited DVD release of some of the independent spin-off productions made during the 1990s, such as Summoned by Shadows. To date the only BBC release of such material has been Devious, starring Jon Pertwee, a fan-made film that was included as a bonus feature on the 2009 DVD release of The War Games.

In 2009, a magazine called Doctor Who DVD Files was launched in the UK, featuring photos and stories built around an enclosed DVD featuring two episodes from the revived series.

Although the arrival of the Blu-Ray high-definition format (see below) in the second half of the 2000s threatened to render the standard-definition DVD format obsolete (much as CDs supplanted vinyl in the early 1990s), the DVD format has proven to be extremely resilient and popular, especially with releases of older films and TV series. In an October 2009 interview, Steve Roberts of the Doctor Who Restoration Team indicated that DVD-format releases of the 1963-89 series are scheduled to continue until at least November 2013 and the 50th anniversary of the franchise.[1]


A high-definition version of DVD, Blu-Ray, emerged in the mid-2000s. Due to the complexities of converting older video into the high-definition format, BBC Video has not (as of 2009) released any classic series stories in this format. Series 1 of Torchwood was the first franchise release to be issued in the format, followed by Series 2 and the Children of Earth mini-series.

The first Doctor Who release on Blu-Ray occurred in the summer of 2009 with Planet of the Dead, which was also the first Doctor Who episode to be produced in high-definition. It has been announced that a collection of the 2009 specials -- including The Next Doctor, the 2008 Christmas special -- will be released to Blu-Ray in early 2010. Significantly, BBC Video has confirmed that The Next Doctor will be "up-converted" to high definition, the first standard-definition Doctor Who episode to undergo this treatment.

It has not been announced when or if the 2005-2008 seasons of Doctor Who, or any seasons of The Sarah Jane Adventures, will be issued in the Blu-Ray format (although the up-conversion of The Next Doctor, filmed in the same format as Seasons 1-4 and SJA makes this feasible). Nor has any timeline been offered for potential classic series releases to Blu-Ray, if that is even possible (although in theory the 1996 TV movie, having been shot completely on film, should be easily upgraded; likewise the all-film Jon Pertwee story Spearhead from Space). However much depends upon the quality of the source material. In January 2010, for example, a report from the Doctor Who Restoration Team regarding the remastering of the Tom Baker story The Masque of Mandragora described the difficulties in restoring that story for DVD release, most notably the fact that the original negatives for the film segments of that story are now lost.[2]

Due to the fact most Blu-Ray players will also play standard DVD (albeit with varying degrees of picture and sound quality, depending on the television), the older format is expected to remain the standard for pre-high def-era releases, including classic-series Doctor Who for the foreseeable future (at least until 2013, when the last DVD-format releases are expected). In November 2009, it was announced that the original early-1960s Twilight Zone series will be released to Blu-Ray in the near future. This is significant as several episodes of the series were shot on videotape (and remain available in their original videotape form, in which they were released to DVD previously). If these video episodes appear in the Blu-Ray edition, it may bode well for future "up-conversion" of classic series Doctor Who, which was extensively videotaped during its 26-year run.

Region differences

Doctor Who DVDs tend to debut in Region 2, with releases later coming in Region 1 and 4. (There has been the rare exception, such as Series 1 of The Sarah Jane Adventures being released in Region 1 first, and The Key to Time: Special Edition which was released in North America in March 2009, with Region 2 release occuring in the fall of 2009 - though it should be noted the Region 1 edition is a repackaging of a Region 2 release previously issued in limited release in 2007.) Generally, there are only minimal differences between a Region 2 and Region 1 release of any particular Doctor Who adventure. The most obvious difference is mainly in the packaging of the particular adventure. Releases of the "old" series (i,e. Season 1 through Season 26, starring the first seven Doctors), Region 2 releases have a distinctive packaging format which is mostly shared with Region 4 releases, but is quite dissimilar to Region 1 packaging.

A few minor bonus features have been omitted between releases. For example, a bonus feature in the The Trial of a Time-Lord set featuring TV presenter Anne Robinson was omitted from the Region 1 version, reportedly due to licensing issues over a piece of music. This also resulted in a John Barrowman commentary, included in one of the Region 2 Doctor Who-revival DVD sets, being omitted when the set arrived in Region 1 (due to him breaking into song at one point).

See DVD region for a general discussion of Region codes for DVD's.

Special features

see separate article

List of releases

BBC Video

See List of BBC DVD releases

Other releases

To fill out

External Links

This article uses material from the "DVD releases" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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