|Country Number (32?)||1969?||FIRST WAVE|
|Television commenced||1958 / 24 December 1968|
|Language/s||English, Arabic, French, Italian||Dubbed and Subtitled|
Television Stations / Channels
Television came to Libya in 1958 when the American Wheelus Base (WAB) established its own NTSC station in Tripoli; this was one of the first television stations established within the greater Arab world.
Libya did not establish its own television service until the final week of 1968 when the Libyan Broadcasting & TV Service, a government-owned commercial broadcaster, began transmitting on 24 December 1968.
All television broadcasts were disrupted following the 1 September 1969 Libyan Revolution led by Muammar al-Gaddafi.
Regular television broadcasts recommenced by February 1970. Wheelus Base was vacated in June 1970.
Colour transmissions began in 1976 using the PAL colour broadcast system.
The principal languages of Libya are Arabic and French, with Italian and English also common tongues. The Wheelus Base station broadcast in English.
DOCTOR WHO IN LIBYA
PETER CUSHING Movies
The second of the two Peter Cushing Dalek movies screened at the Al Metropol theatre in Tripoli from 12 to 20 January 1969. Dubbed into Italian as "DALEKS – Il Futuro tra un Milione di Anni", it also screened with Arabic subtitles ("sottotitoli in arabo").
The text "LONDRA DISTRUTTA DAI DISCHI VOLANTI" translates as "LONDON DESTROYED BY FLYING SAUCERS".
Session times were 3.30pm, 5.15pm, 7.00pm, 8.45pm and 10.30pm.
Libya is named in The Making of Doctor Who (1972 edition) as one of 27 countries to screen the series.
Libya is not recorded in The Seventies, nor is it named in any of the DWM story Archives. (It's possible the entry for "Lebanon" in the 1977 memo, was supposed to be for "Libya". After all, the name of the television station of the former, "Liban/Libanaise", is very similar to that of the latter, "Libyan"...)
Other BBC documentation indicates that the series was sold to Libya by December 1969, and that payment was completed by November 1971, which certainly ties in with the disruption experienced by the television services between those two years
Stories bought and broadcast
It is likely that Libya got the standard Arabic package of nine stories, 37 episodes:
|A||An Unearthly Child||1|
|C||Inside the Spaceship||2|
|E||The Keys of Marinus||6|
|J||Planet of Giants||3|
|K||The Dalek Invasion of Earth||6|
The programme was supplied as 16mm black and white film prints with Arabic soundtracks.
Origin of the Prints?
Morocco was the previous Arabic-speaking country in Africa to screen the series so it's possible that Libya was supplied with the same set of prints. Alternatively, the prints were supplied from a Middle Eastern country – Saudi Arabia or Jordan? - or even from television distributors in Lebanon, where most Arabic dubs were recorded, or directly from the BBC.
We are unsure when the series started; with television broadcasts and newspaper publication disrupted during the September Revolution, it has not been easy to research the country's broadcast history.
With a date of sale in late 1969, if the series aired by the start of the year, it is almost certain that broadcasts were affected by the September 1969 revolution – unless all 37 episodes had aired earlier in the year.
However, Paul Clark emailed us with this comment:
- "I lived in Tripoli from May 1969 as a ten year old; my father had a job out there. I loved all the programmes that have since become cult TV. I can recall three TV channels. One showed American TV shows, such as Garrisons Guerillas, Branded, Lost in Space, etc [*], [and] the others always showed [local content]. The old king favoured the West, but once the regime change looked like taking place [in September 1969], from a cultural point of view anything western was unwelcome. At no time do I recall any Dr Who being shown on Libyan TV or on the Forces channel."
- [*] This would be Wheelus AFB; in fact Lost in Space is part of the line-up in the 1968 example we have illustrated here.
Taking Paul's comments into account, it is possible that Doctor Who aired from late 1968 – soon after TV services commenced – through until early 1969, maybe even completing its run prior to May 1969. 37 episodes playing once a week would end in September, but a run playing five nights a week would have concluded in mid-February.
However, as noted below, there is a possibility that the series aired from late December 1969 through to April 1970, playing twice a week (on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) - the 3-part serial Planet of Giants may have aired in March 1970.
If the two (very much open to interpretation!) billings of Tuesday, 17 March and Wednesday, 18 March 1970 (see below) are indeed for Doctor Who, and the series aired regularly in that twice a week slot, then the first episode could have aired 10 December 1969, and the 37th and final on 9 April 1970. A December 1969 start certainly ties in with the "December 1969" sales date recorded in BBC sales paperwork.
But if only the billing for "Crisis" is for Doctor Who, the series may have recommenced from the point at which it had stopped prior to the Revolution; Planet of Giants may have been the first serial to air once television broadcasts had resumed.
We accessed the English language paper The Libyan Times from July 1968 to December 1971, but the irregular TV listings that were published were those for the Wheelus Base station only. And following the September 1969 revolution and vacation of the base in June 1970, those TV listings discontinued.
We also viewed random issues of the Arabic paper Al-Thawrah, those available from November 1969 to January 1972, but TV listings were infrequent – particularly in 1970 and the first half of 1971 - and the few that were published in late 1971 did not appear to include Doctor Who.
A few issues of the Italian-language newspaper, Il Giornale de Tripoli, did have TV listings for TV Libica / Televisione Libia during July and August 1969 (prior to the Revolution). TV listings resumed in the 16 February 1970 issue, but only some of the subsequent papers had full listings.
The last copy held was for 14 March 1970, which included listings for that full week, 14 to 20 March.
Interestingly, this single paper did have three listings that might have been Doctor Who:
- Tuesday, 17 March 1970: "Serial: The Long Journey", 21.30 to 21.45
- Wednesday, 18 March 1970: "Serial: Crisis", 20.00 to 20.40
- Thursdays: "For Children", 19.30 to 20.00
The names given for the two Serials are very similar to the episode titles of parts two and three of Planet of Giants. (The title for episode two is "Dangerous Journey", which became "A Dangerous Adventure" in its Arabic translation, which could have become "Long Journey" in its translation by Italians back into English.)
There is no clear certainty that these two listings are for Doctor Who – sadly no other papers with full week's listings were available prior to or after this.
The coincidence of there being two "Serials" airing on consecutive days with titles that are a close match to two consecutive episodes of Doctor Who is hard to ignore! And as far as we can tell, there are no British or American television series or serials with either of those two titles...
The other listing, "For Children" on the Thursday could be for anything, so without access to other papers from this period, we can only assume that Doctor Who did air in Libya at some point...
Fate of the Prints?
The next African/Arabic country to air Doctor Who was neighbouring Algeria, in 1973/74. It is therefore possible that Libya sent its prints of the Arabic dubbed Hartnell stories to Algeria (which was the last ever country to purchase that package of 37 episodes).