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Doctor Who in Spanish

EL DOCTOR MISTERIO

Doctor Misterio logo

To Latin American audiences, Doctor Who is commonly known as El Dr / Doctor Misterio (Dr Mystery) (El is Spanish for "The", the definitive article.)

In newspapers, the programme was billed as Dr Who, El Doctor / Dr Misterio or just Doctor / Dr Misterio.

According to the 1983 Radio Times 20th Anniversary Special, some Latin American countries knew the series as "Dr Insolito", but we have found no evidence of the series having ever been called that in Spanish-language countries. However, see the foot of this page for how that title was used...


DISTRIBUTION

Distribution of BBC programmes in Latin America; Variety, 31 March 1976

The BBC marketed and distributed its own programming to Latin American countries during the late 1960s, but only had very limited success, selling Doctor Who to only four countries.

In 1973, the exclusive distribution of BBC programmes to North, Central and South American regions was given to Time-Life Films / Time-Life Television.

As was noted in the 31 March 1976 edition of Variety, Time Life's top markets for BBC material in Latin America at the time were "Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Central America, in that order". Puerto Rico had also been a viable market before suffering an economic slump. The article also noted that Chile was also buying product, while Argentina and Peru were difficult markets to break.

The article also notes the costs associated with dubbing programmes into Spanish, which was "virtually all ... done in Mexico". And at a cost of between $900 and $1,700 (US dollars) per one hour segment, was an expensive undertaking without prior commitment to buy from the regular markets.

This section provides an overview of Doctor Who in Latin America.



WILLIAM HARTNELL

Twelve of the first seventeen William Hartnell stories, comprising 56 episodes, were dubbed into Spanish and offered to Latin American countries from 1967.

Some of the Spanish titles assigned to the episodes differed from the English titles; only those that varied significantly are noted below:

Title Spanish Variant Translation
An Unearthly Child Una Niña Que No Es De Este Mundo A Girl Who Is Not Of This World
The Cave of Skulls La Caverna de las Calaveras
The Forest of Fear La Selva del Terreno The Forest of the Land
The Firemaker El Que Sabe Hacer Fuego The One Who Makes Fire
The Daleks
The Dead Planet El Planeta Muerto
The Survivors Los Sobrevivientes
The Escape La Huida
The Ambush La Emboscada
The Expedition La Expedición
The Ordeal El Ataque The Attack
The Rescue El Rescate
Inside the Spaceship
The Edge of Destruction La Edad de la Destrucción The Age of Destruction
The Brink of Disaster Al Borde del Desastre At the Border of Disaster
The Keys of Marinus
The Sea of Death El Mar de la Muerte
The Velvet Web La Trampa de Terciopelo The Trap of Velvet
The Screaming Jungle La Selva de los Gritos The Forest of Shouts / Screams
The Snows of Terror Las Nieves del Terror
Sentence of Death Sentencia de Muerte
The Keys of Marinus Los Micro Circuitos de Marino The Microcircuits of Marinus
The Aztecs
The Temple of Evil El Templo del Mal
The Warriors of Death Los Guerreros de la Muerte
The Bride of Sacrifice La Novia del Sacrifício
The Day of Darkness El Día de la Obscuridad
The Sensorites
Strangers in Space Extraños en el Espacio
The Unwilling Warriors Guerreros Involuntarios Involuntary Warriors
Hidden Danger Peligro Oculto
A Race Against Death Carrera Contra la Muerte
Kidnap Secuestro
A Desperate Venture Una Aventura Desesperada
Planet of Giants
Planet of Giants Un Planeta de Gigantes
Dangerous Journey Jornada Peligrosa
Crisis Crisis
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
World's End El Fin del Mundo
The Daleks Los Dalekios
Day of Reckoning El Día del Juicio The Day of Judgement
The End of Tomorrow El Fin de la Mañana
The Waking Ally El Vigilante Aliado The Allied Vigilante
Flashpoint Exterminación Extermination
The Rescue
The Powerful Enemy El Poderoso Enemigo
Desperate Measures Desesperación Desperation
The Web Planet
The Web Planet El Planeta Misterioso The Mysterious Planet
The Zarbi Los Zarbi
Escape to Danger Escape del Peligro
The Crater of Needles El Cráter de las Agujas
Invasion Inserción
The Centre El Centro
The Space Museum
The Space Museum El Museo del Espacio
The Dimensions of Time Las Dimensiones del Espacio The Dimensions of Space
The Search La Búsqueda
The Final Phase La Fase Final
The Chase
The Executioners Los Verdugos
The Death of Time La Muerte del Tiempo
Flight Through Eternity Vuelo a Traves de la Eternidad Flight Across Eternity
Journey into Terror Viaje al Terror
The Death of Doctor Who La Muerte del Doctor Misterio
The Planet of Decision El Planeta de la Decision


WHO DUBBED WHO?

Alberto Gavira, who dubbed William Hartnell
  • In early 1966 the BBC created special "M/E Track" soundtracks that had only sound effects and music (often the scores differed from the ones that featured in the UK version, and usually consisted of stock non-copyrighted material), but no dialogue (see our interview with Eddie Montague).
  • These tracks were prepared specifically for upcoming sales to Latin America, a market that the BBC was only just starting to exploit.
    • It was likely to be at the "M/E Track" creation stage that the decision was made by the BBC to exclude all the historical stories with the sole exception of The Aztecs in the package that was sold to Latin American / Spanish countries. This decision was probably made on the basis that period costume dramas set in 13th century China, revolutionary France, Nero's Rome, Palestine during the Third Crusade, and 1066 Northumbria that would hold little interest or historical significance to younger Latin American viewers. The sole historical that was dubbed into Spanish - The Aztecs - was, of course, set in Mexico, and therefore had some relevance to Latin Americans.
    • The actor who dubbed William Hartnell was Alberto Gavira
    • See also the Dubbing Wiki
  • The Spanish dubs were commissioned by the BBC. The actual dubbing sessions were performed in Mexico City, the centre for specialist studios where the majority of film and television dubs were produced for the Latin American markets. The dubbing studio would have been supplied with a transcript of each broadcast episode from which a translation into Spanish could be undertaken, and a print or tape of the episodes to enable lip-synching.
  • If the split airdates in Venezuela are anything to go by, it appears that the stories may have been dubbed in separate batches.
  • Venezuela aired the first two serials in early 1967.
  • Venezuela then aired Inside the Spaceship to Planet of Giants from October 1967 to February 1968. (The Dalek Invasion of Earth was not available, due to the BBC's arrangement with Terry Nation. The Rescue was also not available at that time.)
    • BBC Records do indicate that royalty payments for a sale of Marco Polo and The Reign of Terror to Venezuela were made at the same time as the other serials in early 1967, but that those payments were later "cancelled". This cancellation is most likely on account of an administration error - i.e. royalty cheques being sent out in error – rather than an indication that the serials had actually been purchased by the broadcaster but later cancelled by them.
  • The same "M/E Track" prints for the same seven serials were also supplied in late 1966 / early 1967 to Tunisia, so they could be the first Arabic country to screen the series. And as was the case with Venezuela, Tunisia also could not get "M/E Tracks" for The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Rescue.
  • The sales rights to The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Rescue eventually became available again in early 1968. (The "M/E Tracks" created for The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Rescue were also supplied in 1968 to Morocco and Saudi Arabia, the next two Arabic countries to screen the series.)
  • Mexico was the first country to air all the available serials, from An Unearthly Child to The Chase, albeit wildly out of sequence, throughout 1968.
  • Venezuela did not air the serials The Dalek Invasion of Earth to The Space Museum until September 1968 to January 1969. (They did not screen The Chase.)
  • Chile aired the full run of twelve stories, from January 1969. It would not have needed to dub any of the episodes.


This link is to a voice recording of the opening voice-over giving the series title:


DUBBING DIFFERENCES

  • Episodes would be introduced as "Today we present for you..." (in Spanish, natch) followed by the episode title. It has been noted that the dubbing was rather haphazard in places, in that the actor's mouth would open but there would be a short delay before the spoken words were heard in Spanish.
  • At the end of each episode, the voice-over would say, "In our next episode, we will present for you…" followed by that instalment's title.
  • In the original English, the voice of the Animus in The Web Planet is female, but in the Spanish dub, it is male.
  • Interestingly, at the end of the final episode of The Web Planet, the Spanish narrator gives the title of the next episode as "El Lion", although The Crusade was not included in the package of episodes...


SCREENED IN

These twelve stories were offered to and screened in the following countries:

  • Venezuela – from 26 February 1967
  • Mexico – from 25 March 1968 (and repeated numerous times in the 1970s)
  • Chile – from 5 January 1969
  • Costa Rica – from 8 June 1971

The programme was also offered to Dominican Republic in 1968, but BBC records indicate that the sale was cancelled in 1969 (however, like the Venezuela "cancellation", this may have also been an admin error).


BBC Archive Holdings

A Spanish-dubbed print of part 4 of An Unearthly Child may have existed in 1973 to be used in a November 1973 edition of Blue Peter; this clip has the alternative "Music / Effects" soundtrack (compiled by Eddie Montague), but the few shots which would have had dialogue have been carefully edited out to disguise the fact that it wasn't in English. It is therefore unknown whether this print was dubbed into Spanish or Arabic, or was dialogue-free. If it was in Spanish, it was disposed of prior to 1976.

(Was this print used because when the anniversary tribute was compiled the BBC only had access to a foreign dubbed positive print and not an English copy of this serial?)

In late 1976 when the Lively Arts documentary Whose Doctor Who was being researched, the BBC held at least the following prints with Spanish soundtracks:

K The Dalek Invasion of Earth 5
N The Web Planet 1-6
Q The Space Museum 3



Dr Misterio – The Web Planet

These may have been returned by Costa Rica, the last Spanish-speaking country to screen the series.

By late 1978, only The Web Planet part 6 was still held.

A Spanish print of An Unearthly Child part one surfaced at the BBC in 1978, while Inside the Spaceship part one, and Planet of Giants part three are known to exist in private hands.


Extracts on DVD / Video

  • The Spanish soundtrack for The Web Planet part six appears as an alternative language option on the DVD release of that story.

.


TOM BAKER

Doctor Misterio

Within a year of Doctor Who taking off in the United States in 1978, the existing edited Time-Life Television videos of the first 23 Tom Baker stories (98 episodes), were dubbed into Spanish for the Central and South American markets – see more on the dubbing below.

The first two countries to air these stories – only a few days apart - were Mexico and Chile; interestingly, the newspapers of these countries sometimes assigned (at least in print) different titles to the stories:

Title Mexico Chile
Robot El Robot / Robot Muerte de un Robot (Death of a Robot)
The Ark in Space El Arca del Espacio (The Ark of Space) El Arca Espacial (The Spacial Ark)
The Sontaran Experiment El Experimento del Sontaran
Genesis of the Daleks El Genesis de los Dalekios
Revenge of the Cybermen La Venganza del Hombre Cibernetico (Vengeance of the Cybernetic Man) / Los Hombres de Metal (The Men of Metal) La Venganza de los Hombres Metalicos (Vengeance of the Metal Men)
Terror of the Zygons El Terror de los Sigons
Planet of Evil El Planeta del Mal
Pyramids of Mars Las Piramides de Marte
The Android Invasion La Invasion de los Androides (Invasion of the Androids)
The Brain of Morbius El Cerebro de Morbius / El Cerebro del Doctor Morbius
The Seeds of Doom Las Semillas del Mal (The Seeds of Evil) Las Semillas de la Ruina (The Seeds of Ruin/Decline) / Semillas de Maldad (Seeds of Evil)
The Masque of Mandragora La Mascara de Mandragora
The Hand of Fear La Mano del Miedo
The Deadly Assassin El Gran Reto del Amo (The Great Challenge of the Master)
The Face of Evil La Cara del Demonio (The Face of the Demon/Devil) La Cara del Mal (The Face of Evil)
The Robots of Death El Robot de la Muerte
The Talons of Weng-Chiang Las Garras de Weng-Chiang
Horror of Fang Rock Horror en Fang Rock
The Invisible Enemy El Enemigo Invisible
Image of the Fendahl La Imagen de los Fendalines
The Sun Makers Los Forjadores del Sol (The Forgers of the Sun) / Los Hacedores del Sol (The Makers of the Sun) Los Summakers
Underworld El Mundo Subterraneo Bajo Mundo
The Invasion of Time La Invasion del Tiempo

- One of the two Mexican titles for Revenge of the Cybermen is in the singular, whereas the other and the Chilean is in the plural!

- The Chilean title "Los Summakers" could be a printing error, with the English title getting scrambled in the translation (one Chilean paper, El Sur, sometimes did print the English title). However, this 'error' appears in two different newspapers, so it's likely that both papers were supplied with the 'wrong' spelling of the title direct from the broadcaster itself.

- Some of the titles published in Colombian newspapers also have slight variances, such as "Las Creación de los Daleks", and "La Venganza de los Cyberman" (singular) being used. These are probably the result of incorrect translations of the English titles given to or done by the newspaper editors rather than being titles under which the episodes were broadcast.


WHO DUBBED WHO?

Arturo Mercado Chacón, who dubbed Tom Baker

As with the Hartnell stories, the dubbing sessions commissioned by Time-Life would have been performed in Mexico, as that was the centre for film and television dubbing for the Latin American market. (By late 1979, however, long after Doctor Misterio had been dubbed, Spanish-dubbing facilities were established in Los Angeles.)

When Lionheart took over the distribution rights for the US in May 1981 (see United States--1981), the rights to Latin American were assumed by Western-World Television Inc (a co-owner of Lionheart). Based on the known airdates, the only Latin American country known to have screened Doctor Misterio after 1981 is Colombia. They would most likely have utilised the old Time-Life tapes.


DUBBING DIFFERENCES

  • The dubbed Tom Baker episodes were adapted from the ones that had been edited for the United States, but of course without the Howard da Silva narrations.
  • As had been the case with the Hartnells, the dubbing was rather haphazard in places, with footsteps sounding the same no matter what the terrain, and with background sound effects suddenly starting and stopping. As an example, in the dub for The Sontaran Experiment the sonic screwdriver and Styre's robot are completely silent in some scenes, and one of the Galsec astronauts is clearly heard to shout "please!" in English at one point. Tacky 1940's-style film noir music was also dubbed on to replace the original music.
  • It would also appear as though each episode had further edits made to them to bring them to a 23 minute running time.


SCREENED IN

Airdates for the Baker serials are recorded for the following countries:

Colombia also repeated some episodes in 1987, presumably distributed by Western World (but using the old Time-Life tapes?).


The following countries are recorded in BBC Records or elsewhere as having bought and screened the Spanish Baker serials, however we have yet to pinpoint any airdates:


SPAIN

When 50 Tom Baker episodes screened on a regional basis across Spain from 1988 onwards, brand new dubs into Spanish and the regional languages Galician and Catalan were created locally.


Dr Insolito

Dr Insolito

As noted at the top of the page, the Radio Times 20th Anniversary Special reports that Doctor Who was known as "Dr Insolito" in some Latin American countries. While that title was not used for Doctor Who, it was the title given to the Spanish-dubbed release of Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film, Dr Strangelove (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb).


Links