EL DOCTOR MISTERIO
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...
The BBC marketed and distributed its own programming to Latin American countries during the 1960s, but only had very limited success, selling Doctor Who to only three 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.
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:
|An Unearthly Child|
|An Unearthly Child||Senorita Sistema Solar||Miss Solar System|
|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 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 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|
|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|
|A Desperate Venture||Una Aventura Desesperada|
|Planet of Giants|
|Planet of Giants||Un Planeta de Gigantes|
|Dangerous Journey||Jornada Peligrosa|
|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|
|The Powerful Enemy||El Poderoso Enemigo|
|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|
|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 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|
- The first episode appears to have been known by two different translations of the title: "Senorita Sistema Solar" and "Una Niña Que No Es De Este Mundo".
- Given that Venezuela was the first country to screen Doctor Who in Spanish, it is highly likely that Radio Caracas Televisión was responsible for the commissioning of and arranging for the first batch of Spanish dubs to be made…
WHO DUBBED WHO?
If the split airdates in Venezuela are anything to go by, it appears that the stories were dubbed in separate batches, and possibly commissioned by different countries.
- 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.)
- From this we could conclude that Venezuela was responsible for arranging the dubbing of that block of seven serials in 1967. (The actual dubbing sessions were performed in Mexico, as specialist studios based there were where the majority of film and television dubs were produced for the Latin American markets.)
- It's worth noting here that in order for these dubs to be made, the BBC created and provided 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. These "M/E Track" copies would have been created by the BBC in late 1966. A transcript of each broadcast episode was also supplied so a translation into Spanish could be undertaken.
- It was likely to be at the "M/E Track" creation stage that the decision was made 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 by Radio Caracas, having read synopses of the stories on offer to them, or when the scripts were being translated into Spanish.
- Indeed, BBC Records indicate that Venezuela also "purchased" Marco Polo and The Reign of Terror in early 1967 at the same time as the other serials, but that both sales were later "cancelled". From this, we can postulate that Radio Caracas had pre-bought those two serials before the decision had been made (by Radio Caracas themselves, since they were paying for (or co-funding) the M/E tracks?) to exclude all the historicals from the package. One possible reason for why the historicals were not included may be due to the notion that "past" stories set in 13th century China, revolutionary France, Nero's Rome, Palestine during the Third Crusade, and 1066 Northumbria, would hold little interest or historical significance to 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 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 "M/E Tracks" for The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Rescue eventually became available in 1968.
- Mexico aired all 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.)
- From this we could conclude that it was the Mexican TV station that was responsible for commissioning the dubbings for the other five serials in 1967/68. Alternatively, Venezuela also made the dubs, but Mexico simply managed to screen the episodes first. (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.)
- 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:
- Despite the series title being given as El Doctor Misterio in print, the voice-over provided for the opening sequence only says "Doctor Misterio" (with no definite article). 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...
These twelve stories were offered to and screened in the following three countries:
The programme was also offered to Dominican Republic in 1968, but BBC records indicate that the sale was cancelled in 1969.
BBC Archive Holdings
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||6|
|N||The Web Planet||1-6|
|Q||The Space Museum||4|
These may have been returned by Chile, the last Spanish-language country to screen the series.
By late 1978, only The Web Planet part 6 was still held.
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.
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:
|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?
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.
- 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.
Airdates for the Baker serials are recorded for the following countries:
- Mexico – from 4 May 1979
- Chile – from 9 May 1979
- Puerto Rico – from 23 October 1979
- Costa Rica – from 4 Feb 1980
- Colombia - from 13 Feb 1980
- Ecuador – from 19 March 1980
- Nicaragua – from 6 Aug 1980
- Venezuela – from 31 May 1981
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:
Colombia also repeated some episodes in 1987, presumably distributed by Western World (but using the old Time-Life tapes?).
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.
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).