The Changing Face of Doctor Who | How to regenerate a Time Lord

Audience Research Report: 'Spearhead from Space'

Viewers share their thoughts on Jon Pertwee's first 'Doctor Who' story.

BBC ARCHIVE
WRITTEN DOCUMENT
1970

British Broadcasting Corporation
Confidential

AN AUDIENCE RESEARCH REPORT

(Week 1)
VR/70/1

DR. WHO
Spearhead from Space, by Robert Holmes. Part 1
Designer: Paul Allen
Producer: Derrick Sherwin
Director: Derek Martinus
Saturday, 3rd January, 1970 5.15-5.40 pm, BBC 1

1. Size of audience (based on results of the Survey of Listening and Viewing)
It is estimated that the audience for this broadcast was 16.6% of the United Kingdom population. Programmes on ITV at the time were seen by 12.3%. There was no transmission on BBC 2.

2. Reaction of audience (based on questionnaires completed by 200 members of the Viewing Panel who saw all or most of the broadcast).

The reactions of this sample of the audience were distributed as follows: -
A+ = 5%
A = 25%
B = 54%
C = 13%
C- = 3%

giving a REACTION INDEX of 54, equal to the average of the previous series.

3. Reaction to this first episode of the new Dr. Who series can hardly be described as enthusiastic but the majority of the reporting sample were clearly quite satisfied with it. It was perhaps early days to judge, most would say, but at least this introductory episode seemed up to standard and if the story so far merely 'set the scene' and, rather neatly and quite convincingly introduced the 'new' Dr. Who, there was every indication that, once under way, the story would develop into the usual quite diverting 'science-fictionish escapist' tale they had come to expect of the series. A few (but very few) admitted that they never had anytime for this 'childish rubbish', while a considerable number remarked that although a new Dr. Who series was not unwelcome and this first episode had its appeal, compared with the series it replaced, 'Star Trek', it seemed naive, and, to them, less satisfying. 'Hardly an adequate substitute for Star Trek, and by comparison rather childish. But time will tell, and it's good enough in its own way'. Altogether the consensus of opinion seemed to be that this new series gave every indication of becoming a Dr. Who adventure in the expected tradition - and certainly (many added) it appealed very much to children.

4. There was little additional comment on either acting or production but both appear to have been considered satisfactory and there was some comment to the effect that Jon Pertwee had made a most acceptable and satisfactory 'new' Dr. Who.

5. Comment by, or on behalf of children viewing seemed to indicate that most found this introductory episode very much to their taste. The new Dr. Who appears to have been accepted without question, except by some very young viewers, and the episode found 'most exciting'. A number (of all ages) were disappointed to find Dr. Who operating on earth among 'ordinary people' - 'I like it best when Dr. Who lands on a planet and meets monsters and things' (Boy, aged 9) - while others declared flatly that in their opinion 'it wasn't nearly as good as 'Star Trek'. However, most of these would go on to say that, even so, the programme 'wasn't too bad', and only a few in the 14/15 age bracket had no time for what they described as 'this boringly childish programme'.

Copyright of the BBC
Audience Research Department
27th February, 1970
ELM/SLR


ABOUT THE BBC ARCHIVE
The BBC Archive - sharing pictures, documents and programmes from the last 75
years of the BBC's broadcasting history. To find out more visit:
www.bbc.co.uk/archive

Document Type | Audience Reaction Report

27 February 1970

Document version

Writtenin

1970

Synopsis

The opening story from the seventh series of 'Doctor Who' is reviewed by a sample of viewers. The first to be broadcast in colour, this adventure also revealed a new approach to the ongoing narrative as the Doctor found himself exiled to Earth by his own people. As a result, there would be no trips to alien worlds that year, much to the disappointment of some viewers.

Did you know?

To adapt production for colour broadcast, 'Doctor Who' had been off air for six months. At the time, this was the longest gap in transmission since the series began. The BBC decided to try out a new import from the USA that summer - 'Star Trek' - and from that point onwards 'Doctor Who' would often be compared unfavourably to its new, more expensive-looking rival.

Contributors

Referenced
Robert Holmes
Referenced
Derek Martinus
Referenced
Referenced
Derrick Sherwin
Referenced

More like this...

Documents

A letter from the Radio Times about William Hartnell.

Letter to 'Radio Times' about William Hartnell.

WRITTEN 1965
1 Page

A viewer sends in a letter of support for 'Doctor Who' actor William Hartnell.

A memo outlining the character for the second Doctor Who.

'The New Doctor Who'.

WRITTEN c. 1966
1 Page

A memo outlines the character of the second Doctor.

Radio Times, 5-11 November 1966

'Radio Times', 5-11 November 1966

WRITTEN 1966
3 Pages

Patrick Troughton's first appearance as 'Doctor Who' overshadowed by the Daleks.

'Radio Times' letters page, 24 November, 1966

'Radio Times' Letters Page, 24 November 1966

WRITTEN 1966
1 Page

The 'Radio Times' letters page receives a mixed reception to the new Doctor Who.

Audience Research Report on 'Power of the Daleks'

Audience Research Report: 'The Power of the Daleks'

WRITTEN 1966
2 Pages

Patrick Troughton's first adventure as the Doctor gets a cautious response from viewers.

An article from the Radio Times about actor Patrick Troughton.

'Radio Times', 15 December 1966

WRITTEN 1966
2 Pages

Promoting the new Doctor Who and 'The Highlanders'.

A memo about new characters for Doctor Who.

The New Characters for 'Doctor Who', 1971

WRITTEN c. 1970
1 Page

A memo outlines fresh companions and a new enemy for Doctor Who.

Radio Times 3 - 9 January, 1970

'Radio Times' Presents the Third Doctor Who

WRITTEN 1970
3 Pages

Jon Pertwee's Doctor Who graces the front cover of 'Radio Times'.

'Radio Times' interview with Jon Pertwee

'Radio Times' on 'Two Edwardian Chassis'

WRITTEN 1970
2 Pages

'Doctor Who' star Jon Pertwee shows off his new car.

Audience Reaction Report on Spearhead from Space

Audience Research Report: 'Spearhead from Space'

WRITTEN 1970
1 Page

Viewers share their thoughts on Jon Pertwee's first 'Doctor Who' story.

Audience Research Report: 'Robot'.

Audience Research Report: 'Robot'

WRITTEN 1975
2 Pages

Viewers review Tom Baker's debut as the Doctor.

Radio Times interview with Tom Baker and Terry Nation.

'Radio Times': 'The Mean Machines'

WRITTEN 1975
1 Page

Tom Baker meets the creator of the Daleks.

Radio Times clippings about Castrovalva.

'Radio Times' introduces the Fifth Doctor

WRITTEN 1982
2 Pages

Introducing Peter Davison as the next Doctor Who.

The letters page from 'Radio Times' about Doctor Who's midweek timeslot.

'Radio Times' Letters Page, 30 January 1982

WRITTEN 1982
2 Pages

A new timeslot for 'Doctor Who' isn't popular.

Audience Research Report on 'Doctor Who', 1982 series.

Audience Research Report on 'Doctor Who' for 1982

WRITTEN 1982
3 Pages

Viewers appraise Peter Davison's first year as the Doctor.

Article from Radio Times featuring actor Colin Baker wearing two jackets.

'Radio Times' Back Page, 23 March 1984

WRITTEN 1984
1 Page

A dream come true for Doctor Who Number Six.

Audience Response Report on 'Doctor Who' in 1984.

Audience Response Report on 'Doctor Who' in 1984

WRITTEN 1984
2 Pages

Audiences review Peter Davison's final year as the Doctor and Colin Baker's debut.

Cuttings from the Radio Times, 5 September 1987.

Radio Times, 5 September 1987

WRITTEN 1987
2 Pages

'Doctor Who' takes over the back page of 'Radio Times'.

Audience Reaction Report for 'Doctor Who', 1987 Series.

Audience Reaction Report for 'Doctor Who' for 1987.

WRITTEN 1988
3 Pages

Sylvester McCoy faces harsh criticism from the viewers.

Radio Times, Bank Holiday 1996, featuring Paul McGann.

Radio Times, 25-31 May 1996

WRITTEN 1996
3 Pages

Paul McGann is the Doctor.

Galleries

Tom Baker.

Before They Were Time Lords

Images of the actors who would become the TV sci-fi hero.

David Tennant as the Doctor.

Welcome to the TARDIS

Pictures of the new Doctors and some of his companions through the years.

Michael Bentine

Nearly Who

Actors who were shortlisted to play the Doctor.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.