Could An Overseas Version of Doctor Who Ever Work?

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Guest contributor Greg House looks into the possibility.


It’s no secret that Doctor Who fans are very protective over the show. Little things like changes to designs of the Daleks/Cybermen spark such heated debate. Remakes are more commonplace than ever right now and the possibility of an overseas version of Doctor Who is sometimes brought up. Earlier this year Steven Moffat openly criticised the idea, but if such a thing were to happen could it actually work?

Where to begin?

american-whoLet’s say it got the go ahead and a foreign company is given the project, before you can start writing you need to figure out which Doctor this is. Is it a replacement of Twelve or the very first Doctor? If it’s a replacement Twelve then we now have two Doctor Who canons trying to exist at the same time, which obviously complicates matters (see below). If they chose to start from the very first Doctor then they are essentially re-writing Doctor Who history, something I’m sure fans would have a lot to say about! Could any actor accurately portray the grumpy old man we know as the first Doctor? Until 2013 I would have said no, but David Bradley certainly did a superb job at filling William Hartnell’s shoes so I must admit myself open to the possibility.

Copyright issues

Anyone who’s ever bought anything Doctor Who related will surely have noticed the long essay of copyright information in the small print at the bottom, K9, the Daleks, Cybermen and so on. These designs and names are all protected. Would this mean that an overseas version of Doctor Who would need special permission to use them, or would it not get permission at all? Unless I am mistaken they would need direct permission from Terry Nation’s estate to use the Daleks at all, meaning the decision would not solely be down to the BBC. Worst case scenario, we could end up with an alien Doctor, traveling around in a blue phone box spaceship battling things with none of the familiar characteristics of Doctor Who we’ve come to love over the years.

Canon or Non-Canon?

cushing-Dr-Who-And-The-Daleks-remastered-aI touched on this above, but we would then have the issue of canon. For many this would be a simple one, rather like the Peter Cushing outings as the Doctor it would be classed as non-canon. But the closer the overseas version attempted to get to the UK version, the more complicated it would become to class it as non-canon.

Are there any advantages at all?

There are some advantages to an overseas version of the show, for one thing it expands the audience even further, to those who don’t speak the same languages. Doctor Who would be able to reach other cultures and have its effect. A lot of people enjoy watching fan series, so a professionally made overseas version if viewed with English subtitles could help bridge the long gaps between UK seasons of Doctor Who.


To conclude, while it would be a nice gesture from the BBC to offer one of its most prized shows overseas, I think it would go the way of the American remake of Red Dwarf. It would simply not work. If the BBC wants to sell Doctor Who overseas then it should be translated and sold as it is. Of course I am open to all opinions on this, but I agree with the Moff, more than one Doctor Who in the world just doesn’t work.