Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Doctor Who on VHS - Exclusive Content

The BBC has been releasing Doctor Who stories on home media since 1983.  VHS was the home video format to become truly successful, everything from the classic series that was available was released for that format over a twenty year period.  Then DVDs consigned VHS to history and everything was re-released over a sixteen year period (11 if you factor in the special editions).  But while the DVDs were generally superior to the VHS releases in just about every way, there were a few instances where VHS had exclusive versions or content that would not be released on DVD.  This blog entry will attempt to break down the major differences between the VHS and DVD ranges.  
There have always been three major markets for Classic Doctor Who, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and the United States and Canada.  The first two markets use the PAL video format, so regionalizing a UK release is technically very easy for the Australia and New Zealand.  Releasing stories in the United States and Canada is more difficult because those countries use the NTSC video format, requiring time and money to convert video from PAL to NTSC.  In the categories below I will discuss releases for all three major markets.  All credit for VHS covers used in this blog post goes to The TARDIS Data Core, The Doctor Who Wiki.

Omnibus Editions

For the first thirteen (fourteen in the US) episodic stories released on VHS (1983-1989), the movie or "omnibus" format would be used for all releases of Doctor Who.  This format would edit the episodes so that the opening and closing titles from the end of the first episode to the beginning of the last episode would not be shown, turning the story from a series of episodes into a self-contained movie.  1990s re-releases of these stories would generally see these stories presented in their original episodic format, but mostly only in the UK and Australia.

The Seeds of Death - Not re-released episodically on VHS
Spearhead from Space - Re-released episodically in the UK, Fleetwood Mac song replaced in first factory scene by factory sound effects, restored on Special Edition DVD
Day of the Daleks - Re-released episodically in the UK
Death to the Daleks - Re-released episodically in the UK
The Time Warrior - Not re-released episodically on VHS
The Ark in Space - Re-released episodically in the UK
Revenge of the Cybermen - Re-released episodically in the UK and Australia
Terror of the Zygons - Re-released episodically in the UK, US and Australia  
Pyramids of Mars - Re-released episodically in the UK and Australia, movie version has 2 minutes of cuts in addition to those required by the format
The Brain of Morbius - Significantly edited into a 60-minute movie, released episodically in the UK, US and Australia  
The Deadly Assassin - Released in movie format for US, episodically for the UK and Australia
The Robots of Death - Re-released episodically in the UK
The Talons of Weng-Chiang - Not re-released episodically on VHS, shots of nunchucks removed, restored for DVD

Some fans may feel nostalgic for these versions, as they were the only versions available for purchase for many years.  Unless you taped an episodic airing of the stories or had a friend who could hook you up, you had to make do with these until they were re-released in episodic format.  Death to the Daleks was the last serial to be released episodically outside the UK, with the US and Australia only seeing an official release on DVD in 2012.

First Doctor Next Episode Caption Removals

Each episode of the First Doctor stories were given unique episode titles until The War Machines.  The closing caption for each serial, with the exception of The Time Meddler, would give a "Next Episode" caption.  When BBC Video began releasing First Doctor serials, they edited out these "Next Episode" captions, presumably so that viewers would not be expecting a further episode after the end of the story. Sometimes the edits to the ending episodes would remove the cliffhangers that would lead into the next story.  BBC Video stopped this practice after 1995.

An Unearthly Child - Re-released remastered with Next Episode caption intact in UK and Australia
The Daleks - Cliffhanger removed, re-released remastered with Next Episode caption intact in UK and Australia
The Aztecs
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
The Rescue / The Romans - Cliffhanger removed from The Rescue but repeated at the start of The Romans, Next Episode not removed from The Romans
The Web Planet - End credits to Episode 6 replaced with newer video-generated credits from a movie version.
The Hartnell Years - Only The Celestial Toymaker Episode 4 removes Next Episode caption

The Chase's VHS release in the US and Australia contained Episode 1 uncut, but for DVD the BBC cut 2 minutes of the episode which featured The Beatles mime playing Ticket to Ride in these markets.  The UK DVD is uncut.

Third Doctor Black and White/Partially Colorized Stories

The Ambassadors of Death has partial black and white sequences for Episodes 2-7 due to variable quality of the color source, which was being overlaid onto a black and white film recording.  The Mind of Evil was released in black and white but did have a bonus feature showing five minutes of colorized footage from Episode 6.  Both stories would have full color restoration for their DVD releases.  The Pertwee Years presented The Daemons Episode 5 in black and white but the footage had color restored to it by the time the serial was released on VHS.  

The Five Doctors Releases

The Five Doctors was released three times on VHS.

First release is from 1985 and uses the version screened for the United States on November 23, 1983.  This release was released in the UK, US and Australia.  It is notable because it was the first time any significant number of the general public were able to see the special and the VHS is the only way to see this edit.

The second release is from 1990 and uses the version screened in the United Kingdom on November 25, 1983.  This version is two minutes longer than the US version and was released in the UK and Australia.  This version was released for the second DVD release of the story in the UK, US and Australia.

The third release is from 1995 and uses the Extended/Special Edition with approximately twelve minutes of extended or deleted scenes and revamped special effects.  It was released in the UK, US and Australia and was the only version included for the first DVD release of the story in the UK, US and Australia.

Seventh Doctor Extended Editions

Battlefield and The Curse of Fenric were originally released on VHS with a few extra minutes of footage (3 and 7 minutes respectively) over the broadcast version.  The DVDs contained extended movie format versions with new special effects.  The VHS edits of both stories were re-released on The Collection - Season 26 on Blu-ray.

Silver Nemesis was released on VHS as "The Extended Version" with 11 minutes of material not broadcast added to it.  Includes an hour long documentary made by The New Jersey Network, a PBS affiliate, called "The Making of Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis".  While most but not all of the scenes added to The Extended Version are included as extended/deleted scenes on the DVD, The Extended Version and the Making of documentary are not included on the DVD.  The documentary as shown on the VHS has a few edits from what was broadcast.  

The Years Tapes

During the 1990s, BBC Video produced six programs related to some aspect of Doctor Who history, and for four of these programs, an opportunity to release "orphan episodes".  Preceding and in between episodes there would be new linking material shot featuring actors who played the Doctor, Sylvester McCoy for The Hartnell Years, Jon Pertwee for The Troughton Years and The Pertwee Years, Peter Davison for Daleks: The Early Years and Colin Baker for Cybermen: The Early Years.  Some of this material has been included on DVD, but not all of it.  

The Tom Baker Years and The Colin Baker Years have been released as bonus features on The Collection - Season 12 and Season 22, respectively. 

Doctor Who - The Movie

The Eighth Doctor's sole full-length visual adventure was released in a version edited for violence and potentially disturbing content on VHS virtually everywhere in the world outside of the US.  The unedited version would only be released on DVD.  The Special Edition DVD would be the only release of the story the US has received.

The Curse of Fatal Death

This Comic Relief special, originally broadcast in 1999, would be released on physical media only on VHS.  The special is available on YouTube but the VHS has some differences from the version released on YouTube.


Certain episodes were released on VHS which did not conform to their broadcast versions in less notable ways than listed elsewhere whereas the DVDs did.  Examples of these include :

The Abominable Snowmen Episode 2 - Three seconds of footage was cut from the release on The Troughton Years to cover up for an audio glitch on the original transmission which resulted in silence for three seconds.  The footage was restored for DVD with ambient audio applied to the soundtrack for that section.  

The Dominators Episodes 4 & 5 - Censor clips were discovered years after the VHS release which were added back in for DVD.

Inferno Episode 5 - Contains a scene where Jon Pertwee plays a radio announcer but was cut for broadcast in the U.K. on account of Pertwee's voice being too recognizable.

Carnival of Monsters Episode 2  and Frontier in Space Episode 5 - Use longer edits of the episodes than what was actually transmitted in the U.K. and replaced the familiar Derbyshire arrangement of the theme music with the Delaware Theme.

Carnival of Monsters Episode 4 - Used a shortened version of the final scene to obscure the fact the seam from the bald cap was visible on Pletrac's head.

The Stones of Blood Episode 2 - Contains an extra scene not broadcast of de Vries and Martha arguing about escaping after their sacrifice attempt of the Doctor fails.

Resurrection of the Daleks - Released on VHS as a four part story, but it was originally transmitted in the U.K. as a two part story.  The story has been released to DVD in two part and four part versions.

Revelation of the Daleks Part 2 - Peri cries over the DJ's dead body for a few seconds cut from the broadcast. 

Remembrance of the Daleks Parts 1 & 3 - Music from The Beatles was included on the VHS release of this story but replaced for the original DVD releases and only reinstated in the U.K. Special Edition DVD release.

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