The Britbox Interview (or how to stream every episode from Hartnell to Whittaker)

Since the earliest days of the program fans of Doctor Who have sought ways to hang onto the experience of watching their favourite show. In the 1960s telesnaps and reel to reel tapes were the only way to record it, but these gave way to audio cassettes in the 1970s and 1980s, VHS tapes in the 1990s, then the opportunity to buy official releases from video to LaserDisc, DVD and BluRay. Since the advent of streaming services, Australian fans have been given the opportunity to carry the ability to watch the show around with them wherever they go on a mobile phone, although there has never been a consistent service offering everything across the entire range from Classic to Modern Who… until now. The DWCA caught up with Sarah Kenny, Head of Content at BritBox Australia, to talk nitty gritty on what this streaming service has to offer Australian Doctor Who fans…

Currently BritBox Australia has a comprehensive collection of Doctor Who content from William Hartnell’s First Doctor right through to Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth. My understanding is that BritBox Australia may be the only territory that covers both classic era and post-2005 Doctor Who – is that true? If so, how did Australia get to be so lucky?

Yes that’s true, or in Australia at least. BritBox is home to the largest collection of Doctor Who in Australia, which includes all time classics and recent seasons. We are unsure about how we stack up against other territories and services worldwide, but we certainly hope to eventually be able to take the #1 spot.

There are some extant episodes of Doctor Who in the BBC archives from incomplete stories that are not currently on BritBox. Currently The Wheel in Space is the only story with the remaining episodes available to stream, with the remaining episodes from incomplete stories like The Crusade, Galaxy 4, The Daleks’ Master Plan, The Celestial Toymaker, Evil of the Daleks, Abominable Snowmen and The Space Pirates absent. Will the remaining individual episodes from these incomplete stories be added?

There is nothing we would love more than to be able to add some of these titles to the BritBox catalogue. Unfortunately we are unable to license the rights to these at present, however rest assured we are definitely working on adding these to the collection for Australian Doctor Who fans.

There are some animated reconstructions on BritBox, such as The Macra Terror and Power of the Daleks. There are also some incomplete stories with their missing episodes animated, such as The Tenth Planet, Moonbase, The Ice Warriors and Invasion. Those currently missing though that do have animations available are The Reign of Terror, The Faceless Ones and Fury from the Deep – will these be added to the catalogue soon?

These animated episodes are certainly on our radar and we are currently working on adding these episodes to the collection if possible. We hope to be able to keep you updated in the future!

The Faceless Ones is the first animated reconstruction where episodes still extant in the BBC archives were also animated along with the missing ones. If added to BritBox would you make available the black and white animated reconstructions with the remaining episodes, or the full colour animated only version – or both?

We can confirm that we always work tirelessly to ensure we have the best content for Doctor Who lovers and BritBox fans. While we don’t currently have the rights for The Faceless Ones, we can confirm that if we were able to add this to BritBox, the final content we include would absolutely fit the best interests of our audience – whether it be black and white, full colour, or both.

BritBox has included telesnap reconstructions of missing episodes for The Underwater Menace and The Web of Fear – are there any plans to do the same for other missing episodes that have not yet been animated, such as Marco Polo, The Crusade, Galaxy 4, Mission to the Unknown, The Myth Makers, The Daleks’ Master Plan, The Massacre, The Celestial Toymaker, The Savages, The Smugglers, The Highlanders, Evil of the Daleks, The Abominable Snowmen, The Wheel in Space and The Space Pirates?

We are huge fans of these animated telesnaps as well. BritBox Australia is unable to license the rights to this content at present, however as we add more to the service, we hope that some of these episodes will feature on BritBox Australia in the future.

The first part of the missing Episode One of The Wheel in Space was animated back in 2018 and included as an extra on a Blu-ray/DVD release – does BritBox have any plans to include it on the streaming service?

While we won’t be streaming the animation of The Wheel in Space in the near future, we are really excited to share that BritBox in the US did a telesnap recon of the missing episodes. We are currently working to get the rights to these so Aussie Doctor Who fans will be able to stream these on demand!

The missing episode Mission to the Unknown was recreated in 2019 by students at the University of Central Lancashire. Are there any plans to include this recreation on BritBox?

While we would love to be able to include this missing episode recreation on BritBox Australia, unfortunately we have not been able to obtain the appropriate clearance at the moment.

BritBox currently has the 2016 animated version of Power of the Daleks available, but this was recently updated by the same animators to create a new and improved version in 2020. Will the 2016 version be replaced by the 2020 one at some stage?

We are really happy to have the 2016 animated version currently available on BritBox. We are currently working behind the scenes to get the appropriate clearance to be able to add the 2020 version at some point in the future.

Radio Times recently confirmed that 2021 will see the release of animated reconstructions of The Abominable Snowmen and Evil of the Daleks. How soon after such new animations are released on Blu-ray and DVD will BritBox be able to offer them to subscribers?

This is a work in progress. We can’t give a firm answer on the timeline for this one, but what we can say is that we’re working with the team to confirm availability and clearance. We really hope to add these to BritBox at some stage in the future.

Episode One of Invasion of the Dinosaurs is currently only available in black and white on BritBox. A colour version of it (albeit of lesser quality) was included on the DVD release for this story – does BritBox have any plans to make the colour version available as an extra?

Episode One of Invasion of The Dinosaurs is currently available on BritBox in black and white. We don’t plan on having the colour version available.

The Eighth Doctor is currently represented on BritBox by the 1996 telemovie, but there are two other Eighth Doctor appearances available in visual form – the alternate version of Shada that he featured in, with simple animation accompanying, and the short film Night of the Doctor showing his regeneration to the War Doctor. Is BritBox likely to add either of these to their Eighth Doctor collection?

Unfortunately we were unable to obtain the rights for the alternate version of Shada, however, we do have the 2017 Tom Baker version in our collection for Doctor Who fans. As for Night of the Doctor, BritBox Australia doesn’t currently stream shortform content. This is already widely available online in places such as YouTube and we recommend Doctor Who fans tune in to find and enjoy this specific content there.

The War Doctor was only ever featured in the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor. Would BritBox consider compiling clips featuring him from that into a short Time War episode, including his regeneration scene, to bridge the narrative gap between the Eighth and Ninth Doctors? If so, would you also include the short Time War film The Last Day?

As a whole, BritBox doesn’t take shortform content. As such, streaming The Last Day on BritBox isn’t something we would consider including on the service in the future.

There are two multi-Doctor specials currently not available on BritBox – Dimensions in Time and Time Crash. Are there any plans to add these?

We don’t have plans to add either of these multi-Doctor specials to BritBox at the moment even though we would love to include them! Unfortunately, these specials are not able to be cleared for BritBox Australia.

There are two Tenth Doctor animated stories – The Infinite Quest and Dreamland – are there any plans to make these available through BritBox?

Absolutely! We hope to include both the Infinite Quest AND Dreamland to our collection at a later date. Keep your eyes peeled for these new additions!

The latest Thirteenth Doctor story Revolution of the Daleks isn’t currently available on BritBox – how soon will that be added to the catalogue?

We are big fans of Revolution of the Daleks as well here at BritBox. We are working to be able to add this to BritBox in Australia as soon as possible.

BritBox currently has some Doctor Who extras and spin-offs, including the original pilot episode from 1963, the docu-drama An Adventure in Space and Time and K9 and Company. With BritBox so close to having a complete catalogue of all Doctor Who episodes in its archives, are there any plans to also add the spin-off shows Class, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and K9?

There’s nothing we would like more than to be able to have a complete catalogue of Doctor Who on BritBox. We can confirm that both Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures are titles we hope to add to the collection in the future.

The BBC recently released the animated series Daleks! on their YouTube channel as part of the Time Lord Victorious event – are there any plans to add this to BritBox as well?

This is already available in full on YouTube. From our perspective, we don’t have any current plans to add the animated series of Daleks! to BritBox due to clearance and access.

There are a number of unofficial spin-offs set in the Doctor Who universe, featuring Doctor Who actors, produced over the years by Reeltime, BBV and Dreamwatch Media, the most recent being the award winning Sil and the Devil Seeds of Arodor. Would Britbox consider adding more obscure productions like these to their list of Doctor Who extras?

We are always open to adding more Doctor Who to BritBox, however in this particular instance, adding this unofficial spin-off of Sil and the Devil Seeds of Arodor is not currently on the agenda for BritBox in Australia due to clearance.

There were two Dalek movies made in the 1960s featuring Peter Cushing as the Doctor – is there any chance these might be added as extras?

We are very excited to say there is a big chance these will be added to BritBox! Both of these titles will be coming soon to BritBox, so please stay tuned for further announcements.

A lot of behind the scenes documentaries have been made about Doctor Who over the years – are there any plans for these to be added to the available extras on BritBox?

We understand behind-the-scenes and documentaries regarding Doctor Who are of great interest to fans of the series and we hope to be able to add some of these to the collection at some stage in the future.

The BBC has produced a number of other iconic science fiction shows over the years, many of which are also of interest to Doctor Who fans. From A for Andromeda to Quatermass, from Blake’s 7 to Red Dwarf, there are a lot of other programs BritBox could add to consolidate its position as the number one location for British science fiction. What are the long-term plans for programs to add and expansions in this area?

We know there is a huge love for British Sci-Fi content and at BritBox we absolutely plan to grow our Sci-Fi offering and hours of content over time. BritBox launched just three months ago so we are still very new in the market, but we will absolutely look to add more classic and new British Sci-Fi to ensure that our loyal and discerning Doctor Who viewers continue to have access to exclusive British Sci-Fi shows all in the one place. Suggestions for new content and series are always welcomed!

The DWCA would like to thank Sarah Kenny and the BritBox Australia team for taking the time to answer our questions. You can now stream every complete Doctor Who story from An Unearthly Child to The Timeless Children on BritBox Australia for $8.99 per month or $89.99 for a year long subscription, with a 7 day free trial available to check it out before you decide.

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