Classic Doctor Who back on air in USA

Time to read: 4 minutes


I’ve had a TiVo for a long time (14 years), and one of the cooler features is that the service learns what you like, and will record other programs besides the ones you tell it to, thinking you’ll like them. So tonight I’m looking through the recorded shows, I found an episode of “Doctor Who”. Which immediately got me thinking, well, what is this? So I played the thing. Much to my shock it was black and white! And then I discovered it originally aired on Nov 23, 1963.

HOLY CRAP! Classic Doctor Who was on TV here – local to me, and on free over the air TV, too. Not a national network like SyFy (what a dumb name), but a local channel. So I looked at the guide listing, and indeed, they’re showing classic Doctor Who.

In a 30 minute time slot, twice at night in prime time in my Time Zone – one at 7PM and one at 7:30PM (and again on weekends). It is US commercial television, so there are commercial breaks. In Unearthly Child 1, they had a commercial break right at the point where Ian & Barbara went into 76 Totters Lane. There was a second break right after the Tardis took off near the end of the episode.

But hell, I was absolutely flabbergasted that not only was classic Doctor Who on TV here, but on free over the air TV on a (very) local TV station here.  I didn’t even know Classic Doctor Who was being sold in the United States.

4947528The station it is being shown on here is Channel 31 in Dallas, who goes by the odd call sign of K31GL-D. They’re what’s known as a “low power station“. The specific digita subchannel (31-4) is part of a national network called “Retro Television Network“, that shows various old TV shows. But it’s usually things like Dragnet, Bonanza, Starsky & Hutch, etc..  But they had bloody Doctor Who, and 60’s era classic Doctor Who as well!  I’m absolutely stunned.

So I looked around, and apparently this has been in the works for a bit now, but I didn’t discover it until today – found it quite by accident when, as I said, my TiVo recorded the first episode as a suggestion.

Even though I own virtually all of this on DVD, I’ll likely record all of it anyway, because TiVo recordings count in ratings, and besides, one could always use another excuse to watch classic Doctor Who.  I’ll support this being on the air as best I can.

Huzzah to the Retro TV network for the first real, honest to God return of classic Doctor Who to US television since the show returned in 2005.

You can view a page that shows you all of the Retro TV affiliates around the United States on this page.

Geeky stuff:

There is no proper guide info for the episodes, so all the episodes say “Doctor Who”, and have this as a description:

“Tue 08/05/14 07:30 PM on 31-4=K31GLD4, Duration = 30 mins, originalAirdate: 1963-11-23
A mysterious traveler can visit any point in space and time.”

So if you have a digital service like a TiVo, or rely on guide information, it won’t tell you what episode is airing, unfortunately. I might try and contact the network about that.

Anyway, they have a trailer out, and have some discussion about this on their Facebook group.  Check it out.

Press Release

Chattanooga, Tenn. (July 10, 2014) – Luken Communications is excited to announce the highly-anticipated debut of Doctor Who on Retro TV on Monday, August 4th. Beginning with the very first episode of the series, “An Unearthly Child,” fans of the science fiction classic can find two episodes of Doctor Who back-to-back every weeknight at 8:00 PM ET/PT on Retro TV.

Doctor Who follows the adventures of the Doctor, a Time Lord who faces a variety of foes while travelling through time and space in the TARDIS, his iconic blue police box. Retro TV will be showcasing the series’ classic run, featuring the first seven incarnations of the Doctor: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy.

“We’re excited to set a fixed point in time for the arrival of classic episodes of Doctor Who on Retro TV,” said Matthew Golden, Luken’s Vice President of Production. “These meticulously restored episodes will bring the history of the Doctor to the U.S. in a way that viewers have never seen before.”

In addition to the weeknight schedule, a two hour encore block will air on Saturday evenings as part of Retro TV’s new Sci-Fi Saturday. Starting at 6:00 PM ET/PT, viewers can enjoy the supernatural anthology One Step Beyond, Doctor Who andMystery Science Theater 3000.

Now in its 51st year, Doctor Who, a BBC production distributed by BBC Worldwide North America, holds the Guinness Book of World Records title as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world. Doctor Who has received an institutional Peabody® Award for “evolving with technology and the times like nothing else in the known television universe”, was nominated for multiple BAFTAs, garnered awards from the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain and the Royal Television Society, and was recently named Entertainment Weekly’s #1 Best Cult TV Show Ever.

About Luken Communications:
Luken Communications is a Chattanooga, TN-based broadcast group with networks including Retro TV, The Heartland Network, The Family Channel, PBJ, Frost Great Outdoors and TUFF TV.  Luken Communications offers diverse, family-friendly programming on its networks reaching approximately 80 percent of all U.S. households via a blend of over-the-air, cable and satellite television.  For more information about Retro TV, please visit

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