The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, often referred to as simply CBC, is a national television network in Canada, and is akin to the BBC in that it is primarily publicly-funded. The notable difference between the two stations is that, unlike the BBC, the CBC airs commercials and Canadians are not required to pay a licence fee.
On 23 January 1965, the CBC became the first North American broadcaster of Doctor Who when it began airing the early William Hartnell-era stories, but the network cancelled its broadcasts after the first 26 episodes.
In 2005, history repeated itself when the CBC hosted the North American broadcast premiere of the revived series, initially broadcasting the show only a couple of weeks after its UK telecast (and many months before American broadcasts of the revived series began).
The CBC also received screen credit for contributing development funds towards the new series. Graeme Burk, writing in the June 2009 issue of Enlightenment (#151), however, states that it wasn't a traditional co-production so much as it was an acquisition deal (it was credited as a co-production because the funding was given in advance of the series being produced). Burk writes that a more traditional co-production model can be found with the the CBC's involvement in the Showtime cable series The Tudors, where they not only provided funding but also creative input. There was "no real weight" with the CBC's co-producer credit on Doctor Who.
The 2005 broadcasts were sponsored by TV Guide magazine, and (in accordance with a CBC practice at the time to have evening programming hosted by a personality from a CBC program) Christopher Eccleston videotaped a series of introductions and "bumpers" in which he discussed the series and its characters and also promoted a contest run by TV Guide and the CBC, the first prize being a trip to Wales to visit the set of Doctor Who. One phrase coined during one of the bumpers, "Hands off the TARDIS - Doctor Who will return", continued to be used on commercial bumpers into the 2008 season (albeit spoken by an announcer and no longer by Eccleston).
Most broadcasts of the 2005 season ended with a brief, Doctor Who Confidential-style look behind the scenes, and the CBC also compiled its own version of Confidential for its website entitled Planet of the Doctor. (It was during one of these webcasts that the unofficial title Out of the Ashes was attributed to the 1996 TV movie.)
During the first season, the CBC was criticised for editing episodes for length (due to the need to fit in commercials) and for editing out the cliffhanger resolution at the beginning of World War Three, which the CBC acknowledged as an error (which was rectified in subsequent rebroadcasts).
On 26 December 2005, the CBC aired The Christmas Invasion, one day after its UK showing. For this occasion, Billie Piper recorded special introductions and bumpers, wearing an outfit with the Canadian-iconic "Roots" logo. This was the last time the CBC's broadcasts of the series came close to coinciding with that of the BBC. The CBC also discontinued the practice of recruiting the show's stars to record promotional material such as bumpers after airing The Christmas Invasion. (Additionally the network discontinued the practice of hosting evening programming around this time).
In 2005, it was also announced that the CBC would co-produce the first season of Torchwood in much the same capacity as it did Doctor Who.
Beginning in 2006, broadcasts of Doctor Who became less timely on the CBC, as the broadcaster chose not to air the series until well after its broadcast in the UK, but still before the US broadcast. The second series was also interrupted (in-between the two-parter The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit) by a lengthly mid-season break. As a result, the Canadian release of the 2nd Series DVD set actually occurred the week before the CBC broadcast the series finale. As a result of the mid-season break, the 2006 Christmas special, The Runaway Bride was not aired during the holiday season.
In the summer of 2007, the CBC aired the third series of Doctor Who, with the episodes beginning a couple of weeks prior to the season finale airing in the UK. In an unusual decision, the Christmas special, The Runaway Bride aired in an after-midnight time slot several hours after the season premiere, Smith and Jones. This was, however, a consequence of a last-minute scheduling change; originally scheduled to air in prime time on 11 June 2007, The Runaway Bride was bumped due to the Stanley Cup hockey finals running overtime. The CBC later replayed The Runaway Bride in a prime time timeslot in only certain Canadian provinces.
Meanwhile, nearly a full year after it had aired in the UK, broadcast of the first series of Torchwood on the CBC occurred in the fall of 2007, after the third series of Doctor Who, even though the season finale of Torchwood led into the third season finale of Doctor Who. The CBC aired the more adult-oriented Torchwood generally intact, except for censoring certain words of dialogue (mainly the F-word) and making the expected cuts for commercial time. Since first-season Torchwood episodes ran 50 minutes without commercial interruption in the UK (as opposed to 45 minutes for Doctor Who), more extensive editing for commercials was required than the parent program
Ironically, the 2005 through 2007 series were all scheduled following the CBC's broadcasts of Coronation Street, which was an ongoing ratings nemesis of the original series in the 1980s.
In 2008, it was announced that the CBC would no longer be funding Torchwood and would not air the second series (it was subsequently aired by a competing network, Space, about five months after its UK broadcast). It was rumoured that the CBC had also dropped its funding for series 4 of Doctor Who, which was supported by the fact the CBC no longer received screen credit on series 4 episodes, but the CBC later reassured them it was still supporting the series.
In May 2008, after months of speculation by Canadian fans, the CBC announced it would belatedly air the fourth series starting on 19 September 2008 in the same Friday night timeslot formerly occupied by Torchwood, months after the broadcast of the series in both the UK and US. Although there was initial speculation that the network would split the series into two halves as it did with series 2, ultimately the series was shown over 13 consecutive weeks to its conclusion in December. The series was no longer paired with Coronation Street in its new timeslot, instead it followed reruns of The Rick Mercer Report, a Canadian variant on Jon Stewart's Daily Show.
Controversially, the network chose not to broadcast the 2007 Christmas special, Voyage of the Damned, meaning Canadian viewers were not given a resolution to the previous season's cliffhanger, and the CBC ultimately never broadcast this programme. On 18 November 2008, the DVD box set of the fourth season was released in Canada, even though the CBC broadcasts still had 4 episodes remaining. (The CBC either did not attempt to, or they were unsuccessful in, delaying the Canadian release of the set; unlike Space which was able to delay the Canadian release of Torchwood series 2 on DVD until after its broadcasts of the show had concluded.)
A major fan controversy erupted when the CBC's broadcast of the season 4 finale Journey's End on 12 December 2008 used an international print of the episode that had been severely edited to approximately 44 minutes from the original 63 minutes in order to fit a standard 60-minute timeslot, with commercial breaks. This resulted in major narrative scenes being deleted, with reviewers commenting it rendered the episode hard to follow. The CBC made the uncut episode available for a brief time in streaming format on its website. Despite series 4 concluding just before the Christmas holidays, the CBC did not broadcast the 2008 Christmas special, The Next Doctor.
Despite calls on fan forums and in blogs in the wake of the Journey's End controversy and non-broadcast of The Next Doctor for Space to take over broadcasts of Doctor Who from the CBC as it had Torchwood, in January 2009 the network said it had no plans to do so. However, Space subsequently announced that it would indeed broadcast the skipped 2008 Christmas special The Next Doctor on 14 March 2009, leading to speculation the CBC would be dropping the programme altogether. This appeared to be confirmed a few weeks later with an informal announcement that Space would air the second special Planet of the Dead in June 2009, followed by the remaining specials and series 5 in 2010.
On 1 June 2009, Space officially announced that it had taken over Canadian broadcasts of new episodes of Doctor Who, retroactively beginning with The Next Doctor, continuing with Planet of the Dead airing in late July, and continuing on with the remaining specials and the 2010 season. In March 2010, Space also obtained the rights to air the first four seasons of the revived series, with the exception of Voyage of the Damned, which became available to Space in April 2010. Space subsequently announced it would air Voyage for the first time on English-language television on 24 July 2010, more than two and a half years after its original UK broadcast.
Criticism[edit | edit source]
An example of the criticism levelled towards the CBC and its recent handling of Doctor Who can be found in the article "National Dreams" by Graeme Burk, published in the June 2009 issue of Enlightenment (#151), a fanzine published by the Canadian Doctor Who Information Network. In his critique of the situation, Burk notes that after a strong first season in 2005, which involved large amounts of promotion, the network seemed to forget that it had a hit series. Burk alleges that changes in management at the network, coupled with company politics, resulted in loss of interest, and that the network missed out on numerous opportunities to promote the series, such as in 2008 when John Barrowman was in the country for several weeks co-hosting the CBC production of the competition series How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, yet the network never attempted to recruit the actor to help promote the pending fourth season of Doctor Who in which Barrowman appeared. Burk cited an earlier article in Enlightenment wherein the organiser of the Canadian fan awards the Constellations found after talking with a number of officials at the CBC, that many CBC staffers weren't even aware the network had a co-producer credit and simply regarded the series as a foreign acquisition.
CBC Bold[edit | edit source]
A secondary CBC-sponsored broadcast of Doctor Who began in the fall of 2008 when the the CBC-sponsored digital cable channel Bold began airing reruns of series 3, with Series 4 reruns commencing in January 2009 (however, Bold aired The Runaway Bride instead of Voyage of the Damned). Bold's rebroadcasts of Doctor Who were expected to conclude by the time Space began airing Season 5, however Bold as of July 2010 has continued to air episodes once a week. On 28 July 2010 the network announced the CBC premiere of Voyage of the Damned, several days after the Space Channel showing, but pulled it at the last minute in order to broadcast highlights from a comedy festival.