A disputed story title is one which has generated controversy amongst fans who are knowledgeable of the production history of Doctor Who. The overwhelming majority belong to serials of the William Hartnell era of Doctor Who, although a few come from later stories.
Disputed story titles are overwhelmingly found in Hartnell era serials. Until The Savages — late into his career as the First Doctor — stories were broadcast not under a serial title, but rather as a series of individually-titled episodes. Thus, when there eventually arose a need to talk of these stories in the context of later serials which only had serial title, they had to be given a retroactive serial title they had never publicly had before. Two particular impetuses for this process were the publications of the first lists of serials, such as The Doctor Who Programme Guide, and the initial BBC Enterprises release of the serials to home video.
This process has caused difficulty in two ways. First, internal BBC documents have subsequently come to light which have revealed that the official BBC Enterprises title does not match what appears to have been the original name under which the story was commissioned and/or produced. Second, some titles are at variance with the earliest name under which the story was sold to overseas buyers or housed within the BBC's archives.
Because all serials have always been released under the same name to home video (and, in the majority of cases, under the same title in the Target novelisation series, too), however, the average fan of Doctor Who will not easily recognise that a naming controversy even exists. Thus, this problem is largely one which exists in the minds of fans who are conversant with the early production history of Doctor Who.
In addition to the Hartnell serials, there have been a few later stories which have suffered from naming controversies arising from other, unique causes.
Disputed story titles Edit
An Unearthly Child Edit
An Unearthly Child is the title used on every home video release of the first four episodes of the programme: "An Unearthly Child", "The Cave of Skulls", "The Forest of Fear" and "The Firemaker". Because of this consistent usage on home video, most are perfectly happy to accept the BBC DVD title.
However, the final title used by the production team at the time of original transmission was 100,000 BC, while the working title was The Tribe of Gum. (REF: The First Doctor Handbook) Because it can be established that the intent of Verity Lambert and her team was to call the story 100,000 BC, and because that is a name which better describes the bulk of the episodes than An Unearthly Child, some fans vigorously dispute "Unearthly" as anything other than the title of episode 1. However, The Tribe of Gum also has its supporters, because it was used as the title of the four-part script when it was published by Titan Books as a part of their Doctor Who: The Scripts series. Some feel that this name comes closest to the intent of the scriptwriter, Anthony Coburn.
The Daleks Edit
The second story of the first season is commonly known as The Daleks and comprises the following episodes: "The Dead Planet", "The Survivors", "The Escape", "The Ambush", "The Expedition", "The Ordeal" and "The Rescue".
This story has also been known as The Mutants; however, so as not to confuse it with the Jon Pertwee story (also called The Mutants), it is better known as The Daleks.
When this story has been released on BBC Video and DVD, it has been released as The Daleks.
The earliest documents for this story credit it as The Survivors. Reference works have also attributed the title The Dead Planet to the serial, taking the title of the first episode. It is of note that neither The Mutants nor The Daleks is actually used on screen for this serial. In fact "The Daleks" is the on-screen title of the second episode of the second Dalek serial, The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
The Edge of Destruction Edit
This is the third story of the first season, comprising "The Edge of Destruction" and "The Brink of Disaster".
This story sometimes has been wrongly referred to as Beyond the Sun, which was actually a working title used for The Daleks.
This story was also known as Inside the Spaceship. The Target Books novelisation uses the title The Edge of Destruction. The Television Companion by David Howe and Stephen James Walker puts forward the case that Inside the Spaceship is the official BBC production title for the serial.
When this story has been released on BBC Video and DVD, it has been released as The Edge of Destruction.
The Massacre Edit
This is the fifth story of the third season, comprising "War of God", "The Sea Beggar", "Priest of Death" and "Bell of Doom". This story is sometimes known as The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, whilst in other media (including the Target Books novelisation) it is simply known as The Massacre. BBC documents concerning overseas broadcast of Doctor Who erroneously referred to it as The Massacre of St Bartholomew.
The BBC Radio Collection releases use both names.
Mission to the Unknown Edit
This single-episode story, although it carries the on-screen title Mission to the Unknown was also known officially by the BBC as Dalek Cutaway, and has been listed as such in some reference works. Its status as a prologue to the 12-episode The Daleks' Master Plan has led to some references considering this to be part of that overall storyline; indeed, the Target novelisation, Mission to the Unknown, also places it under this umbrella.
Doctor Who and the Silurians Edit
This Jon Pertwee story suffers from an unusual problem. The name Doctor Who and the Silurians is always the one under which the story has been known publicly. It even can be argued that it is the name under which the production team usually referred to it in internal documents. However, it is not the name under which the production team wanted it released. Until this point, the production team had routinely prefaced each story title with the phrase Doctor Who and the ... However the BBC credits department, responsible for physically putting the credits into the opening and closing sequences, had always followed the instruction to omit the preface. On this occasion, they included the preface, and the error was not noticed until broadcast. Producer Barry Letts has consistently opined that the true title of the story is simply The Silurians, but he is technically not supported by documentary and on-screen evidence. Many fans agree with Letts' position that the title appears to imply – erroneously – that the titular character's name is "Doctor Who". Despite the fact the on-screen title was an error, all future home video releases retain it as the official title of the story, although the Target novelisation avoided the issue by, initially, being published as Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters; however, the 1992 edition of the book was retitled The Silurians, omitting the controversial prefix.
The Trial of a Time Lord Edit
Season 23 consisted of a single storyline entitled The Trial of a Time Lord, and this title is the only one shown on screen during all 14 episodes. However, the season actually consisted of four storylines written by different writing teams: TV: The Mysterious Planet, Mindwarp, Terror of the Vervoids and The Ultimate Foe (the latter of which technically also ties in with the framing story of the season). Deciding whether or not to count Season 23 as a single story, or as four stories, has been a point of debate, particularly among those attempting to calculate how many individual storylines have been produced in the series since 1963. Exacerbating the issue is the fact the four "chapters" were novelised by Target under their script titles, and out of order, and that BBC Video created individual DVD releases for each (though, to date, they have only been released as a single Trial of a Time Lord box set and furthermore the spines for these DVD cases all say 'The Trial of a Time Lord' with each case stating the episode numbers of the story with only stickers stating the script titles on the front cover).
Doctor Who (1996) Edit
The 1996 Doctor Who television movie was not given any other title at the time of its broadcast than simply "Doctor Who".
There has been some suggestion[by whom?] that the story title is The Enemy Within (which was a working title for The Invisible Enemy). This title is attributed to the film's producer, Philip Segal, who suggested it at a science fiction convention, though it was never officially used as a title. Coincidentally, another Fox made-for-TV film reviving an old TV series, Alien Nation: The Enemy Within, used the title, which is also familiar as an episode title from the original Star Trek series[source needed].
Another unofficial subtitle, Out of the Ashes, has been used in several sources, including the A Brief History of Time (Travel) website, and it was also used to refer to the TV Movie during a 2005 online documentary[which?] produced by the CBC in Canada for its website promoting the revived series.
Revival series (2005-present) Edit
The revival of Doctor Who in 2005 saw the series return to the format of assigning individual titles to each episode, including two-part storylines. Initially, this led to some debate over what titles to assign complete stories (for example, TV: Aliens of London and World War Three). This problem was avoided with the two-part TV: The End of Time (2009-10), the first multi-part revival-era story to use the same title for both episodes, and later with TV: Spyfall, which did the same ten years later in 2020. Officially, umbrella titles are not ordinarily assigned, as evidenced on occasions when the series has been nominated for Hugo Awards for multi-chapter stories, but where the official nominations use both titles (such as with TV: The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances).
Children in Need Special Edit
In 2005, a special 7-minute mini-episode of Doctor Who was produced for the Children in Need appeal. Discounting the TV Movie, this was the first (and to date only) televised Doctor Who story to not display any episode title. The most common title applied to the episode is Children in Need Special or simply Children in Need, however the special is also known by the title Pudsey Cutaway (a reference to the charity's mascot). When the BBC released the story to DVD, the title Children in Need Special was applied to it. The 2009 licensed reference book Doctor Who: Companions and Allies applied the title Born Again to the mini-episode, which was disputed by a review of the book in Doctor Who Magazine and there's been no indication this title has ever been used in an official capacity.
From Raxacoricofallapatorius With Love Edit
This 2009 mini-episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, broadcast during that year's Comic Relief appeal, carried no on-screen title and had been publicised under the title Funny for Money in the weeks preceding transmission. However, its co-writer, Clayton Hickman, indicated the From Raxacoricofallapatorius With Love title to Doctor Who Magazine writer Benjamin Cook via Twitter on 15 March 2009. However, he also indicated that the title Ron With the Wind may also be applied to the story. The BBC Video/2 entertain DVD release of the story (included as an Easter egg in the Series 2 box set) gives no title, leaving its official BBC title unclear.