My first Doctor Who episode when I was eight was a haunting memory.

My first Doctor Who episode when I was eight was a haunting memory.

Oh this was hard for me. I knew I was 8 and it was 1980 in the USA. I went through a few episodes that would have aired around that time and tried to figure out, “Which episode “feels” the oldest to me?”

What was hard about it is trying to get a fact from a feeling with episodes I haven’t seen in a long time, trying to discern, “Did I see these when I was 8 years old or in repeats when I was 12-13 years old?” The answer would be “both” for many but only one could stand out.

And it was this one:

I remember not understanding who this old man was and why he looked so much like the curly headed guy.

I also remember understanding he was the Doctor. This means to me: I saw it *twice*, once when I did not understand and once when I did.

When I looked at the episode *prior* to that one, the episode did not leave me with a haunting feeling. Nor did any of the others in that earlier season.

Logopolis (which was the same season as the Lesure Hive) left the most lasting early memory impression but I was an early 9 yrs old by then and it’s likely by that time, I was completely hooked to the series.

But that very first one… where I knew nothing of what was going on yet intrigued and curious to find out more. had to be this one.

Now I need to see it again. I remember almost nothing of it but that old man’s face left me haunted for some reason.


dang it… the time matches up but I’m watching it now (on vk ) – and it “feels new”, not old and haunting at all. I must have the wrong first episode…. but I’ll watch the whole thing because it’s *possible* I started later on in it.


Going through my personal timeline is a pain in the butt for so long ago. Still, there’s some clues. Doctor Who ran on WWOR-TV in NYC which I received in New Jersey. I don’t think I was watching Doctor Who when I was 6, which is when this aired, although it’s _possible_. But once I figure out the airing schedule, I should get a better idea. This is one of those questions I’ve wondered about for a while but never sat down to properly figure out.

I’d assumed it was PBS but now I remember commercials… and commercials didn’t show up on PBS, so PBS was later.



June 1978: WOR was selected by Time Life Television to be one of its guinea-pigs to test a new series that Time Life had on offer from the BBC. In June 1978, WOR aired an omnibus edition of The Hand of Fear.
7 October 1978: At 6.30pm, Tom Baker makes his debut in New York State. Stories aired in production order, so The Sontaran Experiment preceded The Ark in Space.
6 January 1979: The series shifted to the earlier time of 5.00pm, but was often pre-empted by baseball.
6 October 1979: Two episodes air every Saturday morning.
20 September 1980: Doctor Who goes off the air for the winter.
14 March 1981: The series returns, Saturdays at noon, for 7 weeks before moving to 9am.
From September 1981 to September 1983, two episodes aired back to back with commercial breaks, Saturdays between 10:00am and 11:00am.

5 February 1983: Revenge of the Cybermen episodes 2 and 3 aired. The Howard Da Silva prints were still being used at this point.
9 September 1983: Doctor Who is replaced by professional wrestling



New Jersey Network

Generic billing for Channels 49 (Connecticut) & 50 (New Jersey)

NJN Logo

NJN Pledge Caption

A network of four channels covering the state:

WNJS Channel 23 (Camden)
WNJM Channel 50 (Montclair)
WNJT Channel 52 (Trenton)
WNJB Channel 58 (New Brunswick)

Airdates in New Jersey
  • 31 August 1985: K9 and Company screens, followed by the documentary, Doctors Who Old and New.
  • 7 September 1985: The 17 repackaged William Hartnell stories make their US debut on NJN, on Saturday, 9.00pm, in omnibus “movie” format.
  • 26 October 1985: The Colin Baker stories make their US debut on NJN, screening one full story on the last Saturday of each month. (This means that the Bakers play between Hartnell and Troughton runs of episodes.)
  • 22 February 1986: By design or purely coincidentally, The Two Doctors plays during the Troughton run.
  • 1986: The series aired on Saturdays, at 9.00pm, during the year.
  • A transmission error occurred during a repeat screening of The Ambassadors of Death: with 15 minutes or so left in the story, the screen faded to black and the end titles started. The station later showed the last 15 minutes three weeks later, after The Mind of Evil.
  • 9 January 1988: The NJN-produced special “Doctor Who Then & Now” airs.

“The Making of Dr Who Special”, 19 November 1988
  • 19 November 1988: Following a screening of The Five Doctors (7.00 to 9.00pm), Channel 50 screens The Making of Doctor Who Special” (from 9.00 to 10.00pm), another of the specially-commissioned behind the scenes / interview specials produced by the Network. This one goes behinds the scenes during the making of Silver Nemesis. This was followed by another regular omnibus, from 10.00 till midnight.
  • 3 March 1990: Season 26 of the Sylvester McCoy stories makes its US debut, with the four stories played in production order.
  • 5 September 1992: The week after the Marathon, the series moves to an earlier 5.00pm timeslot.
  • 13 August 1994: After over ten years of almost uninterrupted screenings of Doctor Who, the New Jersey Network drops the series; the final story to be broadcast is The Deadly Assassin. The reasons cited for this are declining viewers, dwindling donations and increased residual payment demands made by Lionheart.
  • In the final years, stories were played episodically, rather than as omnibus “movies”, weekly at 11.00pm.
  • Between 1983 and 1994, NJN enjoyed runs of every surviving full story at least twice, with the Tom Baker stories played as many as six times.
  • ====


I’m going through airing schedules that I can find (usa, 1979/1980ish) trying to pin it down… and I was _sure_ it was Logopolis and yet now I’m not so sure. But it was my first /best memorable of that time frame, next to the 5 Doctors





That was a very significant episode for me. I *think* it was the first time I watched Doctor Who by myself on a new channel on my own TV. I disovered it was the first airing of Doctor Who on a PBS station whereas before I’d watch Doctor Who with my grandmother on her TV in her room.

I’m trying to track down WHAT was my first episode using an airing schedule from that time (WWOR-TV NYC was the channel I watched doctor Who on with my grandmother, before the 5 doctors) but it’s a challenge trying to bring up memories from when I was 6-9 yrs old…



I’ve been trying to track down “What was the first Doctor Who episode I saw?” It was asked in a group. I still haven’t figured out out yet but I ended up going on a side-quest of strange late 70s / 80s things from NYC TV to try to jiggle my memory a bit… and I came across this gem.

MYSTERY SOLVED: [warning: long because decrypting childhood]
While my grandmother has been dead for like 17 years and I couldn’t ask her for more details, my mom’s fine and might have some info. Since I was trying to dive into the nether regions of my memorybanks, I needed more help than the internet could provide.
I told her my memory quest and my trouble. She said “Oh, she watched it from the first episode. She always did.”
BINGO! The only place we *could* have seen Doctor Who around that time was WOR-TV in New York City (we were in New Jersey, USA). I remembered seeing it at night with her because the kids shows were over but i liked my grandmothers’ taste in shows. [science, science fiction fantasy – she was a total nerd and I loved her for that]
Thanks to Gallifreybase – I have my answer:
I would have seen THESE episodes at THESE airtimes….
1 7 Oct 1978 Sat 18:30 Robot 1
2 14 Oct 1978 Sat 18:30 Robot 2
3 21 Oct 1978 Sat 18:30 Robot 3
4 28 Oct 1978 Sat 18:30 Robot 4
5 4 Nov 1978 Sat 18:30 The Ark in Space 1
6 11 Nov 1978 Sat 18:30 The Ark in Space 2
7 18 Nov 1978 Sat 18:30 The Ark in Space 3
8 25 Nov 1978 Sat 18:30 The Ark in Space 4
9 2 Dec 1978 Sat 18:30 The Sontaran Experiment 1
10 9 Dec 1978 Sat 18:30 The Sontaran Experiment 2
11 16 Dec 1978 Sat 17:30 Genesis of the Daleks 1
12 23 Dec 1978 Sat 18:30 Genesis of the Daleks 2
13 30 Dec 1978 Sat 18:30 Genesis of the Daleks 3
14 6 Jan 1979 Sat 17:00 Genesis of the Daleks 4
15 13 Jan 1979 Sat 17:00 Genesis of the Daleks 5
16 20 Jan 1979 Sat 17:00 Genesis of the Daleks 6
17 27 Jan 1979 Sat 17:00 Revenge of the Cybermen 1
18 3 Feb 1979 Sat 17:00 Revenge of the Cybermen 2
19 10 Feb 1979 Sat 17:00 Revenge of the Cybermen 3
20 17 Feb 1979 Sat 17:00 Revenge of the Cybermen 4
21 24 Feb 1979 Sat 17:00 Terror of the Zygons 1
22 3 Mar 1979 Sat 17:00 Terror of the Zygons 2
23 10 Mar 1979 Sat 17:00 Terror of the Zygons 3
17 Mar 1979 Sat (preempted)
24 24 Mar 1979 Sat 17:00 Terror of the Zygons 4
25 31 Mar 1979 Sat 17:00 Planet of Evil 1
26 7 Apr 1979 Sat 13:00 Planet of Evil 2
27 14 Apr 1979 Sat 19:30 Planet of Evil 3
before they changed the time to 10am Saturdays,, where we went out for breakfast instead on many Saturdays,  but I’d catch them on the Saturday mornings by myself when I could explaining my gaps in Tom Baker episodes,, before the show returned with the 5 Doctors on ANOTHER channel (PBS – NJN – the New Jersey Network) on:
23 November 1983: The Five Doctors airs, 8.00 to 9.30pm.
which was REALLY big deal because it was broadcast simultaneously to 1/2 the planet all at once.
I’m pretty sure they aired Peter Davidson episodes, but the online episode guide has gaps. Also started playing it around 1984
I also went to the Doctor Who USA Tour Trailer in 1986, but remember being annoyed that it used the OLD Doctor Who symbol and that they were emphasizing Colin Baker when *my* Doctor was Peter Davidson.
Thank you for the inspiration. I’m finally almost done piecing together a schedule of a significant part of my childhood here.
So the answer must be:
“June 1978, WOR aired an omnibus edition of The Hand of Fear.”
I was born in Jan 1972 so 1978-06 – 1972-01 = I was 6.5 years old.
Much earlier than I’d expected it to be but it makes sense why the show has always had such a strong impact on me.
[also why I hate wrestling. Doctor Who was cancelled for wrestling on WWOR in 1983. Also why I hate Baseball. Baseball always won over Doctor Who]
 t’s an awesome resource! I’m finally getting the dates all pinned down perfectly. Murky childhood memories and shifting vague awareness of calendars are hard to set down but this resource is really helping me out.
  I was the only person outside of my grandmother who liked Doctor Who, and my interest continued after she moved on to other shows, so i was all alone. I didn’t mind — it was me and the Doctor and the companions… but it would’ve been nice to connect with others. I didn’t until 1989 when I first got online. [I didn’t count the one Doctor Who trailer show because I figured they were either ‘too into it” or “just curious and not really fans like me”]


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