Doctor Who TV Movie on BBC.co.uk

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 1 April 2005

A few months ago BBC Broadcast introduced a 'site owners database', which looked at the directories on the live BBC site, and attempted to gather contact information for every area of BBC.co.uk. It is very useful in my day-to-day work, but even more useful because it provides a facility to look for orphan sites - top level directories on BBC.co.uk which nobody has claimed. Some of these turn out to be very old sites that are still available to the public, as long as you know where to look.

I've tried to piece them into a narrative of the development of the site, and each day this week I've been going back in virtual time to expose some of the hidden archive gems of bbc.co.uk. So far I've looked at the Budget 97 site from November 1997, September 1997's Diana Remembered, the Politics 97 site, and the BBC's first online coverage of a General Election.

So far these have all been factual and news based - but today we have something a little different, and for me a bit special. In 1996 the BBC's television department was beginning to get interested in the possibility of using the web to promote one-off programmes - and what better show to experiment with than the TV movie revival of Doctor Who? The URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/drwho/ on the live servers re-directs to the site promoting the current revival of the show (another example of how little things have changed in the last 8 years of the BBC!) - but http://www.bbc.co.uk/drwho/frames.htm will take you to the surviving fragments of one of the BBC's first entertainment sites.

The BBC's 1996 Doctor Who web site

The site consists only of a few pages, profiling Paul McGann, Eric Roberts and Daphne Ashbrook, as well as a factfile about the TARDIS. All these links are broken now, and there is notably no mention of Sylvester McCoy, who appeared at the start of the movie in order to regenerate into McGann.

The only page that survives beyond the homepage is a tribute to Jon Pertwee, who died shortly before the show was due to air.

Sadly on May 20th news reached the BBC that Jon Pertwee, who played the third Doctor Who passed away.

You have sent many tributes to Jon, and a selection of these can be viewed here - Tributes to Jon Pertwee

Unfortunately unlike with the Diana Remembered site, the link to the user contributions doesn't work anymore

The BBC's 1996 online tribute to Jon Pertwee

One thing that is very noticeable however is that the person who made the graphics for the site cannot have been much of a fan of the old series - they've got Jon Pertwee's name wrong in the left-hand navigation!

Tomorrow it'll be back to politics when I look at what remains of the BBC's Budget coverage from 1996.

Keep up to date on my new blog