Doctor Who | Very first story An Unearthly Child will not be released on iPlayer

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Bad news for Doctor Who fans, the BBC has issued a statement clarifying the rights situation to the very first story, An Unearthly Child.

By and large, it’s a very, very good time to be a Doctor Who fan. With the 60th anniversary specials featuring the return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate only a few weeks away, followed by the debut of Fifteenth Doctor Ncuti Gatwa, a new series in 2024 and lots more to come, perhaps the biggest surprise was the announcement last week that Doctor Who's back catalogue would be coming to BBC iPlayer on the 1st November.

However, in the subsequent days, a controversy has arisen surrounding the very first story, An Unearthly Child. Though the creation of Doctor Who is attributed to Sydney Newman, Donald Wilson and C.E. Webber, the scripts for An Unearthly Child were primarily written by BBC staff writer Anthony Coburn, who passed away in 1977. His son Stef Coburn, who in recent days has been extremely vocal about his opinion of the BBC and much more besides, claims to hold the rights. It’s an extremely unpleasant situation, but the result of it all is that the BBC has issued a brief statement confirming that An Unearthly Child will not be among the Doctor Who collection coming to iPlayer.

Their statement reads as follows:

This massive iPlayer back catalogue will be home to over 800 hours of Doctor Who content, making it the biggest ever collection of Doctor Who programming in one place but will not include the first four episodes as we do not have all the rights to those.

As it stands, there are still over 800 episodes of Doctor Who programming coming to iPlayer on the 1st November, we’ll keep you updated as we hear more.

Radio Times

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