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China's fans to see more of British sci-fi classic 'Doctor Who'

By Angus McNeice | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-31 10:58

China's fans to see more of British sci-fi classic 'Doctor Who'

Peter Capaldi, in costume, and Pearl Mackie as his companion pose outside the show's time machine. [Photo/Agencies]

The struggles of an anonymous "Time Lord" from the fictional planet Gallifrey against Daleks, Cyborgs, and a host of other imagined extraterrestrial enemies are already popular viewing among some Chinese sci-fi fans but many more will soon find the British TV show easier to access.

Ten past series of Doctor Who and several that have not yet been aired will soon be available on TV channels and on-demand platforms in China, following a deal signed by BBC Worldwide and Shanghai Media Group Pictures, which is also known as SMG Pictures.

The BBC series started in 1963. It chronicles the adventures of the time-traveling extraterrestrial known only as "The Doctor". The show has garnered a significant cult following and is broadcast in 239 territories around the world.

The new deal will grant SMG Pictures access to the 10 seasons of the show that have been screened since the series was re-launched in 2005, as well as the 11th series, which has not yet been filmed. There will also be an option for the three subsequent series.

The deal includes Doctor Who spin-off shows Torchwood and Class.

Jaclyn-Lee Joe, chief marketing officer at BBC Worldwide, said: "This marks the start of a longer and even more fruitful partnership with SMGP. Doctor Who already has a substantial fan base in China. Now, Chinese fans will be able to access the entire catalogue of Doctor Who and its spin-offs, thanks to this agreement."

Joe said the deal was an affirmation of both parties' commitment to build the Doctor Who brand and fan base in China.

Doctor Who is currently available on digital platforms Youku and LeTV whose own deals will remain in place until they expire. In the series, The Doctor has visited China on several occasions, during historically significant periods in the third century BC, and the 13th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Chen Sijie, general manager of SMG Pictures, said: "China is going through a time of tremendous growth and rapid market development. Everyone here is curious about popular cultures around the world. At the same time, they want to share their Chinese culture and values."

He said Doctor Who, with its long television history and iconic place in popular culture, is "a great representative of British pop culture".

"We hope that this partnership with BBC Worldwide will enable both parties, as well as Chinese and British fans, to share and exchange ideas and learning to grow the universe of Doctor Who in China," Chen said.

The Doctor Who deal is the latest development in a deepening partnership between SMG and the BBC. BBC Worldwide has previously worked with SMG's fi lm business unit Oriental Pearl Group on the theatrical release of Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, a 90-minute special episode from the BBC's TV series Sherlock that stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. SMG ran the episode in cinemas across China, where the British fi ctional detective is hugely popular.

SMG and BBC Worldwide also co-produced the upcoming film One Amazing Day, a sequel to the film Earth, which took $112 million at the box office in 2007. A Disney and BBC co-production, Earth chronicled the lives of wild animals through the changing seasons. One Amazing Day will follow animals in several different habitats during a 24-hour period.

The English-language version of One Amazing Day will be narrated by US movie star Robert Redford, while Chinese screen legend Jackie Chan will narrate the Mandarin version.

The entire catalogue of the BBC's popular motor show Top Gear, as well as five series of Top Gear USA, six series of Top Gear Korea and both series of Top Gear China have also recently been launched on BesTV, SMG's linear television service. There has also been a programming block for children's channel CBeebies on BesTV since 2014.

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