Well, this is disappointing news. Seems the BBC and the Terry Nation estate weren’t able to reach an agreement on a copyright license that would allow the Daleks to appear in the new Doctor Who series due to return to British airwaves in 2005.
The BBC spokeswoman said: “The BBC offered the very best deal possible but ultimately we were not able to give the level of editorial influence that the Terry Nation estate wished to have.”
But an agent for the Nation estate accused the BBC of ignoring copyright laws and said the corporation was trying to “ruin the brand of the Daleks”.
Agent Tim Hancock, who represents the Nation estate, said: “We wanted the same level of control over the Daleks that we have enjoyed for the last 40 years.
“If the BBC wanted to re-make any of George Lucas’ films, you can bet George Lucas would have something to say about it. “
This news item illustrates just how nightmarish copyright issues are in the U.K. compared to the States. Seems that when Terry Nation created the Daleks for the original series way back in the 1960’s he was given the copyright to the creatures and was quite particular about how they were used over the years. He even withdrew the rights for a time and brought them to America where he hoped they’d be as popular as they were back in England. There were two American films starring Peter Cushing that were basically a retelling of stories written original for Doctor Who that were absolutely dreadful. Not to mention the fact that they had to completely change the character of the Doctor and his companions in order to avoid their own copyright issues.
Anyway, I think the last line there illustrates just how silly it the situation is. They’re trying to compare ownership of one monster from the series, albeit a very popular one, to ownership of an entire series and everything in it. As popular as the Daleks were, they’re not comparable to Star Wars. The Nation estate when on to bitch about the fact that the BBC allowed Daleks to appear briefly in the recent Warner Bros. film Loony Toons Back In Action without seeking the estate’s consent, but honestly I think Warner Bros. probably could have gotten away without asking in the first place purely on the fact that it was a parody and the use of the Daleks was very brief (though probably the coolest part of the movie for a fan like me).
Still, the Daleks tend to turn off most American sci-fi fans as being too silly so I suppose it’s not entirely a bad thing that they won’t be in the new series, though it is somewhat disappointing. You’d think the Terry Nation estate would be happy to have their monsters back in front of the camera once more, but it seems they won’t be happy unless they have input into how they’re used.
Found via ***Dave, who’s easily as big a DW fan as I am.