Editorial Jon Pertwee stars in Doctor Who: Inferno

Published on August 29th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

The Doctor Who DVD Conundrum

Since 1996 BBC Worldwide (in its various guises) has released every complete Doctor Who story (and a few that are not) on DVD. Some might expect that to be the end of it – except that the releases haven’t stopped.

Jon Pertwee stars in Doctor Who: Inferno

Since 2010 several “special editions” have been released – first as part of the Revisitations box sets and latterly (in the case of, say, 1970′s Inferno and 1973′s The Green Death) as single releases. Now, these are excellent releases, full of excellent new special features alongside those found in the originals, new commentaries and often freshly upgraded video and audio.

In fact, it’s wonderful that BBC Worldwide and the Restoration Team are able to have the time and resources to dedicate to these special editions, and long may this situation continue. The problem for older fans, however, is what to do with the original DVDs…

It isn’t easy parting with much-loved Doctor Who; I still have several VHS tapes on my shelf, such as The Tom Baker Years and More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS (although only one of these has been released on DVD…). But if you need to make space for the new special editions, there are several things you can do.

  1. First and foremost, consider donating your old DVDs to a local charity shop, one that could do with the money and relies on the goodwill of donations and volunteers. In my view you should steer clear of the “corporatised” charities and stick with local causes that you preferably already know about.
  2. If this isn’t possible for some remarkable reason, why not donate your DVDs to a school or library? Local colleges running media production courses may also welcome the gesture.
  3. Are there any young Doctor Who fans in your area? Such a concept was barmy back when I bought the TV Movie on DVD, but these days fans are everywhere, so you might be able to score some credibility giving some classic Who to younger neighbours or relatives.
  4. Finally – and it pains me to suggest this - you might also sell your old DVDs online. This would be a particularly useful option if you’re short of cash and want to collect the special editions. You might, for example, sell an old copy of The Visitation to help towards the new release.

Doctor Who DVDs are so popular these days, and it’s an odd state to be in, especially for the older fans who spent years willing the show to come back and snapping up the limited number of cassettes and DVDs in WHSmith or HMV before their local rivals got in first.

Shelf space aside, this isn’t a bad problem to have really, is it?


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

7 Responses to The Doctor Who DVD Conundrum

  1. avatar TimeChaser says:

    Some good suggestions here. I have been replacing older DVDs with Special Editions as they come out. I also have a lot of the VHS tapes, so if I can donate or sell those I’d like to.

  2. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    In the case of Tomb Of The Cybermen, I have kept both copies as the original has a Q&A special feature that was not included on the SE (due to copyright reasons I believe). I was glad to see the back of the earliest releases (Spearhead, Remembrance, Robots Of Death, Androzani, Varos, The TVM) as their covers were a disgrace (I’m a sucker for excellent covers). I did, as mentioned above, donate them to my daughter’s school. Kids after all are less likely to be interested in the special features or the DVD cover – just the brilliance of the stories! I would urge as many of you as possible to do the same thing. Please donate any unwanted Doctor Who merchandise (or anything else) to a local school or library!

  3. avatar Rick Broadhurst says:

    I’m keeping the originals to pass on to my son who’s become a DW nut!

  4. Ahh, some of us have the problem of a spouse who says ” You can’t buy that, you already have one! The story’s the same, it’s just the boring extras!”. HELP!

  5. avatar Hoosier Whovian says:

    I have been able to sell mine off to people who have either missed out the first time around or in the latest ebay sale were new to the show and wanted a lot of the releases at once. And it helps to reduce the cost of double dipping by the DVD range.

  6. avatar Paul says:

    A few months ago I gave the ones I’d replaced to a friend who’s a fan of the new series but has yet to really explore the classic run – give someone else a chance to love these stories :)

  7. Great ideas about donating – though I would put in a note about donating to the library. I’m a librarian for a fairly large public library system in the western U.S. and our policy is that we can’t add materials to our collection that don’t come from approved vendors. We do take donations, but they go straight to the used book sale (the book sale consists mostly of materials taken out of library circulation, but there are always donated items as well). Which isn’t a bad thing – the money we get from the book sale goes right back into the library budget for purchasing new materials.

    I guess it would still be worth donating to the library, particularly if your local system has a similar policy – maybe some newer fans who still aren’t sure about Classic Who would buy a DVD if it was dirt cheap and give it a look. And it certainly does help the library. Just don’t be upset if you never see your donations on the library shelves or if it winds up on the book sale (you’d be surprised at the number of people who get mad because the stuff they’ve donated isn’t in circulation).

    Of course, if your library is smaller and will add your donations to the collection – by all means, donate! I know plenty of small-town libraries that will happily take donated materials and put them into circulation. Just check and see what their collection development policies are. If you ask the librarians about the policy, they will be thrilled to share! (I speak from experience ^_^)

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