Just now I'm watching Doctor Who "Planet of the Dead" (with number 10, just in case there is an older episode called that too). That's the one where he takes a bus through a wormwhole and ends up on a desert planet where he wanders around with a human thief and they get captured by humanoid flies. When the Doctor and the thief watch the records of what that planet used to look like the thief says "You look human" and 10 replies "You look Time Lord."

As it happens I just watched that episode 2 days ago on the internet and I am very sure that then, 10 replied: "You look Time Lord, we came first." However I can't verify this anymore so I have to ask: have different versions, i.e. cut/edited/remastered, of recent Doctor Who episodes been released?

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    I don't watch Doctor Who, but TVTropes attributes the line "You look Time Lord. We came first." to the episode "The Beast Below." Perhaps you're mixing up the two quotes?
    – jwodder
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 20:16
  • Can't rule that out. However there are reoccuring Doctor Who quotes. When meeting aliens again which suddently are more powerful in any way it is often explained as the previous encounter being a group of scavengers and 2-3 more statements that justify them being weaker, while the current encounter is a full scale whatever. I even put this on a comment here somewhere, just noting he said about the exact same words about weeping angels and Daleks. Such a pitty I can't verify anymore. Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 20:25
  • It seems you are asking two questions now, and "What episode was 'You look Timelord, we came first.' from?" is not as important to you as "Can different releases of DW episodes be different?" Yes?
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 9:30

2 Answers 2


Two answers to your question:

  1. I think your recollection of that specific episode are wrong; I just re-watched the episode online and the "we came first" part was not there; after he says "you look Time Lord" he stares at her for a short period of uncomfortable silence/sexual tension before moving on.

  2. However -- yes, there are different versions of the episodes, especially if you're watching them outside of the UK. I can only speak first-hand for the BBC America network but I suspect other foreign networks work the same.

The episodes are originally produced for the BBC, which is a publicly-funded network and thus has much fewer commercials; and usually only between episodes. (It's been a long time since I actually watched a program live on BBC but recent shows on YouTube would indicate that this is still how things work.) The run-time of the episodes can vary by several minutes, and the BBC just adjusts their commercial schedule to match.

When re-cut for air in the US, they have to fit within the typical 49-minutes-plus-commercials format, which means both editing for time, and figuring out where to put the breaks.

The most notable example of this I can remember is "The Eleventh Hour", the first Matt Smith episode. Uncut, with commercials added, it runs 1:10 or so, but as it was a special premier episode, BBCA ran the entire episode. However, subsequent episodes are edited, cutting scenes like the "Amy cooks for The Doctor" scene and "The Doctor changes clothes" scene down to almost nothing. A similar thing happened with the Tenth Doctor's first episode; when that episode is rebroadcast on BBCA they cut out this entire scene, including my favorite line: "Am I... ginger?"

On the 'net, you are most likely watching an episode that was either ripped from the BBC online player or from the DVDs, and in both cases you'll be seeing the full episode. When you watch on TV, however, you may end up seeing an edited version with bits cut out to make things fit their schedule.

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    All very interesting. I can be mistaken, of course. I already know there are a few reoccuring quotes that are almost identical. In this particular instance I could see them trade "we came first" for sexual tension. Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 21:22
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    @user1129682: “I could see them trade "we came first" for sexual tension.” — fifty innuendo points to you sir, well done. Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 11:32
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    Oh and the BBC runs “trails” (as I believe they’re called) for other BBC shows, but doesn’t air “commercials” (as in advertisements for commercial products). And it does indeed only run these between shows — it doesn’t interrupt individual episodes to show trails. This is why you’ll only prise it from my cold, dead hands. Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 11:34
  • Dr Who, and other BBC programmes are of course, story boarded and edited with international sales in mind. So there are places in the apparently continuous action where adverts can be inserted. And where the programme should be 55 minutes long to fit the natural cadence of the schedule, it is actually 45 minutes or so in order to fit the schedules of other channels after ad insertion. These constraints often result in false cliff hangers and poor choices of scene cut.
    – Julian
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 16:48

The only episode that has a true alternate version is the first - An Unearthly Child. It was filmed as a pilot, and the original version had many small differences - how roles were played and lines were read - plus a number of technical goofs like the doors popping open accidentally. The pilot was promising enough that Sid Newman approved it be re-filmed, that being the version we know. I believe the first version has been released on video, but I can't recall which disc.

Any other edits and changes are for time and local/timely reasons. There were beheadings (albeit of androids) in Robot of Sherwood that were removed due to some actual beheadings by terrorists around the time of the broadcast, and they decided it'd be in poor taste. (Unsure if they were replaced in the video release - anyone?)

Similarly, there are two "versions" of the last episode of The Web Planet; one saying the next episode was "The Lion" (first episode of The Crusades) and another saying the next episode was The Space Museum. The latter is from a print that was sold to an Arab/Muslim nation, where The Crusade was not offered, for reasons you might be able to guess.

  • The first version of Unearthly Child was released on DVD; that release contains two separate camera takes of the portion following the camera break. I find it very curious that the tape survives for even the unused take, given how aggressively the BBC recycled tape. The US DVDs for some other episodes also mention changes between original broadcast and later releases, including fixing a name in the credits, or redoing a chroma-key sequence where the background had been really wobbly (Peter Davidson era, IIRC, which would have likely meant that the background would have been shot on film).
    – supercat
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 15:49

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