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TV budget perspectives [Mar. 5th, 2009|04:13 pm]
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[mood |quixoticquixotic]

Star Trek started in 1966, and had an approximate budget of $180,000 USD per 50 minute episode. Exchange rates from around that period (give or take six months) bring that out at about £75,000 GBP.

Around the same time Doctor Who had an approximate budget of £2,600 per 25 minute episode, or £5,200 per 50 minutes of television. Basically, for the cost of one episode of Star Trek in 1966, we could get 28 episodes of Doctor Who, roughly two-thirds of a season.

Put another way, the entire budget from one episode of Doctor Who in 1966 would have given us 1 minute and 51 seconds worth of Star Trek.

People say old Doctor Who was cheap looking, and it was, because it had a tiny, tiny budget. But much as I like Star Trek, for all the money spent on it, how often did we get large alien creatures that would be the equivalent of things like the Daleks, Zarbi, Mechanoids, Menoptra, Cybermen, War Machines, etc.? How many episodes of Trek were set entirely aboard the ship?

To bring it a little more up to date, Star Trek - The Next Generation cost an average of $1,400,000 USD per 44 minute episode in 1987. Exchange rates from around that period make that to be around £865,000 GBP. A 14 episode season of Doctor Who in 1987 cost around £1,500,000. So for 2 episodes of STNG we could have an entire season of DW, with a slightly bigger budget. And again, many STNG episodes were set aboard the ship.

Thoughts? Discussions? Rants?

(This info has been pieced together from various sources. If you notice any errors, or have more info, please let me know. Would very much like to compare New Doctor Who and Enterprise if someone can find me the budget details.

[User Picture]From: sonictail
2009-03-05 08:05 am (UTC)
British Ingenunity, it appears that breaking away from the crown took that bodging skill away.

Seriously, that's facinating/.

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[User Picture]From: nevryn
2009-03-05 08:22 am (UTC)
Doctor Who had a smaller production team (no fleet of executive producers!), and a smaller regular cast.

That's make up for some of the differential.
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-03-05 08:47 am (UTC)
Plus it wasn't shot on film. Major, major expense right there.
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From: jblum
2009-03-05 11:43 am (UTC)
OTOH, Star Trek in 1966 had retakes...
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From: jblum
2009-03-05 12:01 pm (UTC)
Really trivial correction -- Doctor Who had gotten a slight budget increase by 1966. The first batch of Troughton stories were around £3000 an episode, so it was *merely* 25 episode of Who for one of Trek. :-)

And in the modern era? The first series of new Who was rumored to be around £750,000 an episode, or $1.4 million US... where the first season of new BSG was around $1.5 million. Except that big chunks of BSG's sets, props, etc were recycled from the miniseries -- which cost $4.5 million an hour. "Heroes" is in the $3-$4 million range. Who is still half to a third the cost of the competition... which isn't that much beyond 1987!
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-03-05 01:39 pm (UTC)
I based my costings from '66 on the last few Hartnells, which were done around mid-to-late that year, but yeah, £3000 is still tiny.

Nice to see an episode of DW now has the same budget as an episode of Next Gen 22 years ago! LOL
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