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How Many Episodes of Doctor Who Have Ever Aired on Leap Day, i.e. 29th February?

It’s Leap Day, better known as the 29th February, a sort of special day, in that it only comes around once every four years. It feels, to coin a phrase, a timey-wimey day, so you might think that it’s the perfect day for our lovely time-space anomaly of a show, Doctor Who!

But you’d be wrong. Not many episodes of Doctor Who have ever aired on 29th February. In fact… only one episode ever has.

Oh sure, some episodes have come close to it — though, when it comes to NuWho, i.e. Doctor Who in the 21st Century, only one episode has even come close to Leap Day; that is, The Timeless Children, which debuted on 1st March 2020. The problem, of course, is that modern-day Doctor Who rarely screens around the first couple of months of a year. We’re fairly used to series beginning in March or April.

So, to find the single episode of Doctor Who that’s aired on 29th February, we have to look to Classic Doctor Who, i.e. the iteration of the programme that screened between 1963 and 1989.

But what is that one episode? How far back do we need to go?!

VERY far back, as it turns out.

The only episode to air on Leap Day is The Singing Sands, the second part of Marco Polo, which screened on BBC1 on 29th February 1964!

This First Doctor (William Hartnell) adventure starred Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright, William Russell as Ian Chesterton, and Carole Ann Ford as Susan, plus Mark Eden as Marco Polo, Derren Nesbitt as Tegana, and Zienia Merton as Lady Ping-Cho.

Want to watch it on this special day? Ah. It’s missing from the archives, so you can’t watch it. You can listen to the soundtrack, however, or read the Target novelisation.

Still, what better way to while away Leap Day than to watch a marathon run of Doctor Who?!

Philip Bates

Editor and co-founder of the Doctor Who Companion. When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. Writer of The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Silver Archive: The Stone Tape, and 100 Objects of Doctor Who.

How Many Episodes of Doctor Who Have Ever Aired on Leap Day, i.e. 29th February?

by Philip Bates time to read: 1 min
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