That rumored recovered trove of lost DOCTOR WHO episodes may turn out to be false for the most heartbreaking and painful of reasons: The whole thing may be a hoax. Yes, a hoax. What kind of a sadist would derive pleasure from pretending to hold episodes of an old TV show?
As I wrote about last week, a long-running rumor that a large number of missing episodes from the shows first six years became substantial enough for reputable outlets to report on it. I stress now (as I did last week) that these reports were and continue to be only rumors… and the latest developments strongly indicate there may be no truth to those stories. Although, due to the very nature of this “news,” even the denials are technically rumors of denials.
Worst of all is the extent of the hoax (if it is a hoax). It now turns out that 90 of the missing 106 episodes were said to be among the episodes recovered! 90 — leaving just 16 elusive installments. The exact number of found episodes was left out of website reports last weeks, as were the specific stories involved. That gigantic number of recovered episodes — again, 90! — is a red flag itself; almost the whole kit-and-caboodle returned in one fell swoop? Talk about wish fulfillment! That sounds totally too good to be true.
The episodes said to remain lost are:
“The Daleks’ Masterplan” — 9 episodes
“Mission to the Unknown” — 1 episode
“The Ice Warriors” — 2 episodes
“The Wheel in Space” — 2 episodes
“The Invasion” — 2 episodes
The naysayers are mostly from the community of fans closely involved in the search for, and restoration of, missing episodes.
Paul Vanezis of the Doctor Who Restoration Team the told Planet Mondas:
Just very quickly to nip this in the bud. Someone forwarded me the text of one of these tweets and the main gist appears to be that Tenth Planet 4 was returned to the BBC last year (untrue) and the Restoration Team are working on a lost Troughton adventure (also untrue).
As far as I’m aware, Tenth Planet 4 has not been returned to the BBC (and I would surely know about it). The Restoration Team are not working on a lost Troughton and readying it for release. In fact, at the moment, nothing is being worked on, on the DW front. I should also add that nothing has been returned to the BBC in the form of a missing Doctor Who since I last posted i.e. one of the known to be lost 106 eps. Nothing has changed since I last came here to say nothing has been returned.
What I think has happened though is that someone has pooled together all the current rumours about the so called return of lost DW and is purporting to be an insider to justify his claims. Whatever the rumour, it’s an anonymous one and not based in fact. Disappointing I know, but there you go. As usual, this will be my only comment on the matter.
“I want to believe”. Yeah, right.
Ian Levine, the superfan who helped rescue many 1960s episodes, is also a skeptic, Tweeting:
“There will always be 106 Doctor Who episodes missing”. And yes you can quote me on that.
My previous tweet was not ironic. I too wanted to believe ninety episodes had been found. I now believe none have been found. A massive hoax.
Absolute Last Word. I spent 35 years looking for episodes since I saved The Daleks from being destroyed. I am convinced none have been found.”
Keep in mind that Vanezis and Levine are the sort of people who would be expected to be “in the loop” when a missing story surfaces. (I will be quite cross if they are fibbing about this just to preserve a “surprise” for the fall.)
Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed by this latest development. It’s still all rumor, but not good rumors. Perhaps the experts are carefully parsing their responses, so when that say 90 episodes haven’t been found, it’s because, say, 88 have been recovered, not 90. Or maybe it’s 9 instead of 90; that sort of thing.
Or perhaps that is merely wishful thinking, as well.
The most frustrating part is, there is an entity that knows the truth — the BBC. But the problem is, the Beeb has an interest keeping quiet if it is expecting to stage a major historic coup for the 50th anniversary — but withholding such exciting and significant news could have blowback in the form of fan anger at being baited by the BBC. Or, perhaps the BBC feel that acknowledging that they are negotiating for the return of episodes will sour the deal in some way. I don’t know.
And neither does anyone else — at least, not anyone willing to go on the record.
ETA: A spokesman has gone on the record for BBC Worldwide, while a denier changes his tune! See it here.