The zigzagging story of the alleged recovery of 90 lost episodes of DOCTOR WHO missing since the 1960s has zigged again — this time solidly in favor of the “Yes, it’s true!” camp. Then it zagged away again — or did it?
It is paramount that you keep in mind that everything surrounding the supposed cache is rumor, with nothing to substantiate it beyond other rumors and conjecture.
“There are always rumours and speculation about Doctor Who missing episodes being discovered, however we cannot confirm any new finds.”
Notice the language. This is not a denial of any find. Fleming said, “we cannot confirm.” Maybe because the news is being kept secret by the BBC? This sounds more like a coded message to fans, saying, “I am not allowed to confirm it.” I know it sounds like wishful thinking (and let’s face it, it is), but I really thing that on a topic like this, the BBC would be better off tamping down fan expectation than allowing it to simmer and thrive on half-truths and conjecture. A flat-out “no” would serve the Beeb’s interests much better. And in this case there is more than mere conjecture to go on. Much more.
If you recall my last post on this subject, you’ll remember Ian Levine, the dedicated Whovian who specializes in the episodes believed lost after the BBC wiped many of the tapes in its archives. Well, Mr. Levine, who was a naysayer a couple of days ago, has changed his tune — in a major way.
Yesterday (June 18), he Tweeted:
“I am so fucking speechless, I have no idea how I am going to sleep tonight. I was utterly wrong, but I was lied to, yes barefaced lied to.”
Levine is referencing an earlier Tweet, in which he said he’s heard nothing about the find from his contacts at the British Film Institute unless they “lied to my face.”
He went on to Tweet:
“I have just seen ‘three tons’ of evidence that tells me it’s all true. Saying no more. Apart from I now believe it again.”
And, finally, Levine Tweeted:
“I’ve just been given proof that backs up the entire story, from 2011. So yes I now really believe he has found 90 missing episodes”
The 2011 story he mentions refers to rumours that a large shipment of film material — 3 tons worth, to be exact — was sent to the BBC from Africa. Word of the shipment came from customs workers, but nothing ever came of it: nothing was announced, no episodes released, and so the “story” faded away. But it fits in perfectly with the latest rumors.
This news is very exciting, and I hope more than anything that it turns out to be true. However, we must be prepared for it to be exposed as a hoax or a terrible mistake. In addition to DOCTOR WHO, many other shows were supposedly recovered, including episodes of DAD’S ARMY, MORECAMBE AND WISE, THE SKY AT NIGHT and several others; perhaps those other programs were indeed found, but not the adventures of the good Doctor. Bad for us, but e a boon for other fandoms.
So that’s where we stand as of June 19. It’s still all hearsay in favor of the treasure trove, and weak denials against; conjecture is all anyone is talking about. But sooner or later some proof has to surface, one way or another. And let’s hope it comes sooner rather than later.