A lot of DOCTOR WHO fans spent a lot of the summer theorizing/obsessing over the rumor that mountains of episodes previously believed lost forever — anywhere from 40 to 96 installments — had been discovered hidden in Africa. Then came the announcement that “The Web of Fear” and “The Enemy of the World” really had been recovered and reconditioned for release.
But since then… nothing. Well, that’s about to change.
As I mentioned earlier, a tale about the recovery of the entire William Hartnell serial “Marco Polo” has been gaining steam recently — but website Bleeding Cool says Hartnell’s “The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve” (left) has also been found and could be set for release alongside “Marco Polo.”
And, just to make things sound really amazing, BBC execs are said to be negotiating with Philip Morris — noted recoverer of “The Enemy of the World” and “The Web of Fear” — over the Patrick Troughton Second Doctor tales “Power of the Daleks,” “Evil of the Daleks” and “The Macra Terror”!
What a great Christmas gift those series would be! Stay tuned to see if the tale turns out to be true…
The latest rumor sweeping across the interwebs is that the lost DOCTOR WHO story “Marco Polo” has been found — all seven episodes!
According to Britain’s The Mirror newspaper, the episodes were filmed off a television screen by a dedicated fan back when it was first broadcast in 1964!
Now this is the point where I emphasize that this is an unconfirmed, unsubstantiated rumor in a British tabloid, so it may be true, or it might be a cruel hoax undertaken to sell a few more papers over the Doctor’s 50th anniversary weekend. Remember this past summer’s big to-do over 90+ episodes that turned out to be far less than was hoped for.
While there are no new details in this report, what is very important is that the reputable BBC News entertainment correspondent, Lizo Mzimba, is confirming (or, double-confirming, I suppose) that more than one episode of “lost” DOCTOR WHO has been recovered and returned to the BBC.
Here’s what was posted on the BBC website:
“A number of early episodes of Doctor Who, which were believed to have been permanently lost, have been returned to the BBC.
BBC Worldwide is expected to confirm the find at a press conference in London later this week. It follows weeks of speculation that some lost episodes had been located.
Details of how fans will be able to watch the recovered episodes are also expected to be revealed later this week.”
The rumors have been swirling for months, driven by the hot air of fan frenzy and official non-denial denials, but at last the BBC has confirmed that at least some missing episodes of DOCTOR WHO have been found and returned!
A statement from the BBC declared:
“There will be big news this Tuesday [Oct. 8] regarding lost Doctor Who episodes. It is great that in the show’s 50th year, fans will now be able to look back with classic episodes as well as looking to the future with the new film-length episode in November.”
ETA: Kasterborous.com now says The Mirror is reporting that the press conference has been delayed until the end of the week.
“The Web of Fear”
After a few weeks of silence, the rumor that huge a cache of previously missing episodes of DOCTOR WHO has been returned to the BBC has suddenly lurched back to life. And, once again, the rumors are being attributed to members of the DOCTOR WHO production team, not mere fans.
The Bleeding Cool website passes along the rumor of a dinner party at which someone “heavily associated” with the production team claimed that “at least 40 episodes” are held by the BBC right now, while another source put the number at 93. Which is still not the total 106 that were wiped/junked at the end of the 1960s/beginning of the 1970s. Bleeding Cool says the still-missing episodes are: “Mission To The Unknown”; nine episodes of “The Dalek Master Plan”; one episode of “The Ice Warriors”; and one episode of “The Wheel In Space.” Upping the ante, the BBC is also said to be preparing to air “The Web of Fear” during the 50th anniversary week in November, and to release “The Enemy of the World” on DVD.
“Terror of the Zygons”
This week kicks off with a colorful new rumor about the reputedly recovered missing DOCTOR WHO stories: Footage from “The Enemy of the World,” a lost Patrick Troughton Second Doctor episode, will be included on the September DVD release of “The Terror of the Zygons” as a way to announce/ promote the return of the 90 presumed-destroyed episodes.
If true — and we know how big an if that is — this would be very exciting and sure to boost sales of the Zygons disc far beyond what is already expected to be a popular release. But how credible is this particular rumor? Of all the rumors swirling around this issue (and they are all unsubstantiated), this is not very believable to me. The DOCTOR WHO DVD packages are very impressive, packed with content that clearly takes months to put together, so I have a problem believing that something so significant as a teaser for a returned story could be kept a complete secret during that process. I would like it to be true, but it seems like a reach.
“The Reign of Terror”
If it’s Thursday, then the worm must have turned again in the saga of the purported recovery of 90 “lost” episodes of DOCTOR WHO. The rumors are giving birth to rumors that are being countermanded by other rumors. But remember: Everything here is unsubstantiated, whether it’s a claim for or against the treasure trove’s existence. Nothing is verified.
When last we looked, the preponderance of evidence was weighing in on the “true” side of the controversy after favoring “false” just one day earlier. So naturally, in order to keep the ying-yang form of this story going, today’s installment seeks to pour cold water on the hopes of Whovians everywhere.
The archivist said to be at the center of the recovered episodes brouhaha is one Philip Morris, who runs Television International Enterprises Archives Ltd., and he has finally issued a statement (caps are his):
A BRIEF STATEMENT.
T.I.E.A DOES NOT HOLD ANY MISSING EPISODES OF THE LONG RUNNING DR WHO SERIES. THE ORIGINAL VIDEO TAPES WERE WIPED SUBSEQUENT FILM COPIES WERE EITHER RETURNED TO THE BBC AND SENT TO LANDFILL ODD FRAGMENTS HAVE SURFACED TWO EPISODES ON 16MM FILM BUT THATS IT. THE PROGRAMMES IN QUESTION LIKE MANY OTHERS WERE DESTROYED AS THEY HAD NO FURTHER COMMERCIAL VALUE. THEY ARE NOT MISSING BUT DESTROYED THE END.I am sorry if this upsets some people but these are the facts. I have also become aware of the tracking of some of our clients shipments these are local cultural materials sent to us for migration to a modern format as the playback equipment in the country of origin no longer exists and as such is the best road to preserve international cultural heritage .I will be making no more statements on this subject.
Philip MORRIS Executive director T.i.e.a
“The Celestial Toymaker”
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.
First the latest concrete fact — one of the few in the case so far: Philip Fleming, head of Communications, Brands, Content & Digital, BBC Worldwide, told Bleeding Cool website:
“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.
“The Macra Terror”
With this being the 50th anniversary of the launch of DOCTOR WHO, a lot of fans had wishes and dreams for how the milestone would be celebrated, with many (most?) invested in the hope that there would be a very special episode filmed using all of the surviving actors to create a multi-Doctor story to air on Nov. 23. With those hopes now dashed — although I am certain the story that will air will be a lot of fun — many fans despaired of a seeing a “proper” celebration.
But now comes word — and I cannot stress strongly enough that this is all just rumor at this point — that the BBC may have uncovered a huge trove of missing episodes in Africa, where they were sold into syndication in the late 1960s and ’70s. And by huge, I mean lots of episodes. Supposedly even full serials that were lost when the BBC either junked the masters or recorded over existing tapes. The story is that an “eccentric” broadcast engineer who loved science fiction took a lot of DW tapes into his personal custody for “safekeeping” — a move that turned out to be more necessary than he could ever have dreamed.
The BBC have released a trailer for the forthcoming DOCTOR WHO Christmas special, this one called “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe,” which will air on Christmas Day in the U.K. and here in the USA on BBC America at 9 p.m.
The story looks like a lot of fun, with a snowy adventure in a strange, Narnia-like land that is somehow accessed through the TARDIS. We don’t have much to go on, by Matt Smith has repeatedly demonstrated that his 11th Doctor has a real rapport with children, so I have high hopes.