The story as we all know it is a tragic one, in 1967 the BBC started deleting its extensive archive to make way for the storage of new show and TV serials. During this time, many episodes of Doctor Who were wiped away forever, never to be enjoyed again.
Serials such as Marco Polo, The Dalek’s Masterplan, Fury from the Deep and The Evil of the Daleks would never be enjoyed again by viewers as they simply didn’t exist.
Some of this “junking” extended to the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who but in that case, only certain colour episodes are missing. So for example The Mind of Evil, a 1971 Third Doctor adventure still exists in all its six episodes but only in black and white, not the full colour that they were originally transmitted in.
But technology now has a massive part to play in restoring older Doctor Who stories back to their former glory. Last year saw episode three of Planet of the Daleks restored from black and white to full, glorious colour thanks to a radical new technique by the Doctor Who Restoration Team, in which they effectively restore the episode to full colour using hidden colour keys that are in the black and white episode itself! Steve Roberts, supervisor of the team, explained:
“It seemed almost impossible… but when they made the black-and-white recordings, they didn’t filter off the colour carrier, which for the last few decades has been nothing more than an annoyance.”
Amazingly these colour carriers or “chroma dot keys” were holding the answer to restoring the episodes to full colour all along! The technique is now being used to fully restore The Ambassadors of Death, a 1970 Jon Pertwee story, for DVD release. The Mind of Evil has also had some work done and it won’t be a surprise if they also tackle stories such as Terror of the Autons (which let’s face it, looks bad) and episode one of Invasion of the Dinosaurs soon as well!
Isn’t technology wonderful? Next they’ll find a way to recover all the deleted 1960’s episodes by plucking the old transmission signals from the air. Well, it’s a thought…