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Published on November 18th, 2011 | by Scott Varnham

Molesworth Recommends Digging!

Any Doctor Who fan worth their salt has probably felt some level of sadness or outrage at the fact that there are, at last count, 108 missing episodes of Doctor Who (and I’m willing to bet that there’s not a writer on this site that isn’t waiting to report the happy discovery of another one).

Which is why it’s good that have decided to launch Relic Wranglers, which exists so that fans can co-ordinate search efforts and report on minor discoveries that they’ve made. There’s a place within the site specifically for Doctor Who fans to discuss the missing episodes and such, which can be found here.

Speaking to Wired, Richard Molesworth (a Doctor Who expert and participant of the Doctor Who Restoration Team) asks:

“Are there any more missing episodes awaiting to be recovered, though? Or have we got to the point where every lost episode that was ‘out there’ has now been found?”

I personally hope not, but it is entirely possible. I sleep at night with the thought that a group of time travellers have been dispatched from the future (will have going to have been dispatched, etc) with the sole mission of recovering all the missing episodes before they were wiped and bring them safely back to the present/future. (They could even call themselves the original Time Team!)

Molesworth says that his personal choice, if he could have any episode discovered, would be the first episode of Patrick Troughton’s introduction story, The Power Of The Daleks (elements of which were used in last year’s Victory Of The Daleks and the only story in which a human being is not killed instantly by the Daleks’ extermination beams without being resurrected afterwards). He also advises that the best bet for finding new episodes is to keep an eyestalk out for 16mm film prints for sale.

In my personal opinion, the best way to find them (this is suggested in the article) is by employing location researchers to trawl through archives and getting together a dedicated search effort, a la Victor Kennedy. Failing that, you could do your bit and join Relic Wranglers. I find it inspiring that even though tons of other shows were wiped during the early 60s and 70s, none of them has received nearly as much coverage as Doctor Who’s missing 108 have.


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About the Author


In his spare time, Scott writes for Kasterborous, his personal blog at WordPress and the revived Starburst Magazine. He’s also on Twitter (as @Scott_V_Writer) where he tries to be interesting and verbose in 140 characters.

2 Responses to Molesworth Recommends Digging!

  1. avatar Rick Lundeen says:

    If I had to guess, I’d say 95% of the “backyard” has been dug up and anything buried has been found. But anything’s possible and it certainly couldn’t hurt to keep looking. they’ve been searching for 40 years now and I’d guess the only possibilities would be archaic estate sales of the rich in different countries. You never know….

  2. avatar Alex says:

    I’m not sure what this “challenge points” thing is about at Relic Wranglers, but they’re awarding points for being able to provide plot information for the missing episodes. They must not realize we have complete audio recordings and scene-by-scene breakdowns (not to mention novelisations) for all the missing stories, so it’s not as if we don’t know what happens in the stories. We just can’t see it. Yet.

    We can always hope something new is found. And there are surprises to be found. No one expected to ever see any first-season episodes of The Avengers until two episodes and a bit of the pilot were discovered. The US sitcom My Living Doll starring Julie Newmar was believed lost for a number of years, but they’re just about to release the show on DVD so that means they found the episodes. And about a year or so ago a whole trove of BBC TV recordings were found in, of all places, the US Library of Congress (sadly, no Who). So there is hope.

    I’m really saddened at how much art has been lost by short-sighted, economic and union-driven decisions. I mean, Doctor Who is actually in pretty good shape all told. There are complete series that have been lost, probably forever. Many seasons of shows like Z Cars have been lost. The Avengers is missing most of its first year. NBC deleted the majority of Johnny Carson’s first 10 years as host of the Tonight Show. It’s amazing we can still view the first episodes of Saturday Night Live.

    What’s even sadder is people haven’t learned. Count how many “altered” versions of TV episodes and movies are currently available on DVD and Blu-ray, where music has had to be changed for licensing reasons, or scenes cut. Doctor Who isn’t immune – The Chase was edited for its North American DVD release because of the Beatles footage. Sure, the original footage is still being kept in an archive, but if we can’t see it, it might as well be lost.

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