One of the biggest bugbears of being a Doctor Who fan is the fact that the majority of the Patrick Troughton era is missing, presumed lost.
Thanks to the BBC’s short-sighted “television is a new fangled thing (forty years after its invention) and we don’t need to save anything for posterity” policy in the 1960s and 1970s, many episodes of the black and white era were junked.
The result of this has been both the BFI and the BBC running various campaigns in the last few years to uncover lost episodes. These campaigns have had varied success; save the accidental discovery of Tomb of the Cybermen in the Far East in 1991 there has been little in the way of complete stories being rediscovered.
The junking policy was poorly executed, with the expectation that the tapes destroyed or reused were copies or that copies of them existed. In some cases, this was true; some episodes of Doctor Who have materialised in Australia, Canada and various post-colonial African nations over years.
So what’s the big deal today?
Over at the BFI in London’s Southbank this evening is one of their regular “Missing Presumed Wiped” shows, in which recently uncovered lost material is presented. In attendance are various Doctor Who fans such as DWM editor Tom Spilsbury and contributors Gary Gillat and Jason Arnopp, as is Rob Shearman, writer of 2005’s Dalek. Now they might well be attending to enjoy some missing-believed-lost Peter Cook and Dudley Moore,
Moreover there is noise coming from other places online. The show isn’t set to be presented to the audience for a short while yet, so this could be all noise…
…except that the BBC’s official Doctor Who Twitter feed says:
Christmas has come early for Doctor Who fans. Expect us to tweet some very – no REALLY exciting news in just a couple of hours’ time…
We’re already waiting with baited breath!
(Thanks to Gareth)
SFX is reporting that the episodes are Galaxy Four episode three and The Underwater Menace episode two. We’ll have full details in a subsequent news item later this evening.