A new edition of Richard Molesworth’s book, Wiped! Doctor Who’s Missing Episodes, is due for re-release at the end of this month.
The definitive story of how tales from the 1960s, Wiped! was originally released by Telos Publishing in September 2010, but it quickly sold out, with rave reviews. This second edition will be released as both paperback (RRP of £15.99) and hardback, priced £30.00. Here’s the blurb:
In the 1960s, the BBC screened 253 episodes of its cult science fiction show Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell and then Patrick Troughton as the time travelling Doctor. Yet by 1975, the Corporation had wiped the master tapes of every single one of these episodes. Of the 124 Doctor Who episodes starring Jon Pertwee shown between 1970 and 1974, the BBC destroyed over half of the original transmission tapes within two years of their original broadcast.
In the years that followed, the BBC, along with dedicated fans of the series, began the arduous task of trying to track down copies of as many missing Doctor Who episodes as possible. The search covered BBC sales vaults, foreign television stations, overseas archives, and numerous networks of private film collectors, until the tally of missing programmes was reduced to just 108 episodes.
For the first time, this book looks in detail at how the episodes came to be missing in the first place, and examines how material subsequently came to be returned to the BBC. Along the way, those people involved in the recovery of lost slices of Doctor Who’s past tell their stories in candid detail, many for the very first time.
No more rumours, no more misinformation, no more fan gossip. The truth about Doctor Who’s missing episodes can now be told in full!
Massively important stories were ‘junked’ by the BBC soon after their initial transmissions, including the only one-part tale in Classic Who, Mission to the Unknown; Patrick Troughton’s first full adventure as the Doctor, The Power of the Daleks; and the Great Intelligence’s debut, The Abominable Snowmen and its sequel, The Web of Fear.
But why were they scrapped? SFX magazine offers a brief explanation in Paul Kirkley’s review of Wiped!:
Today, we may scoff at the Corporation willfully erasing its own legacy but, as Molesworth reveals, in the late ‘50s a 60-minute videotape would have cost the average worker several months’ pay – imagine what the Daily Mail would have had to say about that.
I wonder if the new edition will shine a light on the recent discovery of two episodes, Air Lock – from the serial, Galaxy 4 – and episode two of The Underwater Menace. Even if it doesn’t, Wiped! is a vital book for dedicated Whovians, looking at where the lost episodes were sold to, when (and if) they were returned, why they were junked, how they were destroyed and dismissing myths.
And who knows; maybe someone reading it will discover some lost gems, and we’ll once more be able to see Marco Polo, The Daleks’ Master Plan, The Faceless Ones, or Fury from the Deep again…
Wiped! will be rereleased on 28th February 2013, and you can order a copy of the book (£15.99 RRP) for just £12.15 on Amazon.