Ian Levine has apologised for his reaction to the 2009 documentary Archive Hour, where he believed that role in returning lost episodes of Doctor Who to the BBC had been written out of history, and has hinted at the haul of episodes found by Project Africa could be substantial.
With everything hanging on the on-going negotiations between Phil Morris and the BBC, Levine was given the chance to respond to Doctor Who Archive, who have recounted the extraordinary story of how the episodes weere returned, to address his behaviour around the time of the 2009 documentary:
I want to publicly and sincerely apologise to both Paul Vanezis and Phil Morris for anything that I said in anger, way back in 2009. I still do believe that I should not have been so totally left out of a program about missing Doctor Who episodes, not when I returned twenty personally, plus lots more on behalf of other people, including Paul Vanezis. But I must confess that what I said at the time was both spiteful and unfair.
[pullquote align="right"]I am so so proud of him and think of him as a kind of incredibly successful protege. I do deeply pray that he finds lots more, and in fact it is my firm belief he already has done.[/pullquote]After an announcement in December 2009, where TV Producer Paul Vanezis and Phil Morris had both made encouraging progress thanks to research into the way film was transported in Africa, the documentary focused on the pair’s efforts, much to the chagrin of Levine who, annoyed by inaccuracies, vented spleen on the Missing Episodes forum, an unfortunate event that is detailed by Doctor Who Archive.
But we’ll ignore that aspect of the affair for now. This fascinating story began back in 2005 where Philip Morris, then an oil worker from Formby, Merseyside, made contact with Levine about using his connections in Africa to begin searching for lost episodes.
The suggestions were largely dismissed but Ian made sure that Philip was provided with the correct documentation to launch his search. It was around this time that Ian introduced Philip to TV Producer Paul Vanezis.
It is this dismissal of the initial aid he gave to Phil that irked Levine most about the documentary:
But yes, it is a true fact that I did indeed believe in him nearly ten years ago, when no-one else did, and in fact many of the hypocrites were mocking his suggestions, which made me angry at the time, and so I then met up with him and and got him the paperwork that he needed originally. And introduced him to Paul Vanezis…
…Up till now I never once publicly discussed my being his first contact, and I do have to say that I am so so proud of him and think of him as a kind of incredibly successful protege. I do deeply pray that he finds lots more, and in fact it is my firm belief he already has done.
In fact Levine believes that he is just eleven episodes short of amassing the same amount of lost episodes that he discovered:
I WANT him to be the number one episode hunter of all time, I pray that he finds and returns another eighty episodes, and I am more proud of this man Philip Morris than I have ever been as proud of anyone else for anything, throughout my entire life. He is a genius and I just can’t begin to thank him enough for the pleasure he has brought to us.
…I would not say or do ANYTHING to upset Phil Morris, because I believe he holds the answer to all our hopes and dreams in his hands. I still pray he gives us the opportunity to see Marco Polo, The Massacre, The Myth Makers, and Power Of The Daleks, even though I have resigned myself to the sad fact that my all time favourite story, The Daleks Master Plan, can never be found.
And so I must conclude by saying that we all owe the most MASSIVE debt of gratitude to Phil Morris, and as long as we get to see them in the end, none of us can object to the way he chooses to release the rest of his wonderful miraculous find.
Terrorism, government intervention and acrimony; the full extraordinary story can be read over at Doctor Who Archive – you really should go and read it now.
(With thanks to Gareth Kavanagh)