UPDATE: The Northern Echo accidentally breaks embargo. Their article says only “Enemy of the World” is complete, but that “Web of Fear” is complete except for the 3rd ep. Both stories have been REMASTERED already, and will be ON SALE for us!! There are hints that there may be more in the works, but only hints. There are hints that the stories will be for sale on iTunes, at least in the UK.
The stories were discovered in Nigeria by the head of TIEA, which makes TIEA’s strong denial (in June) of any missing eps’ existence look a little ingenuous. (Unless eps were found and remastered between June and now, which is just barely possible. Incredibly fast work, if so.)
UPDATE: Lance Parkin says on Twitter that it’s “Enemy of the World” and “Web of Fear,” both complete!!!!! Hokey smokes!
UPDATE: Press release is at midnight UK time, October 10-11! That’s only a few more hours, fellow Whovians! (They already had a press conference today, but the reporters have to keep it secret until midnight. Man, this stuff is rough on us….)
Rumors surfaced earlier this week, but were confirmed by BBC News on October 8. They were hoping to hold a press conference on the 9th, but it’s been rescheduled for Thursday the 10th or Friday the 11th.
Apparently, some more of the missing episodes* of Doctor Who have been found. For the uninitiated, the BBC didn’t keep most of their old radio or television masters, because they didn’t think anybody’d ever want to re-broadcast them. They destroyed film to save space, and taped over videotapes and audio tapes. The Monty Python guys actually stole their own tapes to prevent this; Doctor Who wasn’t so lucky.
What survived were a few eps out of those sent out for syndication around the world (mostly stuff that was stolen by fans or lost by disorganized studios), audio tapes and films of broadcast episodes (obscenely expensive fannishness at the time), audio tapes of dialogue tracks that happened to be lost somewhere in the BBC, set photos, and “tele-snaps” (still pictures taken by a fan off his TV set). The BBC and fans have gone so far as to use computer and hand animation to make reconstructions of many lost eps.
The BBC news article doesn’t announce which eps were found or where, but only that they did find some. The rumors say that this is another case of disorganized overseas TV channels saving the eps by losing them — in Ethiopia, this time. Rumor also says the eps include stuff from the stories “The Crusades” (an early historical epic with lush costuming), “The Ice Warriors” (the first appearance of the eponymous aliens), and “The Enemy of the World” (in which the Second Doctor fights a villain who is his exact double). Another prominent rumor says the stories are “Marco Polo,” “The Enemy of the World,” and “The Web of Fear”. This Bleeding Cool article explains about that. “Marco Polo” is another great old historical saga ep; and “The Web of Fear” was Lethbridge-Stewart’s first appearance. (The Brigadier was only a colonel then.)
Some rumors go so far as to say that Ethiopia has a near-complete set of the 60’s Doctor Who episodes (over 100), but I would take that with a shakerful of salt. It’s possible, but it hardly seems likely that we’d be so lucky.
It does sound like Second Doctor eps will be involved, as Frazer Hines (who played the kilted companion, Jamie McCrimmon) and Deborah Watling (who played Victoria Waterfield **) are apparently both going to be at the presser. (Yay!)
Anyway, it’s good to have some exciting news for the show’s 50th anniversary, which is coming up this November 23.
Here’s a more in-depth presentation about the missing episodes which explains why missing Troughton eps should be coming from Zambia, not Ethiopia or Sierra Leone.
Of course, a real fan would discover FTL, fly out a decent distance, and record the original Doctor Who broadcasts as they travel through space. So as a species, we do have a fannish backup plan.
* In the old Doctor Who, following UK parlance, each season’s Doctor Who shows comprise a “series.” Each series was comprised of several multi-part serialized “stories.” Each story was usually comprised of two to six “episodes,” although there were a few standalones and some very very long ones. Because the recovery of lost episodes doesn’t include a complete story in every case, many Doctor Who stories are incomplete and available only in reconstructed form. Obviously it would be great to recover better quality versions of every episode in every story; but finding even a few missing episodes is a big deal every time it occurs.
** Victoria Waterfield was the Victorian scientist’s daughter, played by Deborah Watling. She traveled with the Second Doctor. Vicki was the companion from the 25th century, played by my remote clanswoman, Maureen O’Brien. She traveled with the First Doctor.