It's an aspect of Doctor Who that has always fascinated me. Missing episodes. 106 still remain missing, as the BBC made the short-sighted decision to wipe their video tapes. Many were recovered by overseas broadcasters and fans, but as the world grows smaller, finding them all, or just even a few, seemed like a massive uphill task. Like walking up Everest in just your socks.
Today however, the BBC have exclusively revealed that episode 3 of 1965 serial 'Galaxy 4' and episode 2 of 1967's 'The Underwater Menace' were recovered by a private collector in 1980's, and only came to light a few months ago. It's fantastic news for Doctor Who fans everywhere, as apart from getting those episodes back - it also gives us fresh hope that more will be recovered. How many other collectors are sitting on unlabelled film cans? How many Television stations around the world have got film cans that haven't been checked? There's still the long-standing belief that many countries around the world could be a potential goldmine for lost BBC material. It's a fascinating and exciting prospect! I'm hoping the BBC and fans alike can make this news go global, to remind people that they are still searching for a long-lost episode that is held in a dusty film can.
The last discoveries were in 2004 and it seemed unlikely that any more would be found but fans never gave up hope - and here we are. If you read the message boards, it's amazing to see what people (volunteers) actually do, just to find a 40-odd year-old episode of a children's sci-fi series that they love so much. From going through piles and piles of tapes in Africa and Asia, to pulling old film cans out of skips - it would make a decent Panorama documentary (hint, hint BBC - get it sorted!) It's things like this that stands Doctor Who out from the rest of television and shows people that it isn't just a program.
Ironically, the last year or so has seen the BBC turn to Big Finish and their partners, to produce an animated version of 'The Reign of Terror', which has two episodes missing. With the technology available these days, it seems a logical step towards filling those gaps. All the soundtracks of the episodes exist, so it's just the pictures we're missing! But nothing will ever replace those originals broadcasts, grainy footage and all, so it's great news that at least 2 missing episodes won't be animated!
Check your attics and car boot sales!
Missing Episode List
Galaxy 4 Clip
The Underwater Menace Clip