Doctor Who thing: has a treasure trove of lost episodes been rediscovered?


Good news, everyone! Maybe!

The Mirror this weekend reported that 106 episodes from the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton eras have been unearthed in Africa:

A group of dedicated Doctor Who fans tracked down at least 100 long-lost episodes of the show gathering dust more than 3,000 miles away in Ethiopia.

The recovered episodes from the 60s include much-loved scenes from The Crusade, The Enemy of the World and The Ice Warriors series.

In the four-part Crusade story Hartnell and his ­assistant Vicki, played by Maureen O’Brien, arrive in the Tardis in Palestine in the 12th century just as King Richard the Lionheart is doing battle with the Saracen ruler Saladin.

After each airing only once between 1964 and 1969, copies were sold to the Ethiopian Agency and the BBC then lost or wiped the originals.

Doctor Who expert Stuart Kelly revealed news of the discovery at the Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland last week.

When contacted by the Sunday People he said: “I was told by a friend that the ­episodes have been found in Ethiopia. The BBC is ­negotiating to get them back right now. I really can’t say any more than that.”

Rumours emerged of the lost shows earlier this year when tapes and 16in films of 90 episodes were thought to have been handed to a TV historian after turning up in a container loaded on a ship from Zambia.

It might sound outlandish, but this is how other lost episodes have been recovered: they’ve been found in storage at farflung television stations that aired the episodes when they were new and then forgot they had them.

More details emerged on Sunday. Again from the Mirror:

BBC Worldwide has now called a press conference and screening on Tuesday in a London hotel.

The invitation sent out had he event details written inside the screen of a old-fashioned sixties style television set, complete with a dial to tune in the channels, seeming to hint at the type of news to come.

Journalists will be told exactly which old footage has been recovered, with some of it then broadcast on screen to watch.

A senior BBC source said: “There will be big news this Tuesday regarding lost Doctor Who episodes.

A BBC spokesman played down the reports that more than 100 of the old episodes had been found.

However, when asked if there were some episodes to announce this week, he admitted: “There is a connection.”

Asked for a further official comment, he said he could not say anything more before Tuesday’s press screening.

I have not been invited to this press conference. *pout* But I’m sure whatever the news is will buzz instantly around the Net.

But the Radio Times is already reporting that some episodes will be available digitally this week:

BBC Worldwide will put the previously lost episodes from different stories – both believed to be from the Patrick Troughton era – for sale on digital platforms such as iTunes from Wednesday, understands.

They are believed to originate from a haul discovered in Africa and have been digitally remastered for sale, although exact details remain sketchy.

A BBC Worldwide spokesman refused to officially confirm the discovery or the “speculation” around further missing episodes.

It is understood that other episodes have also been found, although it is not yet known whether these will be made available.

The existence of a cache of lost Doctor Who episodes has long been rumoured, although in June the BBC suggested that no tapes existed.


Stay tuned…

H/t Ken and Doctor Who News.

UPDATE 10.08: BBC News is confirming the discovery of “a number” of early episodes. Press screening and more info to come later this week.

UPDATE 10.11: It’s true! Episodes have been found.

(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)

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Mon, Oct 07, 2013 11:33am

Eh, the Mirror is hardly a news source any more. Sounds as though they just recycled the press release. And the Radio Times doesn’t have any sort of inside track now that it’s no longer a BBC publication.

I see no point in getting involve in hype and speculation. I’ll believe it when there’s a proper announcement, not this hole-and-corner nonsense. As with the artificial fuss over the announcement of Capaldi’s casting, why not just wait until tomorrow night and know?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  RogerBW
Mon, Oct 07, 2013 9:44pm

The Mirror might not be reliable all the time, but Radio Times usually is.

Mon, Oct 07, 2013 12:21pm

The so-called omnirumour of 90-ish recovered episodes has been doing the rounds for months. The word on the forums is that we’ll be seeing The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear (minus part three – the debut of Lethbridge-Stewart – for the time being) on Wednesday, and that these will be sold on DVD at the Excel convention next month. Possibly.

reply to  ProperDave
Mon, Oct 07, 2013 4:37pm

Oh dear, the announcement’s been delayed.

At least there are some more Mirror photos here, to add to those you posted the other day.

Mon, Oct 07, 2013 4:54pm

i’m afraid i’m of the “if it sounds too good to be true…” school of thought here.

Tue, Oct 08, 2013 2:31am

There have long been rumours of episodes locked in a vault in Zimbabwe, unavailable due to Mugabe’s hostility to Britain. Will we ever know if that one’s true? At the moment I’ll be happy if just one or two episodes turn up.

Tue, Oct 08, 2013 2:21pm

OT: The guy on the left of that pic is easy on the eyes.

Fri, Oct 11, 2013 2:12pm

Well, reading on a video game link, they said 9 episodes were truly recovered (which attributed their story to the Guardian). While a greater number would have been phenomenal, one can’t really gripe about any recovered episodes :D

reply to  Bri
Fri, Oct 11, 2013 2:15pm

As I understand it, they got eleven episodes in the cache, but two of them were already in the BBC’s archives from other sources.