For well over a decade now I have been reading stories about how the BBC has been attempting to recover about a hundred or so episodes of the long-running science fiction series "Doctor Who" that were taped over or destroyed. It has long been believed that many of these are somehow in the hands of private collectors and the network has reached out on several occasions to try and reacquire them. So far only a handful have surfaced. I sure hope that this attempt will be more successful.
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Source: Avery Guerra
Doctor Who archivist Paul Vanezis, who discovered four missing episodes in Cyprus back in the '80s, has offered hope for fans all over the world; he believes the 97 lost episodes could yet be recovered. According to Vanezis, the black and white episodes are in the hands of private collectors.
Throughout the 1960s and the 1970s, the BBC tended to tape over old recordings. The reality is that the television medium was still fresh and new, and the BBC didn't see long-lasting value in episodes. As the BBC's own archivist, Adam Lee, told Today I Found Out; "They saw it as something that was transmitted, went out live, and was finished." As a result, when the BBC began to air programs in color, they enacted a policy of erasing old black-and-white shows. They couldn't imagine that these would ever be valuable. And that even included what would become cult classics like Doctor Who.
Although many episodes have since been recovered, there are still 97 old episodes missing from the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton era. Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Doctor Who archivist Paul Vanezis has suggested they're still out there. "There are missing Doctor Whos with private collectors," he explained. "They may be interested in handing them over."
The quest for the missing Doctor Who episodes is a fascinating one, and a labor of love for the fans. Some lost episodes were found in Ethiopia back in 2013, and were released by the BBC in time for the show's 50th anniversary. More recently, the BBC has begun using audio recordings, surviving photographs and brief film clips to create animated versions of some of the missing stories, such as 1966's "The Power of the Daleks". But the real hope is clearly that black-and-white video recordings could yet be recovered, and the BBC is sure to offer a premium price in order to purchase the copies.
The Holy Grail of Doctor Who is the episode "The Tenth Planet", which includes the Doctor's first onscreen regeneration. This saw William Hartnell's First Doctor transform into Patrick Troughton's Second, an unprecedented change of direction for the science-fiction TV series. Nowadays, regeneration is an accepted part of Doctor Who lore, but in the '60s this transformation was a shocking one. Only brief clips of the regeneration remain, and that only because they were aired on an episode of the children's TV series Blue Peter. If Vanezis is right, and if one collector somewhere happens to have a copy of that episode, then fans will have real reason to celebrate.