The Missing Episodes – Part One

The more dedicated reader will be aware that we have counted down from 137 serials, and pondered why the number is not higher than this. Including the 1996 Television Movie and the uncompleted Shada (both of which have made this list) the number of serials ought to run to 160.

As long-term fans of the show are very painfully aware, a large number of the earliest episodes of the show (especially from seasons three and four) have been completely lost from the BBC Archives. For those who are not long-term fans, the brief explanation is this: videotape was extremely valuable. The BBC therefore transferred the originals film unto smaller film reels for sale overseas, then wiped the tapes for reuse. The bigger mistake was junking the overseas prints when they returned to the UK.

The 23 missing pages are therefore 23 serials that have the vast majority of their episodes missing and that I have not seen on DVD. Some serials with missing episodes do make the the list – The Tenth Planet for example, was released on VHS with ‘telesnaps’ representing the final, still missing, episode, while The Invasion was released with the missing episodes 1 and 4 animated. Others have been released on DVD with their missing episodes animated but I have not purchased them as yet. The reasons for this will be outlined in part two of this feature, while in the third section I will review the three serials I would most like to see recovered if possible. In part one however, I pay brief homage to those serials lost to time, and share my expectation of what the serial would be like:

Marco Polo
This was included as a 30 minute tele-snap reconstruction on The Edge of Destruction DVD and I was highly intrigued by the storyline. It holds a certain mystique for Doctor Who fans, both because it is entirely missing, and because it is the earliest story to have missing episodes. While the sets look lush and the storyline is intriguing, I am slightly wary of how much a seven part story might drag.
Desire for it to be found: * * * *

The Crusade
Two episodes of this four part adventure are currently missing, and even if they have to animate the missing episodes I would love to see this serial in full. Even aside of the historical setting featuring Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, the serial features Julian Glover, who was utterly excellent in the Tom Baker serial City of Death.
Desire for it to be found: * * * * *

Galaxy 4
From Wikipedia this appears to be a steady-as-she-goes standard 60s sci-fi adventure. It is perhaps for that reason I am less bothered by it. If the serial is in a similar vein to The Space Museum then I might enjoy it, but if it is like later Season 3 story The Ark, then I suspect I would be less wowed.
Desire for it to be found: * *

Mission to the Unknown
The reduction of Planet of Giants to a three part story left a spare episode block, that was filled by this standalone episode that, uniquely for Doctor Who, does not feature the regular cast, but instead is a primer episode for the forthcoming Dalek Master Plan. Perhaps because it stands alone I am less anxious to see this episode recovered – although that may well change if The Daleks’ Master Plan were recovered.
Desire for it to be found: * *

The Myth Makers
While not the highest on my list, it seems by repute that this episode is similar in feel to the Romans – a story that I thoroughly enjoyed. For that reason alone, I’d be delighted if this story made a reappearance:
Desire for it to be found: * * * * *

The Daleks’ Master Plan
12 episodes, and 9 of them missing, including the famous Christmas episode where William Hartnell breaks the fourth wall and wishes “A Merry Christmas to all you at home!” While one would hope the Daleks provide as much enjoyment as other Dalek serials from this era, I suspect 12 full episodes would kill me off.
Desire for it to be found: * * *

The Massacre
If you had asked me in Septemer 2013 if this serial was high on my list of serials to be found, I probably would have been less bothered. Then The Enemy of the World was found – another serial in which the actor playing the Doctor also plays the lead villain of the serial. Enemy was completely fantastic, and I have high hopes that William Hartnell playing a villain would be equally amazing.
Desire for it to be found: * * * * *

The Celestial Toymaker
I imagine this serial to be similar to The Mind Robber – slightly confusing and off the wall and therefore unique and interesting. While I would not be desperate for its recovery, it is one I would be interested to see.
Desire for it to be found: * * *

The Savages
I have become more enthusiastic to watch this serial having seen other serials featuring Steven Taylor as a companion. He plays a strong lead in this serial, and he plays such a good companion that I feel his performance alone would make The Savages worth recovering.
Desire for it to be found: * * * *

The Smugglers
This is one of those episodes I could take or leave. All four episodes are missing, and the plotline doesn’t sufficiently grab my attention that I am anxious for them to be recovered.
Desire for it to be found: *

The Highlanders
Oddly enough, where fans are positive about The Smugglers and dismissive of The Highlanders, this is a serial I would rather like to see. Whether it is my Celtic roots, or the fact that this story introduces Jamie McCrimmon as a companion, but I would be genuinely disappointed if this story was never recovered, even if it turns out not to be the strongest story.
Desire for it to be found: * * * *

The Macra Terror
I also break with conventional opinion on this Troughton classic. Fans of the show who actually watched the show in the 60s have fond memories of this serial. I’m slightly worried how awful the Beeb’s attempts at giant crabs will look.
Desire for it to be found: * *

The Faceless Ones
This story was for a long while like its title – it hardly flagged up on my radar. After reading the plot summary however, I can see this serial following in the theme of The War Machines and paving the way for stories like The Web of Fear and The Invasion, both of which eventually led to Jon Pertwee’s Doctor teaming up with U.N.I.T. I would be highly interested to see how those themes may or may not have developed in this serial.
Desire for it to be found: * * * *

The Abominable Snowmen
Where once my curiosity about this serial was no more than idle, the recovery of The Web of Fear and use of the Great Intelligence in the modern series has made me more interested to see the genesis story for this menace. I would definitely buy a DVD double-pack featuring this serial and the fully recovered Web of Fear (assuming it is possible to find episode 3 of Web)
Desire for it to be found: * * * *

Fury from the Deep
Another serial where I am less bothered by its recovery relative to fandom at large. Perceived as intense and spooky, I have the fearful impression that the serial consists of six episodes on an oil rig. While I’m prepared to be impressed, this story doesn’t rank highly on the list of those I’d want recovered.
Desire for it to be found: * *

The Wheel In Space
This used to be a serial I really wanted recovered – principally because of my great love for Cybermen stories. Having read the BBC reconstruction on their site featuring the story’s tele-snaps, I am slightly wary of how much it may drag over six parts. That said – I’d be thrilled if they found it.
Desire for it to be found: * * * *

The Space Pirates
Universally agreed as the story most fans would be happy to stay lost forever as the price for recovering the rest. For all I know, it may be a hidden gem that goes roaring into my top ten when it is recovered, restored and released. But I’m not holding my breath for any of those contingencies …
Desire for it to be found: *

So where next you ask? Well in part two I will comment on three serials that are mostly complete, two of which have been released on DVD with their missing episodes animated – that is: The Reign of Terror; The Underwater Menace; and The Ice Warriors. I will also take the opportunity to comment on why, for now, I have not bought these serials on DVD.

Part three will come in three parts, as I review the three serials I would most like to see recovered in their entirety: The Moonbase, Power of the Daleks and Evil of the Daleks. My reasons for choosing these three will become clear as I write each piece!

As a concluding remark – while I may have indicated a certain lack of enthusiasm for certain of the lost episodes above, I would be more than delighted if any additional lost material were recovered. But I’m still not expecting The Space Priates to become my favourite serial any day soon …


5 thoughts on “The Missing Episodes – Part One

  1. Pingback: The Missing Episodes – Part Two | Dan talks Doctor Who

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