Quite excitingly, one of my Twitter followers sent me a tip off recently! By no means exclusive to me, but still exciting to be pointed to some interesting material.
The background relates to Dave Hoskin, an Australian journalist and author of the forthcoming tome Chasing Shadows from Obverse Books which focuses on the infamous ‘Omnirumour.’ My source (a fellow Twitter traveller @ClassicDrWho) pointed me to an interview Dave gave with with 42 to Doomsday podcast, in which he spoke about the book. Dave has done his best to research exactly what went on during the whole process of Philip Morris hunting for lost Doctor Who and then finding The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear. He promises that the forthcoming book will shed light on why the omnirumour exploded as it did, but also made the following highly interesting remark:
I also discovered that there is missing material waiting to be returned to the archives… but I’m afraid if you want to know the full story on that, you’ll have to buy the book. 😉 Yeah, shocking tease, I know.
First of all – let us allow ourselves to be excited. There’s more Doctor Who out there! Even if that’s just five minutes of The Space Pirates, that’s five minutes we currently don’t have, and maybe might get to enjoy in future. Secondly, let’s enjoy the fact that we may get to find out the full story of why the prints ended up where they did, and how Phil managed to track them down. Just by itself, this is a story worth hearing.
We do however have to ask the pertinent question: if there is indeed more material out there, why hasn’t it been released?
Readers of this blog will know I am a cautious chap (!) so I cautiously advance the following thoughts:
- We have known all along that Philip Morris might know where the prints are, but not necessarily be able to get access to them. The experience of Web of Fear 3 suggests there may be good reasons for caution from the recovery team until they actually have any prints locked securely where nobody can reach them.
- Even if the prints are in hand, it is strongly rumoured that they may not be salvagable. The phrase ‘waiting to be returned to the archives’ does rather imply they are not in hand, but may be broad enough to mean that they are in hand, but are not considered ‘archived’ because they have not yet been salvaged.
- There may be all manner of complications. Whether this is the estates of older actors wanting a cut of the profit, Morris seeking appropriate recompense from Auntie Beeb, or any other kind of human ingenuity – we can but speculate!
- It adds more proof (alongside the weird non-denials of the BBC) to the suggestion that more is out there. While we can be dubious about the extent of the recovery, it seems beyond question that more material is out there.
In some regards this news doesn’t advance our speculations too much. I will however hazard one prediction – if more material does indeed exist (which now seems a given) and the BBC anticipate that they are able to release it (which their words strongly imply), it means that there must be at least one story either complete or nearly complete, and presumably viable enough that the BBC can speak of ‘hope’ rather than dismiss it out of hand. It suggests to me that there may well be one crucial barrier to release, but that things have the potential to move very quickly indeed if that barrier is overcome …