I’ve been sitting on this post for quite a while, realising that predictions are the worst kind of attention seeking, and unable to find any hard evidence to back up my suppositions. As it is, with rumours rumbling that Doctor Who fans will have more to celebrate than the Power of the Daleks animation, I have decided to take the plunge and join in with my own speculation! Readers should note the health warning in advance of this post – I really do not have any proof to back up my suppositions. I think I am right, but it is entirely possible I am wrong.
Let me begin by returning to an original tweet sent out in June 2015:
We do have a hard fact to work with here: that as early as June 2015, the BBC were contemplating the release of further classic Doctor Who material. Since then both the BluRay of the TV Movie and the Power of the Daleks animation have indeed been announced, fulfilling their hope to release ‘more.’ As my post from the time also notes, this was right in the middle of the ‘Will they or won’t they?’ release of The Underwater Menace. So, on the face of it, it is simple – we know the three hoped for releases.
Except it does not seem that straightforward. Judging by what we know from elsewhere, the animation of Power was due to BBC America deciding to make funding available both to commission the animation, and also to broadcast it in America. The animation team involved is the same team that animated the lost Dad’s Army episode ‘A Stripe for Fraser.’ – a project that concluded in January. Taking these two facts together, it seems unlikely that the BBC were thinking of The Power of the Daleks when this tweet was made. Similarly, it seems unlikely that they were thinking of The Underwater Menace, given that this particular DVD release seems to have been made with reluctance, and I have always thought that ‘more’ classic Doctor Who means more than special editions or high definition. The conclusion I am forced to, is that the BBC still anticipate the return of more material that is currently ‘officially missing.’
The obvious candidate for more returned material would be Web of Fear episode 3, given that Philip Morris said in his Starburst interview: “we’re on top of that.” It seems to be accepted that we will eventually get Web 3, and there seems to be acceptance that we will get more material, whether orphans or complete serials. It also seems to be accepted that the omnirumour was the galloping fancy of fans who couldn’t resist entertaining the prospect of being able to watch (almost) every single episode of Doctor Who ever made. So what we are looking at, is a number between 2 and 97 … and now I am going to predict what I think we are going to get.
To do so, credit is due to The Destruction of Time website (http://missingepisodes.blogspot.co.uk/) and in particular their page detailing which overseas nations are believed to have screened lost Doctor Who, available at THIS LINK. I am also grateful to Jon Preddle, who gave a very detailed email reply to some of my questions about which serials were sold in ‘packages.’ All of my deductions are based on the premise that if I think one story is back, that increases the likelihood that other stories sold in that cluster are also back. So, with that in view, here is what I think we can look forward to:
Highly Probable: The Abominable Snowmen and The Wheel in Space
I am not the first person to speculate that these stories ought to be back. These were included in the same package as Enemy of the World and Web of Fear, so on paper they ought to have been in Jos. Possibly, like Web 3 they went walkies. Possibly they were sent on to a different station. My own persuasion is that the revelation Web 3 exists is good news for these stories – it changes the perception of Jos from ‘fortunate that only one episode was lost’ to ‘everything was there.’ I am fairly confident that both these stories were found in Nigeria – as with all of these recoveries, the unknowable question is whether they are salvageable. Given the BBC’s optimism however, I predict that a future release may well be a Great Intelligence boxset featuring the newly completed Web of Fear alongside the newly recovered Abominable Snowmen.
Suspected Probable: The Crusades and The Underwater Menace
It has always puzzled me why the BBC drew stumps on animations after The Moonbase, given that two other stories satisfied the criteria of not having more than half their content missing, and only requiring two episodes to be animated to complete the story. It is even more puzzling that when The Underwater Menace was released, not only did the BBC use rather telesnaps, they also refused to let the restoration team rearrange the telesnaps to reflect the story being told – meaning that it is incredibly difficult to follow the story. It is useful to reflect that the BBC did not rush an animation for the missing episode of Web of Fear, rather suggesting that they knew from the start that it was out there somewhere, and it was worth being patient.
I am therefore entirely persuaded that both stories exist, and the BBC is holding fire in the hope that they reach the BBC archives. As with all of these ‘finds’, there is no guarantee either that the stories are in a recoverable state, or that those holding the prints are willing to part with them. The balance of probability however, is that the absence of animations for these two adventures is best explained by the prospect that the animations would very soon become superfluous.
The possibilities: perhaps the entirety of Seasons 1 and 4 …
From this point onward, we enter deepest, darkest speculation. As with all of the health warnings thus far, there is no guarantee that individual stories or episodes were not siphoned away from the main package, or suffered more damage than others. If, however, episode packages have indeed remained intact in overseas film depots, then here are the possibilities that we might entertain.
If the Crusades has been recovered, then we can be absolutely confident that the missing episodes from season 1 have been recovered as well. Every country that bought The Crusades also bought Marco Polo and The Reign of Terror. On that premise, I am prepared to predict that the entirety of the first two seasons of Doctor Who exists somewhere, and the only question is whether the material is still salvageable, and whether it is possible for the BBC to access the material.
If the Underwater Menace is back, and the entirety of its package is intact, that means that at worst the Uganda prints have survived. That would mean the recovery of Marco Polo, The Reign of Terror, The Highlanders, The Moonbase, The Macra Terror, and The Faceless Ones. We already know that Phil Morris has searched Zambia and (supposedly) found nothing; if that information is erroneous, and the rescued copy of Underwater Menace is from Zambia, then the metaphorical jackpot has been well and truly hit. In addition to the above, the Zambia prints would also include The Crusades, Galaxy 4, The Myth Makers, The Massacre, The Celestial Toymaker, The Savages, The Smugglers, The Ice Warriors, and The Space Pirates (technically also The Abominable Snowmen – but I presume it has already been found in Nigeria!)
This represents a best and worst case scenario if The Underwater Menace has indeed been found – and even the ‘worst case scenario’ is still pretty fantastic! There are three outside possibilities that on the whole can be discounted – the prints from Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Australia. These prints seem to be well accounted for, and it is unlikely they have been found. It is worth noting that if our assumptions about these prints are wrong however, then we cannot rule out the possibility of the omnirumour being true. If The Underwater Menace is in the Hong Kong prints, along with the rest, then the only story (intriguingly!) missing from the Troughton era is … The Power of the Daleks. I still maintain that if Power ever gets recovered, that means that everything (or almost everything) is back.
A final note of caution is that we have never been entirely sure how many overseas prints have been in circulation – read this earlier post for a short explanation why this is the case. If there are other prints we didn’t know about, then obviously the theorizing above is entirely redundant!
In conclusion – I have focused on two fixed facts. Enemy of the World and Web of Fear survived in their entirety, and the BBC have acted very strangely over the non-animation of The Crusades and The Underwater Menace. My suppositions do rest on certain presumptions – that the episode packages have survived intact in their entirety; that no episodes are lost, water damaged, or held by private collectors; and that the person responsible for finding the episodes (whether Philip Morris or A.N.Other) is able to return them to the BBC – and I freely concede that any and all of those might be the case. Even if just one is true, my case falls flat.
If my supposition is correct however, then I think this is the list of definite recoveries. It is by no means exhaustive, and we may have even more to look forward beyond this list. But I am prepared to stick my neck out, and predict that the following stories have been found:
- Marco Polo (7 episodes recovered)
- The Reign of Terror (2 episodes recovered)
- The Crusades (2 episodes recovered)
- The Highlanders (4 episodes recovered)
- The Underwater Menace (2 episodes recovered)
- The Moonbase (2 episodes recovered)
- The Macra Terror (4 episodes recovered)
- The Faceless Ones (4 episodes recovered)
- The Abominable Snowmen (5 episodes recovered)
- The Web of Fear (1 episode recovered)
- The Wheel in Space (4 episodes recovered)
37 recovered episodes, leaving 60 still missing
If the rumours are true, we may be about to find out in November just how disastrously wrong I am. Watch this space – and expect the unexpected!