It’s nearly five years since Bleeding Cool published the internet-breaking article suggesting that a mass return of currently missing Doctor Who episodes was about to happen. Since then we have not had the promised omnirumour dreadnaught, even if we have enjoyed the wonderful return of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear, and the rather excellent Power of the Daleks animation. Five years on, I think it’s safe to say many fans have rather lost hope and patience. So I asked myself the question: “What could we have to look forward to in 2018?”
So far we’ve already had plenty of items to keep us talking and speculating. Dave Hoskin, author of the sadly delayed missing episodes’ book Chasing Shadows appeared on the 42 to Doomsday podcast, sharing his opinion that Philip Morris has indeed recovered more missing material. If that particular interview gave caused for optimism, the release of a special edition DVD of The Enemy of the World has provoked mixed reactions. On the one hand, an interview with Philip Morris on the DVD reveals his conviction that the previously pilfered episode 3 of The Web of Fear may not be permanently lost. On the other, the fact the BBC have released a special edition of an already recovered adventure, and have also announced the release of the entire Season 12 on Blu-Ray, suggests there is nothing left to recover.
Added to the above, several dedicated fans have taken pains to try to piece together what has been said (or not said) about the omnirumour, in an attempt to help everyone to judge for themselves the fact from the fable. The Omni-rumour blog have put this timetable together, and a similar timetable is available on Planet Mondas Forum. Doctor Who fans have been speculating about the fate of these episodes more or less since TV companies started feeding 16mm films through bandsaws … so it’s not surprising that the speculation continues unabated, nor that fans are going to impressive lengths to try and discern the truth!
As ever, I can only wish for the contacts and insights to be able to tell what might happen next, so of necessity what follows is speculation. That necessary caveat made, here comes my speculation!
- I’m still inclined to the view I have held from day 1 – more material is out there. I still remain a long term optimist!
- I don’t think we are getting anything soon – I have become a short term pessimist. This saga has run on for five years now. That rather suggests whatever the obstacles are, there are not easily surmountable. I equally suspect that managing the transition to the first female Doctor is going to take up much of the BBC’s PR time and resources, and they do not want that over-shadowed.
- I am growing firmer in my suspicion that significant episodes are in the hands of collectors. A lot of the chatter has emphasised that a lot of missing television (not just Doctor Who) has only survived because of collectors, and similarly that a lot of television has been needlessly lost in the past due to collectors being treated appallingly by TV networks. If this is true, then we have more grounds for optimism – this is exactly the sort of complicated issue that might not be easily resolved in a short space of time.
- I’m fairly confident that the “Steve Moffat was the barrier to returning the episodes” theory will be revealed to be bunkum. Moffat has well and truly gone, and Marco Polo remains an empty DVD case on my bookshelf.
So where does this leave us? One month away from marking five years since the Bleeding Cool rumour; five months away from the anniversary of the Web/Enemy return. Even if fans seem to have reluctantly accepted that good times are not coming any time soon, I am still keeping an interested eye on what might come next. The BBC may focus on the Blu-Ray range; but they may not yet have given up on animating missing material either. As ever, time will tell, as it always does.
Thank you for bearing with my temporary silence! I am enjoying being a daddy very much, but it does mean that I have less time available to blog compared to before.