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Doctor Who - You Know All Those Missing Episodes of Classic Who? There's Gossip... (UPDATED) has passed on rumors from that many 'junked' episodes have been found!

Posted by David Lambert
Longtime fans of the original Doctor Who program already know, and for those readers that are new to being "Whovians" then we'll point out that WikiPedia has an excellent entry about missing episodes of the show, and how the BBC wiped/"junked" over a hundred Doctor Who episodes from the first two Doctors (William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton). But, to briefly explain: each storyline/arc/serial in the show was (almost) always made up of several episodes, and back in the early 60s there was not any home video technology, and in the U.K. at the time reruns were not a common practice. So there was no pressing reason to save TV programs for future use, and every reason to blank those videotapes to free them up for re-use.

So all those early episodes routinely went away, and the only reason we have ANY of the stories from that era are because some staffers took home tapes of favorite episodes, and other episodes were found stored in foreign countries from when Doctor Who was farmed out to overseas markets. A few serials, like Story #046: The Invasion and Story #008: The Reign of Terror, had some episodes found that way, but not the entire arc. For DVD releases of those stories, the BBC has commissioned firms to re-create the missing footage with animation, and matched that with soundtracks that fans recorded at the time of the original broadcast with their home tape recorders (the audio was cleaned up and remastered for the DVDs, of course). Two upcoming DVD titles, Story #039: The Ice Warriors and Story #029: The Tenth Planet, are expected to included episode restored via animation. Other serials with some episodes available, but not enough to go the animation route, had those installments released on DVD quite some time ago, via the "Lost In Time" box sets.

But those are the success stories. Some serials, however, are missing entirely because no surviving episodes have been found since. Serials which remain completely unfound, and therefore have never been expected to be seen on DVD at all, are as follows: Story #004: Marco Polo; Story #018: Galaxy 4**; Story #019: Mission to the Unknown; Story #020: The Myth Makers; Story #022: The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve; Story #026: The Savages; Story #028: The Smugglers; Story #030: The Power of the Daleks; Story #031: The Highlanders; Story #034: The Macra Terror; Story #042: Fury from the Deep.

Since November 23rd of this year, 2013, marks the 50th Anniversary of the show's original debut on the BBC, wouldn't it be incredible to be able to get some good news about those missing episodes? Well, there are rumors...

Thanks to posts on various social media sites, it came to my attention this morning that had yesterday posted a write-up concerning information they themselves saw at (link to that can be found in Blastr's story). We can't really say it any better than the folks at Blastr did, so we'll just quote a snippet of their story:
    ...But now a new rumor makes it sound like the BBC has hit the mother lode. Bleeding Cool is reporting that "BBC have secured a large number of presumed-wiped episodes of early Doctor Who."

    The report indicates that entire serials that were presumed lost, including some from the elusive William Hartnell era, have been recovered and could debut later this year on television - just in time for the iconic series' 50th-anniversary celebration...

    ...There's still no confirmation from the BBC, but we have our fingers crossed.
Wait, that says quite a bit, but there's something missing. Where did they supposedly find these at? For that we have to go back to the original write-up at Bleeding Cool:
    ...What I've been hearing, and some of it is attributed to an eccentric engineer who worked for broadcasters across Africa with a taste for science fiction and a habit of taking things for "safe keeping," is that the BBC have secured a large number of presumed-wiped episodes of early Doctor Who.

    And there are lots. Lots and lots. Completed serials that we've only had incomplete before, full series that nothing existed of. Not everything. But heaps and heaps. Possibly even The Full Hartnell.

    And come November, or before, we'll get to see them...
Okay, TVShowsOnDVD readers, you're thinking, "but wait; this is just rumor...why tell us this if you're not absolutely sure?" Well good, we hope(!) you're thinking that way, because we don't plan to follow up on this gossip until and unless the BBC actually announces something. Hopefully something for DVD, that is. Which, if they HAVE found missing classic Doctor Who episodes, you can bet your bottom dollar (pound? euro?) that those will make it to DVD sooner or later. After all, the list of available episodes which are unreleased-to-DVD has been shrinking fast for a while now. So the BBC selling the currently-missing installments to fans on home video is a win-win for everybody.

But there's one piece of the write-up which makes us feel comfortable enough to share this rumor with you, our readers. That's this: at the end of the original Bleeding Cool article, writer Rich Johnston posted a little addendum which sounds VERY hopeful that this is more than gossip. He says, "UPDATE: Shortly after posting, I received further confirmation of the details listed above from another, better connected source. I don't think I need to cross my fingers quite so hard any more." Now THAT sounds promising. As a longtime Whovian (much longer than the creation of that oh-so-apt fan-describing word!), this excites me to no end. We hope to have good news for you in the future, so stay tuned!

**CORRECTION (6/17): We mistakenly reported above that one of the stories which was completely missing is Story #018: Galaxy 4. At the end of 2011, the third episode of that arc, "Air Lock," was rediscovered. In March of this year that installment of the serial was included as part of the bonus material in the BBC release of Doctor Who - Story #006: The Aztecs: Special Edition on DVD. Our thanks to all the Whovians that wrote in with that correction, and I offer my regrets for temporarily forgetting about it while doing my write-up on Friday. IF the above rumor is true, then maybe we can hope that the remaining three installments of this story will have been recovered!

UPDATE (6/18): - Yesterday the Bleeding Cool website added a new post which appears to be backpeddling from this gossip, and suggesting that anyone trying to sell the BBC old material from the "wiping/junking era" - including non-Who material as well as classic DW episodes - could possibly be perpetuating a hoax. We'll let you, the reader, decide for yourselves...but this morning we find ourselves considerably less hopeful and enthusiastic than we had been. Still, we'll always be hopeful that these might turn up at some point! And there could still be something to these current rumors. We'll see, I suppose...

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