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The Doctor Who missing episodes are the instalments of the long-running British science-fiction television programme Doctor Who with no known film or videotape copies. They were destroyed by the BBC during the 1960s and 1970s for economic and space-saving reasons. There are 26 incomplete Doctor Who serials, with 97 of 253 episodes from the first six years of the programme missing. Many more were thought to be lost until copies were recovered from various sources, mostly overseas broadcasters.
Doctor Who is not unique in this respect, as thousands of hours of programming of all genres were destroyed by the BBC until 1978, when the corporation's archiving policies were changed. Other high-profile series affected included Dad's Army, Z-Cars, The Wednesday Play, Steptoe and Son, and Not Only... But Also. The BBC was not the only British broadcaster to carry out this practice; ITV regional franchise companies also destroyed programmes, including early videotape episodes of The Avengers.
Doctor Who is rare, however, in that all of its many missing episodes survive in audio form, recorded off-air by fans at home. Stills or short video clips have been found for several missing episodes. All 1970s episodes also exist visually in some form, which is not the case for several other series.
Efforts to locate missing episodes continue, both by the BBC and by fans of the series. Extensive restoration has been carried out on many recovered 1960s and 1970s episodes for release on VHS and DVD. The surviving soundtracks of missing episodes have been released on cassette and CD. Fan groups and the BBC have released reconstructions of missing episodes, using surviving footage and matching photographs from the episodes with the soundtracks. The BBC has also commissioned a number of animated reconstructions of episodes from serials that are fairly complete, where the episode soundtrack has been put together with a specially animated version of the episode; these have been released alongside the surviving episodes on DVD.
Between approximately 1967 and 1978, large quantities of videotape and film stored in the BBC's Engineering department and film libraries, respectively, were destroyed or wiped to make way for newer programmes. This happened for a number of reasons, the primary one being the belief that there was no reason for the material to be kept.
The actors' union Equity had actively fought against the introduction of TV recording since it originally became a practical proposition in the 1950s. Prior to the development of workable television recording, if a broadcaster wished to repeat a programme (usually a one-off play), the actors would be re-hired for an additional fee to perform it again live. Equity's concern was that if broadcasters were able to record the original performances, they would be able to repeat them indefinitely, which would cut down on the levels of new production and threaten the livelihoods of its members. Although Equity could not prevent recording altogether, it was able to add standard clauses to its members' contracts that stipulated that recordings could only be repeated a set number of times within a specific timeframe, and the fees payable for further use beyond that were deliberately so high that broadcasters would consider it unjustifiable to spend so much money repeating an old programme rather than making a new one. Consequently, recordings whose repeat rights had expired were considered to be of no further economic use to the broadcasters.
Most Doctor Who episodes were made on two-inch videotape for initial broadcast and then telerecorded onto 16mm film by BBC Enterprises for further commercial exploitation. Enterprises used 16mm for overseas sales as it was considerably cheaper to buy and easier to transport than videotape. It also circumvented the problem of different countries' incompatible video standards, as film was a universal medium whereas videotape was not. The BBC had no central archive at the time – the Film Library kept programmes that had been made on film, while the Engineering Department was responsible for storing videotapes. BBC Enterprises kept only copies of programmes they deemed commercially exploitable. They also had little dedicated storage space and tended to keep piles of film canisters wherever they could find space for them at their Villiers House property.
The Engineering Department had no mandate to archive the programme videotapes they held, although they would not normally be wiped or junked until the relevant production department or BBC Enterprises had indicated that they had no further use for the tapes. The first Doctor Who master videotapes to be junked were those for the serial The Highlanders, which were erased on 9 March 1967, a mere two months after Episode 4's original transmission. Further erasing and junking of Doctor Who master videotapes by the Engineering Department continued into the 1970s. Eventually every single master videotape of the programme's first 253 episodes (1963–69) was destroyed or wiped, with the final 1960s mastertapes to be erased being those for the 1968 serial Fury from the Deep, which were authorised for wiping in late 1974.
Despite the destruction of these masters, BBC Enterprises held a near-complete archive of the series in the form of their 16mm film telerecording copies until approximately 1972. From around 1972 to 1978, BBC Enterprises also disposed of much of their older material, including many episodes of Doctor Who.
Doctor Who junkings at BBC Enterprises ceased following the intervention of Ian Levine, a record producer and fan of the programme. Enterprises' episodes were usually junked because their rights agreements with the actors and writers to sell the programmes abroad had expired. With many broadcasters around the world now switching to colour transmission, it was not deemed worthwhile extending agreements to sell the older black-and-white material.
The BBC Film Library had no responsibility for storing programmes that had not been made on film, and there were conflicting views between the Film Library and BBC Enterprises over who had the responsibility of archiving programmes. These combined factors resulted in the erasure of large quantities of older black-and-white programming from the Corporation's various libraries, as each body believed it to be the other's responsibility to archive the material and consequently destroyed their own copies. While thousands of other programmes have been destroyed in this way around the world, the missing Doctor Who episodes are probably the best-known example of how the lack of a consistent programme archiving policy can have long-term effects.
The degree of incompleteness varies, and is concentrated on the First and Second Doctor stories. Although two stories have only one episode missing (The Tenth Planet and The Web of Fear), others are lost altogether, with Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor being particularly badly affected—of the fourteen stories comprising his first two seasons, only The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Enemy of the World are complete, and these only exist due to copies of episodes being returned from Hong Kong and Nigeria, respectively.
All stories starring Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor are complete, though many episodes no longer survive on their original videotapes and have needed to be restored to colour using other methods. In order of original transmissions, the very last Doctor Who master videotapes to be wiped were the first episodes of the 1974 serials Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Death to the Daleks. The latter was recovered from overseas, initially from a tape in the NTSC format, and later in the original PAL format on a tape returned from Dubai.
For a few years Episode 1 of Invasion of the Dinosaurs was the only Pertwee episode to be entirely missing from the archives, until a black-and-white 16mm copy was returned to the Corporation in the early 1980s. The story was released on DVD with a partially recolourised version of Episode 1, alongside a higher-quality monochrome transfer of the episode, in The UNIT Files box set. Archival holdings from Death to the Daleks Episode 2 onwards are complete on the original broadcast videotapes, with the exception of the final shot of The Deadly Assassin Episode 3 (1976); this shot was removed from the master copy after its initial UK transmission following complaints from Mary Whitehouse of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association. Subsequent repeats and commercial releases have restored the shot from off-air video copies.
The wiping policy officially came to an end in 1978, when the means to further exploit programmes by taking advantage of the new market in home video cassette recordings was beginning to become apparent. In addition, the attitude became that vintage programmes should, in any case, be preserved for posterity and historical and cultural reasons. The BBC Film Library was turned into a combined Film & Videotape Library for the preservation of both media. The Film Library at the time held only 47 episodes of 1960s Doctor Who; they had once held 53, but six episodes had either been junked or gone missing. Following the transfer of episodes still held by Enterprises, there were 152 episodes of Doctor Who no longer held by the BBC, although subsequent efforts have reduced that number to 97.
Arguably, the most sought-after lost episode is Episode 4 of the last William Hartnell serial, The Tenth Planet, which ends with the First Doctor regenerating into the Second. The only portion of the sequence still in existence, bar a few poor-quality silent 8mm clips, is the regeneration itself and a few seconds before it, which had been shown in a 1973 episode of Blue Peter.
Serials from Seasons 22–26 were shown in Germany, with soundtracks dubbed into German language; some of these episodes no longer exist in German television archives.
In January 2007 ITV began a campaign called "Raiders of the Lost Archive" and although the campaign was run by ITV, they were also looking to find Doctor Who episodes and other BBC shows. One episode of the Raiders of the Lost Archive show aired in January 2007 and a further two episodes in July 2009.
In December 2012 the Radio Times listings magazine announced it was launching the hunt for more Doctor Who episodes, to tie-in with the show's 50th anniversary. The Radio Times issued its own list of missing episodes. The magazine has also set up an email address specifically for Doctor Who missing episodes that the public can use to contact it if they have any information.
Compared with many BBC series broadcast in the 1960s, Doctor Who is well-represented in terms of existing episodes. 156 of the 253 episodes broadcast during the 1960s are still in existence, mainly due to wide overseas sales which have aided in recovery of episodes (see below). This is reflected in the nature of the surviving episodes – Seasons 1 and 2, the most widely-sold abroad of the 1960s era, are missing only nine and two episodes respectively. By contrast Season 4 has no complete serials and Season 5 has only two complete serials (The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Enemy of the World).
Of all the series shown by the Corporation throughout the 1960s which had runs of significant length, only Steptoe and Son has a better survival record, with all episodes existing, though some only as early domestic videotape copies made by the writers of the programme. Other programmes have few or no episodes in existence; United!, a football-based soap opera which broadcast 147 episodes between 1965 and 1967, has no episodes surviving at all. The Newcomers and Compact are other examples of popular sixties British soaps of which very little survives – 2 out of 375 episodes for The Newcomers and 7 episodes of Compact out of 430. Doctor Who's popularity and high profile has also helped to ensure the return of episodes which, for other less well-remembered programmes, might never have occurred.
Doctor Who is also comparatively rare amongst contemporaries in that all of the 1970s episodes exist as masters or telerecordings, while other series such as Z-Cars and Dixon of Dock Green have episodes from as late as 1975 missing.
As of March 2014[update], there are 97 episodes unaccounted for from 26 serials, including 10 full serials. By far the majority of the missing episodes are from seasons 3, 4 and 5, which have a total of 79 episodes currently missing. Of the 26 serials which comprised seasons 3-5, only five (The Ark, The Gunfighters, and The War Machines from season 3, and The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Enemy of the World from season 5) exist in their entirety in the TV archives, leaving a total of 21 with at least one episode missing. By contrast, seasons 1, 2, and 6 have only 18 episodes missing in total from a total of 5 serials, with 19 of them complete. All but three of the missing stories have clips of various lengths surviving from different sources, with Marco Polo, "Mission to the Unknown", and The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve having no surviving footage whatsoever. While the Patrick Troughton era has more episodes missing (53 as compared to 44 for the William Hartnell era), there are more Hartnell stories completely missing (6 as compared to 4). Stories are missing all episodes.
|Doctor||Season||Story no.||Serial||Number of episodes||Missing episodes||Tally|
|First||1||004||Marco Polo||7||All 7 episodes||7||9|
|008||The Reign of Terror||6||Episodes 4 & 5||2|
|2||014||The Crusade||4||Episodes 2 & 4||2||2|
|3||018||Galaxy 4||4||Episodes 1, 2 & 4||3||28|
|019||"Mission to the Unknown"||1||Entire episode||1|
|020||The Myth Makers||4||All 4 episodes||4|
|021||The Daleks' Master Plan||12||Episodes 1, 3, 4, 6-9, 11 & 12||9|
|022||The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve||4||All 4 episodes||4|
|024||The Celestial Toymaker||4||Episodes 1, 2 & 3||3|
|026||The Savages||4||All 4 episodes||4|
|4||028||The Smugglers||4||All 4 episodes||4||33|
|029||The Tenth Planet||4||Episode 4||1|
|First Doctor totals||12 serials||44 episodes|
|Second||4||030||The Power of the Daleks||6||All 6 episodes||6|
|031||The Highlanders||4||All 4 episodes||4|
|032||The Underwater Menace||4||Episodes 1 & 4||2|
|033||The Moonbase||4||Episodes 1 & 3||2|
|034||The Macra Terror||4||All 4 episodes||4|
|035||The Faceless Ones||6||Episodes 2, 4-6||4|
|036||The Evil of the Daleks||7||Episodes 1, 3-7||6|
|5||038||The Abominable Snowmen||6||Episodes 1, 3-6||5||18|
|039||The Ice Warriors||6||Episodes 2 & 3||2|
|041||The Web of Fear||6||Episode 3||1|
|042||Fury from the Deep||6||All 6 episodes||6|
|043||The Wheel in Space||6||Episodes 1, 2, 4 & 5||4|
|6||046||The Invasion||8||Episodes 1 & 4||2||7|
|049||The Space Pirates||6||Episodes 1, 3-6||5|
|Second Doctor totals||14 serials||53 episodes|
|Totals||26 serials||97 episodes|
In addition to the official list of missing episodes, also missing is the original Episode 1 of The Daleks. At some point after the recording, it was discovered that a technical problem had caused backstage voices to be heard on the resulting videotape; in early December 1963, the episode was remounted with a different costume for Susan. The only surviving portion is the reprise at the beginning of Episode 2.
Planet of Giants is another odd example, having originally been recorded as four episodes, with the first three directed by Mervyn Pinfield, and the last one by Douglas Camfield. To create a faster-paced climax, Episodes 3 & 4 were combined and reduced to form a single episode, which was credited to Camfield only. This decision, made by then-Head of Drama Sydney Newman, resulted in a gap at the end of the second production block (and the creation of "Mission to the Unknown"); the unused portions of Episodes 3 and 4 are believed to have been destroyed. The 2012 DVD release featured a reconstruction of the episodes as originally intended by adding the deleted scenes using CGI, footage from elsewhere in the serial, and re-recorded dialogue from Carole Ann Ford, William Russell, and actors impersonating the rest of the cast. The reconstructions were directed by Ian Levine.
|Doctor||Season||Story No.||Serial||Lost Episodes||Tally|
|First Doctor||1||002||The Daleks (original version)||Episode 1 (remounted; original is missing, minus the reprise at the beginning of Episode 2)||1|
|2||009||Planet of Giants (original version)||Episodes 3–4 (these two episodes were edited together into a single episode for broadcast; only the original, unaired versions are missing)||2|
Note that on occasion some broadcasters purchased Doctor Who telerecordings (usually 16 mm) but subsequently cancelled the order.
|Trinidad & Tobago||TTT|
In the years since the BBC archive was first audited in 1978, a number of episodes then absent have been returned from various sources. An appeal to broadcasters in other countries who had shown the programme (notably Australia and African nations such as Nigeria) produced "lost" episodes from the archives of their television companies. The Tomb of the Cybermen, for example, was recovered in this manner from Rediffusion Television in Hong Kong in 1992. Of the total of 50 episodes recovered since the original BBC audit of its holdings, 25 have been returned from broadcasters overseas:
|Country/Territory||Total episodes returned|
Shortly after the junking process came to an end and the Corporation was first taking stock of how much material was missing from its archives, inquiries were made to the National Film and Television Archive, held by the British Film Institute, as to whether they held any copies of BBC programmes which the BBC did not. These inquiries resulted in the return of three complete Second Doctor serials – The Dominators, The Krotons, and The War Games. These were all standard 16mm film telerecordings with the exception of The Dominators Episode 3, which was a 35mm print.
Episodes 4 and 5 of The Dominators originated from a foreign broadcaster and had been slightly edited; the missing material was subsequently restored, either from copies held by private collectors or through the discovery of censor clips.
When the archive was first checked in 1978, 47 episodes were held by the BBC Film Library in addition to those still held by BBC Enterprises. These Film Library copies were a combination of random viewing prints created for various episodes down the years which had subsequently found their way into the Library's holdings, and seven of the nine episodes which had originally been telerecorded onto film for editing and/or transmission, rather than recorded onto videotape. These film-recorded masters had been stored in the Film Library, rather than in the Engineering Department with the videotapes.
However, despite the Film Library's remit, not all of these originally film-recorded episodes exist. On the other hand, there were also some unexplained items in the Library, such as 16mm copies of The Tenth Planet Episodes 1–3, presumably viewing prints which were mistakenly returned to them at some point instead of BBC Enterprises. Most surprisingly of all, they also still held a 16mm telerecording copy of the original untransmitted pilot, presumably a viewing print made in 1963 and subsequently lodged at the Library.
The Film Library also held high-quality original film sequences made for insertion into videotaped episodes. Some of these, such as those from Episodes 1–2 of The Daleks' Master Plan, survive to this day. For many years it was rumoured among Doctor Who fans that some film inserts were considered to be of lesser value than complete programmes and were junked as late as the early 1980s. However, this was inaccurate speculation based on data relating to already-destroyed material which had been mistakenly entered into a film library computer system.
Some of the surviving episodes were always held at the BBC, although the Corporation was not necessarily aware of this. In August 1988, Episodes 1 and 4–6 of the six-part story The Ice Warriors, which up to that point had been completely missing, were discovered in a cupboard at Villiers House when the Corporation was in the process of moving out of the building.
Episodes have also been returned by private film collectors who had acquired 16 mm copies from various sources.
Roger Stevens was working for the BBC as a film editor in the 1980s and one morning he was traveling to work by train, when he bumped into a BBC co-worker and they began to talk about Doctor Who episodes. The BBC projectionist mentioned that he had nine episodes of Doctor Who that Stevens could buy for £25. In the summer of 1981, Stevens bought The Space Museum episode one, The Abominable Snowmen episode two, The Moonbase episode four, Invasion of the Dinosaurs episode one, and three episodes of Carnival of Monsters. Stevens then contacted Ian Levine to find out what was missing from the BBC archive, Levine confirmed that The Abominable Snowmen episode two and Invasion of the Dinosaurs episode one were currently missing.
Stevens gave these prints to Levine and in February 1982 The Abominable Snowmen was returned to the BBC by Levine, although he held back Invasion of the Dinosaurs from the BBC for a while. This was later returned to the BBC by Levine in June 1983, who then made a copy and returned the original to Levine.
The Reign of Terror was recovered by Bruce Campbell when he attended a film fair in the 1980s and began chatting to a stall holder who informed him that one of his regular customers had in their possession The Reign of Terror episode six. Campbell got in contact with the customer, bought the missing episode for £50 and then in May 1982 donated it to the BBC through Ian Levine.
The Doctor Who Magazine (April 1984, issue 87) ran a story about a rumour of a missing Doctor Who episode that was in Portsmouth and this lead to The Wheel in Space episode three being returned to the BBC in April 1984 by David Stead to allow for a copy to be made. The original was returned to Stead and released on VHS in 1992 with poor results. Later the print was borrowed again and a new copy made using D3 videotape. Stead recollects that he purchased the episode for £15.
In December 1983, film collector Gordon Hendry purchased two film cans that were labelled as episodes of Doctor Who for £8 each at a car boot sale. The purchase of the two films was out of mild curiosity for the programme, as Hendry was unaware that the two episodes, 16mm telerecordings of episode 3 of The Faceless Ones and episode 2 of The Evil of the Daleks, were not only missing from the BBC archive, but as rare as they were (only a single episode of The Faceless Ones, and none at all of The Evil of the Daleks, were in existence at that time). Once this was clear, copies were immediately returned to the BBC.
The Crusade episode 1 was acquired by collector Bruce Grenville at a New Zealand film fair in 1998. Grenville had bought the 16mm film from a stall that contained other material that had been rescued from a rubbish tip. Although The Crusade was never actually shown in New Zealand, the 16mm film of episode 1 was never returned to the BBC or destroyed by the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. The episode was eventually returned to the BBC in January 1999.
In December 2011, Galaxy 4 episode 3 and The Underwater Menace episode 2 (the only extant episode from the former and one of two from the latter) were returned to the BBC by Terry Burnett, a former ITV engineer who had purchased them in the mid-1980s without realising that the BBC did not hold copies. Both had been previously returned from Australia to the BBC and disposed of, but were presumably rescued from destruction by a Doctor Who enthusiast.
The Daleks' Master Plan was a serial which was never sold abroad. Only Australia ever requested viewing copies (except for Episode 7, "The Feast of Steven"), eventually electing not to purchase the serial. It is unknown what happened to these viewing copies.
Nevertheless, 16mm copies of three episodes have been recovered. Episodes 5 and 10 came from an ex-BBC property which had been purchased by an LDS Church group in the early 1980s, who had come across the films when tidying the basement and subsequently offered them back to the Corporation. Episode 2 was returned in 2004 by former BBC engineer Francis Watson, who had taken the film home in the early 1970s after being instructed to dispose of junk material from a projector testing room at the BBC's Ealing Studios; instead of throwing the film away, Watson kept it and eventually returned it to the Corporation when he realised the value of the material.
Following months of rumours, a BBC press conference in October 2013 announced that a total of 11 episodes (two of which had previously existed in the BBC archives) had been found by Philip Morris from Television International Enterprises Archives at a television relay station in the city of Jos in Nigeria: episodes 1-6 of The Enemy of the World and episodes 1, 2, and 4-6 of The Web of Fear. The return of the nine missing episodes is the largest single recovery of Doctor Who episodes in 25 years. The discovery made The Enemy of the World the second Troughton serial from his first two seasons as the Doctor to be fully restored to the BBC. Both serials were promptly released on iTunes, with episode 3 of The Web of Fear included as a tele-snap reconstruction. The Enemy of the World was released on BBC DVD on 25 November 2013, and The Web of Fear on 24 February 2014.
Nigerian television has been a fruitful source for the recovery of missing episodes, as a total of 15 out of the 50 episodes recovered since 1978 have been obtained from Nigeria, which has led to three serials (The Time Meddler, The War Machines and The Enemy of the World) once again being complete in the BBC Library.
Some portions of the overseas copies were physically excised prior to transmission in the 1960s by the Australian and New Zealand censors for being too violent or frightening for the programme's early time slot and younger audience. Hence, episodes recovered from these sources are missing these segments.
In October 1996, Australian Doctor Who fans Damian Shanahan and Ellen Parry discovered a collection of the censored clips—several from missing episodes which do not exist in their entirety—in the records of the National Archives of Australia. The clips had been sent by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board (now the Classification Board) to the Archives as evidence of the required edits having been made. These clips were of later William Hartnell stories (such as The Smugglers) and Patrick Troughton stories (such as The Macra Terror and Fury from the Deep). In an interview for the fanzine The Disused Yeti, Shanahan stated that although he and Parry had found paper records relating to the censoring of early William Hartnell stories (such as Marco Polo and The Reign of Terror), the actual film had been destroyed some time prior to Shanahan and Parry's investigation.
Small excerpts have also been recovered on 8mm cine film taken by a fan in Australia, who filmed certain scenes directly from a television screen during repeat showings of various episodes (including some that are intact); the clips from missing episodes range from Episode 4 of The Reign of Terror to Episode 2 of The Faceless Ones.
Clips from missing episodes have appeared in other Doctor Who serials. Episode 2 of The Daleks used a prefilmed reprise from the original recording of Episode 1, which later had to be remounted; the original version of Episode 1 is presumed to have been destroyed.
A brief clip from Episode 4 of The Crusade was discovered to exist when fans who had an audio recording of that episode noted an off-camera cough that was also heard at the very beginning of The Space Museum. Episode 1 of the latter serial began with the characters in period costume, briefly frozen in place, proving that it was a filmed insert from the previous (and currently missing) episode.
Clips from Fury from the Deep (the TARDIS landing on the sea in Episode 1) and The Wheel in Space (a model shot from Episode 1) were discovered to have been used in Episode 10 of The War Games.
A short clip from the end of The Evil of the Daleks episode 1 was found to have been used in The Wheel in Space episode 6 when it was discovered that the clip, previously thought to have been from the reprise in the existing episode 2 of Evil, contained three frames not present in the reprise.
Clips from some missing episodes also survive where they were used in other programmes, with these other shows surviving. For example, scenes from the missing Episode 4 of The Daleks' Master Plan exist through a 1973 edition of Blue Peter, while an Australian programme called Perspective: C for Computer yielded extracts from The Power of the Daleks.
A lengthy excerpt from the 1965 serial Galaxy 4 was returned by Doctor Who fan Jan Vincent-Rudzki in the 1990s. The sequence had originally been taken from a viewing print of Episode 1 by the production team working on a 1977 Doctor Who documentary, Whose Doctor Who. After they had selected the short clip they wished to use from the extract, they discarded the rest; Vincent-Rudzki, who was working as an adviser to the production team, was allowed to keep the film. At a total of 5m 53s, this is the longest piece of existing footage from an otherwise missing episode, accounting for a quarter of the total running time.
Behind-the-scenes footage was discovered for The Smugglers, The Evil of the Daleks, The Abominable Snowmen, and Fury from the Deep. Also from the latter serial was some raw footage from the filming of Episode 6, featuring some alternate camera angles from what was eventually broadcast; despite the alternate angles, the "Lost in Time" DVD boxset edited the trims and added the extant audio to present as footage from the episode. (The original film trims were also included on the same disc.)
In 2005, two further short clips from The Power of the Daleks – along with a higher-quality version of one of the extant scenes – were discovered in a 1966 episode of the BBC science series Tomorrow's World. The clips, lasting less than 10 seconds each and on film (as opposed to film recordings), only came to light when the Tomorrow's World segment was broadcast as part of the 11 September 2005 edition of the clip-based nostalgia show Sunday Past Times on BBC Two. Several sharp-eyed fans noticed that these clips were not among those already known to be extant in the archives and informed the Corporation. Paul Vanezis from the Doctor Who Restoration Team managed to track down the uncut version of the clip.
Though numerous episodes are still missing, full-length audio soundtracks for all missing episodes are held by the BBC. These come from off-air recordings made by fans, often made by use of a microphone placed close to the television set. While the quality of these off-air recordings varies greatly, multiple fan recordings exist for every episode; this has allowed groups such as the Doctor Who Restoration Team to compile "remastered" soundtracks for CD releases of the missing episodes. BBC Audio has also released a number of these recordings since the early 1990s, with added narration to describe visual sequences. The only known missing piece of audio is from The Abominable Snowmen episode 2, in which the Doctor's dialogue briefly cuts out for a few seconds on both the existing print of the episode, and the off-air recordings - proving that this was a fault with the transmission master of the episode.
On 30 August 2010 BBC Audiobooks released a 12-CD boxset "Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection One: (1964–1965)". The boxset contains the 25 audio soundtracks of the missing episodes that aired from 1964 to 1965. Following the release of the first CD boxset a second was released 14 February 2011 which contained missing episodes from the years 1965–66; it also includes the Archive on 4 documentary, "Doctor Who - The Lost Episodes". Then a third CD boxset was released 4 August 2011 that contained missing episodes from 1966 to 1967. A fourth was also released 2 February 2012 and contained the remaining missing episodes from 1967. And a fifth and final box set was released on 2 August 2012 which contains the last remaining missing episodes, from 1967 to 1969.
These box sets also contain the original (high quality scanned) camera scripts in PDF format.
When the BBC's complete holdings (both the BBC Film & Videotape Library and BBC Enterprises) were first audited in 1978, the following 50 episodes were absent from their collective archives, but have subsequently been returned to the Corporation via the various methods described above. The nine stories have all episodes existing as a result. Except where indicated, all episodes were returned as 16 mm telerecording negatives or prints.
|Doctor||Season||Story no.||Serial||Number of episodes||Returned episodes||Recovered from||Total recovered||Total episodes in archive|
|First||1||008||The Reign of Terror||6||Episodes 1, 2, 3 & 6||Cyprus||PIK (ep. 1-3)[a]||1985||4||4|
|United Kingdom||Private collector (ep. 6)||1982|
|2||014||The Crusade||4||Episode 1||New Zealand||Private collector||1999||1||2|
|017||The Time Meddler||4||Episodes 1, 3 & 4||Nigeria||NTV||1985||3||4|
|3||018||Galaxy 4||4||Episode 3||United Kingdom||Private collector||2011||1||1|
|021||The Daleks' Master Plan||12||Episodes 2, 5 & 10||United Kingdom||Private collector (ep. 2)||2004||3||3|
|LDS Church (ep. 5 & 10)||1983|
|024||The Celestial Toymaker||4||Episode 4||Australia||ABC||1984||1||1|
|027||The War Machines||4||All 4 episodes||Nigeria||NTV (ep. 1, 3, 4)||1985||4||4|
|Australia||ABC (ep. 2)||1978|
|First Doctor Totals||7 serials||17 episodes|
|Second||4||032||The Underwater Menace||4||Episode 2||United Kingdom||Private collector||2011||1||2|
|035||The Faceless Ones||6||Episode 3||United Kingdom||Private collector||1987||1||2|
|036||The Evil of the Daleks||7||Episode 2||United Kingdom||Private collector||1987||1||1|
|5||037||The Tomb of the Cybermen||4||All 4 episodes||Hong Kong||ATV||1991||4||4|
|038||The Abominable Snowmen||6||Episode 2||United Kingdom||Private collector||1982||1||1|
|039||The Ice Warriors||6||Episodes 1, 4, 5 & 6||United Kingdom||BBC[b]||1988||4||4|
|040||The Enemy of the World||6||Episodes 1, 2, 4, 5 & 6||Nigeria||NTV||2013||5||6|
|041||The Web of Fear||6||Episodes 1, 2, 4, 5 & 6||Unknown||Unknown (ep. 1)[c]||5||5|
|Nigeria||NTV (ep. 2, 4, 5, 6)||2013|
|043||The Wheel in Space||6||Episode 3||United Kingdom||Private collector||1984||1||2|
|6||044||The Dominators||5||Episode 3[d]||United Kingdom||BFI||1978||1||5|
|047||The Krotons||4||Episode 4||United Kingdom||BFI||1978||1||4|
|050||The War Games||10||Episodes 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 & 10||United Kingdom||BFI||1978||6||10|
|Second Doctor Totals||12 serials||31 episodes|
|Third||11||071||Invasion of the Dinosaurs||6||Part 1 (entitled Invasion)||United Kingdom||Private collector||1983||1||6|
|072||Death to the Daleks||4||Part 1[e]||Canada||Unknown TV station (as NTSC)||1981||1[f]||4|
|Dubai||Dubai 33 (as PAL)||1991[g]|
|Third Doctor Totals||2 serials||2 episodes|
|Totals||21 serials||50 episodes|
Of the 50 recovered episodes, several have short segments missing from them due to either overseas censorship or damage to the film print of the episode. The following table shows all the episodes affected, along with the duration of the missing material.
|Doctor||Story no.||Serial||Number of episodes||Total footage missing from recovered episodes (mm:ss)||Recovered episodes with missing footage||Reason for missing footage||Total missing footage|
|First||017||The Time Meddler||4||00:12||Episode 4||Overseas censorship||00:12|
|018||Galaxy 4||4||00:27||Episode 3||Film damage||00:27|
|024||The Celestial Toymaker||4||Unknown||Episode 4||Unknown||Unknown|
|027||The War Machines||4||01:08||Episode 3||Overseas censorship||01:00|
|Episode 4||Overseas censorship||00:08|
|First Doctor Totals||4 serials||>1 minute 47 seconds|
|Second||032||The Underwater Menace||4||00:02||Episode 2||Film damage||00:02|
|035||The Faceless Ones||6||00:20||Episode 3||Film damage||00:20|
|Second Doctor Totals||2 serials||0 minutes 22 seconds|
|Totals||6 serials||>2 minutes 9 seconds|
Of the 26 serials that have one or more episodes missing, a total of 17 have had short clips recovered outside of any complete episodes that have been returned to the BBC from the various sources outlined. This includes 7 serials that do not have any episodes currently in the BBC archive (these serials are in the table below). The following table shows all of the footage that has been recovered, together with which episodes are affected, the format and the source of recovery.
|Doctor||Season||Story no.||Serial||Number of episodes||Total footage remaining from missing episodes (mm:ss)||Missing episodes with recovered footage||Recovered from|
|Country/Territory||Source||Format||Total footage (mm:ss)|
|First||1||008||The Reign of Terror||6||00:21||Episode 4||Australia||Private individual||8mm cine||00:10|
|3||018||Galaxy 4||4||06:03||Episode 1||Australia||Private individual||8mm cine||00:10|
|United Kingdom||Private collector||16mm telerecording||05:23|
|020||The Myth Makers||4||00:56||Episode 1||Australia||Private individual||8mm cine||00:21|
|021||The Daleks' Master Plan||12||04:19||Episode 1||United Kingdom||BBC||35mm film insert||01:43[ii]|
|Episode 3||16mm telerecording||01:38[iii]|
|026||The Savages||4||00:44||Episode 3||Australia||Private individual||8mm cine||00:03|
|4||028||The Smugglers||4||00:47||Episode 1||Australia||National Archives||16mm telerecording||00:23|
|029||The Tenth Planet||4||01:18||Episode 4||Australia||Private individual||8mm cine||00:51|
|United Kingdom||BBC||16mm telerecording||00:27[v]|
|First Doctor Totals||7 serials||14 minutes 28 seconds|
|Second||4||030||The Power of the Daleks||6||02:53||Episode 1||Australia||Private individual||8mm cine||00:35|
|United Kingdom||BBC||16mm telerecording||00:19[vi]|
|Episode 2||Australia||Private individual||8mm cine||00:24|
|Episode 4||Australia||ABC||16mm telerecording||00:10[vii]|
|United Kingdom||BBC||16mm film insert||00:21[viii]|
|Episode 5||Australia||ABC||16mm telerecording||00:18[ix]|
|United Kingdom||BBC||16mm film||00:40[x]|
|Episode 6||United Kingdom||BBC||16mm film||00:06[xi]|
|031||The Highlanders||4||00:13||Episode 1||Australia||National Archives||16mm telerecording||00:13|
|032||The Underwater Menace||4||00:17||Episode 1||Australia||National Archives||16mm telerecording||00:14|
|034||The Macra Terror||4||01:20||Episode 2||Australia||National Archives||16mm telerecording||00:26|
|Private individual||8mm cine||00:52|
|035||The Faceless Ones||6||00:03||Episode 2||Australia||Private individual||8mm cine||00:03|
|036||The Evil of the Daleks||7||00:03||Episode 7||United Kingdom||Private collector||16mm film||00:03|
|5||038||The Abominable Snowmen||6||00:08||Episode 4||United Kingdom||BBC||16mm film||00:08[xii]|
|042||Fury from the Deep||6||02:15||Episode 1||United Kingdom||BBC||16mm telerecording||00:19[xiii]|
|Episode 2||Australia||National Archives||00:54|
|043||The Wheel in Space||6||00:13||Episode 1||United Kingdom||BBC||16mm telerecording||00:04[xiv]|
|Episode 4||Australia||National Archives||00:03|
|Episode 5||New Zealand||Private collector||00:06|
|6||049||The Space Pirates||6||01:05||Episode 1||United Kingdom||BBC||35mm film insert||01:05[xv]|
|Second Doctor Totals||10 serials||8 minutes 30 seconds|
|Totals||17 serials||22 minutes 58 seconds|
While the original 625-line PAL videotapes of some serials starring Jon Pertwee were wiped for reuse and as a result a few episodes were only held as 16mm black-and-white telerecordings (until the 2013 colour release of The Mind of Evil, from which point all episodes have existed in colour), some colour versions survived in the form of 525-line NTSC colour videotapes that were sent for broadcasting overseas. In the early 1980s, some of these tapes were returned to the UK from the BBC's office in Toronto, Canada, including all seven episodes of Inferno (1970) just after it was aired in colour by CKVU in Vancouver; other colour material had been aired in the late 1970s by Toronto-based TV Ontario. As well as this, some off-air colour videotape copies recorded by an American for a British fan in the late 1970s were recovered in the early 1990s, and their colour signals were used (along with colourisation techniques where necessary) to colourise the higher-quality 16 mm monochrome film copies.
The serials that were restored in this way, and thus no longer incomplete in colour, were Doctor Who and the Silurians, Terror of the Autons, and The Dæmons. Off-air NTSC colour tapes are also held for all seven episodes of The Ambassadors of Death, but were considered to be too badly damaged to permit anything more than a partial restoration, with the cost of repair being prohibitive.
A new Reverse Standards Conversion process was used for the first time on the 2005 DVD release of The Claws of Axos. This process can be used on NTSC master tapes to restore them to something closer to their original PAL colour state. Another digital image processing technique used for the DVD releases is VidFIRE, which restores the fluid video look to telerecorded episodes only held on film.
In 2007, a working group was set up by James Insell, a preservation specialist at the BBC Archive, called the Colour Recovery Working Group to find new ways of restoring the colour to telerecordings that only existed in black and white. In 2008, a technique involving the use of chroma dots, developed by Richard Russell, a member of the group, was partly used, alongside other methods of colour recovery, to restore episode 3 of Planet of the Daleks. The same year, the chroma dot technique was used on an episode of Dad's Army, showing that it was possible to use it on entire recordings. Subsequently, chroma dots were used to restore the colour to episode 1 of Invasion of the Dinosaurs. Because this copy has only the information of two colours, the third (blue) was included manually. The DVD includes both the reconstructed colour and the black-and-white version. Episodes 2–4, 6, and 7 of The Ambassadors of Death and episodes 2–5 of The Mind of Evil have also been recolourised in this way; episode one of The Mind of Evil was recolourised manually by Stuart Humphryes and Peter Crocker.
In addition to recovered short video clips and audio soundtracks, there also exist still photographs taken off-screen by photographer John Cura. Cura was hired by the BBC, and independently by many actors and production staff, to document the transmission of many of their most popular programmes from the 1940s to the 1960s, including Doctor Who. These "tele-snaps" were generally used to promote BBC programmes and for actors, directors, and other production crew members to keep a visual record of their own work in the days before home video recorders. In many cases, they form the only visual record remaining of several Doctor Who serials and other missing episodes of many programmes.
Since the late 1990s, reconstructions of the missing serials have been made by fan groups such as Loose Cannon Productions, who distribute them free. These "recons" are based on the directors' original camera scripts, and use a combination of the surviving soundtracks, surviving footage, photographs, still images (especially Cura's tele-snaps) and specially-recreated material. Although technically infringing copyright, these recons have been tolerated by the BBC, provided they are not sold for profit and are only distributed in degradable, non-digital formats such as VHS.
"Official" high-quality reconstructions using the same methods were made for the BBC Video releases of The Ice Warriors (a 12-minute "highlights" reconstruction bridging the missing Episodes 2 and 3) and The Tenth Planet (a full reconstruction of the missing Episode 4). The DVD box set Doctor Who: The Beginning consisted of the first three serials and a 30-minute reconstruction of Marco Polo, of which absolutely no footage exists. The Doctor Who Restoration Team has hinted that similar reconstructions might be done in future.
In June 2005, BBC Audio began to release reconstructions as part of their "MP3 CD" line. Under the Doctor Who: Reconstructed banner, the CDs include the same audio portions as the previous audio CD releases, but are on a single disc with Macromedia Flash-animated and synchronised slideshow of tele-snaps and other (publicity) photographs. The surviving clips could not be included. The tele-snaps play in sequence when viewed on a computer, or a listener has the option to play the audio-only portion on an MP3-compatible CD or DVD player. The Power of the Daleks was the first and last such reconstruction to be released: a mooted release in this form of the following story, The Highlanders, did not go ahead, due to poor sales of the initial release.
Although it is not strictly a missing serial, production of the 1979 Tom Baker story Shada was curtailed by a technician's strike after several scenes had been completed. The half-finished material would usually have been junked as useless, but incoming Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner placed a preservation order on it, as he still hoped to salvage Shada as a finished production at a later date. The serial, which was written by Douglas Adams, was eventually released on video in 1992 with linking narration by Tom Baker. A clip from Episode 1 was used to allow the Fourth Doctor to appear in the 1983 story The Five Doctors after Tom Baker declined to reprise his role. Shada would later be released as an audio play with animation featuring the Eighth Doctor and produced by Big Finish Productions, broadcast from 2 May to 6 June 2003 on BBCi and later webcast on the BBC website, then (in a slightly different version) on the BBC7 Digital Radio Station in 2005 and 2006.
A telesnap-reconstruction of the 1965 serial Galaxy 4, incorporating animation and surviving clips of film, was included on the March 2013 release of The Aztecs Special Edition DVD to accompany the newly recovered episode from the serial, "Air Lock".
A telesnap reconstruction of Episode 3 of The Web of Fear was released alongside the rest of the serial on iTunes upon the announcement of the return of the missing episodes in October 2013. The serial was released with a reconstruction of Episode 3 on DVD in February 2014.
On 6 November 2006, The Invasion, an eight-episode Second Doctor serial of which six episodes survive in the archives, was released on DVD with the missing Episodes 1 and 4 animated by Cosgrove Hall, matched up with a newly remastered soundtrack created from the extant fan recordings. This was the first time whole episodes were completely restored to a release, with the intention that it serve as a prototype for future attempts to reconstruct full serials. On 2 June 2011, 2 Entertain announced on its @classicdw Twitter page that the missing episodes 4 and 5 of The Reign of Terror would be animated for its DVD release. A test still based on an available promotional shot was also revealed and the company announced the animators to be Big Finish and Planet 55 Studios, using the "Thetamation" process. It was released on 28 January 2013. On 15 February 2013, it was announced that Planet 55 would be used again to provide an animated version of Episode 4 of The Tenth Planet; the release date has been confirmed as 18 November 2013. It was then announced on 27 February that episodes 2 and 3 of The Ice Warriors would be animated by Qurios Entertainment for a 26 August 2013 DVD release. In April it was announced that episodes 1 and 3 of The Moonbase would be animated by Planet 55 for release on 21 October 2013; however, the release of The Moonbase was later put back to January 2014 to allow the animation work to be completed, with its place in the release schedule taken by The Tenth Planet. As of 2013, each DVD release is budgeted to allow for the reconstruction of up to 2 episodes using animation. In December 2013, it was confirmed that the missing episodes of The Underwater Menace would be animated by Planet 55; the release date is expected to be during 2014.
|Doctor||Season||Serial||Total Episodes||Missing Episodes||Animator||DVD Release|
|Region 2||Region 1||Region 4|
|William Hartnell||1||The Reign of Terror||6||2 (4,5)||Big Finish/Planet 55||28 January 2013||12 February 2013||6 February 2013|
|4||The Tenth Planet||4||1 (4)||Planet 55||14 October 2013||19 November 2013||30 October 2013|
|Patrick Troughton||The Underwater Menace||4||2 (1,4)||Planet 55||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|The Moonbase||4||2 (1,3)||Planet 55||20 January 2014||22 January 2014||11 February 2014|
|5||The Ice Warriors||6||2 (2,3)||Qurios Entertainment||26 August 2013||17 September 2013||28 August 2013|
|6||The Invasion||8||2 (1,4)||Cosgrove Hall||6 November 2006||6 March 2007||3 January 2007|
After The Invasion was released, despite its success, the cost of production of the animated episodes was deemed too high to do any more. However, in 2008, 2 Entertain were approached by David Busch of US animation studio Titmouse, Inc., who said that they would be able to do the work more cheaply as a result of the favourable exchange rate between the UK and the US, and put together a test trailer of scenes animated from various missing serials, including The Power of the Daleks, The Moonbase, The Macra Terror, The Web of Fear, and Fury from the Deep. While 2 Entertain decided not to commission anything from Titmouse, the trailer was eventually seen by Ian Levine, who offered to try and raise the money for a full episode reconstruction to serve as a prototype. The episode chosen was "Mission to the Unknown", as it was a self-contained episode featuring the Daleks with a limited number of characters and sets, thus keeping the budget down. Although completed, the animated version of "Mission to the Unknown" has never been officially released, although it has been posted on various video streaming sites.
With the advent of ever-more-powerful home computers and more specialist programs for them, many fans are also working on unofficial animations of the missing episodes, and this is widespread with many clips being shown online.
Although the BBC has invested in the reconstruction of episodes using animation, it has never attempted to do anything in the way of complete re-staging of missing episodes; the closest that it has come to this was the recreation of parts of various serials, including the completely missing Marco Polo, in the docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time produced for the 50th anniversary in 2013. However, in 2012 a reimagined version of The Power of the Daleks, written by, directed by, and starring Nick Scovell, was released on YouTube in three parts prior to being shown in its entirety at the Power:Reimagined convention in September 2012.
Surviving episodes which do not form complete stories – referred to as "orphan" episodes – have been released by the BBC in the following ways:
Starting in the early 1990s, the BBC began to release existing audio recordings of serials with all or a majority of episodes missing on audio cassette and compact disc, with linking narration provided by former series actors such as Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Colin Baker, Peter Purves, and Frazer Hines. Serials with only one or two episodes missing have also been released in complete soundtrack format. Some serials (such as The Evil of the Daleks) were re-released during this time with improved audio restoration, changed linking narration, and in some instances with scenes unavailable in the first release. Music clearance problems did, however, result in the Evil of the Daleks release not having some background compositions which played on its original soundtrack. These were replaced with more generic tracks.
By December 2005, the soundtracks for all of the missing episodes had been released, albeit with copyright-uncleared music replacements where necessary, slightly rejigged sequences for reasons of clarity, and with overdubbed narration.
All of the missing Doctor Who stories are represented by novelisations published by Target Books between 1973 and 1994.
The first issue of "Nothing at the End of the Lane" was July 1999 released and includes articles about fan-made reconstructions of the missing episodes, audio of missing episodes & the archive status of Seasons 1-3 footage.The second issue was released June 2005 and includes articles about John Cura who takes Tele-snaps of Doctor Who, recent discoveries of missing episodes, Junking of videotapes in the 1960s and 70's, a look at telerecordings & the archive status of Seasons 4-6 footage. The third issue was released January 2012 and includes articles about the 26 off-screen photographs taken by Chris Thompson (Production Designer) from the The Evil of the Daleks episode one and new location photographs.
A book written by Richard Molesworth, titled Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes, was released 30 September 2010 by Telos Publishing Ltd. A revised edition was published in March 2013, and is a guide to the wiping and subsequent return of missing episodes.
An issue of Doctor Who Magazine (#444), titled "How the Daleks Exterminated Doctor Who's History", was released 9 February 2012 and examines the overseas sales of the missing episodes and the chances of their survival. A special edition (#34) of Doctor Who Magazine, titled "The Missing Episodes – The First Doctor", was released 21 March 2013 and featured a 100-page guide that presents the First Doctor's missing episodes which exist in telesnap form and details how they came to be wiped. A further special edition (#35) of Doctor Who Magazine, titled "The Missing Episodes – The Second Doctor Volume 1", was released 11 July 2013 and featured a 116-page guide presenting the first six serials of the Second Doctor, which exist in telesnap form. Issue #466 was released 17 October 2013 and focus on the discovery of The Enemy of the World & The Web of Fear rediscovery by Philip Morris.