Bookmark and Share Radio Times and Mirror claim missing episode recoveries

10/06/2013 09:28:00 pm - Reported by Anthony Weight

The websites of the Radio Times magazine and the Daily Mirror newspaper in the UK have this evening published articles claiming that episodes of Doctor Who previously missing from the BBC's archives, starring Patrick Troughton as the Doctor and unseen in the UK since the 1960s, have been recovered and will be made available for sale in the UK via online download on Wednesday 9th October.

The news follows an article published by the Mirror's sister title, The People, this morning. While this earlier article contained the unlikely claim that all missing episodes of Doctor Who had been recovered from a station in Ethiopia, it follows months of speculation in fandom that a large number of episodes had been recovered, with many of the circulating rumours focusing on a recovery from Africa.

Officially, 106 of the 253 episodes of Doctor Who broadcast during the 1960s are missing, being wiped or junked due to the BBC's archiving policies of the 1960s and 70s. Since this policy changed in the late 1970s many episodes have been recovered, but there have been just four such recoveries in the past twenty years.

So far there is no official comment from the BBC on the articles published this evening, but the Radio Times - which was formerly owned by the Corporation, and has always had strong links with Doctor Who - claims:

BBC Worldwide will put two previously lost episodes from different stories – both believed to be from the Patrick Troughton era – for sale on digital platforms such as iTunes from Wednesday, RadioTimes.com understands.

They are believed to originate from a haul discovered in Africa and have been digitally remastered for sale, although exact details remain sketchy.

The Mirror article adds:

The 1960s programmes – featuring the first two Doctors William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton – vanished after the Beeb flogged off a load of old footage and wiped copies or lost them.

But the corporation’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide has now called a press conference and screening on Tuesday in a London hotel.

The invitation sent out had [t]he event details written inside the screen of a[n] old-fashioned sixties style television set, complete with a dial to tune in the channels, seeming to hint at the type of news to come.

Journalists will be told exactly which old footage has been recovered, with some of it then broadcast on screen to watch.

Doctor Who News cannot confirm any episode recoveries, only that the Radio Times and the Mirror are reporting the news. We will continue to monitor the story and bring you updates as we have them.

UPDATE I - 9am BST, MONDAY 7th OCTOBER: RadioTimes.com has now amended its article, replacing the word "two" with "the" but retaining the word "both". The relevant paragraph now reads as follows: "BBC Worldwide will put the previously lost episodes from different stories - both believed to be from the Patrick Troughton era - for sale on digital platforms such as iTunes from Wednesday, RadioTimes.com understands." Please note that DWN does not know if this now means that a number of missing episodes from two stories will be made available.

UPDATE II - 5.40pm BST, MONDAY 7th OCTOBER: According to The Mirror a short while ago, the press conference has been postponed to the end of this week, with the episodes' availability also delayed. It quotes a BBC spokesman as saying the episodes were "not quite ready". It also says a BBC spokesman had played down the reports of 100-plus episodes having been discovered, stating that they were inaccurate. However, The Mirror added that when the spokesman was asked if some episodes would be announced this week, he said: "There is a connection." In addition, RadioTimes.com has amended its piece again, to say: "Originally the BBC had scheduled a Wednesday release but now sources confirm that the date is likely to be later this week. A reason has not been given, but sources are adamant that the release will be this week."