For those who think Doctor Who started in 2005 this news will mean very little. In fact the very idea that film and television could be missing seems like a very alien concept in the days of on demand, catch up and D.V.Ds. However it is sadly the case that many programmes from before the mid 1970s had their original copies destroyed for storage reasons before anyone even considered how important these items were and also without checking if they had more than one copy.
Doctor Who is no different and before the weekend there were still over 100 missing episodes of 1960s Doctor Who and with the last proper discovery of a missing story being in the early noughties, hopes had waned as to whether any more would turn up and attention had turned to missing episodes being animated (The Invasion and also soon to be completed Reign of Terror). So it came as a great surprise at the annual BFI Missing Believed Wiped festival it was announced that two whole episodes had been recovered from a private collector.
Now it’s hard to put into words how exciting this is but if you consider how long fans have waited to see these stories and how much legend has built up around them then it’s not hard to see what all of the fuss is about. Both episodes are monumental finds with one being Galaxy Four part 3 (a story that had no surviving episodes and only had once 2 minute scene left from it) and the other, The Underwater Menace part 2 (an episode which can now be called the earliest surviving Second Doctor story). This in itself is amazing news considering Patrick Troughton’s (second Doctor) reign is not only one of the most highly regarded but is also the most decimated by missing episodes.
Though we may count ourselves lucky that Doctor Who is still on the air with yet another Christmas special on its way (something that even after close to seven years is still hard to get used to being a long term fan/geek) as fans we can count ourselves even more lucky that these episodes have finally been found and the old saying of “Christmas come early” really does apply.
The episodes still haven’t been given a release date but 2Entertain have hinted they intend to start planning on release ideas for 2012. Clips from episodes are availble to watch on the BBC website.