It’s almost a year since Radio Times.com broke the full story of the return of two long-lost episodes of 1960s Doctor Who. RT’s own historian, Ralph Montagu, located the film prints in a private collection and they were screened last December to an excited audience at London’s BFI.
Their discovery brought down the tally of missing episodes from 108 to 106. We said at the time that more could be out there. Now, as anticipation builds for the programme’s 50th anniversary in November 2013, Radio Times is launching a campaign to find more lost classics starring William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton as the first two Doctors.
To be clear: none of the original 1960s videotapes are known to have survived. They were reused for other programmes or junked. However, film copies were made for foreign sales. Many of these the BBC retained. Some have been recovered from other archives, TV stations and private collections – in Britain and throughout the world.
Episodes have returned from Nigeria, Singapore and as far away as New Zealand. A few film cans have turned up in the most extraordinary places. Two episodes of The Daleks’ Master Plan surfaced in the basement of a Mormon church in south London! And over the decades, rumours have abounded that more are just waiting to be discovered.
"Two years ago," says Ralph, "many believed that the chances of finding any more missing episodes had dwindled to almost nothing. Surely, we thought, after so much publicity, anyone with a missing episode would have come forward. But the discovery I made last year taught us that missing gems from television's past can be found in the collections or even the attics of people who don't understand the significance of what they've got."
He believes the possibility of further finds should not be ruled out, for Doctor Who and other lost TV classics. "Keep looking, keep asking, and get in touch with us if you think you have something of interest."
Here's RT's checklist of all 106 lost episodes
If you have any useful information, please contact RT at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will forward it to our contacts at the BBC. They and the Time Lord's fans will be delighted to hear from you.
Patrick Mulkern’s wishlist
Any new discovery would be amazing, but these two episodes come top of my list…