So, will there be an extra special birthday present for Doctor Who fans later this year?
If the show’s 50th anniversary is not enough, there are rumours that a stash of 90 missing episodes from the 1960s have been found which would surely be enough to keep even the most ardent Whovian happy for a long time.
One secret to this apparent riddle, those in the know tell me, is the work of a company called Television International Enterprises Archives which is apparently run by a man called Phil Morris.
The company calls itself the “world’s foremost archive recovery company” and has as its motto “Preserving the past for a better future”.
Morris has allegedly been travelling the globe looking for missing gems of UK TV. It is no secret that the BBC, keen to recycle expensive tape in the1960s, wiped many episodes. Some have been found, in lofts and skips. But some were sold to other countries and according to the rumours, Morris, a diligent enthusiast of British TV, and especially Doctor Who by all accounts, has found many hours of material in, of all places, Sierra Leone.
Apparently, the BBC shipped the shows there for broadcast and while they should have been destroyed once the licence ran out, they are still in good nick. Allegedly.
Does he have them?
I have left messages with Morris but so far have not heard back. He has set up a Facebook page which this month discloses that it has found an episode of The Sky At Night. Bar a few jokes from friends about finding Doctor Who he writes nothing about missing Doctor Who episodes.
Is the BBC in touch with him?
It won’t say, but a spokeswoman appears to pour cold water on the possibility.
“There are always rumours and speculation about Doctor Who missing episodes being discovered – however we cannot confirm any new finds,” a statement says.
Can’t confirm? What does that mean? Does this meant that it may be true but they can’t confirm or that the can’t confirm because they have no information to this effect? Can they not confirm because it isn’t true?
“We can’t confirm because it’s not true as far as I’m aware,” the spokeswoman adds.
But are they talking to Morris? Or anyone with lost episodes.
“I don’t think so?”
So there are no episodes?
“Not as far as we know.”
So there we have it.
As one superfan tells the Radio Times: “Until these things turn up it is best to believe that nothing exists.”
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.