Doctor Who archivist says there is hope for the 97 lost episodes

Fans must play a waiting game until private collectors are ready to share the "missing" instalments of Doctor Who

1963 William Hartnell

Some of the “lost” 97 episodes of Doctor Who could still be returned to the BBC, an expert has claimed – but we must bide our time until the secretive private collectors are ready.

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BBC Doctor Who archivist Paul Vanezis, who recovered four “missing” episodes in the 1980s, has revealed he knows where more of the remaining episodes are located.

Sadly for Whovians, the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton eras of the show were largely destroyed when the BBC had a spring clean of its archives in the 1970s. It was the age of colour television, and for some reason it was decided that nobody would want to watch the old black and white TV shows ever again.

But a few old episodes were saved and have found their way into private collections.

“There is absolutely no question that there are missing Doctor Who films out there with private film collectors,” Vanezis said in the Radio Free Skaro podcast.

“I know some of these collectors, and at some point they may be interested in handing over their films. But they’re not the kind of people that you should be pressuring to hand things over.”

Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor (BBC, HF)
Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor (BBC, HF)

He added: “There’s been a lot of criticism of film collectors by people who should really know better. Without them, these things would have been lost or destroyed years and years ago and the fact that they have survived and survived in good condition is because people have cared for them. We might not like it because we can’t see them but it’s not really for us to criticise them for preserving this material. one day we will get to see them.”

But don’t prepare yourself for a 97-episode Doctor Who marathon just yet.

The archivist clarified: “I don’t want to make this sound like there are lots of tins of missing Doctor Who out there that I know about. You know, we’re talking about one or two episodes. But they’re there and if something happens at some point in the future for them to be revealed then great.”

If it’s two episodes we’re talking about, they could be the ones that were borrowed from the archives by children’s show Blue Peter – and never returned. Those were episode four of The Daleks’ Masterplan, and episode four of The Tenth Planet.

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