Doctor Who classic The Smugglers gets colour revamp - first look
Never-before-seen colourised clips will premiere at the BFI's Missing Believed Wiped event.
The four-parter – Hartnell's penultimate adventure as the First Doctor – was originally aired in black-and-white, but excerpts from the story have been newly colourised by TV archivists Kaleidoscope.
RadioTimes.com has exclusive first-look images from the colourisation, with the clips set to be screened for the first time at the BFI's Missing Believed Wiped on 5th August.
"We always wondered: what would Doctor Who look like in colour?" said Chris Perry, Kaleidoscope CEO. "It was made in colour but shown in black-and-white. So we went back to original production photos shot on set and tried to match the colours to the recording."
Kaleidoscope collaborated with colourisation experts That's Chroma on the project, with The Smugglers being picked as the most viable candidate for the process.
"I was sent a list of potential clips, and out of those suggestions The Smugglers seemed the most achievable option – given a limited timeframe to work on it," said a That's Chroma spokesperson.
"The existence of some colour reference material, on-set production stills, was definitely a consideration too, and I also thought that out of the suggested clips, The Smugglers would work best in colour.
"Generally using 'original' colours (when known) presents no major difficulties. Occasionally some colours were deliberately 'wrong' on-set to look right in the black-and-white transmission which has to be taken into account.
"White objects in particular were frequently a pale colour other than white, as pure white tended to flare on the black-and-white cameras. It wasn't an issue with this particular material however."
That's Chroma believes that the colourisation process could be applied to full episodes in future, though stressed that the process is "quite difficult and very time consuming", with between 30-60 minutes spent working on each second of footage.
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"Entire episodes could certainly be colourised, given sufficient time and financial resource," they said.
Colourising episodes originally aired in black-and-white can sometimes be a divisive practice, with critics arguing that archive footage should be left untouched and viewed as intended – but That's Chroma has a clear retort to that suggestion. "People have been 'tinkering' with Doctor Who ever since Silver Nemesis was released as an extended version on VHS in 1993.
"Many of the DVD releases have new CGI effects or remixed 5.1 soundtracks – but these are always presented as optional alternatives, the episodes are always available as originally transmitted. Colourisation is much the same, it's an optional alternative but it's never meant to replace the originals. So if people don't like colourisations they have choice."
Kaleidoscope was founded in 1987 and specialises in locating previously missing, believed lost, television footage – the organisation has worked in partnership with the BFI since 1995 on the BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped initiative to recover, restore and return British television to the archives.
Alongside a screening of the colourised Doctor Who clips, the BFI's next annual Missing Believed Wiped event at BFI Southbank – celebrating 35 years of Kaleidoscope – will also showcase rare colour footage of a television performance by the Bee Gees, a previously-unheard interview with Jeremy Brett (star of ITV's Sherlock Holmes series, which aired from 1984 to 1994), episodes of Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock previously thought lost following their original broadcast in the 1980s, and the unaired pilot for Up the Toga, a US version of Frankie Howerd sitcom Up Pompeii, made in 1972 and believed lost for decades.
Tickets for the Missing Believed Wiped Special: Kaleidoscope at 35 – 5th August at BFI Southbank – are available now.