Mission to the Unknown

Remade Doctor Who lost episode ‘Mission to the Unknown’ delivered to BBC by university

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Students, pros remake lost Doctor Who episode ‘Mission to the Unknown’

An English university’s re-creation of a missing classic Doctor Who episode has been completed and given to the BBC, which famously wiped the story and many others from its early archives.

“Mission to the Unknown,” a Doctor-less episode from the epic “Daleks Master Plan” arc of 1965-66, was re-staged by students at the University of Central Lancashire.

Andrew Ireland, pro vice chancellor for digital and creative industries at the school, announced on Twitter Sunday night that “as of today the BBC now has a complete live-action recreation” of “Mission to the Unknown.”

The re-creation got help from Peter Purves, the actor who played the Doctor’s companion Steven Taylor in 1965-66, the era of the lost episode “Mission to the Unknown.” When filming was announced, he said “it is hoped the BBC will release it on DVD.” Nicholas Briggs, voice of the Daleks in the Big Finish Audio spinoffs as well as the modern era of Doctor Who on television, was also involved; The Daleks feature significantly, among other strange aliens to stretch these students’ cosmic costume crafting skills, in this story, a “cutaway” episode-cum-introduction to the massive 12-part epic “The Daleks Master Plan,” which is also missing in large part except for a third of its episodes and all surviving audio (recently announced for a vinyl release).

The Daleks’ Master Plan, epic lost Doctor Who serial, comes to vinyl

In a fresh response to a reply asking Ireland when it would be seen on DVD/Blu-ray, the educator replied: “The BBC will decide the ‘if, how and when’ of releasing the episode.

“I hope they do some day!” he added. “I think live action remakes are a viable, authentic and exciting way of bringing missing episodes back to life…”

Over to you, BBC …

“Mission” is also known for being the only episode of Doctor Who, perhaps ever, to not include either the Doctor himself or his companions at the time (such as Purves’ Steven Taylor).

These gaps in the archive are just one example of the BBC’s shortsighted policy of wiping recordings from their archives — mostly William Hartnell’s First Doctor and Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor — before the phenomenon of home media was foreseen.

Remaking a Doctor Who episode that lacked its star — in this case, Hartnell — is relatively easy, but there are ways to get around that obstacle — David Bradley recently stood in for the original actor in the newer series, and also has played the role in Big Finish audios.

In recent years, a variety of methods have been used to re-create some of the lost content, from audio tracks with still photos in place of full-motion video to, recently, more sophisticated animation.

Whether they release it to the public or not, the BBC now has “Mission” back — let’s hope they can keep it around a while longer this time, eh?


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Jayson Peters
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