Hunting those missing Doctor Who episodes is dangerous work


Many of Doctor Who’s early episodes have been lost — a hazard with a 50-year-old television program. Considering that things we take for granted now like home media weren’t a part of broadcasters’ plans back then, we’re lucky to have as much as we do. Every so often rumors circulate about new recoveries — and rarely, like last year, we hear of larger finds.

These things don’t find themselves; there’s a lot of effort that goes into hunting down missing television episodes, all over the world.

I was struck by the dangers recounted in a post this weekend on Doctor Who News highlighting a Facebook Q&A hosted by the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group with Philip Morris, who arranged the return last year of nine missing episodes from the Patrick Troughton era of Doctor Who, including large parts of “The Enemy of the World” and “The Web of Fear”:

Morris told the group of the dangers inherent in searching unstable areas of the world for vintage television programmes, including encounters with bandits and armed militia and narrowly being missed by a mortar shell in Syria. But he said he had also been inspired by countries such as India, and Ethiopia, which are “nations of very innovative people who find the most amazing ways of doing things with little funding.”

The crux of Anthony Weight’s report on Doctor Who News was that Morris was rather coy about any other discoveries waiting to be announced, but if definitely sounds like there’s something out there, though he says there’s nothing due to be announced in the near future, and the BBC maintains that none of Doctor Who’s 97 missing episodes is back in their possession or currently being restored for release.

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