Lost Doctor Who episodes found, but collector fears reprisals.

Calls for an amnesty to avoid collectors facing any kind of reprisal for handing over long lost footage.

Two long lost Doctor Who episodes, with the first doctor William Hartnell, has been found in Britain but the keepers are reluctant to hand them over to the BBC for fear of reprisals.

The Guardian reports there hopes for an amnesty, citing the infamous arrest of comedian Bob Monkhouse in 1978 who was accused of pirating videos.

Mark Stuckey, a film and projector restorer who appears on the BBC’s The Repair Shop said, “These collectors were seen as criminals, but now we can see they are really saviours. An amnesty would stop them being frightened of prosecution.”

Until the recent discoveries, it was believed that a total of 97 Doctor Who episodes were missing from the show’s first six years. Chris Perry, head of the TV archive Kaleidoscope, has recently claimed that he knows of many in private archives that could be returned, with the right assurances.

Doctor Who‘s 60th Anniversary takes place in November.


9 Responses

  1. To think that the BBC were also going to wipe the Monty Python tapes back in the day just so that they could reuse them. Good thing the late Terry Jones stepped in at the eleventh hour to buy the tapes from them. Frankly, the BBC shouldn’t be entitled to profit from any materials that they previously deemed worthless, and I don’t blame the diligent collectors for their reluctance to simply hand over that which is now prized by fans and the BBC alike.

  2. I think these ‘collectors’ at least had the foresight to want to preserve these Dr.Who episodes that were destined to be destroyed by the BBC, so should be congratulated, especially by Dr.Who fans of a certain age. The BBC should also be grateful as well, retro 1960’s-70’s TV shows still create a lot of interest and can provide value for DVD collections, worldwide. Destroying historical artifacts was a reality in 1960’s austerity Britain, it was done mostly for cost cutting reasons, especially by industry, it’s only now with the realisation that national heritage is being surreptitiously threatened that artifacts from the past are finding value again. It’s noteworthy that social media are streaming a number of old British TV shows, some of which have been restored to HD quality, including some forgotten early Gerry Anderson products, which interested me.

    1. Most British shows can’t be “restored to HD quality” as the majority of them were shot on SD-quality videotape. Exteriors were often shot on film, but whether these elements have survived and are rescanned and repurposed for a new HD master will vary from show to show, and I don’t know of very many.

      Fawlty Towers has a Blu-ray release in the UK, but it seems to be a lazy upscaling of the old SD masters with no rescanning of the exteriors that were shot on film. Monty Python, however, has had its surviving film elements rescanned and edited back into the show, and those bits look bloody fantastic. Surprisingly, there’s also a Blackadder Blu-ray set coming out soon, and I’m very interested to see how that fares. I’ve also been rewatching AbFab lately, and there’s a fair bit of film-shot exteriors there too.

      And of course the classic Doctor Who Blu-ray collections are mere upscales from the surviving SD elements (with very little, if any, rescanned film elements).

      1. Hello Bad Hank, yes you are correct, 60’s and 70′ products are not going to look HD pristine but that doesn’t stop film enthusiasts using AI to increase the frame rate and improve picture clarity, some restored turn of last century movies have shown how impressive this type of restoration work can be. Based on Peter Jackson’s AI technology for restoring old film and VHF tape (including sound), AI will be adding to the visual and audio quality of old film and TV products in the future, but purists who want to keep things original may not be too keen on that idea.

  3. Isn’t there already an amnesty on this? multiple episodes have been returned by people who “stole” them back in the 1970’s, particularly the 2011 and 2004 finds.

  4. They aren’t missing they were destroyed by the BBC between 1972 and 1978. What survives of the early series are film transfers from other broadcasters and home audio recordings. They are of little interest to modern fans, who are watching a Disney+ show.

    1. I’m certainly not a Dr. Who fan – but can’t escape the endless newly animated versions of audio only “lost” episodes that are clearly selling well.

      Your internet bubble of life may be broadened someday.

    2. I know a lot of the prior missing episodes that then turned up, were indeed copies from around the empire that were never returned or destroyed (a couple came from the ABC archives). But I would say based on the quote in the article these are with former BBC employees.

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