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More Lost DOCTOR WHO Episodes May Have Turned Up

It’s become so prevalent in fandom that it’s become known as “The Ominrumour,” but this weekend at Gallifrey One’s now-compulsory missing episodes panel, it was intimated that the likelihood of there being more of the currently-missing episodes of the 50-year-old sci-fi program is quite high. Not that all of the 97 episodes were found, nor even most, just that it is extremely likely, given the evidence at hand, that SOME of these episodes probably aren’t missing anymore.

To fill people in with a bit of backstory – for years there has been a search through the corners of the globe and the markets where the BBC distributed copies of its programs for episodes of Doctor Who and other programs to be returned to the archive. Last year, it was announced that a man named Philip Morris, who had been spearheading this search in African nations, had recovered a huge stockpile of film canisters, and it was believed that Doctor Who was among them. In October, the news was released that some episodes had been found in this stockpile, and a couple of days later it was announced that nine episodes were recovered, comprising all five missing episodes of the story “The Enemy of the World” and four out of the five missing episodes of “The Web of Fear,” consecutive stories featuring Patrick Troughton.

Since then, the rumor mill has been churning extra hard, and many forums fumed that Morris had more episodes but was holding on to them (some claim he’s holding them hostage) and others that the BBC and the Restoration Team know of or are even working on these episodes but aren’t announcing them. At the panel on Saturday, a founding member of the Restoration Team, Steve Roberts, read out a list of these rumors and put them to rest by pretty much categorically saying they are false, quoting his grandmother by calling them “a pile of old bollocks.” He also read a letter written by the notoriously mercurial Morris stating essentially that they’re still in the process of looking through things but ended by saying, “Expect the unexpected.”

Marco Polo 2

What exactly Morris has is unclear; however, the likelihood of their being at least some of the episodes remains quite high. Roberts said in this panel, as well as on a panel about the 1960s that I myself was on, that the most likely candidate for having been found is the 1964 story “Marco Polo,” the fourth serial and currently the only story missing from the show’s first season. The reasons for this probability is that ten copies were struck for international use, meaning many more chances for it to have made its way to Nigeria in the shipment found by Morris. Roberts also said that when the film of found Troughton episodes were put through the cleaning process, it was clear that Morris had done nothing to them, not watched them or handled them in any way.

To reiterate, neither Morris in his letter, Roberts on any panel, nor anyone else with first hand knowledge is saying that anything has in fact been found, but it seems, if anything has, it’s probably “Marco Polo” and that it’s very likely. Whether that’s all six of that story’s missing episodes or a couple or just one, we’ll have to wait and see. Keep watching this space for more as this develops, but as Morris himself stated, “expect the unexpected.”

While the panel itself wasn’t recorded, many of the players including Roberts were interviewed by Radio Free Skaro if you’d like to hear more from the horse’s mouth.

As for the other two stories, both are available on iTunes now, and “The Web of Fear,” with the third episode reconstructed using telesnaps and off-air audio, will be on DVD (in a vanilla but cleaned up release) April 22nd, 2014.

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12 comments

  • Kyle, love when you post about Doctor Who, and I feel we aren’t too far from big news on the missing episodes front, so I’m excited to see you bringing it up here.
    One slight correction I’d like to point out, Marco Polo is seven episodes, not six.
    Keep up the good work.

  • author

    Jay, while I appreciate your caution regarding unwarranted rumor mongering, I didn’t print anything that wasn’t spoken by Roberts at the panels or the interview with RFS. He said he believes, but has no direct proof, that more episodes have been recovered by Morris and that if he has anything, it would be “Marco Polo.”

    While much of the Missing Episodes panel was about dispelling rumors, this bit, which is one person’s belief, was stated several times at different points throughout the weekend.

  • In defense of the writer, I will say that I was only in attendance for the “Sherlock Morris & the Case of the Missing Episodes” panel. Personally, I did not get the feeling that Steve Roberts was ever trying to state that the recovery of Marco Polo was “very likely”. Nevertheless, I did not get to see the ’60s panel nor have I heard his interview yet with Radio Free Skaro, so maybe he had a more positive outlook on the subject.

    One last thing though… Steve Roberts was asked during the panel I attended if he felt that online speculation and rumor-based articles does anything to hurt the ongoing searches made by people like Philip Morris. His answer was a resounding “yes.” He stated that with people like Morris, those type of articles can be rather upsetting and it’s best just to leave them to their work.

  • I was at that particular Gallifrey panel this past weekend and I have to say this article is relaying a different message than what I took from that panelist discussion. Greg Bakun, Jon Preddle, Steve Roberts, and Damian Shanahan spent most of the hour relating all of the false leads, dead ends, and unhelpful rumors that have popped up over the past year or two. In fact, they state that many of the recovered episodes ended up being found in locations that go against the established research they had been doing at the time.

    Now, when it comes to this enigmatic figure named Philip Morris, I believe the phrase used at the panel was “he plays his cards close to the vest (or chest).” The panelists stated several times that they have no idea if Morris has any more missing episodes of Doctor Who. According to one of the panelists, the only lost episode Morris indicated that he believed to also be in his possession is the one remaining missing episode of Web of Fear, but then went on to state that Morris can’t currently locate it.

    Although I am personally hopeful that more episodes will be found in the near future, I again have to state that I feel this article is being slightly more optimistic than the overall tone and message of the panel.

  • SQUEE! I can’t wait to see what’s been recovered (if anything has). I’m a bit of an OCD Completionist so this would make my day to fill in the gaps (I watched the audio recording set to production stills of that missing episode from the first season and despite the introduction by the fellow who played Marco Polo I would have liked to have seen it in it’s glory).