Friday, October 11, 2013

"One Day, I Shall Come Back"

In the BBC's 1998 documentary The Missing Years about missing-believed-wiped Doctor Who episodes, the record producer and Doctor Who fan Ian Levine stated that he believed there would never be fewer than one hundred and ten missing episodes of the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama. He then begged to be proved wrong. He was (and, one imagines, Ian will be as delighted as anyone else to have been), although up until earlier this week, only sightly: the then-current number of missing episodes having dropped to one hundred and six. Now, it's only - and this blogger says 'only' with some necessary irony - ninety seven. Thus, Halina Watts's alleged 'exclusive' in last Sunday's People - that one hundred and six missing episodes of Doctor Who had been found 'by dedicated fans in Ethiopia' - was correct in every single respect. Except the number of episodes found, the location of where they were found and, as we shall see, the identity of the person who found them. Jolly well done Halina - that's quality journalism, there. One trusts your parents are very proud of you.
So, just in case you've been living on Skaro for the last twenty four hours and hadn't heard the news, nine previously missing episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960s have been found at a local TV station in Nigeria, including most of the very highly regarded 1968 story The Web Of Fear. So, the Nigerians their very selves are currently top of every Doctor Who fan's Christmas card list, needless to say. The Web Of Fear sees Patrick Troughton's Doctor battling the robotic Yeti and their controller, The Great Intelligence, in the London Underground. Also recovered was a complete version of another Troughton six-part story from roughly the same vintage, The Enemy Of The World. It is the largest haul of missing episodes recovered in the last three decades - since, in fact, six William Hartnell episodes turned up, also in Nigeria, in 1984. 'It's thrilling,' said Mark Gatiss, the actor and scriptwriter for the Twenty First Century Doctor Who. 'Every single avenue seemed to have been exhausted, every now and then something turns up - but to have two virtually complete stories out of the blue is absolutely incredible. This is such a gift in this anniversary year - it's amazing timing.' Mark also claimed that the first episode of Sherlock's upcoming third series which he has written was, at least partly, inspired by his childhood memories of The Web Of Fear. 'I am obsessed with the Tube and I think it all comes from that story when I was a kid,' he said. 'The first episode of Sherlock is explicitly about the London Underground for exactly that reason - because I loved The Web Of Fear.' The BBC destroyed many of the popular long-running family SF drama's original transmission tapes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, for a variety of reasons (see below). However, most of the episodes were transferred to film for sale to foreign broadcasters and it is, usually, these prints, found in other countries, which are the source of any retrieved episodes. In this case, eleven Doctor Who episodes were discovered on sixteen millimetre film, nine of which were missing from the BBC's archives, in the Nigerian city of Jos. Which is, kind of, the West Hartlepool of Nigeria if you like. The find was made by Philip Morris, the director of a company called Television International Enterprises Archive. Philip said: 'The tapes had been left gathering dust in a storeroom at a television relay station in Nigeria. I remember wiping the dust off the masking tape on the canisters and my heart missed a beat as I saw the words, Doctor Who. When I read the story code I realised I'd found something pretty special.' He added that it had been a 'lucky' find given the high temperatures in the country. 'Fortunately they had been kept in the optimum condition.' Only episode three of The Enemy Of The World already existed in the BBC archive. The Nigerian discovery of episodes one, two, four, five and six completes the story. Episode one of fan-favourite The Web Of Fear still existed, with the rest thought to have been lost forever. Now episodes two, four, five and six have been recovered. Episode three is, sadly, still missing, but has been reconstructed from stills and an existent audio track to enable restored versions of both stories to be made available for sale via iTunes download on Friday. They will, presumably, be released on DVD at a later stage. The latest find means that the number of missing episodes of Doctor Who has dropped from one hundred and six to ninety seven. One episode from each of the recovered stories - both last seen in the UK in early 1968 - were shown at a special event in London on Thursday by BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm. Among the guests were the actors Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling, who played Troughton's TARDIS companions Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield in both of these stories. Episode one of The Enemy Of The World is a James Bond-style political espionage thriller complete with an exploding helicopter, a hovercraft, gun-toting henchmen and a foreign-accented villain, Salamander (also played by Troughton). The story opens with the TARDIS arriving on an Australian beach where The Doctor strips to his long-johns and goes for a dip in the sea. The Web Of Fear is a claustrophobic tale which sees The Doctor battling his old foe, The Great Intelligence and The Yeti in the tunnels of the underground. 'It's the quintessential Doctor Who story,' said Mark Gatiss. 'It has the return of The Abominable Snowmen in an iconic location.' He also said it showed Troughton 'at the height of his powers.' Frazer recalled that the underground station sets had been so realistic that London Transport accused the BBC of secretly filming at a real tube station without permission. The story also featured an appearance by Deborah Watling's real-life father Jack, reprising his role as Professor Travers from an earlier Yeti story and the first appearance of the popular character Colonel (later Brigadier) Lethbridge-Stewart played by the late Nicholas Country. Recalling Troughton's 'wonderful sense of humour' on set, Deborah said: 'We all got on so well, we were like a family and Pat was always to me like another dad or an uncle. We had a chemistry and I think it showed.' Asked how she felt when she heard about the recovery of the lost episodes, Debbie added: 'I couldn't quite believe it. There had been hoaxes before. I thought it was just another hoax.' Her only other complete story in the archive had been The Tomb Of The Cybermen, itself long thought lost until all four episodes were discovered in Hong Kong in 1991. Frazer said: 'This now gives me hope that more stories of Patrick's will come out of the woodwork.' Indeed, rumours continue to circulate that a number of other vintage Doctor Who episodes - as well as missing episodes from other classic BBC series such as Dad's Army - have also recently been returned to the BBC and will be unveiled in due course. As you'd expect, dear blog reader, the media were very interested in this story - even yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self got a small slice of the action. He had planned a somewhat leisurely morning going to the pool, doing a bit of gym and swim and then home for an afternoon of contemplating the inherently ludicrous nature of existence. Just a normal Friday at Stately Telly Topping Manor, in other words. That all went out the window when the broadcasting legend that is the lovely and fragrant Jonny Miles rang up and demanded - demanded, I say - that yer actual Keith Telly Topping come on his show on BBC Newcastle to talk about the now not-so-missing episodes. If you missed, you missed nowt, frankly - apart from yer actual getting his very self told to shut up at one point(!) but, it can be heard again on iPlayer for the next seven days. Yer actual KTT is on about eighteen minutes in, immediately after Lizo Mzimba ... and the Nigerian national anthem (don't ask!) The latest find comes as Doctor Who celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in November. A special episode - The Day Of The Doctor - featuring the current Doctor, Matt Smith, and his predecessor, David Tennant, will be shown on the programme's anniversary on 23 November. You knew that already, yes?
Doctor Who is, of course, by no means unique in having large chunks of its past missing, as many thousands of hours of programming from across all genres were destroyed by the BBC from the mid-1960s until the late-1970s, when the corporation's archiving policies were changed. Other high-profile series affected  by losses included Dad's Army, Z-Cars, Steptoe And Son, The Morecambe & Wise Show, The Likely Lads, The Troubleshooters, Doomwatch, Till Death Us Do Part, Dixon Of Dock Green, Out Of The Unknown, Adam Adamant Lives! and Not Only ... But Also. Notable losses also include several early plays by the likes of David Mercer and Dennis Potter from The Wednesday Play strand, all bar a few tiny fragments of James Burke and Patrick Moore's live presentation of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, Kenneth Tynan's infamous first televised use of the 'f word' in an episode of BBC3 from 1965, The Madhouse On Castle Street a 1963 play starring David Warner and the then virtually unknown Bob Dylan, The Beatles appearance on Juke Box Jury in 1964 (and a similar Rolling Stones episode from a few months later) and the entire first series and most of the second of Hancock's Half-Hour (only one 1956 episode featuring Kenneth Williams still exists, albeit, it's a very good one - The Alpine Holiday). It should be noted that the BBC was not, by any stretch, the only British broadcaster to carry out this practice; many ITV regional franchise companies also destroyed programmes, including - in one particularly notable case - many early videotaped episodes of The Avengers. Doctor Who is unique, however, in that all of its missing episodes survive in audio form, usually recorded off-air by fans at home. Stills or short video clips have also been found for several missing episodes. All Doctor Who episodes from 1970 onwards do exist visually in some form or other, which is not the case for many other series. Efforts to locate missing episodes have gone on for years and continue, both by the BBC and by dedicated fans of the show. Extensive restoration has been carried out on many recovered 1960s and 1970s episodes for release on VHS and DVD. The surviving soundtracks of many of the missing episodes have also been released on cassette and CD. Fan groups and the BBC have also released reconstructions of missing episodes, matching photographs and so-called 'telesnaps' from the episodes with the soundtracks. Two episodes of The Invasion (1968), two episodes of The Reign of Terror (1964), two episodes of The Ice Warriors (1967), and one episode of The Tenth Planet (1966) were reconstructed using animation and released along with the surviving episodes of those serials on DVD. Two episodes from The Moonbase (1967) are also planned for release in this form in 2014.

But, why did this crass destruction happen in the first place? It wasn't, contrary to some sinister conspiracy theories put about by numskull glakes, a deliberate policy of rampant dirty badness on the Beeb's part. Between approximately 1967 and 1978, large quantities of videotape and film stored in the BBC's engineering department and film libraries, respectively, were destroyed or wiped mainly to make way for newer programmes. This happened for a number of reasons, the primary one being the belief that there was no reason for this material to be kept any longer as the opportunities for it ever to be shown again were severely limited. The actors' union Equity had actively fought against the introduction of telerecording since it originally became a practical proposition in the mid-1950s. Prior to the development of workable television recording, if a broadcaster wished to repeat a programme (usually a one-off play), the actors would simply be re-hired - for an additional fee - to perform it again, live. Equity's concern was that if broadcasters were able to record the original performances, then they would be able to repeat them indefinitely, which would cut down on the levels of new production and threaten the livelihoods of its members. And, in that regard, Equity was very far-sighted, foreseeing the creation of the Dave channel decades before anyone else! Although Equity could not prevent telerecording altogether, it was able to add standard clauses to its members' contracts which stipulated that recordings could only be repeated a set number of times within a specific time frame and that the fees payable for further use beyond that point were, deliberately, so high that broadcasters would consider it unjustifiable to spend so much money in repeating an old programme rather than simply making a new one instead. Consequently, recordings of programmes whose repeat rights had expired were considered to be of no further economic use to the broadcaster. Another reason for such apparent cultural vandalism was a belief which existed widely in the industry at the time that there was no reason for the material which had been broadcast once - and, in many cases, sold overseas - to be kept due to the inherently ephemeral nature of the medium. You know the kind of thing: 'It's only a TV show after all.' This was particularly true of monochrome material after the introduction of colour television to BBC1 in 1969. 'Who,' the reasoning went, 'wants to pay for a colour TV licence and then have to watch black and white telly?' And, by the 1970s, with many broadcasters around the world also switching to colour transmission, it was not deemed worthwhile extending agreements to sell the older black-and-white material. Most Doctor Who episodes were made on two-inch videotape for initial broadcast and then telerecorded onto sixteen millimetre film by BBC Enterprises for commercial exploitation abroad. Doctor Who was sold to approximately thirty countries  around the world during the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and a large group of African countries. Enterprises used film for overseas sales as it was considerably cheaper both to buy and to transport than videotape. It also circumvented the problem of different countries' having a number of incompatible video standards, as film was (and, still is) a universal medium.

The BBC had no central archive at the time – the Film Library kept programmes which had been made on , or transferred to, film, whilst the Engineering Department was responsible for storing videotapes. BBC Enterprises kept only copies of programmes which they deemed commercially exploitable (or, in very rare cases, because they were considered to be 'historically important'). They also had little dedicated storage space and tended to keep piles of film canisters wherever they could find space for them at their Villiers House property. Moreover, the Engineering Department had no mandate to archive the programme videotapes they held, although BBC bureaucracy being what it was (and still is), they would not normally wipe or junk anything until the relevant production department or BBC Enterprises had indicated that they had no further commercial or artistic use for the tapes in question. According to the BBC's meticulously maintained records, the first Doctor Who master videotapes to be erased were those for the early Patrick Troughton serial The Highlanders, which were erased on 9 March 1967, a mere two months after the final episode's original transmission on BBC1 so that the tapes could be sued for something else. Further erasing and junking of Doctor Who master videotapes by the Engineering Department continued intermittently into the 1970s. Eventually every single master videotape of the programme's first two hundred and fifty three episodes (1963 to 1969) was either destroyed or, more often, wiped, with the final 1960s master tapes to be erased being those for the well-remembered 1968 six-part serial Fury From The Deep. These were authorised for wiping in late 1974. Despite the destruction of these masters, BBC Enterprises still held a near-complete archive of the series in the form of their sixteen millimetre film telerecorded copies until approximately 1972. The sole exception to this appears to have been the 1965 Christmas episode The Feast of Steven  - part of the twelve-part Daleks' Masterplan serial - which, because of its one-off nature, was never telerecorded to film and was, therefore, never sold abroad. From around 1972 until 1978, BBC Enterprises also disposed of much of their older material, including many episodes of Doctor Who. The BBC Film Library had no responsibility for storing programmes which had not been made on film, and there were said to be conflicting views between the Film Library and BBC Enterprises over who of these had the responsibility of archiving what they held. These combined factors - plus the inevitable question of resources (the two inch videotapes on which the episodes were housed were a highly valuable commodity in those days and, if they weren't needed, could often be reused for new programmes) - resulted in the erasure of large quantities of older black-and-white programming from the Corporation's various libraries, as each body believed it to be the other's responsibility to archive the material and consequently destroyed their own copies. While thousands of other programmes have been destroyed in this way, both in Britain and, indeed, around the world, the missing Doctor Who episodes are - largely because of the programmes rabid and vocal fandom - probably the best-known example of how the lack of a consistent archiving policy can have negative long-term effects. The degree of incompleteness varies, and is concentrated on the first and second Doctor stories. Although one story has only one episode missing (albeit, it's an important one, the final episode of William Hartnell's last serial, The Tenth Planet from 1966), others are either lost altogether or only fragments are held, with Patrick Troughton's Doctor being particularly badly affected; of the fourteen stories comprising his first two seasons (1966 to 1968), only two full stories, The Tomb Of The Cybermen and, now, The Enemy Of The World, are complete. And these only exist due to copies of episodes being returned - from Hong Kong and Nigeria, respectively.
The junking of Doctor Who episodes at BBC Enterprises ceased around 1978. All stories starring Jon Pertwee as The Doctor are complete, though some episodes no longer survive on their original videotapes - merely as black and white telerecordings - and have needed to be restored to colour using other methods. In order of original transmissions, the very last Doctor Who master videotapes to be wiped were the first episodes of the 1974 serials Invasion Of The Dinosaurs and Death To The Daleks. The latter was recovered from overseas, initially from a tape in the NTSC format and, later, in the original PAL format on a tape returned to the BBC from Dubai. Compared with many BBC series broadcast in the 1960s, Doctor Who is actually very well-represented in terms of existing episodes. One hundred and fifty six of the two hundred and fifty three episodes broadcast during the 1960s are still in existence, mainly due to wide overseas sales which have aided in the recovery of episodes. This is reflected in the nature of the surviving episodes – seasons one and two, the most widely-sold abroad of the 1960s era, are missing only nine and two episodes respectively. By contrast season four (Hartnell's last and Troughton's first) has no complete serials and season five has only two. Of all the series shown by the Corporation throughout the 1960s which had runs of any significant length, only Steptoe And Son has better survival record than Doctor Who, with all of its episodes still existing, though some only as early domestic videotape copies made by the writers of the sitcom, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (including what many consider to be the series finest episode, 1965's My Old Man's A Tory). Other programmes have few or no episodes in existence; for example, United!, a football-based BBC1 soap opera which broadcast one hundred and forty seven episodes between 1965 and 1967, has no episodes surviving at all. Doctor Who's popularity and high profile has also helped to ensure the return of episodes which, for other less well-remembered programmes, might never have occurred. Doctor Who is also comparatively rare among contemporaries in that all of its episodes from 1970 onwards exist as masters - or, in a handful of cases, telerecordings - while other long-running series such as Z-Cars and Dixon Of Dock Green have episodes from as late as 1975 missing from the archives. For a few years, episode one of the 1974 serial Invasion Of The Dinosaurs was the only Jon Pertwee episode to be entirely missing from the BBC, until a black-and-white sixteen millimetre film copy was returned to the Corporation in the early 1980s. The story was released on DVD with a partially recolourised version of episode one, alongside a higher quality monochrome transfer of the episode, in The UNIT Files box-set. Archival holdings from Death To The Daleks episode two (1974) onwards are complete on the original broadcast videotapes, with the exception of the final shot of The Deadly Assassin episode three (1976); this shot was removed from the master copy after its initial UK transmission following specious whinging by Mary Whitehouse. Subsequent repeats and commercial releases have restored the shot from off-air video copies. The wiping policy officially came to an end in 1978, when the means to further exploit programmes by taking advantage of the new market in home video cassette recordings was beginning to become apparent. In addition, the general attitude within the industry became increasing that vintage programmes should, in any case, be preserved for posterity and for historical and cultural reasons.

The BBC Film Library was eventually turned into a combined Film & Videotape Library for the preservation of both media. The Film Library at the time held only forty seven episodes of 1960s Doctor Who. Following the transfer of episodes still held by Enterprises, there were found to be one hundred and fifty two episodes of Doctor Who no longer held by the BBC, although subsequent efforts over the thirty years since then have reduced that number to, now, the magic of ninety seven. Arguably, the most sought-after still missing segment is episode four of the last William Hartnell serial, The Tenth Planet, which ends with the first Doctor regenerating into the Second. The only portion of this still in existence, bar a few poor-quality silent eight millimetre film clips shot on home movie equipment by a fan, is the regeneration sequence itself (and a few seconds before it) which had been shown in a 1973 episode of Blue Peter. Clips from some missing episodes also survive where they were used in other programmes. For example, scenes from the missing episode four of The Daleks' Masterplan exist through that same 1973 edition of Blue Peter, while an Australian programme called Perspective: C for Computer yielded extracts from episode two of The Power Of The Daleks. A lengthy - six minute - excerpt from the 1965 serial Galaxy Four was returned by Doctor Who fan Jan Vincent-Rudzki in the 1990s. The sequence had originally been taken from a viewing print of episode one of the story by the production team working on a 1977 Doctor Who documentary, Whose Doctor Who? After they had selected the short clip they wished to use from the extract, they discarded the rest; Vincent-Rudzki, who was working as an adviser to the production team, was allowed to keep the film. Some behind-the-scenes footage was also discovered for The Smugglers (1966), The Evil Of The Daleks (1967), The Abominable Snowmen (1967) and Fury From the Deep (1968). Also from the latter serial was some raw footage from the filming of episode six, featuring some alternate camera angles from what was originally broadcast, was found. In 2005, two further short clips from The Power Of The Daleks – along with a higher-quality version of one of the existent scenes – were discovered in a 1966 episode of the BBC science series Tomorrow's World. The clips, lasting less than ten seconds each and on film (as opposed to film recordings), only came to light when the Tomorrow's World segment was broadcast as part of a September 2005 edition of the clip-based nostalgia show Sunday Past Times on BBC2. Several sharp-eyed fans noticed that these clips were not among those already known to be extant in the archives and informed the Corporation. Some portions of the overseas copies were physically edited prior to transmission in the 1960s by the Australian and New Zealand censors for being too violent or frightening for the programme's early time slot and younger audience in those countries. Hence, episodes which have been recovered from these sources were missing these segments. In October 1996, Australian Doctor Who fans Damian Shanahan and Ellen Parry discovered a collection of the censored clips - several from missing episodes which do not exist in their entirety - in the records of the National Archives of Australia. The clips had been sent by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board to the Archives as evidence of the required edits having been made. These clips were of later William Hartnell stories (such as The Savages and The Smugglers both from 1966) and Patrick Troughton stories (such as The Macra Terror and Fury From The Deep). In an interview for the fanzine The Disused Yeti, Shanahan stated that although he and Parry had found paper records relating to the censoring of early William Hartnell stories (such as Marco Polo and The Reign Of Terror), the actual film seemed to have been destroyed some time prior to their investigation. In 2002, New Zealand fan Graham Howard uncovered similar censored clips from The Wheel In Space and The Web Of Fear. Small excerpts have also been recovered on eight millimetre cine film shot by a fan in Australia, who filmed certain scenes directly from a television screen during showings of various episodes (including some that are intact); the clips from missing episodes range from episode four of The Reign Of Terror (1964) to episode two of The Faceless Ones (1966).

In addition to recovered short video clips and audio soundtracks, there also exist still photographs taken off-screen by photographer John Cura. Cura was hired by the BBC, and independently by many actors and production staff, to document the transmission of many of their most popular programmes from the 1940s to the 1960s, including Doctor Who. These 'telesnaps' were generally used to promote BBC programmes and for actors, directors, and other production crew members to keep a visual record of their own work in the days before home video recorders. In many cases, they form the only visual record remaining of a number of Doctor Who serials and other missing episodes of many programmes. Since the late 1990s, reconstructions of the missing serials have been made by fan groups such as Loose Cannon Productions, who distribute them for free. These 'recons' are based on the directors' original camera scripts, and use a combination of the surviving soundtracks, surviving footage, photographs, still images (especially Cura's telesnaps) and specially-recreated material. Although technically infringing copyright, these recons have been largely tolerated by the BBC, provided they are not sold for profit and are only distributed in degradable, non-digital formats such as VHS. 'Official' high-quality reconstructions using the same methods were made for the BBC Video releases of The Ice Warriors (a twelve-minute 'highlights' reconstruction bridging the missing episodes two and three) and The Tenth Planet (a full reconstruction of the mostly missing episode four). The DVD box set Doctor Who: The Beginning consisted of the drama's first three serials - An Unearthly Child, The Daleks and The Edge of Destruction - and a thirty-minute reconstruction of the fourth story - Marco Polo - of which, tragically, no footage at all exists. The Doctor Who Restoration Team has hinted that similar reconstructions may be done in future. In June 2005, BBC Audio began to release reconstructions as part of their 'MP3 CD' line under the Doctor Who: Reconstructed banner. The Power Of The Daleks was the first and obly such reconstruction to be released: a mooted release in this form of the following story, The Highlanders, did not go ahead, due to poor sales of the initial release. A telesnap-reconstruction of the 1965 serial Galaxy Four, incorporating animation and surviving clips of film, was included on the March 2013 release of The Aztecs 'special edition' DVD to accompany the newly recovered episode from the serial, Air Lock.