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article imageDoctor Who missing episodes found, BBC calls press conference

By Mathew Wace Peck     Oct 7, 2013 in Entertainment
Following months of speculation and rumours, claims, denials and counterclaims, “Doctor Who” fans are about to find out whether or not the BBC has recovered a significant number of the show's missing episodes.
The episodes still missing from the BBc's archive were included in hundreds that were destroyed by the broadcaster in the sixties and seventies.
It all kicked off earlier this year, when Bleeding Cool ran a story claiming that a significant haul of Doctor Who episodes from the 1960s had been unearthed in Africa and returned to the UK.
To the disappointment of science-fiction fans and television historians, after weeks of speculation, those claims were roundly denied and, as a result, everything went a little quiet on the “missing episodes” front.
On Sunday, however, the whole debate kicked off again, following a story that appeared in the Sunday People, which claimed “more than 100” Doctor Who episodes, previously missing from the corporation’s archive, had been returned.
The story said, “A group of dedicated Doctor Who fans tracked down at least 100 long-lost episodes of the show gathering dust more than 3,000 miles away in Ethiopia […] unearthed at the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency.”
The same day, the story also appeared on RadioTimes.com and as a news item on BBC Radio 4.
Whatever, the truth, there is definitely something afoot and fans won’t have to wait much longer to find out as, earlier today, the Mirror – a sister paper to the Sunday People – revealed that the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, had called a press conference for Tuesday morning.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the BBC wiped many of its programmes, including Doctor Who. Since the 1980s, and spearheaded by Doctor Who fans themselves – in particular, Ian Levine, the well-known DJ and music producer – there has been an ongoing hunt around the world to find those missing episodes and return them to the BBC. Over that time, a number of complete stories and individual episodes have been recovered, mainly from foreign television companies who originally bought the show for broadcast in their respective countries.
Invasion of the Archives
As of the end of 2011, there were 27 incomplete Doctor Who stories in the BBC archives, with 106 of the 253 episodes that were made between 1963 and 1969 still missing.
The stories affected are all from the eras of the first two actors to have played the Doctor – William Hartnell (First Doctor) and Patrick Troughton (Second Doctor), even though the practice of junking at the BBC continued till 1978, well into the era of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor.
For a time, the first episode of a Jon Perwtee (Third Doctor) serial – Invasion of the Dinosaurs – was also missing from the archive, which is thought to have come about because its first episode was in fact broadcast as The Invasion (which was the same name as an earlier Troughton Cyberman story) in order to keep the appearance of the dinosaurs a secret from viewers until they actually appeared on screen.
In December 2012, to tie in with Doctor Who ’s forthcoming 50th anniversary, Radio Times it had launched its own hunt for those Doctor Who episodes still missing.
Other high-profile BBC series to have been destroyed include Dad’s Army, Not Only … But Also, Steptoe and Son and Z Cars. However, Doctor Who is unique in that all its missing episodes survive in audio form, thanks to having been recorded off-air at home by fans of the show.
Doctor November
It is thought that the BBC had wanted to wait till November to make an official announcement regarding the missing episodes – to tie in with the 50th anniversary of their flagship science-fiction drama series. However, according to Doctor Who Online, with an ever-greater number of publications running stories about the rumoured find, that has had to be revised.
Beginning on Saturday, 23 November 1963, Doctor Who is the world’s longest-running science-fiction TV series. Exactly 50 years to the day of the first-ever episode being broadcast, a 75-minute special will be broadcast on Saturday, 23 November 2013.
The landmark story – The Day of the Doctor, written by Steven Moffat – will also be Matt Smith’s penultimate episode. Smith, who has played the Eleventh Doctor for the past four years, will step down from the role in this year’s Christmas special, which will also include his successor Peter Capaldi’s debut as the Twelfth Doctor.
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