The mystery surrounding whether or not, and in what quantity, the BBC have recovered hitherto-missing Doctor Who episodes from the 1960s, is set to continue for a few more days.
There has been speculation among science-fiction fans and television historians for months, after claims were made earlier this year – notably byBleeding Cool – that a significant find of Doctor Who episodes and other material, which was destroyed by the British broadcaster in the 1960s and 1970s, had been found in Africa and returned to the UK.
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 sci-fi show’s 50th anniversary. However, according toDoctor Who Online, with an ever-greater number of newspapers and other publications running stories about the rumoured find, the company has had to revise its plans.
Consequently, yesterday, the Mirror reported that the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, was arranging a press conference for today (Tuesday), to reveal which black-and-white Doctor Who episodes had been recovered.
However, later, and rather confusingly, the Guardianindicated that press conference had been arranged for Thursday.
Meanwhile, RadioTimes.com has suggested that BBC Worldwide will, from Wednesday, release what it believes to be “previously lost [Second Doctor Patrick Troughton] episodes from different stories for sale on digital platforms such as iTunes”.
This morning, the plot thickened a little more, with the Mirror announcing that it had been told by the BBC that “they were ‘not quite ready’ and the press conference has now been rescheduled for the end of the week”.
The newspaper’s latest report also stated, “The BBC has asked the Mirror not to reveal the new details of the London press conference, but fans should find out which episodes have been discovered by the end of the week.”
Doctor Who junked!
During the 1960s and 1970s, the BBC wiped many of its programmes, including much from the first six years of Doctor Who. Since the 1980s, and largely thanks to the efforts of Doctor Who fans, many of those missing episodes have been recovered from other countries (from where copies were originally sold to for broadcast). However, as of the end of 2011, there were still 27 incomplete Doctor Who stories in the BBC archives, with 106 of the 253 episodes that were made between 1963 and 1969 still unaccounted for.
In December 2012, as part of the run-up to Doctor Who ’s 50th-anniversary celebrations, Radio Times launched another effort to try to find the remaining missing episodes, in the hope that a complete historical record of the show could be attained.
Doctor Who is the longest-running science-fiction television drama series in the world. It’s first episode – An Unearthly Child – premiered in the UK on Saturday, 23 November 2013. Exactly 50 years later, to the day – on Saturday, 23 November 2013 – a 75-minute special, The Day of the Doctor, will be broadcast to countries all over the world.