The Doctor Who Mind Robber has previously reported on a series of rumours concerning the return of hitherto missing Doctor Who episodes. At the time of writing 106 episodes are believed missing from the BBC Archives. All monochrome, the lost episodes span the tenures of the First and Second Doctors and date from 1964 to 1969. The earliest missing episode is William Hartnell’s fourth serial, Marco Polo, whilst the last is Patrick Troughton’s penultimate story, The Space Pirates. Colour prints of several of the Third Doctor’s episodes have not been recovered, however black and white copies exist and have been colourized. The final Jon Pertwee serial to receive the miraculous colour treatment was The Mind of Evil, which was released in June 2013.
An article published today in the UK tabloid, the Mirror, alleges that over 100 missing Doctor Who episodes have been recovered by dedicated fans in Ethiopia. Supposedly retrieved from the Ethiopian Television and Radio Agency, the source for this rumour is one Stuart Kelly, who is described as a Doctor Who expert. Mr Kelly is said to have announced the find at the Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland last week.
Like all previous rumours, Mr Kelly’s announcement is not from a first hand source. Kelly relies on the hearsay of a third party. The Mirror reports him as saying, “I was told by a friend that the episodes have been found in Ethiopia. The BBC is negotiating to get them back right now. I really can’t say any more than that.”
Moreover, the Mirror has made no attempt to corroborate the story with either the third party or the BBC. In June the blog Bleeding Cool reported on rumours of over 90 episodes being recovered. Upon approaching the BBC, Philip Fleming, Head of Communications, Brands, Content & Digital, BBC Worldwide issued Bleeding Cool the following statement:
There are always rumours and speculation about Doctor Who missing episodes being discovered, however we cannot confirm any new finds.
Tonight on Twitter Doctor Who Restoration Team member Paul Vanezis responded to the Mirror article and stated, “I would love it to be true. But it isn’t.” This denial is less than definitive, however. Whilst the recovery of over 100 episodes from Ethiopia may be untrue, Vanezis is far from denying that all rumours are false. The BBC’s announcement in June could be similarly met with scepticism. Whilst not confirming any finds, the BBC certainly didn’t deny any either.
Well known Doctor Who uberfan Ian Levine has today Tweeted about the Mirror’s article and a subsequent report on the UK’s SkyNews on Sunday morning. Levine said, “Maybe the Mirror news story, and the Sky News Video Report, might just force the BBC’s hand into FINALLY making an announcement this week…” Levine’s comments are sure to be echoed by many fans who are becoming increasingly frustrated by the prolonged rumours.
Interestingly, Sodere: Ethopian Social Media Network which has over 90,000 Facebook likes, republished the Mirror’s article today. Make of that as you will.
In the meantime, you can read The Doctor Who Mind Robber’s previous Missing Episode stories here, here, here, and here. You might also like to view our 50th Anniversary Countdown post, The 10 Most Wanted Missing Episodes. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
For further developments please see Radio Times Reports Digital Release of Two Missing Episodes This Week.
©Vivien Fleming, 2013.