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Missing Episodes

Classic Doctor Who episodes were recorded on video tape, and all tapes were held by BBC TV. In the 1960s and 1970s, BBC Enterprises made film prints of the episodes for overseas sales (because video tape standards around the world were different, but anyone could use film).

In the early 1970s, BBC TV erased hundreds of video tapes. They either thought that other copies of the shows they were erasing existed elsewhere, or they didn't think the shows were worth keeping. (Remember, this is years before the VCR.)

Over at BBC Enterprises, due to the complex nature of the rights involved, they only had a limited amount of time to sell the films. Any film print which was no longer viable was incinerated. They, also, probably thought the master copies existed elsewhere.

The result is that many television programs from the BBC's earliest years are gone, quite possibly forever.

Over 130 episodes of Doctor Who were lost this way, all from its first seven seasons (1963-1970). However, in the 1980s, some of these episodes were kindly returned to the BBC from overseas television stations which had bought film copies from BBC Enterprises years before. Other episodes have been discovered in private film libraries, held by people who did not know that the films were significant.

(I got most of the above information from an article in issue #253 of Doctor Who Magazine.)

Overseas television stations sometimes censored the episodes, so the returned product was sometimes missing footage. Conversely, censored clips have sometimes been returned for episodes which are still missing. In other cases, clips which had been sent to BBC news programs as excerpts still exist.

When the episodes were originally broadcast, some fans took photos of the images on their television screens, and some recorded the audio by placing a tape recorder next to their television speakers. These photos and audio recordings were later welcomed at the BBC with open arms, as they were desperate to have any kind of recording at all for the programs they had lost. The audio recordings have been cleaned up and commercially released, so every missing Doctor Who story is at least available on audio.

Old audio tracks and recovered film prints in poor condition are enhanced and taken care of by a group of people who have become known, unofficially, as the Doctor Who Restoration Team. These guys are headed by Steve Roberts, and they do an outstanding job.

There are 97 episodes of Doctor Who still missing.

Early Doctor Who episodes had individual titles. Starting in May 1966, each episode was simply known as a part of an overall story title.

Each missing episode is in black and white and is about 22.5 minutes long, with no place to break for commercials. The beginning of each episode shows the episode title and author. Cast and crew credits appear at the end.

Wikipedia has a more detailed article containing some interesting history.

The following is a list of all missing episodes, in chronological order of broadcast. If you find any, please contact the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Marco Polo
By John Lucarotti
Seven-episode story, all missing

Episode titles as they appeared on screen:
1. The Roof of the World
2. The Singing Sands
3. Five Hundred Eyes
4. The Wall of Lies
5. Rider from Shang-Tu
6. Mighty Kublai Khan
7. Assassin at Peking
7
The Reign of Terror
By Dennis Spooner
Six-episode story; episodes 4 and 5 are missing

Episode titles as they appeared on screen:
4. The Tyrant of France
5. A Bargain of Necessity
2
The Crusade
By David Whitaker
Four-episode story; episodes 2 and 4 are missing

Episode titles as they appeared on screen:
2. The Knight of Jaffa
4. The War-Lords
2
Galaxy Four
By William Emms
Four-episode story; episodes 1, 2 and 4 are missing

Episode titles as they appeared on screen:
1. Four Hundred Dawns
2. Trap of Steel
4. The Exploding Planet
3
Mission to the Unknown
By Terry Nation
A single-episode story
1
The Myth Makers
By Donald Cotton
Four-episode story, all missing

Episode titles as they appeared on screen:
1. Temple of Secrets
2. Small Prophet, Quick Return
3. Death of a Spy
4. Horse of Destruction
4
The Daleks' Master Plan
Some episodes by Terry Nation, some by Dennis Spooner
Twelve-episode story;
episodes 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 are missing.

Episode titles as they appeared on screen:
1. The Nightmare Begins
3. Devil's Planet
4. The Traitors
6. Coronas of the Sun
7. The Feast of Steven
8. Volcano
9. Golden Death
11. The Abandoned Planet
12. Destruction of Time
9
The Massacre
By John Lucarotti
Four-episode story, all missing

Episode titles as they appeared on screen:
1. War of God
2. The Sea Beggar
3. Priest of Death
4. Bell of Doom
4
The Celestial Toymaker
By Brian Hayles
Four-episode story; episodes 1, 2 and 3 are missing

Episode titles as they appeared on screen:
1. The Celestial Toyroom
2. The Hall of Dolls
3. The Dancing Floor
3
From this point onward, Doctor Who
episodes were not given individual titles.
The Savages
By Ian Stuart Black
Four-episode story, all missing
4
The Smugglers
By Brian Hayles
Four-episode story, all missing
4
The Tenth Planet
By Kit Pedler
Four-episode story; episode 4 is missing
1
The Power of the Daleks
By David Whitaker
Six-episode story, all missing
6
The Highlanders
By Gerry Davis and Elwyn Jones
Four-episode story, all missing
4
The Underwater Menace
By Geoffrey Orme
Four-episode story; episodes 1 and 4 are missing
2
The Moonbase
By Kit Pedler
Four-episode story; episodes 1 and 3 are missing
2
The Macra Terror
By Ian Stuart Black
Four-episode story, all missing
4
The Faceless Ones
By David Ellis and Malcolm Hulke
Six-episode story; episodes 2, 4, 5 and 6 are missing
4
The Evil of the Daleks
By David Whitaker
Seven-episode story; episodes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are missing
6
The Abominable Snowmen
By Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln
Six-episode story; episodes 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are missing
5
The Ice Warriors
By Brian Hayles
Six-episode story; episodes 2 and 3 are missing
2
The Web of Fear
By Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln
Six-episode story; episode 3 is missing
1
Fury from the Deep
By Victor Pemberton
Six-episode story, all missing
6
The Wheel in Space
By David Whitaker
Six-episode story; episodes 1, 2, 4 and 5 are missing
4
The Invasion
By Derrick Sherwin
Eight-episode story; episodes 1 and 4 are missing
2
The Space Pirates
By Robert Holmes
Six-episode story; episodes 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are missing
5
Total Doctor Who episodes missing 97

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