BBC Radio 4 is giving Doctor Who fans and missing episode enthusiasts in general a special Christmas treat on Boxing Day.
The station is airing Doctor Who: The Lost Episodes in its regular Archive On 4 spot this Saturday, December 26, with presenter Shaun Ley investigating the story of the BBC’s flagship show’s missing heritage.
For the documentary, journalist and self-confessed Who fan Shaun interviewed attendees at this year’s Missing In Action convention, but criminally did not include the series’ number one fan Ian Levine, through whose intervention many early episodes were saved from destruction.
Apart from that rather glaring oversight, The Lost Episodes seems like it will be an enjoyable, insightful broadcast. Here’s the official blurb:
“As a new era begins for Doctor Who, Shaun Ley investigates the story of The Lost Episodes.
“Many diehard Doctor Who fans will be familiar with the number 108. This is the number of episodes from the Sixties which are still missing. When the BBC went through its film archive in 1978, it found that more than 200 black-and-white episodes, recorded between 1963 and 1969, had disappeared. This is the story of the recovery of some of those lost episodes and the search for those that are still missing.
“In the early years of Doctor Who, programmes were recorded on videotape which was recycled because it was expensive. But many were also transferred to film and sold to be broadcast around the world. In this programme, Shaun Ley meets the amateur archivists who have scoured the globe for those elusive film cans. He finds out how the first episode of The Crusade (broadcast in March 1965) turned up in New Zealand, and he hears from some of the actors whose work on the early series was wiped, including Pauline Collins, Peter Purves, Bernard Kay and Deborah Watling.
“Where the films have been lost, there are still the audio recordings made by children, Shaun included, who sat in front of their televisions with a tape recorder. The best of these have been cleaned up and used to reconstruct the soundtracks of the missing episodes. But the audio and the still photographs can’t replace the real thing and the question remains – how many episodes will eventually be found?”
- Archive On 4 – Doctor Who: The Lost Episodes airs Boxing Day, Saturday 26 December, 8-9pm on BBC RADIO 4