There are some corners of the universe that have hidden the strangest things! Where were all the Doctor Who missing episodes found?
Often, fans of Doctor Who missing episodes found comfort in the fact that they can show up just about anywhere, from the bowels of TV stations in Hong Kong to car boot sales in Buckinghamshire. Over the years, many Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back to the archive because of dedicated fans and amazing coincidences. Here is a quick guide to where 60s Who was discovered.
An Unearthly Child
Let’s begin with an anomaly. I can’t seem to find any information on where the BBC’s copy of ‘An Unearthly Child’ came from. All four episodes were recovered in the mid 1980s, and may have been returned from an overseas broadcaster. Comment below if you know more about this!
Missing episode hunter Ian Levine discovered the complete serial of ‘The Daleks’ in 1978 when it was waiting to be burnt at BBC Enterprises, along with its Arabic duplicates, and saved it from the incinerator. The English versions were probably prints that had been returned from an overseas broadcaster.
The Edge of Destruction
These Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back to the archive in 1982, after they were found in the possession of a UK film collector, who had owned them for several years. However, it is unclear which country they had been returned from.
The Keys of Marinus
A copy of this serial was returned from Australia, whilst the BBC held film negatives of all six episodes. However, both versions have short sections missing from episodes two and four, which were not present in the original transmission. These have been restored on the DVD release using the original audio.
The first three episodes of ‘The Aztecs’ were returned to the BBC from Cyprus in 1984. Episode four, meanwhile, is an Arabic print that was originally screened in Morocco, and has been restored using the episode’s original soundtrack.
These missing Doctor Who episodes found their way back to the BBC in 1984, having been returned from Cyprus.
The Reign of Terror – episodes 1, 2, 3 and 6
Episodes one and two were returned to the BBC from Cyprus in the 1980s. Episodes three and six, meanwhile, were found in the hands of UK collectors in 1982, and these may have originated from Sierra Leone, Mauritius or Ethiopia.
Planet of Giants
I can’t find any information on how ‘Planet of the Giants’ made its way back to the BBC. Comment below if you know!
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
The film copies of all six episodes of ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ were retained by BBC archive, including the 35mm film recording negative of episode five, which was used for the original 1964 transmission.
It’s unclear how these Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back to the BBC, however their 16mm film negatives are held by the BBC Film Library.
The BBC retained the film negatives of ‘The Romans,’ sparing them from the incinerator!
The Web Planet
As with ‘The Romans,’ this Doctor Who serial was retained as a film negative by the BBC.
The Crusade – episodes 1 and 3
These Doctor Who missing episodes had a somewhat bumpier ride. While half the story is still missing, episode 3 appears to have survived at the BBC as a film negative. Episode 1, meanwhile, was returned to the BBC in 1999 by a private collector in New Zealand.
The Space Museum
The third episode of ‘The Space Museum’ still existed at the BBC when it was audited in 1978, but it was subsequently destroyed. A full set of negative prints now resides at the BBC, along with a higher quality print of episode one, which was returned in 1981. However, it’s unclear where these originated.
These Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back to the BBC in 1978 in the form of negative film prints. Again, it is unclear where they came from.
The Time Meddler
These Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back to the archive via a private film collector, who acquired prints of episodes one, two and three in the mid 1970s and ultimately returned them in the early 90s. These probably originated in Australia, Sierra Leone, Mauritius or Zambia. The Nigerian prints, meanwhile, were recovered in 1984, although the first five minutes was missing from episode one.
Galaxy Four – episode three
The BBC held a complete copy of ‘Galaxy 4’ before destroying it in 1977. Episode three, meanwhile, was returned to the BBC in 2011 by private film collector Terry Burnett – a former BBC employee who retained one of the copies that had been returned from Australia.
The Daleks’ Master Plan – episodes 2, 5 and 10
Two of these Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back to the archive in 1983, having been discovered in the basement of a Mormon church, for reasons unknown. These were episodes five and ten. Episode two, meanwhile, was returned to the BBC in 2004 by a former BBC engineer. All of these prints are believed to be the BBC’s original film copies.
Mysteriously, the BBC retained all of the film negatives of ‘The Ark,’ despite junking the majority of Season Three. It is not known why this happened.
The Celestial Toymaker – episode 4
Whilst the rest of ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ was destroyed, episode 4 was returned to the BBC in 1984, after a slightly abridged copy was discovered in ABC’s film library in Australia.
These Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back to the BBC archive by virtue of the fact they never left! As with ‘The Ark,’ the BBC retained the original film negatives.
The War Machines
All four episodes of ‘The War Machines’ were returned to the BBC from Nigeria in 1984, but with a number of cuts. However, the BBC already held a more complete version of episode two, which was returned in the late 70s. This originated in Australia and was returned by a private collector.
The Tenth Planet – episodes 1, 2 and 3
The first Cybermen adventure! It’s unclear which version of ‘The Tenth Planet’ is held in the BBC archives, although it’s likely to be a copy that was original sent to New Zealand, which was returned in 1973 after having been forwarded to Singapore.
The Underwater Menace – episodes 2 and 3
These prints are the earliest surviving Patrick Troughton episodes and came from two different sources. Episode three was returned in 1977 (possibly from Zambia) while episode two came back in 2011 after being returned by Terry Burnett. This was the edited Australian print.
The Moonbase – episodes 2 and 4
These Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back to the archive in 1970s, when a copy of episode 4 was returned to the BBC from either Australia or Zambia. Episode 2 was recovered a few years later.
The Faceless Ones – episodes 1 and 3
These Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back to the BBC thanks to private film collectors. One had an edited print of episode one (which he’d had in his possession since 1970) and another found episode three at a car boot sale in Buckinghamshire in 1987. These likely originated in Australia, New Zealand or Zambia.
The Evil of the Daleks – episode 2
This episode was found at the same car boot sale as ‘The Faceless Ones’ episode three, and was discovered in 1987. This may have come from Australia, or Singapore.
The Tomb of the Cybermen
These Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back in 1992, after being discovered at a TV station in Hong Kong.
The Abominable Snowmen – episode 2
This print was recovered in 1982 and may have been returned from Australia, Gibraltar or Zambia.
The Ice Warriors – episodes 1, 4, 5 and 6
Whilst episodes 2 and 3 remain missing, the rest of these missing Doctor Who episodes found their way back to the BBC after being discovered in the back of a cupboard at BBC Enterprises in 1988. They were mysteriously labelled as ‘cutting copies,’ so it’s unclear where they came from, or what they were used for.
The Enemy of the World
These Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back to the BBC in 2013 after they were discovered at a TV station in Jos by missing episode hunter Philip Morris. That being said, the BBC already had two copies of episode three – a 16mm film negative, and a viewing print.
The Web of Fear – episodes 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6
Again, these Doctor Who missing episodes found their way back in 2013 after being discovered by Philip Morris in Jos. He actually found the complete serial, but episode three was stolen shortly after its discovery, and remains missing. Episode one, meanwhile, already existed in the BBC archives, having been returned in 1976 from either Zambia or Australia.
The Wheel in Space – episodes 3 and 6
A print of episode three was returned to the BBC in 1984, having come from Singapore. I can’t find any information on where episode six might have come from.
These missing Doctor Who episodes found their way back to the BBC in 1976, having been returned by an overseas broadcaster. However, the BBC already had copies in its possession, having retained the original 16mm prints and the 35mm film negative of episode three.
The Mind Robber
The BBC retained the film negatives of all five episodes of ‘The Mind Robber.’
The Invasion – episodes 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8
Whilst episodes 1 and 4 of ‘The Invasion’ remain missing, the rest of these missing Doctor Who episodes found their way back to the archive in 1976, although it’s unclear where they came from.
These missing Doctor Who episodes found their way back to the BBC in 1976, and may have returned from Australia.
The Seeds of Death
As with ‘The Krotons,’ these missing Doctor Who episodes found their way back to the archive in 1976, and may have been returned from multiple countries: namely Australia, Sssingapore and Gibraltar.
The Space Pirates – episode 2
Interestingly, the BBC retained its original copy of episode 2 as it was considered to be of historical significance, having been shot entirely on film! However, the rest of the story is sadly missing.
The War Games
Remarkably, all 10 of these missing Doctor Who episodes found their way back to the BBC. These came from Singapore, and were returned to the archive in 1976.
So there we are – just a brief explanation as to how the missing Doctor Who episodes found their way back to us. For more information, take a look at the Broadwcast and Restoration Team websites, which I used to research this piece.
And remember, there are still 97 missing Doctor Who episodes, so if you happen to have access to a Mormon church, be sure to check your basement!
Doctor Who scarf – order now from the Lovarzi shop!
Shop on Amazon
- Which are the best Doctor Who episodes featuring Ace?
- Doctor Who Confidential: Will Doctor Who’s most popular spin-off ever return?
- Doctor Who action figures: The strange world of Denys Fisher
- Doctor Who companions: Remembering Sarah Jane Smith, the Doctor’s best friend
- Faithful new scarf! The story behind Tom Baker’s 2003 Doctor Who outfit