There are currently 97 missing Doctor Who episodes, but film hunter Philip Morris has said that he believes there are “at least” six still out there in the wild. Which ones could they be, and will we ever see them again?
It’s time to speculate…
1. Marco Polo (any)
‘Marco Polo’ is the only story from Doctor Who‘s first season to be missing in its entirety, making it very conspicuous by its absence. Could any of its missing Doctor Who episodes have fallen into the hands of private collectors? Certainly. Remember, ‘Marco Polo‘ was sold to nine countries, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for surplus copies to show up at car boot sales / church basements / in BBC cupboards. Moreover, this is a highly-regarded First Doctor adventure, and anybody with even a passing interest in the Doctor’s travels would be aware of its significance.
But how much Zeiton will we have to offer to get it back…?
2. The Daleks’ Master Plan (any)
Okay, hear me out. ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’ is certainly one of the rarer of the missing Doctor Who stories. And yet, against all the odds, three of its episodes have escaped extermination – two of which were found in the basement of a Mormon church, and one that was salvaged by a BBC engineer.
And of all the stories, ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan‘ is one that is more likely to have been destroyed in its entirety. As far as we know, only one set of ‘audition’ prints was made (excluding episode seven) and the only country that viewed them sent them back without broadcasting.
And so, with one quarter of the story already sitting in the BBC archives, it’s not too much of a stretch to think that there could be other film reels hiding in the depths of Mormon churches. Start looking!
3. The Tenth Planet (episode four)
As the first story to feature the Cybermen – and the first to include the concept of regeneration – ‘The Tenth Planet’ is hugely important in the history of Who. And whilst we’re very lucky to have three of its four episodes safely in our possession (thank you, Australia) the fourth has eluded us thus far.
And there are conflicting reports as to where it could have gone. Some claim that it was loaned to the children’s TV show Blue Peter, which is kind of true, as the programme did use a clip of William Hartnell morphing into Patrick Troughton in one of its episodes. But this wasn’t a spare copy; Blue Peter simply accessed the original films held by the BBC. As such, it is believed that the Beeb junked the entire story en masse.
That said, this missing Doctor Who episode could still turn up. After all, its first three instalments came back to us. So where, exactly, is part four hiding?
4. The Web of Fear (episode three)
It’s fairly common knowledge that this missing Doctor Who episode isn’t exactly “missing.” Philip Morris found it at a TV station in Jos along with its other episodes, but it was taken before he could secure it – presumably so that it could be sold on the missing Doctor Who episodes black market (yes, such a thing exists.) As far as we know, ‘The Web of Fear‘ episode three is now sitting snugly in a private collector’s vault, so we might need our own Yeti taskforce if we’re to see it again.
That being said, we can still enjoy the episode in some form. The original DVD release features a telesnap reconstruction (along with the original audio) and in August 2021, the BBC is releasing a special animated version to fill the gap.
5. The Invasion (any)
We’re very lucky in that Season Six is largely free of missing Doctor Who episodes. However, one of its casualties is this Cybermen story from 1968, which is missing its opening instalment along with episode four. So why does this serial make the list? Well, Season Six is 84% complete, so by the law of averages there are more likely to be episodes from this series still out there in the wild. Thank you, maths.
But where could these missing Doctor Who episodes be hiding? Well, the most likely place is Singapore, as its prints have never been accounted for. ‘The Invasion’ was also sold to Australia, but they apparently junked their copies in 1976 (although this has never stopped other missing Doctor Who episodes from turning up…) Similarly, there is a big question mark over the fate of the prints sent to Gibraltar.
6. The Space Pirates (any)
Like ‘The Invasion,’ ‘The Space Pirates’ comes from Doctor Who‘s sixth season. But sadly, ‘The Space Pirates’ is a mostly-missing Doctor Who story, with the exception of episode two, which was retained by the BBC because of its historical significance – namely, being a rare example of a TV episode that was shot entirely on film.
And whilst ‘The Space Pirates’ may not be at the top of many people’s missing Doctor Who episodes wish lists, few people would turn down the opportunity to see this unusual space opera in the flesh. And the best place to start looking would be Singapore, as the copies that were sent to Australia and Zambia were junked by the BBC.
But of course, there’s always a possibility that somebody could have intercepted them on the way to the incinerator…
7. And finally…
Which missing Doctor Who episodes would you most like to see again? Every fan has their favourites. Arguably, one of the most popular choices is ‘The Power of the Daleks,’ as this is Patrick Troughton’s first full Doctor Who story. ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’ is another favourite, but there is also a lot of love for ‘The Massacre,’ which is an obscure First Doctor tale starring the Time Lord’s mysterious doppelgänger, the Abbot of Amboise.
And with rumours circulating that there are at least six missing Doctor Who episodes still out there in the wild, it’s not impossible to think that we might see some of these stories again. So keep everything crossed!
Cybermen Doctor Who scarf – order now from the Lovarzi shop!