Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes





Coming up from Telos Publishing next month is Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes - a book detailing the contentious aspect of the BBC's history, that of their wholescale throwing away of archive television recordings from the sixties, in a period leading to around 1977/8 when it was largely stopped by the intervention of concerned individuals. Richard Molesworth has painstakingly peeled back the layers behind these actions, finding out exactly what was destroyed and when, and then chronicling the attempts of fans to locate and replace the BBC's lost archive of Doctor Who material - with a large degree of success.
In the 1960s, the BBC screened 253 episodes of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell and then Patrick Troughton as The Doctor. Yet by 1975, the Corporation had wiped the master tapes of every single one of these episodes. Of the 124 episodes starring Jon Pertwee shown between 1970 and 1974, the BBC destroyed over half of the original transmission tapes within two years of their original broadcast.

In the years that followed, the BBC, along with dedicated fans of the series, began the arduous task of trying to track down copies of as many missing Doctor Who episodes as possible. The search covered BBC sales vaults, foreign television stations, overseas archives, and numerous networks of private film collectors, until the tally of missing programmes was reduced to just 108 episodes.

For the first time, this book looks in detail at how the episodes came to be missing in the first place, and examines how material subsequently came to be returned to the BBC. Along the way, those people involved in the recovery of lost slices of Doctor Who's past tell their stories in candid detail, many for the very first time.

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