Doctor Who: the 10 stories you can’t actually watch

Cliff takes us through ten Doctor Who stories still lost, from Marco Polo to Fury From The Deep...

Doctor Who was for the first twenty six years a series of serials, so episodes make up stories or serials, e.g. Power of the Daleks is a story or serial made up of six episodes, rather than ‘an episode’. Around 250 weekly instalments of Doctor Who were shown between 1963 and 1969. As of January 2014, 97 of these are not held by the BBC, or known to survive, and cannot be viewed – although they can be experienced in a number of ways. Although recent returns have massively helped in evening up the scores, you’ll note that there’s a slight bias towards Hartnell against Troughton for completely missing stories. Troughton still fares worse, however as he has fewer fully existing stories, seven complete stories versus Hartnell’s fifteen. A further fifteen stories are incomplete.

1. Marco Polo (Seven episodes First Season, 1964)

You can listen to Marco Polo (you can listen to any Doctor Who story actually, many in crystal clear quality, thanks to fans of the time) and see photographic reconstructions married to those soundtracks. Sadly, the BBC doesn’t hold any of the seven episodes from early 1964 in the archive as when they were made, there was no market for home recording equipment at all and very limited possibilities of repeats. The expensive master tapes were wiped and reused; 16mm film copies for overseas sale were withdrawn and disposed of after a few years. And yet many episodes of Doctor Who did survive overseas and made it back into the archive. If twelve part The Dalek Master Plan was never even screened outside the UK and we still have a quarter of it, Marco Polo, a seven part story that was shown in twenty seven countries has a good chance of surviving, you would think – even if some countries shared prints over a few years. And yet, the fourth story has nothing. With episodes four and five of The Reign of Terror missing too, the first season lacks nine episodes, making it the second best represented season of the sixties. (Season Two lacks only two episodes, both from The Crusade.) So on the plus side, Hartnell’s first two years are remarkably well represented – so close, and yet so far.


2. Mission To The Unknown (One episode, Third Season, 1965)

Effectively a twenty-five minute prequel/trailer for The Dalek Master Plan, this is unique in Doctor Who terms by standing alone as a twenty-five minute episode, and without an appearance by Doctor or companion. An animation by a team led by David Busch, privately commissioned by fan Ian Levine, leaked online once it became clear there was no commercial future for it. Although the character models are a little more caricatured than those seen in most of the BBC DVD animated episodes, it tells the story very well indeed and is easily found should you be inclined.

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3. The Myth Makers (Four episodes, Third Season, 1965)

A sublime, clever and funny comedy-drama that plays with Aeschylus texts, big performances, and puns – perhaps not for everyone, but certainly worth seeing for the shift into truly dark material in the last episode, and the departure of Vicki, played by Maureen O’Brien. Viewers at the time may have been a little confused at the lack of Daleks in this story, although they would be back in full force the week after the fourth episode… all that survives is the soundtrack, some scraps of off-air 8mm film, and some production photographs. John Cura, the man paid to take the telesnaps we’ve mentioned before and since, was not employed by John Wiles for this period; regrettable, as his era is hit badly by archive losses.


4. The Massacre (Four episodes, Third Season, 1966)

In which the Doctor and Steven (Peter Purves) witness the Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve; Huguenots, a potential new companion, a new companion… and the sinister Abbot of Amboise is a dead ringer for The Doctor! A story with very little left. We have the soundtrack, but with very few photographs and not a frame of footage, this is one of the most obscure stories. It was also a troubled script, drafted by John Lucarotti, whose Marco Polo (lost, see above) and The Aztecs (surviving) had been so well received. Story editors and producers together were effectively two men doing the role of a modern programme’s ‘show runner’, and editor Donald Tosh drastically rewrote The Massacre. This led to an interesting diversion, a couple of decades later, when Lucarotti novelised his original scripts, even adding an anachronistic prologue with reference to the Time Lords (the Doctor would not speak of his own people until several years later in the series itself).


5.  The Savages (Four Episodes, Third Season 1966)

The Doctor is famous and revered on a distant planet, and welcomed – but there are dark secrets, and soon he’s the victim of mind transference! And then Steven decides that enough is enough… It’s sad that we don’t have this rather interesting and frequently overlooked tale. The Savages, has an interesting concept and a rather more modern feel. That and a hilarious piece of technology, possibly an early Sonic Screwdriver, in his “reacting vibrator…” It would also be great to see Steven’s departure scene in more than flickering fragments – a few seconds survive on fan-recorded 8mm.

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6. The Smugglers (Four episodes, Fourth Season, 1966)

The second Ben and Polly story; the penultimate William Hartnell story, and all that survives of this swashbuckling historical is a couple of censor clips from New Zealand, and lengthy silent (but COLOUR!) location film. This isn’t a much-celebrated story, but largely out of ignorance rather than there being anything drastically wrong with it. It’s a more straightforward children’s adventure serial, so not as sophisticated in terms of character or wit than earlier historicals, nor does it contain any companion departures or arrivals.


7. Power of the Daleks (Six episodes, Fourth Season, 1966)

We’ve recently witnessed the Matt Smith pass on the baton to Peter Capaldi, but if you want to see Patrick Troughton’s debut as the second Doctor, you’re going to struggle. This superb six parter is represented by various clips used in documentaries, and a fragment of a trailer, as well as telesnaps mentioned earlier. It has an extended novelisation, a script book, an official reconstruction viewable on computer via mp3CD, and even a heavily condensed and simplified fan remake on Youtube that keeps character names, but loses the companions and the regeneration subplot, substitutes an alien colony for an Earth research base, and gives us impressive Daleks and somewhat… mixed acting.


8. The Highlanders (Four episodes, Fourth Season, 1966-67)

Not dissimilar in some respects to The Smugglers, with Ben, Polly, pirate ships, slavers and lots of countryside, this is Patrick Troughton’s second story and features the introduction of Jamie, who would travel with him all the way up until the end. Frazer Hines was never meant to be a regular character, filming a goodbye on set, but he was liked so much by the cast and crew, that the Producer had the ending reshot. Of these two versions made, it would be a treat to see at least the transmitted version… The Highlanders would also be the last Doctor Who story for many years to be set in Earth’s history but not involve an alien presence; the show would shift and occasionally feature futuristic stories with human villains (The Enemy of the World), or stories with a manmade monster in place of an extraterrestrial threat, but it marks the last of a genre of ‘Historicals’. Brief censor clips, the soundtrack and telesnaps are all we have.

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9. The Macra Terror (Four episodes, Fourth Season, 1967)

Ian Stuart Black’s third and final story, he blends a seemingly idyllic and happy society (as in his story, The Savages) with an evil force controlling people’s minds (As in his story, The War Machines) to bring us The Macra Terror. One of the first commercially released soundtracks of missing stories on cassette in 1992, this originally had rather brief and unclear narration, and it was before the age of widespread digital restoration and enhancement. We have a soundtrack (now on CD with much better scripted narration), telesnaps and a number of censor cuts from New Zealand that showcase the Macra prop.


10. Fury From The Deep (Six episodes, Fifth Season, 1968)

Fury From the Deep is also the last story featuring companion Victoria Waterfield, played by Deborah Watling. Debbie’s fortunes have taken quite an upturn with regards to her archive representation; although The Evil of the Daleks is missing six of seven episodes (her debut is in the surviving second episode), all of The Tomb of the Cybermen came back from Hong Kong in 1991; single episodes of The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear have been around since the early 1980s, and four of the six episodes of The Ice Warriors were discovered on BBC premises in 1988. Then of course, in 2013, The Enemy of the World became a complete story with Philip Morris’s Nigerian find and The Web of Fear not far off completion, with four of the six episodes missing returned and restored for download and DVD. So Fury becomes Debbie’s (and the Fifth Season’s) only story without a representative episode, although we have a number of clips which give us a flavour. First of all, the sensitive New Zealand censors kept a scene of the villainous Oak and Quill, and various other perilous clips. Most interesting is a reel of silent film offcuts from the climax of the story found at the BBC; these are alternate takes and angles likely to give a strong flavour of the director’s intentions, which cut with the surviving off-air soundtrack, is  another way of experiencing a bit of lost Doctor Who. Although individual episode losses would continue, right up until Patrick Troughton’s penultimate story The Space Pirates (represented only by Episode Two) Fury From The Deep has for a very long time been his last great loss.

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