Heard of Doctor Who’s lost episodes? Well, some of them may not be so lost after all.
Ironically enough for a show about time travel, the early years of Doctor Who are still shrouded in mystery. Back in the 1960s, the BBC had no idea that the show would become so popular, and more than a hundred episodes were wiped from the BBC archives as a space-saving measure.
Given the fascination Whovians have with these “lost episodes,” that mistake will go down in fandom history alongside the publisher who turned down Harry Potter.
Every few years, another lost episode rumor surfaces. This time the news comes from Bleeding Cool, who have heard from reliable sources that some of the missing episodes may be revealed for the show’s 50th anniversary this year. So far, the rumor is alluringly feasible but still kind of, well... vague:
“What I’ve been hearing, and some of it is attributed to an eccentric engineer who worked for broadcasters across Africa with a taste for science fiction and a habit of taking things for ‘safe keeping,’ is that the BBC have secured a large number of presumed-wiped episodes of early Doctor Who.”
Lost episode conspiracy theories have been making their way across Doctor Who fandom for decades, usually taking the form of a mysterious private collector hoarding homemade pirate tapes, or the ever-popular “I know a guy”. Because several episodes have already been recovered, it’s always tempting to believe stories like this.
Back in the day, fans often copied audio recordings of the episodes, a kind of 1960s equivalent to file-sharing. Full episodes, however, are still the holy grail for old-school Whovians, and recovering a full run of a William Hartnell-era serial would be a real coup for the BBC.
Bleeding Cool signs off with a postscript saying that another, “better connected source” has also backed up the rumor. But for now, it’s probably better to stay cautiously optimistic rather than break out the champagne just yet.