With Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary special just months away, fans learned today that the BBC has finally recovered the Holy Grail of Doctor Who fandom: 106 lost episodes featuring the first two Doctors.
Or has it? Whovians have fooled before by versions of the story published by British tabloid the Daily Mirror Sunday.
The lost episodes, reportedly destroyed by the BBC in the ’60s and ’70s to save the space the film took up its in archives, have popped up several times in the past few years alone. Each time, fans’ hopes have been raised in vain, and the episodes still haven’t emerged.
In the Mirror version of the story, the BBC sent copies of the episodes to Ethiopia for broadcast, and subsequently sold them to dedicated Ethiopian fans who have held them to this day. The Mirror quotes Doctor Who expert Stuart Kelly as saying the BBC is negotiating for their return.
Then the paper goes a step further, claiming the BBC will unveil the storied episodes, starring William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, this week.
A senior BBC source apparently told the paper, “There will be big news this Tuesday regarding lost Doctor Who episodes.”
But Whovians aren’t holding their breath.
Although a couple of episodes have been recovered from personal collections in the past few years—and those could be the ones the BBC plans to release this week—the mythic cache of all 100+ missing installments of the show remains elusive.
In June, a rumor that 90 episodes had resurfaced made the rounds on the Internet and quickly fell apart.
Regarding the Doctor Who Missing episode story. I would like it to be true but we have been burned before.
— Matt Davis (@DecadentGent) October 6, 2013
With the 50th anniversary special airing November 23, we’ll soon find out whether the BBC does have a big reveal planned, or whether this is just another well-timed rumor meant to capitalize on Doctor Who fans’ excitement.
Photo via BBC