Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

The missing Doctor Who episodes: some speculation

Like a lot of people, my heart leapt back in June when the original rumours of a rediscovery of many Doctor Who episodes began to circulate; circumstantial evidence began to accumulate; and then hopes were dashed by a pretty definitive statement from episode-hinter Phil Morris, followed, after speculation refused to die down, by a further denial from episode restorer Paul Vanezis.

We now know that Morris and Vanezis's statements were, basically, untrue. The latest Doctor Who magazine has interviews with both. Vanezis now says that he restored most of The Enemy of the World on 28 April and The Web of Fear on 31 May, which is rather difficult to reconcile with his comment in August that "I wasn’t directly involved in the discussions... it does appear to have been a private collector [...] who was basically time wasting". The April and May dates also mean that while Morris, who must necessarily have handed them over to Vanezis by this point, may have been technically correct to say in June that he "DOES NOT HOLD ANY MISSING EPISODES OF THE LONG RUNNING DR WHO SERIES", his further comment that "THEY ARE NOT MISSING BUT DESTROYED THE END", let alone "I will be making no more statements on this subject" are thoroughly falsified by subsequent revelations.

So where does this leave us? It means the only thing we can rely on from the episode-hunters is actual real episodes that have been recovered, rather than anything they may actually say; there is clearly an internal culture of not just discretion and stonewalling, but actual untruthfulness. There may well be very good reasons for this of which I am unaware (and I must say that just a quick glance at the episode-hunting discussion boards reveals a rather poisonous debate environment, in which I think I too would be very wary of showing my full hand, if I had one). But my conclusion is this: the rumours that there are in fact even more episodes being held somewhere will now gain credibility, rather than losing it, in the face of official denials.

(As John Cleese's character in Clockwise says, "It's not the despair - it's the hope!")
Tags: doctor who

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