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Beeb rescues old Who episodes

Twisted path back to Blighty for ABC archival tapes

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The BBC has announced that two of the “missing” 1960s-era Dr Who episodes have turned up and been added to the Beeb’s archives.

The latest recoveries, the first since 2004, made their way somehow from Australia to the BBC via Southampton.

Like most broadcasters, the BBC had trouble storing bulky pre-digital recordings of years gone by, and as the BBC notes, tapes were routinely recorded over.

The two “new” episodes are number three in the William Hartnell Galaxy 4 series, and episode two of Patrick Troughton’s The Underwater Menace. They have just been shown at the British Film Institutes’ “Missing Believed Wiped” event in London.

While delivered up to the BBC by a Brit, Terry Burnett, who bought the tapes at a village fete in Southampton in the 1980s, the episodes have been identified as originating from Australia’s ABC.

Humorously, this is because of cuts made to The Underwater Menace because of Australia’s then extremely po-faced TV censorship (they censored a Dr Who episode?). The National Archives of Australia are working to restore the cuts from the original material.

The BBC says more than 100 episodes of Dr Who are still unaccounted for, so if we could send some neutrinos in the right direction and recapture VHF signals from the 1960s, it would be helpful. ®

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