When it was revealed to Doctor Who fans in January 2004 that The Daleks' Master Plan Episode Two: Day of Armageddon had been returned to the BBC Archives by a former BBC employee who had saved it from being destroyed during the early 1970's, it had been five long years since The Crusade Episode One: The Lion had been returned from New Zealand and a very long thirteen years since all four episodes of The Tomb of the Cybermen had been recovered in Hong Kong. With the only other recent, significant film footage finds consisting of brief Australian censor clips in 1996, New Zealand censor clips in 2002, and a collection of Fury From the Deep film trims and a Power of the Daleks trailer unearthed in 2003, the question continues to loom: how long will Doctor Who fans wait until the next lost episode discovery? The larger question even looms: Will there ever be another lost episode discovery?
Why is it that Doctor Who episodes need recovering in the first place? In brief, during the 1960's Doctor Who was videotaped for actual transmission purposes, after which the videotapes would be used by the BBC Engineering Department to create 16mm black-and-white film telerecordings for overseas sales. These original videotapes were typically stored until telerecordings were created and sent on to BBC Enterprises, at which point BBC Enterprises and the Drama Serials Department would release them to be wiped or re-used; there simply were no adequate financial resources available for saving and storing everything. Why keep two copies of each Doctor Who episode, especially when the expensive videotapes could be re-used? By August 1974, when Fury from the Deep and Mission to the Unknown were wiped, the entire black-and-white era of sixties Doctor Who no longer existed on videotape. And, by 1978, BBC Enterprises had destroyed most of the 16mm Doctor Who telerecordings for the very same reason. By some reports, it appears as if the mass junkings by BBC Enterprises were conducted under the misguided assumption that only duplicate copies of material still held elsewhere within the BBC were being destroyed. However, Robert Franks, co-editor of the distinguished online Doctor Who newsletter The Disused Yeti and the fanzine Nothing at the End of the Lane, explains that "As more research has been done, the more obvious it is that at least someone knew they were destroying the only copies of the Doctor Who serials. For example, when a videotape arrived in the Engineering library either Drama Serials or BBC Enterprises could submit a "Retention Authorization" form (Drama Serials being BBC TV or the Doctor Who Production Office itself). Once these were in place, a videotape could only be wiped once both Drama and BBC Enterprises had issued a "Wipe/Junk Authorization." In other words, BBC Enterprises had to OK the videotapes being wiped and later they destroyed their telerecordings as well, so someone at Enterprises was aware that they were probably destroying the only copies out there." Either way, quite fortunately and quite by chance, many episodes ready-and-waiting for junking were recovered from a BBC Enterprises vault in 1978. Word then began to spread that invaluable material had been destroyed, leaving gaps in the history of Doctor Who, and the searching began in earnest for the recovery of otherwise "lost" episodes, some of which were returned by collectors, some of which were hunted down in foreign countries, a few of which were found "lost" within the BBC itself.
As the number of significant film footage recoveries continues to dramatically decline, fans are left hovering between relief/joy when material is found and pessimism/discouragement while in-between finds. As Doctor Who Restoration Team member Peter Finklestone illustrates, "If you plot a graph of the number of minutes worth of Doctor Who recovered on a quarterly basis from 1981 to today, counting things like colour Jon Pertwee episodes being found as well as censor clips and film inserts, you'll see a definite trend. Huge amounts of material came back in the first few months and years (not unreasonably as it was only 5 years since the junkings stopped and 10 years since shows had been exported). In the late eighties things slowed-up a lot, but still there were recoveries. In the nineties, we had The Tomb of the Cybermen, some film inserts, the Australian censor clips and The Lion - about as much returned in a decade as was returned in a 3 month period in the early eighties! So, while we continue to look and follow up leads, it's reasonable not to expect to find much." However, despite the decline, Finklestone states "I'm sure there will be finds in the future, but they'll be increasingly uncommon." Below is a pie-graph illustrating Finklestone's point, based on the number of minutes worth of Doctor Who footage recovered since 1978...
The minutes of Doctor Who footage returned, illustrated in this graph, includes:
1978-1984: b/w Hartnell & Troughton episodes found by Ian Levine in the vaults at BBC Enterprises, the recovered Pilot episode, color Jon Pertwee episodes returned from overseas, all other episodes recovered from non-UK TV archives and film collectors
1985-1989: Color Pertwee episodes recovered overseas, The Ice Warriors 1, 4-6 found at BBC Enterprises and The Faceless Ones 3/The Evil of the Daleks 2 returned by a film collector
1990's: The Tomb of the Cybermen, The Lion, Australian censor clips, 8mm footage originally filmed in sixties-Australia, recovered 5:53 from Galaxy Four 1, and various clips from The Power of the Daleks & The Daleks Master Plan
2000 - ?: NZ censor clips, Pertwee film insert, Fury From the Deep trims, Power of the Daleks trailer, Day of Armageddon
Today, some fans admittedly feel a bit foolish waiting for a 30-year-old film reel to unexpectedly emerge from a former BBC employee's cluttered attic, or a film collector's tightly guarded collection, or a dark and dust encrusted TV archive in battle-torn Iran. Yet recent online discussions and fan surveys suggest that many Doctor Who fans would like to believe that further lost episodes will still resurface. In a 1999 readers survey conducted by the Disused Yeti online newsletter, 76% of respondents believed that as many as 30 episodes or less still exist, whether they be temporarily misplaced, or in the hands of private collectors. Some may interpret 30 to be a relatively small number compared to the 109 episodes still missing, yet considering the passage of time and the likelihood that many episodes have been destroyed, even the recovery of a handful of episodes would be encouraging. The same survey asked "Which three stories would you most like to see recovered in full?" The top-3 choices, as selected by readers, included The Daleks' Master Plan, The Power of the Daleks, and Marco Polo.
1978. Hong Kong TV returns episode 1 of the 1968 Troughton classic The Web of Fear, declaring that no Doctor Who remains in their archives. In 1991 the BBC is surprised to find that Tomb of the Cybermen, in its entirety and on 16mm film, has been voluntarily returned from the archives in...Hong Kong! This marks the first discovery of complete missing episodes since 1988 and, according to Doctor Who Magazine #184, the BBC attempts to stall the Doctor Who rumor wagon with a counter-rumor that the find is merely episodes of An Unearthly Child in Arabic! Asia Television once again claims that no further Doctor Who remains in their possession.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED...
If further missing Doctor Who episodes return to the archives, they will likely emerge from one of the following sources: foreign TV archives, former BBC production staff or employees who could not bring themselves to carry out the "junking" assigned to black-and-white Doctor Who episodes during the seventies, film collectors who possess Doctor Who film reels unaware of their rarity and value, or unscrupulous fans/film collectors who are quite aware of their value. Over the decades rumors and hoaxes have swirled around each of the aforementioned scenarios, blurring the distinction between fact and fiction. Doctor Who researcher Steve Phillips (Doctor Who clips list), for one, believes that "There is a much wider possibility of missing episodes existing still with TV stations, possibly in uncatalogued repositories rather than their "official" collections, than with fans." Phillips explains that "The obvious countries (Australia, Canada, etc) have all been largely checked out but I think a lot of the smaller broadcasters were not really bothered with. TV stations are busy places and I think Doctor Who fans often over-estimate their interest in helping with these things - they simply are not going to tell teams of their own staff to spend months checking through racks of film cans for Doctor Who or opening up dusty uncatalogued storage facilities." In fact, Phillips will admit that "With TV stations, there are so many different holdings all over the world that it is possible there are runs of missing episodes still around."
Fellow Doctor Who researcher Dominic Jackson (Doctor Who video & audio FAQ) agrees with Phillips that foreign archives are still the most likely source for locating lost episodes. And even though most of the larger countries have been searched, "Incredible as it may seem, Hong Kong (TV Asia) has not been thoroughly searched - they are very dismissive of such requests. These are the people that returned The Web of Fear Episode One in 1978, then insisted they had nothing more, only to return Tomb of the Cybermen 13 years later! If asked now they still say they have nothing else, probably because they have reasons of their own for not wanting to do a search." Such as? "Presumably they are more concerned with devoting resources towards new programing rather than hunting down copies of material they purchased over 30 years ago." And what are the chances of Galaxy Four or The Power of the Daleks residing in an uncatalogued, forgotten storage facility in Ethiopia or Zambia? "As for the smaller places having material - it is admittedly a possibility that cannot be ruled out." Like Phillips, Jackson also agrees that "Even if material is held, there is the question of accessing it. The trouble with uncatalogued storerooms is that the first instinct is usually to just chuck out the contents without checking what those contents are. Then there is the matter of gaining access as an independent researcher..."
1983. The Daleks' Master Plan Episodes 5 & 10 are discovered in a church basement in England. For years to come the facts are unclear even as to the denomination of the church in question, let alone how BBC film cans found their way into the building. Never sold abroad, this adventure was perhaps the one least likely to have episodes returned. A remarkable recovery indeed! Even more surprising: Episode 2 is returned in 2004 by a former BBC employee who rescued the film from junking.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED...
Franks similarly believes that "If episodes still survive they will more than likely show up in foreign TV stations. However, there are a lot of stations out there that aired Doctor Who that just cannot be reached. There are a variety of problems, one of the biggest being how to search these stations. One, keep in mind that just calling a TV station in Hong Kong may result in a response that they have nothing in their database; this does not mean that they don't have a stack of old film cans in storage that have never been catalogued. Two, you cannot expect these stations to spend money of their own searching through uncatalogued material. At the same time, they are under no obligation to allow people into their archives to search for themselves. In fact, I doubt that many would ever allow this sort of activity. So basically, you have a stalemate: the very people who would do the looking at their own expense (the fans) don't normally have access to the places that need searching." So, is it possible that decades-old Doctor Who film cans are piled-up in numerous uncatalogued facilities around the world? Not necessarily. As Franks explains, "There may only be a handful of episodes out there to be recovered yet. Some people foolishly believe there may be a horde of film cans just sitting out there. While I don't deny this as a possibility, the chances are very unlikely. And as time goes by it becomes less likely. Not necessarily less likely that missing episodes will show up, but as these prints get older and older, the chances of them being destroyed or ruined becomes greater and greater."
Richard Molesworth, another member of the Doctor Who Restoration Team, contrastingly believes foreign archives are tapped-out. Certainly, "The Daleks' Master Plan Episode 7, Feast of Steven was not film recorded for overseas sales, and the transmission tape was wiped 17/08/67, a little over 18 months after its only UK transmission. So there is no chance of this ever turning up. Additionally, The Daleks' Master Plan was never shown abroad, although film copies were sent to ABC in Australia. By rights, episodes of this should never have turned up, but in accordance with the law of improbability, 2 episodes did in 1983! So you never can tell." To accurately determine what may or may not still exist in overseas archives, Molesworth provides this list of how often the other now-incomplete or missing stories were sold abroad, alongside a list of missing episode sales by country:
Marco Polo - known sales: 19 countries
The Reign of Terror - known sales: 16 countries
The Crusade - known sales: 12 countries
The Abominable Snowmen - known sales: 7 countries
The Enemy of the World - known sales: 7 countries
The Web of Fear - known sales: 7 countries
Galaxy 4 - known sales: 6 countries
The Myth Makers - known sales: 6 countries
The Massacre - known sales: 6 countries
The Celestial Toymaker - known sales: 6 countries
The Savages - known sales: 6 countries
The Smugglers - known sales: 6 countries
The Highlanders - known sales: 6 countries
The Underwater Menace - known sales: 6 countries
The Moonbase - known sales: 6 countries The Macra Terror - known sales: 6 countries
The Faceless Ones - known sales: 6 countries
The Ice Warriors - known sales: 6 countries
The Wheel in Space - known sales: 6 countries
Fury From the Deep - known sales: 5 countries
The Evil of the Daleks - known sales: 4 countries
The Invasion - known sales: 4 countries
The Space Pirates - known sales: 4 countries
The Tenth Planet - known sales: 3 countries
The Power of the Daleks - known sales: 3 countries
Australia - 26 countries
Singapore - 24
New Zealand - 22
Zambia - 18
Hong Kong - 15
Gibraltar - 9
Uganda - 9
Nigeria - 6
Caribbean - 6
Sierra Leone - 6
Ethiopia - 3
Jamaica - 3
Mauritius - 3
Cyprus - 2
Thailand - 2
Kenya - 2
Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) - 2
Barbados - 2
Bermuda - 1
Canada - 1
Ghana - 1
Venezuela - 1
Iran - 1
Trinidad & Tobago - 1
Molesworth explains that "What the overseas sales provide is a "maximum" figure for the amount of copies of any particular story that were made by the BBC. And we know that episodes were sent from New Zealand to Cyprus to Iran to Singapore, so unfortunately, that takes the numbers down considerably." In short, Molesworth believes that "The main overseas markets - Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore - seem to have demonstrated that they have no more material," and so contrary to Phillips and Jackson, "I think it's about time that we began to write-off foreign broadcasters as possible sources of missing material."
Roger Anderson, creator of the invaluable online research tool The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive, agrees with Molesworth in that "All of the more accessible sources of missing episodes have probably been tapped. There's always a chance that an episode might be found behind a bookshelf or filing cabinet in some TV station, but it seems to be more likely that lost material may be in the hands of collectors in much the same way that The Lion was. We have to remember that most TV stations either destroyed their prints or cycled them on to other countries." That said, "I do, however, still have the naive hope that somewhere in some remote country in Africa or Asia there's an unchecked stash of film cans that contains those elusive classics..."
1985. As a result of industrious fan inquiries, The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation returns to the BBC redundant episodes of The Aztecs and The Sensorites, as well as four episodes of The Reign of Terror, three of which are missing at the time. It is later discovered that Reign Episodes 4 & 5 and episode 2 of The Aztecs were held in a separate Cyprus facility which was destroyed during a Turkish invasion in 1974!
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED...
So the debate continues: missing episodes may or may not still exist in foreign archives - regardless, accessing that material before it is eventually destroyed may ultimately prove impossible. As Anderson suggests, "At the end of the day I'm sure that there are episodes out there but I'm not entirely convinced that we'll ever get to see them!" And, as Molesworth notes, "The longer time goes by, the less likely it is that material will survive. When [episode-hunter] Ian Levine started looking for missing material in 1978, The Space Pirates was only 9 years old. That would be like looking for Resistance is useless [1992 BBC2 Doctor Who documentary] now! Marco Polo was shown nearly 40 years ago. It's a lot to ask."
In recent years, debate has emerged regarding the possibility that sixties Doctor Who may have been broadcast in the United States during the late sixties/early seventies. Several fans have claimed to have seen stories such as The Power of the Daleks, The Underwater Menace, The Abominable Snowmen, The Wheel in Space, and The Seeds of Death in areas including Washington D.C.; Chicago, Illinois; Seattle, Washington; Detroit, Michigan; and Fort Worth, Texas. The only problem? The BBC's records indicate that Doctor Who was not sold to the U.S. market at this time, and it is generally believed that no sixties Doctor Who was sold to U.S. markets prior to the eighties. Some of the above testimony is admittedly vague, however some is rather convincing. Paul Vanezis of the Doctor Who Restoration Team has researched the issue and surmises that "Yes, there has been a lot of rumour and speculation over the years re: broadcasts of sixties Doctor Who in the U.S. during the sixties and seventies. I have seen no evidence to support this; not even listings magazines confirm what the few people say. Regardless, I have contacted the several stations involved, all of whom say they never broadcast it."
Some consider it possible that these U.S. viewers may in fact have been watching Canadian television signals, which was possible at the time in certain northern cities of the U.S. The only problem? Despite testimony from several fans who claim to have seen on various Canadian stations stories ranging from The Celestial Toymaker to The Wheel in Space, conventional wisdom claims this is highly unlikely. Why? As Canadian researcher Nicholas Fitzpatrick explains, "The CBC did air sixties Doctor Who in 1965, the first 26 episodes from An Unearthly Child through The Keys of Marinus. We all know this, it is well documented in the BBC records and can also be found in numerous contemporary documents such as CBC magazines and local TV listings. I've personally verified it in both The Toronto Star and The Montreal Star; there is tons of documentation about this. However, there is not one shred of physical evidence that anything else was aired, until the Jon Pertwee episodes on TVO and CKVU in the seventies. And surely, if it aired, there would be TV listings." So, how should one assess sightings of sixties Doctor Who in areas of Canada ranging from Edmonton, Vancouver and Prince George in the late sixties to Halifax in the early seventies, and rumors of independant Canadian stations purchasing Patrick Troughton episodes long after the CBC national network stopped showing Doctor Who after The Keys of Marinus? Franks, an American-based researcher, states "I can't see any reason to believe that these episodes were broadcast in either the U.S. or Canada. I'm afraid this does have to be chalked up to a case of 'the memory cheats.' First, BBC/Time-Life made a very big deal about the release of the original Pertwee package in the U.S. – it even made an article in the TV Guide. I can't imagine that if an earlier attempt had been made they would have kept quiet about it. One other thing to keep in mind is that over the years, many hoaxers have invented elaborate stories (such as the gentleman at the Visions convention supposedly with a father who had recorded all the Hartnell/Troughton episodes in Canada). These types of hoaxes were created back when little information was known about what was sold to other countries. Even if these episodes did air on a U.S. station, the library tapes would most likely have been destroyed by now (as no station even seems to have any library tapes left from the original Pertwee run). This would make the whole question seem rather academic. While I don't rule out any possibility, I would need any amount of proof before getting too excited. Just like all the hoaxers over the years, these people claiming to have seen the episodes show up, make their claims, and never offer any proof." So until physical evidence (or missing episodes themselves) materializes in either the U.S. or Canada, this mystery seems bound to remain just that – a mystery.
As for the always present rumors that fans possess lost Doctor Who episodes, Phillips warns that "Most of the content among these rumors is rubbish." However, he cautiously and optimistically adds that "I think there probably are the odd episodes out there held privately but they will probably be either jealously guarded or forgotten in the hands of ex-BBC employees or production staff." Franks firmly believes that "One of the biggest myths around is that there are greedy fans out there holding onto missing episodes. There are far too many fans of the series involved in film collecting for these to stay well hidden. In fact, I can only think of one case where someone had an episode and tried to hide it for a few months [The Wheel in Space Episode 3]. Of course, word leaked out very quickly and when approached the person very happily loaned the print back to the BBC to copy." And what about various claims stating that Doctor Who films may have slipped out the BBC's back door? "Sneaking copies of film prints out of the BBC and into the hands of film collectors would have been very dangerous as well. I doubt that many people tried to do this very often."
Likewise, Stephen James Walker (researcher and co-author of the Doctor Who reference books The Sixties & The Seventies, The Doctor Who handbook series, and more) states "I doubt very much indeed that any missing episodes exist in the hands of people who stole them from the BBC Archives, because no fans (and it would presumably be only fans - of a rather deranged sort - who would be tempted to do this) had access to the archives until the eighties, since which time no further episodes have been lost." In fact, "Far from stealing and hoarding missing episodes, fans (and even casual viewers) always seem to have been happy to return episodes to the BBC in all the confirmed instances when they've been rediscovered, whether in the hands of private collectors, overseas TV archives, Mormom churches or whatever."
However, Molesworth admits that "In the UK a few films have turned up in private collections, and private UK collectors may be a possibility for more missing episodes. How these films got outside the BBC in the first place is something of a mystery, but the number of liberated films could have only been a handful. A few films were junked by the BBC Film Library prior to 1977 - and there is no reason to suspect that they were not properly destroyed. The main source of 16mm films was BBC Enterprises, but material going walkies was not a regular occurance. In fact, we currently believe we've accounted for everything that came out of the 'back door,' and no - I can't tell you how we know!" However, despite Molesworth's optimism regarding private collectors, he cautiously adds "I don't believe for a moment that anyone is holding a missing episode knowingly. 'Missing Episode Clubs' are a fan myth, and one that needs destroying as soon as possible." Regrettably, "Unknowing collectors does give us the problem of actually finding the episodes if the collectors don't know what they've got." And likewise, "Episodes sent overseas might have fallen into private hands in those countries - witness The Lion. But unless there is an active fandom - or at least anyone who actually knows what Doctor Who is - to look out for these things, there's no chance of us even getting a lead."
Beyond the issue of whether lost episodes still exist, speculation also typically centers around what episodes in particular may have most likely survived the ravages of time. As Jackson illustrates, "Much as we would like to see all the Season Five classics returned, I fear - simply on the basis of numbers of overseas buyers that had copies of Doctor Who episodes - the most likely to be found are Season Three William Hartnell adventures. Troughton episodes were only sold to a handful of countries, and Australia and New Zealand to name but two have already been investigated. It's notable that many of the fan rumors surrounding hoarders concern these desirable Troughton episodes, but we don't hear many rumors about Hartnell episodes, do we?" So, does any particular Doctor Who adventure stand a better chance than others of being returned? Jackson explains "The only one that I might hold out some hope for is The Daleks' Master Plan Episode Four: The Traitors since there is definite evidence that this one did go walkabouts."
Episode Four of William Hartnell's 1966 swansong, The Tenth Planet, is historically the most sought-after missing Doctor Who episode; as a result, more myths and rumors have been generated concerning this episode than almost any other. Sadly, this episode stands very little chance of future recovery. As Molesworth points out in Doctor Who Magazine #297, The Tenth Planet was sold to only three overseas TV stations (Australia, New Zealand & Singapore) and "No other TV stations around the world purchased the story. It remains to this day one of the most poorly sold Doctor Who adventures overseas. Now, nearly 35 years after its transmission, it is perhaps finally the time to acknowledge that it has been lost forever." Difficult words to accept, yet they are equally difficult to dismiss. Technically speaking, Molesworth expects that "The only copies of missing episodes that are going to realistically surface are 16mm film recordings. The chap we found 2 years ago with an off-air videorecording of The Space Pirates Episode 2 really had to make us rewrite what we thought we knew about home video recording possibilities [during the late sixties], but the envelope still hasn't been pushed back far enough for us to reasonably suspect anything 'missing' might exist on a home VCR format in the UK. It seems even less likely from an overseas source. We got lucky with the off-air 8mm clips from Australia, but we won't be that lucky again. So that leaves 16mm film prints, which is about the only thing going in our favor. Videotape can be erased and re-used. Film is a permanent medium, and one that has a very long shelf-life."
Many fans believe that, thanks to the proliferation of online information sharing, the chances are now better than ever for a renewal of lost episode discoveries. However, one may also argue that online access has simply increased the opportunity for hoaxes. For example, in February 2001 online fans visiting the Doctor Who Technical Forum were victims of a hoaxer claiming to possess Episode 6 of the Troughton classic Fury From the Deep The Mind of Evil, otherwise held by the BBC only in black-and-white form. The hoaxer claimed to be mailing off the color tape to London, but in the end it was revealed to be nothing more than a very clever and elaborate April Fools' Day joke. And most recently a hoaxer posted a fairly convincing photo online showing what appeared to be the opening to Mission to the Unknown in early 2004, which also proved to be just a clever trick. And although there seem to be plenty of missing episode hoaxes today, Molesworth explains "There were far, far more missing episode hoaxes in the mid/late 80's than there are now. But that's because it was easier to do, people were more naive, and without the Internet a hoax could be dragged on for months. It was all done by letters - someone knew a friend of a friend who knew someone who had such and such - and phone calls, usually involving at least one, if not more, fanzine editor of the month (in the days when there were hundreds of Doctor Who fanzines). Go to a convention and talk to people, and you could come back with up to ten damn good rumors!" So how should fans typically approach authenticating and/or debunking missing episode rumors? Molesworth suggests, "Be open to the idea that a story or rumor may be true, but look to apply knowledge and reason to the scenario. Look at what's being said, and usually you can blow a hole through the story. Hoaxers usually don't know their arse from their elbows!" Ultimately, despite the discouraging prevelance of hoaxers and empty rumors, Molesworth illustrates that "Fan interest in the missing episodes is high, has always been high, and will always be high. I doubt there would be a Doctor Who fandom today if every episode still existed."
In fact, some of the most recent recoveries of missing footage can be attributed to the hard work of fans. In 1996 Australian fan-turned-researcher Damian Shanahan unexpectedly discovered a collection of censored extracts considered too violent for Aussie viewers, extracts which had been retained by the Australian Censor Board for almost 30 years. In 1999 New Zealand fans produced a long-missing copy of The Crusade Episode One then, in early 2002, New Zealander Graham Howard discovered censored extracts from NZ broadcasts, from The Web of Fear and The Wheel in Space. In 2003 the BBC's Andrew Martin (also a longtime fan) discovered over 3 minutes worth of film trims from Troughton's Fury From the Deep as well as a partial trailer from the Troughton debut Power of the Daleks, and these discoveries were followed in January 2004 by the surprising return of The Daleks' Master Plan Episode Two: Day of Armageddon which former BBC employee Francis Watson had 'borrowed' from a room being cleaned of rubbish during the early seventies, ensuring its survival.
So has the time come for fans to perhaps relinquish the missing episodes search? Not quite, as Stephen James Walker notes "Recent discoveries show that there may still be material in the hands of collectors or members of the public who do not realize the significance of it (or are only vaguely aware that they've got it – it might just be sitting in an attic or a shed somewhere, like the recently recovered Dad's Army episodes). So I don't think it's absolutely out of the question that more missing episodes will be recovered (although it's just as likely to be further copies of already existing episodes!), but I'd be surprised - very pleasantly so, of course! - if there were more than a handful, at most, still out there somewhere, waiting to be found." And as Vanezis rightly explains, "Fans and any member of the public have a huge role to play in the recovery of missing material. Ultimately, it's about people keeping their ears to the ground, looking out for the next opportunity." And unlike Molesworth, Vanezis is very confident that more missing material will be found, exclaiming "I'm 100% sure. There will be future discoveries." Jackson surmises "It's a treasure hunt and we've been extremely fortunate of late. Some of it, such as the discovery of the Power of the Daleks trailer, is more than just luck - that was good detective work and done in his own spare time as well! Regarding Day of Armageddon we again have a private collector who was unaware of the value of what he had until he did some research into the subject. This is yet another nail in the coffin of 'missing episode clubs.' All the episodes recovered from private collectors, so far as I'm aware, have come from people who didn't know their material was missing." And whereas research has determined what material was probably smuggled out the back door at the BBC Film Library and/or BBC Enterprises, Jackson notes "This particular recovery seems to have arisen from a separate BBC source, a projector maintenance room at Ealing Studies where some 'test' films were kept. We know Francis Watson only took two films and maybe those were the only ones there – we just don't know. As this article suggests, expect the unexpected and don't close the door to further recoveries totally. Before The Lion turned up, I had a gut feeling there were a few (half a dozen or so) undiscovered episodes out there but that they were with people who didn't know the value of them. I'm on record as saying this in various places, so it's not just with the wisdom of hindsight!"
As evidenced here, opinion is still varied as to whether missing Doctor Who episodes still exist, where they might be hiding, and what particular episodes they might in fact be. However, as long as dedicated fans continue the search for lost material, the possibility of future recoveries may still exist as well. Anderson wisely notes "We have to remember that most of the past missing episode returns are down to hard work on the part of fans and a hell of a lot of luck as well. Let's just hope that our collective luck holds out and that those dedicated fans who do all the searching, and to whom we should all be very grateful, hit the jackpot a few more times." Even today, fans continue to write letters of inquiry to foreign TV stations; fans continue searching the Internet for 16mm film collectors; and fans continue researching the unbelievable history behind the vast overseas sales and widespread junking of sixties Doctor Who, hoping to serendipitously stumble upon a clue leading to the recovery of...Who knows what? Above all, fans should remain cautiously optimistic, remembering to expect the unexpected!