So, Doctor Who. And missing episodes. 106 were thought to have been wiped or lost, though that's a reduction of the original amount, after hard work by fans and collectors recovering many episodes around the world over the years.
We first started hearing about what's been dubbed the Omnirumour around a year ago, that a huge cache of missing episodes of Doctor Who, and found episodes as well, along with lots of other BBC material from the sixties had been found in Africa. That the finder had used considerable skill and subterfuge to secure the haul. And was shipping it, in containers, to Liverpool. It sounded fanciful, and it sounded fun. But it was only in June this year that we ran the story, after a number of people associated with the production of Doctor Who were heard gossiping about the story themselves. We thought it was newsworthy and entertaining that the professionals were gossiping just like the fans.
Then things exploded rather, and we were beset by various competing versions of the story, reported a few of them and watched as new details came in. Including a competing rumour, nicknamed MEW, that while not dismissing the original, stated that Marco Polo, Enemy Of The World and Web Of Fear had already been received by the BBC and were being remastered for an anniversary release.
The Sunday People story, as well as the stories picked up by other press was the Omnirumour, through a series of filters. For a start, it couldn't be all 106 episodes, it couldn't be from Ethiopia, as the state broadcaster had only received 77 of them, it was the same gossip given a tabloid newspaper sheen. The Sky News and BBC Radio news did nothing but report on what The Sunday People had said, but their re-report gave them added validity. However, it was purely based on the original gossip.
So now we believe there to be a digital release of Enemy Of The World and Web Of Fear, though Web episode three is still a "reconstructed" version using stills and audio. That still makes up four recovered episodes of the six-parter Web Of Fear and five of Enemy Of The World (one episode of each was already in the BBC archives).
DVDs of the episodes made available at the Doctor Who event on November 22nd, and then be available for sale through traditional means.
It's not just Doctor Who, but other programmes too. Dad's Army is suspected, as is Morecambe And Wise and The Sky At Night.
By releasing the missing episodes digitally, the BBC sidestep the regulation of the BBFC for releasing them on DVD/Blu Ray – including the advance public notice given for such episodes.
Press will be embargoed until midnight on Tuesday, and I understand a number of people associated with the Doctor Who episodes in question have signed NDAs ahead of their promotional appearances for the show. Bleeding Cool has not been asked to abide by any embargoes.
The BFI, home to the Missing Believed Wiped strand that has shown previously recovered episodes of Doctor Who, also launches its BFI Player, giving easy digital access to its files, on Wednesday. And are hosting a Missing Believed Wiped event on Tuesday.
Diddly dum, diddly dum, diddly dum….