Today I feel I have entered into, however briefly, a Doctor Who cabal made up of superfans, Doctor Who writers past and present, producers, managers and executive types. And then been kicked to the kerb.
A few months ago, I came across rumours that there were a huge amount of the missing Doctor Who episodes about to be returned to the BBC. Then I heard it again. And then I heard it from someone who really should know one way or another. So last week, I ran the rumours on Bleeding Cool, stating that's exactly what they were.
And all hell broke loose. Some were confirming the stories, some were denying it. But what was clear was that I'd broken the dam on a huge pent up amount of hope, fear and despair that had remained on message boards, in pub meetups, some behind private member forums and firewalls since late last year.
I'm now going to give you more details on the rumoured missing episodes that are reported to have been found.
Of the one hundred and six missing episodes, they comprise ninety of them. The only ones not included are nine episodes of The Dalek Master Plan, plus Mission To The Unknown, two episodes of The Invasion, two episodes of The Ice Warriors, and two episodes of The Wheel In Space.
So that's not quite The Full Hartnell, but it's pretty close. And that's an awful lot more Troughton than I was expecting.
And that the BBC have been negotiating their safe return. That Steven Moffat, Russell T Davies, Mark Gatiss, Caroline Skinner, all the main players, the Cardiff production office, Doctor Who Magazine are aware of what's happening.
But this is bigger than Doctor Who. This is eight thousand recovered films including the likes of missing Dad's Army, Out Of The Unknown, Morecambe And Wise, The Sky At Night and more. Including ninety missing Doctor Who films and potentially better quality prints of already recovered shows. Such as three separate sets of Doctor Who: Marco Polo – one poor quality, two in excellent nick.
And I was told, and by a member of the cloth, no less, that at a convention a few weeks ago, ex-Who producer Andrew Cartmel told a small group of 15-20 people in Atlanta to expect news about returned episodes very soon. Though now he tweets:
@DreadSinister Sorry, I don't have any special knowledge about this. I hope they find all of them, though.
— Andrew Cartmel (@andrewcartmel) June 15, 2013
But – and here is where it goes all sour – there is an increasing belief by people involved in this that it is a massive hoax perpetrated against the BBC, by a man playing up his own eccentricities for negotiation purposes, but at no point giving any real evidence that he had copies of the episodes in question.
And that huge amounts of time, effort and money have been spent on something that just isn't there. That so many senior people were conned, partly through offering them wish fulfilment, partly by them not wanting to give up the hope that these episodes could exist somewhere.
With that knowledge ringing in my ears, I was kicked out of the TARDIS, deposited on Earth in the 21st century and was left, with Vworp Vworp ringing in my ears. Now I know how Tegan felt.
All I'm left is with ex-Who script consultant and a man responsible for us having as many episodes as we do, Ian Levine, tweeting:
"There will always be 106 Doctor Who episodes missing". And yes you can quote me on that.
— Ian Levine (@IanLevine) June 15, 2013
My previous tweet was not ironic. I too wanted to believe ninety episodes had been found. I now believe none have been found. A massive hoax
— Ian Levine (@IanLevine) June 15, 2013
I can't give up like that however. Lots of people have been imvolved with this story, in a avariety of degrees, I find it hard to believe all could have been fooled. Also, there is such a coverup around these episodes, such an official silence, that it feels in my gut that there has to be something to justify it.
And even if it is all just a hoax, remember, those episodes were transmitted fifty years ago. However faint, distorted and diluted, those signals have travelled fifty light years from Earth now, passing all manner of solar systems. One of them may host sentient life with interstellar flight technology, and may have the skills to capture and enhance those signals. And a spacecraft might be currently heading towards us ready to drop them off.
I mean, any contact with an alien race would be amazing. But even more so if they brought back old episodes of Doctor Who with them, yes?
Bleeding Cool reports rumours and news. These are most definitely rumours repeated at the highest levels, and we now have more details. But they remain rumours.
And those repeating them, like us, all want to believe…