Last week, Bleeding Cool ran this article, reporting rumours rampaging around the highest echelons of the BBC that a lot of missing episodes of Doctor Who had been found, and were planning to be released later this year.
We then ran a couple of follow ups, detailing and clarifying which episodes these were meant to be, that it was part of a much wider cache of BBC films that had been recovered, citing names of BBC and Who-related individuals who had been discussing the rumours, as well as those who poured doubt on the story. Some saw that as us backtracking on the original story, which I don't accept. We were always reporting these rumours as exactly that – rumours. Just ones being discussed at the highest level, behind closed doors.
Tonight one of the naysayers, archivist Ian Levine, who had previously tweeted;
Look,I DO believe no episodes have been found,based on what certain people told me at the BFI. But I suppose they could have lied to my face
— Ian Levine (@IanLevine) June 17, 2013
Is now tweeting;
I am so fucking speechless, I have no idea how I am going to sleep tonight. I was utterly wrong, but I was lied to, yes barefaced lied to. — Ian Levine (@IanLevine) June 18, 2013
I have just seen "three tons" of evidence that tells me it's all true. Saying no more. Apart from I now believe it again. — Ian Levine (@IanLevine) June 18, 2013
@keefybabe I've just been given proof that backs up the entire story,from 2011. So yes I now really believe he has found 90 missing episodes
— Ian Levine (@IanLevine) June 18, 2013
And why? Well, he's probably talking about this;
There are details online of a shipment to archivist Philip Morris, who has traveled Africa and beyond looking for all sorts of missing footage. Someone who, after appearing on a 2009 BBC Radio 4 show about the recovery of Doctor Who missing episodes, an angry Ian Levine commented "he has never found ONE SINGLE EPISODE in his entire life."
Well, maybe he has. From late 2011, a shipment listing 3 tons of film material arriving from Lagos to Liverpool… click on "Carrying" to read it.
And Liverpool? That also rang a bell, considering this post from early 2011.
I work at a regional branch of a large international logistics company. On Tuesday morning a customer called in to collect a box sent from Zambia via Nigeria containing BBC tapes and 16" films, supposedly for returning to the archives. The guy apparently said (I didn't serve him myself) that the box contained recovered 60s material including episodes of Doctor Who (the only programme he mentioned by name, it seems) and that we'd be hearing all about it before the end of the year. Naturally I was keenly excited, particularly given that this seemed to suggest a major find, but, having encountered neither box nor customer myself, I couldn't pursue the matter directly. I've checked the paperwork but I can't fathom why BBC archive stuff would be addressed to a Merseyside address, especially one where the company name given doesn't match the stated premises or postcode (hence why we couldn't deliver the box and the customer had to fetch it himself). Then again, the shipper may have just cocked up the address slightly, it's all perfectly kosher and I'm just fretting inappropriately. After all, the customer did say all would be revealed in time.
All conjecture and circumstantial evidence of course. And it may signify nothing. I am not a Doctor Who or a BBC insider, by any stretch of the word. It's just that, as a result of this job, I've ended up knowing a very few people who are.
In my twenty-odd years of doing this job, albeit it mostly concentrated on the comics industry, my aim has been to try and lift the curtain and give other fans a peek behind the scenes. To let them be party to conversations, rumours, gossip being passed around by those who are on the inside. Which is what I did.
For facts, actual facts, facts you can rely on, as I said in the original post, we'll have to wait and see.
It may be nothing. It may be everything. Bar sixteen episodes.