The British TV Missing Episodes Index


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BBC Press Release

Barely a fortnight in, 2004 already looks as though it might turn out to be a very good year for Doctor Who fans. As if the thought of the new series gearing up to start production in a few month’s time wasn’t exciting enough, fans the world over will be delighted to learn of the recovery of one of the 109 missing episodes from the show’s early years.

Day of Armageddon is the second episode of the epic twelve-part story The Daleks’ Master Plan, transmitted over three months in the winter of 1965/66 as part of the series’ third season. Until this week, only parts five and ten were known to exist, having themselves been discovered in a junkpile in the mid-eighties. The episode stars William Hartnell, the original Doctor Who, with companions Steven (Peter Purves) and Katerina (Adrienne Hill), along with Space Special Security agent Bret Vyon, played by Nicholas Courtney, who would later return to the series in the regular role of Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart.

Doctor Who episodes have a history of being returned from slightly strange places and in the past they have been found in such diverse locations as a church basement, a car boot sale and even a jumble sale in New Zealand! The latest find is no exception, as the episode is literally a gift from the opposition – in this instance from Francis Watson, Head of Engineering at Yorkshire Television in Leeds.

As a young engineer working for the BBC in the early seventies, Watson had been given the task of clearing out a room full of junk at the Corporation’s Television Film Studios in Ealing. Among the rubbish were two 16mm cans marked Doctor Who, which Watson saved from destruction so that he could watch them on the projector at his local film club. For over thirty years and through two house moves, he kept the films safe and now feels that the time has come to return them to the BBC. Watson says that he has always felt slightly embarrassed about “borrowing” the films, but he can be assured that, thirty years on, both the BBC and fans of the series will be only too happy about it, for his minor indiscretion as a junior engineer undoubtedly ensured the episode’s survival.

The second of Watson’s film cans contained a poor-quality episode of The Expedition, an episode of the very first Dalek adventure, of which the BBC already has a master copy. Day of Armageddon is a great find however, as it is a crucial episode which helped to set up the ambitious twelve part story, a classic space-opera romp through space and time which sees the Doctor and his companions try to thwart the traitorous ‘Guardian of the Solar System’, Mavic Chen, and his Dalek allies - culminating in the destruction of time itself! Importantly for both fans and historians alike, this second episode contains scenes with several characters for which very little visual reference material still exists – in fact only a single, blurry photograph of the alien leader Celation is known to have survived in a private photograph collection.

This latest find was returned to the BBC via the Restoration Team (http://www.restoration-team.co.uk), a group of Doctor Who fans from within the television industry who for over a decade have been restoring and re-mastering episodes of the series for BBC transmission and commercial video / DVD release. Day of Armageddon came to light almost exactly five years after the previous missing episode, The Lion, was recovered from a film collector in New Zealand, and returned to the BBC via the Restoration Team. Those who worked on the restoration of that episode are looking forward to seeing – and working on – Day of Armageddon, and hope that it won’t be long before the public are given a chance to enjoy this episode once again).

Day of Armageddon is now available on the Doctor Who box set, Lost in Time.


  other articles
The BBC Treasure Hunt By Mark Brown

Missing Episode Hunting By Steve Roberts

The Rear Guard By Dave Homewood

It Ain’t Half Lost Mum! By Dave Homewood

Why Are So Many TV Programmes Missing? By Andrew Henderson

Missing, Believed Wiped 2001 By Sue Malden



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